Fishing line selection isn’t as simple as the old days
I stopped in the local Gander Mountain the other day to pick up a few gun-cleaning accessories and on the way out I passed by the fishing department. Besides the incredible number of fishing lures available I was impressed with the number of choices of fishing line.
Growing up in the 1950s, there were two fishing line choice – braided cotton and the then-new monofilament. As a teenager outfitted with a new spinning reel, the choice for me was a no-brainer — it was the monofilament.
Monofilament fishing line first appeared in the 1950s and was made from nylon. It was everything a fisherman could want in a fishing line because it was strong, flexible, and translucent and, most importantly, it was inexpensive. However, monofilament had its downside, the worst of which was that it had a memory that caused the line to coil and come off the spool in large loops. In addition, monofilament frayed easily and it could break. In 1959, DuPont introduced Stren, a thinner and much softer monofilament line that could be used in a wide range of reels, including newly introduced spinning and spin-casting tackle. Stren’s monofilament lines soon became a favorite with many fishermen because of its overall ease of use, and it spawned a whole host of imitators.
Today, fishermen have a choice of many high-quality braided or fluorocarbon fishing lines that are stronger, more durable and don’t abrade as easily as mono. Braided fishing line is stiff and does not stretch, which makes setting a hook easier, especially when fishing for bass in thick weeds. On the downside, a high-quality braided line like Spiderwire made of Spectra fiber and Fireline made from Dyneema material can damage plastic spools as well as wear the eyelets of fishing rods
Fluorocarbon fishing line has much lower visibility than both monofilament and braided fishing line and has close to the same refractive index as water, which means it practically disappears once it enters a lake or stream In addition, it’s highly resistant to those things like UV rays, DEET and saltwater that can quickly destroy other lines. Unlike either a monofilament or braided fishing line, a good fluorocarbon line is more sensitive to fish strikes because it doesn’t stretch.
As with other line material, fluorocarbon fishing line has its downside as well because it is costly and can cause problems on spinning reels by coming off the spool in a large tangle. More importantly, it can also be very stiff, making it a poor choice for fishing in cold water.
I recently read where Berkley has come out with a product called Nanofil that’s neither a braid nor a monofilament and it is actually made of the same stuff as braid. Nanofil is a thin, fibrous material the company twists into smaller bundles of fibers, and then those bundles are braided. The result is an ultra-thin fishing line; a 6-pound test line is as thin as sewing thread. On the down side, of course, is that it takes a whole bunch of this stuff to fill a reel. But if you want or need to throw a light lure a long, long, long way, this is what you want.
Nothing’s ever easy, and choosing a fishing line could be a daunting experience for the inexperienced fisherman. I’ve used Spiderwire and fluorocarbon lines on my Canadian fishing adventures, but for everyday use I’ll take the mono.