A common question for years at seminars has been: “Which fishing line should I use? Braided, fluorocarbon or monofilament? I use all three, and here are the times when each is appropriate.
For starters, understand that braids and monofilament float. Fluorocarbon sinks.
With fluorocarbon, you’re getting low visibility, thin diameter, and good sensitivity. It has some stretch when you set the hook, but not as much as monofilament. It also tends to be abrasion resistant. For all those versatile reasons, it’s becoming increasingly popular.
A couple rules with fluorocarbon. First, you must wet the knot when tying or it will fail. Also, don’t use it for topwater lures or presentations, because it sinks. Fluorocarbon falls much faster than mono, so use that to your advantage! I use fluorocarbon when casting crankbaits, casting wacky worms, Texas rigging, or jigging for walleyes or crappies.
Braid or so-called superlines float and perform well for spinning reels or professional grade for baitcasters. Thanks to their real thin diameter, they cut through the water column and run deeper, so you’ll find braids on my trolling and long-lining setups.
On the downside, braids have no stretch whatsoever, so they’re not always best for tying directly to jigs. I’ve seen guys lose fish after the hookset with braids because of that lack of stretch, which allows fish to shake off. Adding a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader will provide stretch so that fish don’t shake the hook.
Monofilament is probably the most manageable of the three varieties. Its larger diameter and major stretch works for our bass or panfish presentations like wacky worms, etc., because they will fall much slower.
That can be a real plus factor with plastics or Texas rigging. I’ll also use mono for jig fishing with walleyes or crappies to slow the fall of my jig setup.
So what’s the best all-around line? There’s no cut-and-dry answer. We have to weigh sensitivity and speed of the fall we desire in choosing the line.
My general rule would be monofilament for jigging for walleyes and for casting crankbaits for bass and walleyes because of stretch factor. Same with topwaters, too.
Fluorocarbon makes great leader material for trolling and longlining, as well as a main line for Texas and wacky rigging. You also can use it for jigging and frankly, almost every application. It’s pretty versatile stuff.
As for braids, avoid wherever you need some stretch. I use braids a lot for longlining, and casting crankbaits (in tandem with a 5-foot mono or fluoro leader). Any situation where I’m cutting through weeds is custom-made for braids, too.
Fishing line has come so far from my early days in the fishing business. Use all three to your advantage for better days on the water!