First Published in Capitol Outdoors May 16, 2014
We were walking in our local sporting goods store needing some fishing line and other tackle. As we took the corner we saw row after row of line and to be honest, we even got a little overwhelmed.
That got us thinking, there are a lot of people out there that don't know the difference between the different types of line, or in some cases what the "pound test" indicates. There are so many to choose from that it is frustrating for both beginners and professionals.
Before we tell you about the different types of line, we feel the best place to start is to know what type of fishing you are doing. Once you know this, you will be able to adjust your tackle and strategies to catch more fish. How? Simply you will have a better understanding of the line and what is happening while you fish. Capitol Outdoors fishes for primarily two types of fish; panfish (bluegill, perch, crappie, etc), and bass. However, once we arrive at our spot we don't know what the fish are going to be doing so we setup for multiple situations.
We will begin with focusing on the pound test. Does 10 pound test mean, you can't catch a fish over ten pounds. No… in fact on our Braggin' board there's a 47 inch muskie caught on 10 pound test. The pound test is an estimate of how much weight the line can take before breaking. However, the reason you hear of individuals catching big fish on 6 lb test is that the diameter of the line allows for a more natural approach and they had their drag set just right. For a rule of thumb the smaller the fish your going after the lighter pound test you are able to use. For example while panfishing we like to use 4-6 pound test and while bass fishing 8-12 pound test. Occasionally we will use a higher pound test for bass fishing due to grassy areas and dense structures.
There are several different types of lines. However, to start we will focus on three; monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided. Why these three? We have used these three, but we feel these are among some of the more popular lines used by anglers.
Monofilament: Monofilament is the most widely used fishing line on the market. In fact the rod & reel combos sold at the store have mono on them. It is produced with one strain of fiber or plastic that allows it to be easier and cheaper to produce. Monofilament can come in a variety of colors and a range of diameters. The higher the pound test the larger the diameter. Which means the less line you'll be able too put on your reel. Monofilament floats which makes it ideal for topwater lures and panfishing with bobbers. In the store you will see a spool of line that is no more then $3 that has 400 yards. Please do not buy this line. Simply put; you get what you pay for. Monofilament, like everything, has its advantages and disadvantages: Advantages: Easily made, relatively cheap, floats and available at all sporting goods stores. Disadvantages: Stretch in the line when setting the hook, not abrasion resistant, absorbs water, and has a high tendency to spool memory.
Fluorocarbon: Fluorocarbon is also widely used with anglers. It was invented in Japan by combining two materials carbon and fluorine gas and with a chemical reaction you get fluorocarbon. Many anglers use this type of line because it is nearly invisible in water. Fluorocarbon is more expensive because of the manufacture process. Unlike the monofilament, fluorocarbon sinks. This makes it ideal for jigs and crankbaits also good for those that fish the bottom for catfish, etc. Many anglers have reported that fluorocarbon is brittle, however, it matters on what type of manufacturer line you buy. You get what you pay for. Advantages: Sinks, abrasion resistant, invisible in water, lack of stretch. Disadvantage: stiffness (spool memory) and brittle
Braided: Braided is the oldest of fishing line and most expensive. Historically braiding two strains such as cotton together however, with today's technologies the cotton is a way of the past and they now use Dacron, Spectra or micro-dyneema to create it. Braided is hands down the strongest of the lines and to the diameter of the line. For example 20 pound braided test has the diameter of around 8 pound monofilament line. Braided line is great when fishing really thick weeds or structures. Why? Since you can use say 40 pound test with smaller diameter you'll be able to get those snags out where monofilament or fluorocarbon lines would break. Advantages: smaller diameter, little to no stretch, high strength, and has a longer life cycle. Disadvantages: cost, difficult to un-snag, hard and damages fishing equipment, and knots tend to slip.
Now that we know about these lines; which one do we use. Again that depends on where and what you are fishing for. If you're using a bobber, topwater or a spinner that you want to run close to the surface we recommend using a monofilament line. If you're using a crank bait, jig or trying to fish the bottom, use a fluorocarbon line. If you fishing jigs in thick weeds or dense structure such as trees or rocks you may want to think about using a braided line.
This is just a quick run down of three different types of fishing line to get you on the right path and get your fishing poles in the water.
Enjoy the Outdoors, Good Luck & Stay Safe.
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