Perhaps no single piece of gear is more important than the many types of fishing line available. Like a good pair of boots, we overlook how important they are – until they are needed.
The sickest rod, the sweetest lure and the second-to-none hook are equally useless without a great line. This does explain why everything from monofilament to bomber braids has gone through such a technological explosion in recent years.
Let’s look at a quick overview of the types of fishing line out there and the pros and cons of each.
Monofilament Fishing Line
Monofilament has been around since the dawn of time (or about 65 years, give or take). Undeterred from qualifying for its own AARP card, monofilament remains the most popular among fisherman given its affordability, strength and ease of use.
Despite the “mono” designation, monofilament is actually constructed from several different nylon compounds, all of which are blended and extruded in various ways between different manufacturers (top-level clearance and super-secret sauce). The end result is the single filament we are all familiar with.
From a 2-pound little guy to a mammoth 400-pound test and beyond, monofilament has the strength to meet everyone’s goals on the water. Various brands offer extra specificities like higher abrasion resistance for fishing around jagged shores and banks.
Monofilament isn’t a magic bullet; however, it breaks down after lengthy sun exposure, and it absorbs water – losing on average 30% of its strength after 24 hours of submersion. It can also get quite bulky on the reel due to its thickness, especially as you get into the higher tests. As fishermen develop more experience and grow into different disciplines, it is then time to look at other fishing lines.
Braid Fishing Line
Braid fishing line is nearly twice as strong as the same-sized monofilament; it sinks deeper and casts further. It doesn’t stretch, letting you feel every little nibble, and it does not break down in sunlight. An added bonus – it doesn’t have any memory; therefore, horrifying wind knots and frustrating loops are far less of a concern.
Braided fishing lines get their strength thanks to dozens of micro monofilaments, woven together with other fibers to create an incredibly strong core. The core is then coated in a highly proprietary (and fiercely secret) outer layer.
You might think braid fishing lines would dominate the market; however, it isn’t perfect for every occasion. The lack of stretch may be great for added sensitivity, but it also means you have to watch your drag and have more grace than when using monofilament.
It is less abrasion resistant too. Although, the biggest single issue is probably the fact that it isn’t clear. As such, it’s normal to tie-in a lead line for extra camouflage.
Speaking of lead lines, the fluorocarbon line is yet another available.
Abrasion-resistant like mono, while maintaining zero water absorption issues, fluorocarbon doesn’t react to sunlight, maintains supple flow in all temperatures and is chemical resistant.
Most importantly, it is virtually invisible in water.
Fluorocarbon fishing line is made by extruding two different resins, a soft core and a rigid protective outer shell, into one structured line. It has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years, both as a lead line in ocean fishing as well as a main line in the freshwater community.
However, it’s not perfect. For one, it is considerably more expensive than monofilament. It’s also more difficult to tie knots, which makes you need a longer tail at a minimum and a dab of super glue for the extra committed.
Although it stretches more than braid line, fluorocarbon isn’t as stretchy as monofilament. You probably want to employ a rod with higher action and back off on the drag until you find your sweet spot.
Wire Fishing Line
Wire fishing lines are the “big daddies” of the market. They’re pricey as heck and we’re largely relegated in the pro and commercial circuit; however, they do offer some pretty great characteristics.
Titanium fishing wire, for example, is easily one of the best lead-line options out there. It knots well, stretches without issue, is incredibly abrasion resistant, and doesn’t break down easily in water. It is also virtually kink-proof.
When trolling for big boys (think a speeding barracuda), titanium wire lines should be your lead. If the cost isn’t an issue, add these to your tackle box.
Some folks also use steel wire lines, but this is largely when angling for sharks and other big game with super sharp teeth. If you’re hunting sharks, we imagine you neither need nor want our feedback.
Which Fishing Line Do I Need?
Now that you have a line breakdown, which one is right for you? As evident from our discussion, monofilament will service most of your needs. But…
If you’re trolling, use monofilament with a fluorocarbon lead. Unless you’re deep sea trolling, in which case a stainless or titanium leader should be in play.
If you’re rock fishing or otherwise dealing with rough terrain, use braided line. However, drop in a fluoro leader if the water is super clear.
If you’re shore fishing, or otherwise need to long-cast, use braids. They cast easier, though you’ll still want a fluoro leader.
If you’re big game fishing, go with wire leaders. Main lines depend on the terrain.
Good Luck with your game and your decisions!