Braid vs. Fluorocarbon vs. Monofilament

Which angling line when? Use all three for the proper fishing application in a given sportfishing situation.

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, however. First, you must wet the knot when tying it or it will fail. Also, don’t use it for top water lures or presentations because it sinks. Fluorocarbon falls much faster than mono, so use that to your advantage! I use fluorocarbon when casting crank baits, casting wacky worms, Texas rigging, or jigging for walleyes or crappies.

Braided line, or so-called superlines, float and perform well for spinning reels or on “professional grade” 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 such as wacky worms, etc., because they will fall much slower. That can be a real plus factor using 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 crank baits for bass and walleyes because of the stretch factor. The same with top waters, 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 using it wherever you need some stretch. I use braids a lot for longlining and casting crank baits (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!

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8 Responses to “Braid vs. Fluorocarbon vs. Monofilament”

  1. Avatar

    Morris McMillian

    You never know what to expect with people or animals.

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Jeffrey Clearwater

    This was very helpful I always wondered about fishing line

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    Peter T

    A tip on braided line and the 0 stretch factor. I have used Fireline for years and all you have to do is back off your drag to compensate for the lack of stretch. The only fish that seem to care about visibility are trout and simply tie on a leader. Braided line reduces your need for leaders as well; pike teeth don’t cut it, and you will retrieve more snagged hooks because it is not frail like mono and fluorocarbon.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Gordy H.

      Great point on backing of the drag with braid!
      Thanks for that pointer!

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Alan H.

        I have been using braids for years. The no stretch features allows amazing feel. You feel the blade tick a weed or, best of all, when the fish is on, you can feel it fart! Or, maybe the weed tick feeling was a fish farting near your lure! Now that is something to ponder….Happy New Year

        Reply
        • Avatar

          Dustin

          I use all lines, if I could only use 1 it would be fluorocarbon. Braid has no sensitivity on slack line, if you have fluorocarbon you still feel what your doing when your line is slack If you’re bait is 100′ out and you are crawling a bass tube a few inches each hop across the bottom or just slow bottom presentations in general that require slack line to look natural. Braid is too limp with no memory best fished taught. It’s a huge difference in sensation jigging a walleye grub on the 2 lines and braid doesn’t let you feel as much imo even with a good rod, now a dropshot gets around this because it requires taught line but sometimes a smallmouth will only eat straight off the bottom in 30′ of water and a 3/4 oz head needs to be almost dragged with little pops coming over the rocks, they strike when you feel pressure from a rock release and the bait skoots over it slightly faster and then d . I prefer 20 lbs mono for catfishing, braid seems to lose fish on circle hooks if you set it before the fish hooks itself, sometimes the fish can take off pretty fast and mono has so much stretch you can reel in 20 feet of line and the fish will barely notice, with braid you yank it a foot and the fish that’s ripping line off your spool is gonna have the bait receive the full pressure of a fisherman on his end. That’s is a good thing at times too, I compromise and use 30 lbs power pro main line and 2-30 yards of 12 lbs fluorocarbon on most of my rods for bass, steelhead, walleye, panfish etc. and I land pike and muskie all the time when fishing for other species, no pike has cut my 12 lbs leader yet, caught hundreds of the snakes. There are times when my mono rod was key for walleye, the line makes the jigs sink slower in the 3-5′ flats where you want it off the bottom as often as possible while working slow but need a 3/8 head to get it out far enough. Plus it’s hard to rip a hook out of a walleye mouth on mono.

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  4. Avatar

    Ernest Price

    great breakdown on the three types. I’ve always had great success with all three types, although i mainly use mono.

    Reply