Comparing Types of Fishing Line

There are three different line types mainly used in bass fishing, saltwater sea fishing and freshwater fishing: monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided fishing line.

Anglers must choose between the three, depending on the type of fishing trip they’re taking, or your style of fishing. There are benefits and drawbacks to all three types of line, so to help you find the best fishing line for you, we’ve compiled a guide, comparing types of fishing line. 

 

A fishing rod with a reel and line on a lake.

Fishing lines come in many different forms and what you use should depend on what you’re fishing for.

 

Monofilament Fishing Line

Monofilament line is the best multi-purpose line. You can use it in multiple different situations, and it’s a perfect general-purpose main reel line. Other uses for monofilament line include: as a shock absorber leader material when using non-stretch braid lines; and for tying terminal rigs (i.e. swivels, hooks, and lures that are at the terminal end of the line) and hook traces. Check out some of the hook sets on Amazon for multiple options. 

If you’re not sure which line is for you, we would recommend starting out with monofilament. It really is the most multipurpose line out there, and it’s quite affordable too. It has a little bit more elasticity to it than braid or fluorocarbon, so it’s perfect for running shallow-diving crankbaits through wood or rocks. The lure kicks off of the cover better when the crankbait hits an object, because of the extra stretch in the line. 

Monofilament line is also super useful because of its buoyancy. Buoyancy is really useful in a line because, with suspending stick baits, the line floats on top of the water, allowing the lure to float in the strike zone for longer. This is a better option than the other two if you’re looking for a line with buoyancy, for example, if you’re topwater fishing, as fluorocarbon and braided fishing line tend to absorb the water, and sink. This then, in turn, affects the buoyancy of the suspending lure, making it less likely for your get that bite. 

Another benefit of nylon monofilament fishing line is that it’s the cheapest line option out there. That, combined with the fact that it’s the most versatile line on the market, means that nylon monofilament line is the best option for beginners. We would suggest that it’s a good idea to start out with monofilament line, and then if you come across a situation, once your experience level is up, that requires one of the other types of line, then switch out for this occasion. 

 

Monofilament Fishing Line: pros and cons

 

Pros: 

 

  • Monofilament Fishing Line is the cheapest option out of all the available lines. However, like most items of fishing tackle, you get what you pay for, and the very cheapest nylon fishing lines aren’t really worth it. To get the most bang for your buck, opt for a more mid-price range monofilament line. 

 

 

  • Even though it knots really easily, it’s a low memory material, meaning that it will go back to its original form without any annoying kinks left in the line. It also means that it easily goes straight again after being restrained in the spool. 

 

  • The elasticity of Monofilament Fishing Line gives it really good shock-absorbing qualities, making it less likely that a fish will be able to tear itself free of the hook in its once it has bitten. 

 

  • Because it’s transparent, It’s much less visible in the water than most other line materials. This makes it more effective for catching some types of fish, but make sure to do your research, to ascertain whether this will be a benefit for you for your specific catch.

 

  • Monofilament Fishing Line is also abrasion-resistant. Abrasion resistance is important for long-lasting, durable lines. 

 

  • The best nylon monofilament fishing lines have a good, consistent ratio between strength and diameter ratio, and are soft and supple.

 

Cons: 

 

  • The elasticity of this line is a benefit in many applications. However, it’s detrimental if you’re trying to make a really long cast. For this application, a much better option for you would be a braided line. This is because, when using monofilament, the elasticity of the line means that it absorbs some of the energy, which is more usefully transferred to the rod. If you’re looking for a shock leader for casting, choose a low-stretch nylon fishing line, there are some specifically manufactured for this purpose, or consider investing in the more expensive fluorocarbon lines.

 

  • Another way that the elasticity of monofilament could work against you, is in bite detention. Its elasticity absorbs the movement of your terminal tackle, reducing bite detection at the rod tip, making it harder to spot if you’ve got a successful bite. 

 

  • Monofilament Fishing Line is the least resistant line to UV rays. This means that over time, it will be prone to ultraviolet degradation from direct sunlight. However, with the price of Monofilament Fishing Line being so low, this might not be an issue for you in the long run. 

 

  • Another factor which means monofilament isn’t as durable in the long run is because it’s slightly absorbent. Over time, this will cause your line to loose strength. If you’re going fishing with monofilament, consider changing your line occasionally, and bringing spare line with you. 

 

  • Although a lot of anglers and fishermen use monofilament line as their main, and go-to line, there are some applications where another line would work much better. They include situations where near-invisibility is important. For example, fluorocarbon line is best used when you want your line to be undetectable. Braided line should be used when non-stretch and minimum diameter is required.

 

A braided fishing line.

Braided fishing lines have been well-known for casting long lines.

 

Braided Fishing Line

The main purposes for braided line are for long-casting applications and up-tide ledgering. Ledgering is a general angling term that covers lots of different rigs and setups, but what they all hold in common is that the line lays close the bottom, a single weight is used, and a bite is indicated at the rod. 

Although braided line is not terribly buoyant, unlike monofilament line, in some situations this can be to its benefit. If you’re making long-distance casts with surface lures, then braided fishing line will be a better option for you. Although monofilament means you can you can cast your topwater lures farther, throwing surface lures such as buzz baits and plastic frogs on braided line is the best option. Due to braided fishing line’s low stretch factor, it has a much better hook-setting power than the other two options.

However, in some senses, the lack of flexibility of this line can be to its detriment, even though it has a high breaking strength. Elasticity in fishing lines means that they can act as a shock absorber, helping to prevent fish from breaking free, or tearing itself free from the hook, once it has bitten. So if you’re planning on going fishing for particularly boisterous, or large, fish, such as largemouth bass, we wouldn’t recommend opting for braided fishing line. 

But braided line’s low stretch does come in handy in some other areas. For example, having a near-zero stretch factor is perfect for bite detection: you’re more able to see the line wiggle as the fish has bitten. And, after you’ve been able to clearly see the bite, the zero stretch factor also means the angler has more control over lure action when spinning and jigging. 

Braided line’s low stretch also comes in handy when fishing spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits through milfoil and hydrilla beds. You can rip these lures through the weeds easier with braided line which triggers more strikes. Braid is also favored by the pros for punching Texas-rigged soft plastics with heavy weights through thick vegetation mats.

 

Braided Fishing Line: pros and cons

 

Pros: 

  • Because of braid fishing line’s ratio between strength and diameter, you can fit loads of it on the reel, making it a perfect option for long casts.

 

  • Another property that makes braided line perfect for long casts is its small diameter. Because of its small diameter, this line can fly through the air at record speeds, and easily, making your casts as long as possible.

 

  • The small diameter of braided line also means it will travel through the water easier than mono. Therefore, with braided fishing line, you can get your lure down deeper under the water when spinning and trolling, and it will sink faster when jigging. 

 

  • Another benefit of braided line is that it has zero stretch, which is great for bite detection.

 

  • Some types of braided line have no reel memory at all.

 

Cons: 

 

  • It could be dangerous for anglers. Make sure you’re well-practiced, and you’re being super careful when using braided line. Because it’s so thin and hard, it can easily cut through human skin, so watch out as you’re casting. Similarly, it can wear out rods. Make sure you’re only using it on rods with roller guides or rings, specially developed for braided line. 

 

  • Although he no-stretch property of braided line can come in useful for some purposes, it can be detrimental in others. It means that braided line has no shock-absorbing properties at all, making it quite hard on the angler’s arms and shoulders. If you’re planning a long day or trip fishing, a line with a little more flexibility will tire you out less. 

 

  • With braided line, you’ll also have to learn a few more knots, as it’s not recommended to use most normal knots for mono or Fluorocarbon with braided knots. Learn the braid knot, for tying braided line to swivels, or the Albright knot for tying it to mono lines of a larger diameter. Consider taking with you a camping multi tool, for repairs, and to cut off the ends after you’ve tied your knot.

 

  • Another limiting factor of braided line is that it doesn’t cast well from baitcasting reels. Because of its small diameter, it squeezes between the underlying coils on the reel. If you’re lucky, this could just result in a short cast, but the worst-case scenario is the dreaded bird’s nest, which might take you some time to unravel, when you could be enjoying yourself. Choose, instead, a fixed spool reel for braided line. 

 

  • It’s much more expensive than standard mono line. 

 

  • Braid can be really visible in the water, especially if it’s seen from below with the bright sky above. This will mean, with some species, and especially if you’re fishing in clear water, that you’re less likely to get a bite. 

 

A man stilsfishing in Unawatuna

Another property that makes braided line perfect for long casts is its small diameter.

 

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Monofilament is perfect for tying terminal rigs (i.e. swivels, hooks, and lures that are at the terminal end of the line) and hook traces, but choose fluorocarbon line if you want to complete these actions in clear water. Fluorocarbon lines are also perfect to use for low-visibility leaders when trolling and spinning. Although braided line is the king of long-casting applications, you can use fluorocarbon fishing line as a non-stretch shock leader when you need to be long casting, for example, if you’re surfcasting.

Unlike standard monofilament line, fluorocarbon fishing line isn’t derived from nylon, but from a polymer known as polyvinylidene fluoride. This may sound like a bit of jargon, so let us break it down for you. The main benefit of monofilament being made of this material is that it’s virtually invisible in water.

This is because it has an unusually low refractive index which is actually really close to the refractive index of water! This is especially useful if you’re fishing for bass, as you’ll be using a finesse bait that bass come up and examine, and you don’t want to scare them away with visible line. However, there’s no point in making the extra investment unless you’re going fishing in crystal clear waters. If you’re fishing in slightly murky waters, or at night, then the invisibility of fluorocarbon will be of no use to you. 

Another point which makes Fluorocarbon Fishing Line sometimes a better option than mono is that it’s less likely to wear away over time. This is because it’s less affected by exposure to UV rays, and it’s far less absorbent than mono fishing line, so is less likely to wear away over time. Another point that might make it worth the extra investment is that it’s got a harder surface texture than mono line, and therefore doesn’t abrade to the same degree when fishing on coarse sand and rough ground.

 

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line: pros and cons

 

Pros: 

 

  • Fluorocarbon is almost invisible on or underwater.

 

  • It is a low stretch material, meaning you’ll get excellent bite detection at the rod tip.

 

  • Another benefit of Fluorocarbon Fishing Line is that it’s denser than water, meaning that it sinks quite easily, allowing trolling and spinning lures to run deeper under the water.

 

  • Fluorocarbon Fishing Line tangles less easily than mono line, because it’s a slightly stiffer material.

 

  • Fluorocarbon Fishing Line can stay intact for longer than mono, because it’s less likely to fall apart over time. This is because it’s less absorbent than mono line, and less vulnerable to UV rays.

 

  • This line is super sensitive, making it a perfect choice for if you’re using lures that need a lot of feel, such as worms or jigs. Braid is sensitive too, but if, for example, you’re fishing for bass in clear waters, it’s a much better option to choose the fluorocarbon line, due to its near invisibility factor. 

 

Cons:

 

  • It’s almost double the price of standard mono line.

 

  • Because of its high line memory, casting distances can be affected when using this type of line. 

 

  • Although the density, and the fact this makes the line sink, is useful in some applications, it’s not so good if you’re looking to use topwater lures, as its tendency to sink is likely to affect the action of the lure.

 

  • Knots usually hold much easier in standard mono line.

 

  • Due to its stiffness, fluorocarbon is quite difficult to spool on a spinning reel. However, if you’re a bit more practiced at angling, and you’re well accustomed to tying fishing knots, then we might have a solution for you. What you can do, instead of only using fluorocarbon to spool your spinning reel, is to spool it with a main line of braided line, and attach a 10-foot fluorocarbon leader. This will give you the best of both worlds, but you’ll need to securely tie the two lines together with an Alberto or double uni knot. 

 

A person fishing in Mora, Sweden during sunset.

Now that you’ve learned about the most important types of fishing lines, it’s time to do some good ole’ fishing.

 

Final Verdict:

So there we have it, a complete guide comparing types of fishing line. We hope that this overview will help you to choose the right line for you, and your next fishing trip depending on the fishing conditions. We have looked over the main 3 fishing line types, but there is also some other fishing gear that pro anglers take with them for some trips.

For example, you might want to tie on a leader wire, to make your line less susceptible to fish biting through it. Our advice is: start with monofilament line, as it’s the best multipurpose line out there, and then depending on the fishing conditions and your catch for that day, experiment with some of the other lines to find the perfect fit for you. 

 

Bonus tip: Check out this useful video below on the three best types of fishing lines for bass fishing!

 

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Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.