Fishing can be a relaxing way to spend a day or the weekend. Whether you are out on the boat alone getting lost in your thoughts, or spending time with the whole family, being out on the water chasing that trophy fish brings no greater feeling.
All anglers, whether beginning or professional, know there are a few things you must have to have a great experience fishing. A strong rod, different types of good tackle, and plenty of patience. But one of the most overlooked parts of fishing is selecting the right type of fishing line.
Fluorocarbon vs Mono: Making this critical choice for line or leader
Many anglers will choose one line for fishing and stick with it long term, and many beginner anglers may not even know multiple types of fishing line options exist. But regardless of the fishing lines you choose, how do you know if the fishing line you use is the best choice?
While there are three choices; Fluorocarbon, Monofilament and Braided line, for this article we are talking about the line connection to the lure (ie the leader) and disregarding the choice of main line, whether that’s braid, mono or fluoro.
So we are going to run through the key qualities of mono and fluoro to help you answer the question as to what you should use: fluorocarbon vs mono.
What is monofilament line?
Monofilament line has been on the market for decades as a reliable and affordable line option for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It has proven its worth in a variety of fishing competitions around the world, and is the line of choice when first starting out since it’s very affordable and easy to find no matter where you look. For most beginners, this is the low cost material they will go with. A large spool won’t set you back much money, and it’s a versatile bit of gear when compared to the other options.
Click here for our full review of the best fluorocarbon lines
Strengths of monofilament line
Monofilament line has a bit of stretch, so it’s good for anglers that like to do hard landings of the hook. It also offers pretty decent resistance to abrasion which makes it a good choice when fishing around roots, piers, or other low light areas where debris in the water could be an issue. You can find it in a wide range of high pound test as well as different types of colors depending on the water you are fishing in. It can land bass, trout and other fish with relative ease though does fall short in some areas such as the sensitivity, abrasion resistance, and overall material.
You’ll find this fishing line is much more forgiving when it comes to setting the hook. You’ll have a much smaller chance of the hook being torn from the fish’s jaw if you reel in too fast as well.
Ties good knots
Flexible lines are great for beginners that are learning how to tie knots. It’s also able to be securely tied while wet or dry which means you can set up several leaders using monofilament at home. If you want a line that makes tying knots quick and easy while providing a decent knot strength, mono is the right material. In terms of knot strength fluorocarbon vs mono, mono wins hands down.
The low cost of a good sized spool of monofilament fishing line makes it a great choice for those who burn through a lot of fishing line quickly, or for those who simply want to try their hand at fishing before investing money into the hobby.
If you’re looking for a fishing line that is great for top water casting, the slower sinking speed of monofilament line is a great option.
You’ll find this line is much more forgiving when it comes to setting the hook. You’ll have a much smaller chance of the hook being torn from the fish’s jaw if you reel in too fast as well.
Weaknesses of monofilament line
Most anglers will choose to use a monofilament fishing line just as a “filler” due to its affordable price. This means they will use higher quality or more expensive lines closer to their lures and where abrasion resistance may be important, but the rest of the reel will be filled with monofilament.
Less abrasion resistant
If you’re fishing for toothed fish such as bass, monofilament can be damaged quickly. It’s best to use this type of fishing line as your filler and have a more durable leader material at the end. In the case of abrasion resistance, fluorocarbon vs mono, fluoro wins hands down.
Not UV resistant
Being a nylon line, the line can be weakened by UV exposure. However this is only an issue if you don’t replace your line in many months.
Not as invisible as fluoro
If you’re fishing for timid fish, you don’t want them to notice the line. Monofilament can be found in various tints of green, blue, brown and clear to help keep it less noticeable to fish, but it’s still not invisible. If you want a low visibility line, mono is not for you.
Can become waterlogged
Being a nylon line, monofilament fishing line can absorb water the longer it stays in it which changes the stretch factor and feel of the line overall. When it comes to water resistance, fluorocarbon wins.
Also on the pro list, it can be a disadvantage as well. If you depend on the feel of the rod to detect fish bites, you may not notice it with monofilament. Fishing lines that have a lot of stretch won’t give you the sensitivity you need on the reels to feel a fish nibble the bait.
When to use monofilament lines
Monofilament is a versatile, affordable and all-around type of fishing line but it can still fall short in some areas. For the best results when using mono vs another line type, always make sure you are using it where it shines.
Bass fishing with swim bait
Quick tying of strong knots
You’re looking for a great tying option when it comes to your line, monofilament can be the best option for this. Knots such as the Pitzen knot or Double Uni Knot are both extremely strong and will pass through your rod easily.
Great for fast baits
What is fluorocarbon line?
While not nearly as old as the monofilament, fluorocarbon made its test debut in the mid 1990’s and quickly rose to fame in the world of professional angling. Made from a polyvinylidene difluoride, or PVDF for short, fluorocarbon does not share the same weaknesses as a nylon line does.
Fluorocarbon line is the first choice of many anglers, but few will give the same answer when asked why they think it’s the best. While it does offer great resistance to abrasion from rocks, fish teeth and other debris in the water, it is also less manageable than monofilament. As with everything, there are trade offs. Let’s compare them.
Normally used as a leader, having an entire reel of fluorocarbon is often seen as an over-expense and a waste. You won’t be seeing the bottom bit of that line most of the time, so a large number of anglers feel it’s more effective using monofilament on the lower reel.
Click here for our full review of the best fluorocarbon lines
Strengths of fluorocarbon fishing line
Fluorocarbon can make a great rig for jigging or Texas rigging, but it fails miserably for top water lure fishing due to the increased sink rate. It makes up for that in being an excellent leader line, as well as a very strong option for long line fishing.
Fluorocarbon line has almost the same refractive index compared to pure water, which makes it extremely hard to see when submerged. This low visibility in all light levels makes it a superior choice when fishing for skittish big game fish.
Fluorocarbon is the reigning champion when it comes to durability and abrasion resistance. It’s an excellent choice for fishing for fish in heavy cover, when landing toothed big game fish, and when dragging lures or bait on the bottom.
It’s impossible to use for surface casting and topwater lures as it will quickly drag them down. As a pro, the fast sinking makes it a great choice for long-line fishing and lure or bait dragging.
When you want to feel that fish nibble the lure, fluorocarbon can let you feel every tiny movement on the other end of the line. The added sensitivity of a low stretch fishing line will also let you know when your lure or bait has touched the bottom or other underwater vegetation.
Weaknesses of fluorocarbon line
While fluoro has some great characteristics, as explained it is not the best choice in every situation.
Not as supple, harder to tie knots
Fluorocarbon fishing lines are much more stiff and has a larger diameter than monofilament which makes it more difficult to manage and spool properly, especially for beginners. It’s also somewhat more stubborn when tying a knot and needs to be wet before a knot will take.
More costly than mono
While the perfect option for most fishermen and the best fishing line gear depends on a wide range of factors, you may decide it comes down to one factor, or a handful of factors. If affordability is your focus, a monofilament line is the one for you. If versatility or a more professional presentation is your goal, fluorocarbon might meet your needs. But when it comes to cost in terms of fluorocarbon vs mono, monofilament wins hands down.
Unlike monofilament, fluorocarbon does not stretch. If you have an unusually aggressive fish or are prone to setting the hook hard, you run a high risk of snapping the line.
When to use fluorocarbon fishing line
When compared to monofilament, fluorocarbon lines are great for some niche scenarios. The fluorocarbon leader can be used with any type of line, but does best with monofilament filler.
You’re running deep diving crankbaits with a fluorocarbon leader. You’ll get a good bit of invisibility from the line leaving your bait to be the main attraction for the fish.
Fishing spots that require a long cast:
You’re trying to get a long cast with a quick sink so your bait goes right where it needs to be to target the largest fish. The density of fluorocarbon lines can make this happen quickly giving you an edge.
Clear water fishing:
Mono is highly visible in clear water, but fluorocarbon lines will completely disappear to all fish. Whether using it as a leader or not, the visibility or lack thereof with this type of line is complete.
Monofilament vs Fluorocarbon line
Ultimately, fishing should be a relaxing way to enjoy the day. It shouldn’t require doing hours of homework and comparison shopping to get the best of the best. Find a fishing line that you are comfortable with, give it a try and see if it meets your needs. If not, move on to a different fishing line and give it a try.
You may even want to try braided fishing line ( coupled with a mono or fluoro leader) for a good all around comparison, though most will pick their favorite between monofilament and fluorocarbon and call it a day. Both fluorocarbon fishing line and monofilament options have their own set of pros and cons. It’s up to you as the angler to decide which pro and con will affect your results the most.