Outside of the fishing rod and reel, fishing line is perhaps the most vital piece of fishing equipment in the sport of angling, forming a connection between the rod and the fish. Without the right type of fishing line, catching and landing a fish can be extremely difficult, and in some cases, simply impossible. In the following article we will describe the many different types of fishing line, including the advantages and drawbacks of each type.
Monofilament and Braided Fishing Line
There are many different types of fishing line, but the two most common types are monofilament line and braided line. Here is a brief definition of each type:
- Monofilament Fishing Line. Monofilament line is a thin type of line that is made from a single nylon fiber. Monofilament is made by melting and mixing polymers and then extruding them through tiny holes, forming strands of line, which is then spun into spools of various thicknesses.
- Braided Fishing Line. Braided fishing line is made up of several super-strong, very thin fibers made from material similar to Kevlar braided together to form a line that is basically round in cross section.
Monofilament line is the most popular type of fishing line. In fact, most fishing lines are now monofilament, largely because monofilament fibers are inexpensive to produce and are made in a wide spectrum of diameters which have different tensile strengths (called “tests” after the process of tensile “testing”). Monofilament line is additionally made in various colors, such as clear, white, green, blue, red, and fluorescent. Different colors of line are used in different fishing environments to essentially conceal the line from the fish when under the water,
Braided fishing line was one of the earliest types of fishing line used by fisherman, and in its modern forms it is still very popular in some fishing situations because of its high knot strength, rigidity, and great overall power in relation to its diameter. Although now made from a Kevlar-like material, braided line was historically constructed from natural fibers such as cotton and linen, but natural fiber braids (with the very rare exception of braided silk) have long since been replaced by braided or woven fibers of man-made materials, such as Dacron and Spectra. Braided fishing lines have low resistance to abrasion; and sharp objects can easily cut through braided line. Their actual breaking strength will commonly well exceed their pound-test rating.
Monofilament Line vs. Braided Line: Pros and Cons
Below we will look at some of the pros and cons of both monofilament and braided fishing line.
Monofilament Fishing Line Pros & Cons
- Readily available. Monofilament fishing line, being the most popular type of line, can be found at any retailer that sells fishing equipment.
- Affordable. Monofilament fishing line is much more affordable than braided line.
- Versatile. Monofilament fishing line is available in a wide array of strengths and colors, including clear and blue which disappear under water, making it virtually impossible for fish to see.
- Flexible. Monofilament fishing line stretches to absorb the shock of fish hits; is abrasion resistant and uniformly round in cross section, which helps prevent tangles on the spool of your fishing reel.
- Easy-tie. Monofilament fishing line is easy to tie knots in.
- Not as strong (in relation to diameter). Monofilament fishing line is not as strong as braided line based on diameter.
- Takes up more room on the spool. Because monofilament fishing line is not as strong as braided line for a given diameter, higher pound test monofilament line takes up more space on the spool.
- Can break down. Monofilament fishing line is made from nylon. Because of this makeup, it can break down over time when exposed to sunlight. For that reason, it is crucial that you replace monofilament fishing line at least once a year—even sooner if you are a regular fisherman.
Braided Fishing Line Pros & Cons
- Strong. Braided fishing line is extremely strong for a given diameter, often two times as strong as monofilament fishing line.
- Can spool more line. Because braided fishing line is stronger than monofilament line given the diameter, you can place much more line on the spool. This can be especially important in deep sea fishing situations where the water is extremely deep.
- Sinks faster. Because of the strength of braided fishing line it is known to sink faster than monofilament line, allowing you to get to the bottom faster.
- Casts further. The extra weight associated with braided fishing line allows you to cast further than you otherwise would with monofilament line.
- Trolls deeper. For the same reasons listed above, braided fishing line trolls deeper than monofilament fishing line.
- Does not tangle. Because braided line has no “memory” in terms of looping, twists and tangles are never a problem. Because of this, braided line is a great choice for spinning reels in some situations.
- Does not break down. Unlike monofilament line, braided fishing line does not break down in sunlight. This means you can leave the same line on the reel year after year without any adverse effects.
- Can really feel fish strikes. Because braided fishing line has zero stretch or flexibility, you as the fisherman can feel every fish bump and strike with ease.
- Slippery. Because braided fishing line is very slippery, it is more difficult to tie knots with, and you will have to use knots that can hold regardless of the friction.
- Hard to cut. Braided line is so strong and rigid that is very difficult to cut. Unlike monofilament line, which can be cut easy with your teeth, with braided line you will need to carry nail clippers or very sharp scissors.
- Not transparent. Although braided line is available in a few different colors, it is not transparent like monofilament line. This can also make it easier for the fish to see the line. Thus, when using braided line, you may also want to use a leader to hide the bottom part of the line from the fish.
- No “give.” Because braid has no stretch to speak of, there is no give when a fish strikes. That’s why the most experienced fisherman use less drag on their reel when fishing with braided fishing line. This rigidity also means you will have to use more finesse when setting the hook or run the risk of losing the fish.
Other Types of Fishing Line
Although monofilament and braided fishing line are by far the most popular types of fishing line, there are a few other types of fishing line of which you should be aware. These fishing line types include fluorocarbon fishing line, wire fishing line and fly fishing line.
Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Fluorocarbon fishing line is a type of line that is used mostly in leaders. People who use braided line would be well served to use a fluorocarbon fishing line leader, because the material is completely invisible underwater and very abrasion resistant.
Some companies are now making fluorocarbon fishing line and marketing it as a main line for your reel, but as of now it still lags way behind the other two types of line in terms of popularity.
Wire Fishing Line
As you might expect, wire fishing line is very strong. Like fluorocarbon fishing line, wire fishing line is also used mostly as a leader. It is especially helpful when fishing for varieties that have very strong teeth, such as mackerel, tuna and some of the larger sporting fish varieties. Wire fishing line is available as either a single strand or braided material, and because of its weightiness; it is very popular among fisherman who prefer to troll in very deep water. However, when using wire line it is imperative that you have a special hardened spool on your reel that can handle wire line.
Fly Fishing Line
Fly fishing line is a type of line used exclusively for fly fishing and exclusively with a fly rod and fly wheel. Fly fishing line comes in different weights, but these weights do not indicate the “test” as they do with monofilament, braided and other types of line. Instead these weights refer to the actual heaviness of the line itself. Fly line attaches to a leader called a tippet which comes in different breaking strengths
Unlike in spin fishing and baitcasting, the weight of the fly line—and not the lure—is what allows the fisherman to cast the fly. Different fly rods and reels demand a certain heaviness of fly fishing line—and only that weight will do. In other words, the fly fishing line must be exactly matched up with the fly rod and fly wheel. An angler who attempts to utilize the wrong type of fly line will not only find it impossible to cast, he will probably also scare off all the fish for miles around. Therefore, if you do not know what type of fly line is exactly right for your setup, it’s important to ask a professional before making a purchase.