Why use monofilament line?
Monofilament line is still the most popular line and has been used in Australia for decades. The reason monofilament is popular is because it is generally less expensive than braided lines and has a range of characteristics that make it ideal for fishing applications.
Soft / Supple – Most nylon lines are soft and supple enough to be handled easily and suitable for most reel types.
Memory / Stiffness – The way the line maintains loops once it has been wound onto a spool is called memory. Too much memory is a bad characteristic. Having some memory and stiffness makes monofilament line better for the entry level angler as it reduces knots and tangles. Braided lines have virtually no memory or stiffness which makes them better for more experienced anglers as they can tangle more easily and because of the thin diameter of braided lines knots can be almost impossible to untangle.
Stretch – Monofilament lines have a degree of stretch that makes them more forgiving than braided lines. This stretch allows fish to more easily swallow baits and acts as a shock absorber when fighting fish, making it less likely for hooks to pull out of the fish.
Abrasion Resistance – Monofilament is more abrasion resistant than braided lines, especially around oysters, rocks and reef, making it a popular option for anglers fishing these areas.
Why are there so many different types of monofilament?
In the store you will notice there are many types of monofilament line. This is because there are many different species of fish and locations for fishing that require different techniques. Different techniques, locations and species often require a line with different characteristics. The packaging of monofilament line often lists the features of that line and thus a clue to what the application may be for that particular line. Some monofilament lines are designed for specific applications, with one of the above characteristics a focus of its design. Examples of design features that may be listed on the packaging and a possible application may include;
Low stretch: A good monofilament for lure fishing or bait fishing structure, where the angler needs to be able to pull fish away from the snags.
High Abrasion Resistance: Good for fishing rocky and snaggy areas where a fish may drag the line across structure.
Thin Diameter: A good line for fishing for easily spooked fish in clear or shallow water.
Soft and Limp: A good line for small spinning and baitcast reels because it will have less memory (coils that stay in the line) when used on small spools.
When spooling a reel it is important to lay the line on neatly and with reasonable pressure. Fill the spool on baitcast and spinning reels to about 1mm from the spool lip to allow long casts without tangling.
Key Features and Benefits of Monofilament Lines
Abrasion Resistance – A line that possesses a much higher resistance to breaking due to nicks in the line. These lines will resist breaking longer under the worst conditions, such as rubbing against rocks, stumps and other underwater structure.
High Knot Strength – Most line breaks occur at the knot. In fact, no matter how strong the line is, tying a knot in it can weaken the line by as much as 50%. Lines that feature high knot strength have the least loss of strength at the knot, when compared to other monofilaments. This is due to the dramatic tensile strength advantage that line technology provides.
Light, Limp, Supple – It’s supple and hangs limp off the spool without tension and coiling. The limp line passes through the rod guides unrestricted and smoothly. Anglers have noted that they can cast with the line up to 30% farther than with conventional monofilament.
High Impact Resistance – Similarly, just as line technology enhances tensile strength, so does it affect shock or impact resistance. This advantage provides the ability to use smaller diameter lines, gaining obvious advantages, without the loss of strength or control.
Low Stretch – Low stretch monofilament provides more feel and more control. This allows the angler to better detect bites, improves hook sets and increases the control the angler has over hooked fish. This makes low stretch lines ideal for fishing in deep water also as they increase the feel and bite detection when long distances of line are in the water. A low stretch monofilament is ideal for anglers that want to fish lures, but who do not wish to fish braid. The increased feel allows you to drive the lures more effectively through structure and better detect bites and set hooks quicker.
Low Spool Memory – Most conventional nylon lines are so stiff with tension that they habitually take on the rounded form of the reel spool. This is known as “spool memory” and is responsible for most backlashes and “bird nests” (tangles) in overhead reels, and for the “slinky coiling” of spinning reels. Quality monofilament lines and those described as limp or supple will generally display less memory.
Virtual Invisibility – Monofilament line almost disappears once placed underwater. This is called the “mirror effect.” Because the surface of the line is highly polished, it acts as a mirror, reflecting its surroundings and blending in. Fluorocarbon line is becoming more popular for hard to catch fish and has the advantage of having similar light refraction qualities to water, making it virtually invisible in water. Red lines are also popular as red is the first colour in the colour spectrum to ‘disappear’ underwater. Below about 12’ red line becomes ‘invisible’ to fish making it ideal in deep water and for finicky feeders.
Fluorocarbon lines are the ultimate in invisibility. They feature similar light refraction qualities to water, making them virtually invisible in water. Other features of fluorocarbon include high abrasion resistance and the fact they sink in water. The abrasion resistance combined with it’s invisibility in water make fluorocarbon ideal as leader material, however spooling reels completely with fluorocarbon, especially when targeting easily spooked fish, is becoming more popular. The fact that fluorocarbon sinks makes it ideal for fishing light soft plastics as it assists the lure to sink and allows the angler to stay more in touch with the lure, detecting more bites and hooking more fish.
- If the line is twisted, letting the line play out behind a moving boat, unrigged, helps take the twist out. It’s like dangling a phone by the cord to work the twists out. If the line has been on the spool and has developed memory, soaking it in warm water may also help. Tying it to a stationary object and gently pulling it straight might also make it more forgetful. Knots also affect the strength of your line.
- Fishing lines are exposed to a constant barrage of abrasive materials (stumps, weeds, brush, grass, rocks, line guides, etc.) which can cause small nicks in the line. A line’s ability to withstand those nicks determines how well it will hold up under the pressure of fighting a fish. While on the water, running the first few feet of line through your fingers or between your lips will help detect nicks and abrasion. If your line is damaged remove the damaged section and continue fishing.
- The diameter of a line can be important in several ways. Generally the smaller the diameter the better, so long as other properties, such as ease of casting, strength and resistance to abrasion are satisfactory. With smaller diameter lines, more line can be spooled onto the reel, giving the angler additional capacity to fight a fish. Smaller diameter lines are generally less visible to fish when in the water and line diameter can also affect the ease of casting the line, thinner line generally casting further. Finally, when using lures, a smaller diameter line will generally maximise “lure action” as it is worked through the water and decrease drag, allowing the lure to dive deeper.
- Individual Product preference is a key driver for anglers to buy fishing line. The casual angler is less concerned about line characteristics and more concerned with price and quantity of line for the price. However, the more serious anglers seek a fishing line that they can rely on to give them good length of service and greatly increase their chances of landing fish. High tech / quality monofilament lines can be more expensive, making them equivalent in price to braided lines, but these monofilament lines often have a list of features that increase the performance, durability or lifespan of the line.
Braided Line (Braid)
Braided line is becoming more popular as it has a range of features that provide benefits to the angler when targeting a wide range of species, using a range of techniques and when fishing a variety of locations. These lines are constructed from gel-spun polyethylene, either spectra or dyneema, and are referred to as ‘braid’, ‘super lines’, ‘GSP’ or PE lines.
The key features of braided line are;
• Much thinner diameter compared to the same breaking strain monofilament
• Almost zero stretch
• Limp, light, almost no memory
What are the benefits associated with these features?
Thinner diameter line has the benefit of allowing the angler to fit more line on the reel. Having more line allows the angler to fish a wider range of applications and to target larger fish. Alternatively the angler can fit enough line of a heavier breaking strain on their reel to target their desired species, as this heavier line has a much thinner diameter than the equivalent monofilament.
Thinner diameter also means less drag from water pressure on the line. Less drag / resistance, due to thinner diameters, allow lures to dive deeper and also with maximum lure action. This decreased drag / resistance also allows offshore anglers to fish deep water and fast currents with less lead and less belly in the line, improving feel and hook-up rate.
Almost Zero Stretch
A benefit of almost zero stretch is that anglers have increased feel, unlike monofilament that can be stretched several metres over a long cast. Increased feel means the angler is more in touch with what is going on at the other end of the line, whether detecting subtle bites, bumping a lure through timber or across a rock bar, or feeling the action of a lure through the line to ensure it is swimming correctly.
The almost zero stretch of braided lines is also ideal for controlling fish, especially when dragging fish away from structure. If a fish hits a bait or lure close to structure, the stretch of monofilament may allow the fish to drag your line into the structure before you have a chance to react, while the almost zero stretch characteristic allows you to bully the fish away from cover without the stretch working against you.
Limp, light, almost no memory
Being limp and light, with very little memory, allows braid to cast light baits and lures long distances with little resistance.
Braided lines, through the above characteristics, have opened up many more angling options including deepwater jigging, bream luring with ultra light 1g lures and trolling lures to depths that couldn’t be reached previously without the use of downriggers. Braided lines are most popular for lure fishing as lures will cast further, work deeper and with improved action. Almost zero stretch means lures can be worked more effectively, subtle bites detected and hooks set more effectively. The angler has more control over the lure and also the fish once it is hooked.
Although there are many advantages associated with braided lines, there are some disadvantages. Braided lines are often more expensive than monofilament line and have features that make them more suitable for use by experienced anglers. The added stretch of monofilament is ideal for bait fishing as the angler wants the fish to get the bait into their mouths, the resistance associated with little stretch in braid can often be felt by the fish, causing the fish to drop the bait. Without the added stretch of monofilament, braid can also lead to pulled hooks and this is why when using braided lines most anglers will fish with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to provide stretch and abrasion resistance.
Although there are many benefits associated with the light, limp, almost no memory characteristics of braid, the downside of this is that braid can tangle more easily and once tangled can be virtually impossible to untangle.
Braided lines are constructed from man made poly-ethylene (PE) fibres such as ‘spectra’ or ‘micro-dyneema’. There are a wide variety of braids on the market, each of which has specific technologies that give them varying characteristics. Braids may vary based on colour, construction, coatings, stiffness and diameter but they are commonly broken into 3 categories, true braids, fused braids and PE.
True braids are created by braiding / weaving strands of man made fibres such as spectra or micro-dyneema into a single length of line. This single length of braided line may be constructed from 4 or 8 strands, each containing about 50 extremely thin fibres. True braids are extremely limp, with virtually no memory making them ideal for baitcast and overhead reels. This limpness allows them to flow freely from the reel, increasing casting distance, even on spinning reels.
The downside of true braids is that this limpness can allow them to tangle more easily and once tangled they can be almost impossible to untangle.
Fused lines are created by laying the fibres side by side and thermally bonding them together. This creates a line that is stiffer than a true braid and often less expensive. This stiffness makes it less suitable for baitcaster reels as their spool diameter is smaller, but ideal for spinning reels as the stiffer line flows freely from the reel with less chance of tangling. A downside of fused lines is that over time as the line wears the bonding process can begin to break down causing the line to fluff. Fused lines still have a good lifespan, but the additional cost of true braids is often reflected in their longer life.
PE stands for poly-ethylene and although true braids and fused braids are also constructed from poly-ethylene a category of lines referred to as PE lines has appeared on the market.
These lines often have a higher price point, but this price point often comes with the ultimate in technology, limpness and ultra thin diameter.
When spooling up with braid it is important to lay down a few wraps of monofilament line first. This allows the braid to bed down, locking around the monofilament so that it doesn’t slip on the spool when fighting a large fish.
Monofilament and braided lines come in a wide range of colours and the choice of colour often comes down to angler preference. Some anglers though select line colours based on application, for example;
Some anglers prefer lines that are brown and green in colour to blend in with the environment.
Some anglers prefer blue and clear lines to blend into the environment.
Shallow, clear water
Some anglers prefer clear lines as fish can often be easily spooked in clear, shallow water.
As mentioned in the monofilament section red lines are the first to ‘disappear underwater, becoming ‘invisible’ beyond 12’, making these a popular choice among anglers fishing in deeper water.
High visibility lines
There is a range of high visibility lines available including fluoro yellow and pink, in both monofilament and braid. These lines are designed to be easily visible to the angler in a range of applications including, the trolling of multiple lines, fishing around tight structure and flicking light lures for bream where the slightest movement of the line may signal a bite. These high visibility lines allow the angler to better detect bites, control lines and fish and drive their lures more effectively.
The ‘leader’ is the length of line that joins your main line to your hook or lure.
Why would I use leader material?
Sometimes standard monofilament is used as leader material, however like monofilament or braid leader material is designed to suit specific applications. It may feature high abrasion resistance for toothy fish or fishing structure, limp and fine diameter for timid fish or in the case of fluorocarbon leader be virtually invisible in water. Leader material is often sold in smaller spool lengths allowing the angler to keep a range of styles and sizes in their tackle box for different applications.
Leader Options include;
High abrasion resistant leader – is ideal for fish with teeth or raspy mouths that can easily destroy standard monofilament line. Leaders with this characteristic are ideal for targeting and fighting fish around structure such as mangroves, reef, rocks, oysters and jetties, where the fish heading for shelter may see the leader coming into contact with this structure.
Supple and fine diameter leaders – are ideal for targeting species that may be spooked by the often larger diameter and stiffer high abrasion resistant leaders. These are often used for spooky fish and in shallow or clear water where the angler needs every advantage possible to encourage wary fish to bite.
Fluorocarbon leaders – are the new generation in leader materials. Although more expensive than many standard
mono leaders, fluorocarbon leaders do offer some features that provide a range of benefits to the angler. They feature similar light refraction qualities to water, making them virtually invisible in water. This makes fluorocarbon the ultimate leader material for spooky fish, clear and shallow water. Fluorocarbon is commonly stiffer material which makes it less prone to tangling and easy to use with a wide variety of rigs. The stiffness of fluorocarbon also assists with laying out leaders when fly fishing.
Another property of fluorocarbon is that it sinks. This can be an advantage when casting light lures as it provides extra weight when casting and also allows the angler to stay in better touch with the lure by removing the bow that often occurs as light lures sink on floating leaders. This sinking leader also allows the lure being presented to appear more natural in its descent.
Wire leader is another option for anglers when fishing for toothy fish. This can take the form of pre-made wire traces with swivel and snap clip, or purchased as spools of wire, with crimps used to create the desired rigs.
Single strand wire is also used for trolling lures and baits with twisted knots being used rather than crimps. Wire is often a last resort because it can decrease the number of bites by spooking the fish, or not presenting baits as naturally as monofilament leader. Where possible it is best to treat wire as a last resort.
Advantages of wire leader
Less chance of bite offs
Pre-made wire traces making rigging quick and easy
Disadvantages of wire
Less bites / can spook fish
Presents baits less naturally
Sinks more quickly / can drag your rig into structure