What’s my line?

By Jerry Purviance

Or should I say, what’s your line? As owner of a bait shop for years, one of the biggest questions I would get from customers is, what kind of line should I use? Just a quick look around a well-stocked bait shop in the fishing line aisle can make your head spin. Mono, co-polymer, braided, fluorocarbon, yadda yadda yadda. A lot of times the way you fish will determine what kind of line you should be using. Now, instead of going too far off the deep end, I will stick with the top three types used in our area of the country: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid.

I am going to focus on monofilament (mono) and fluorocarbon lines. Monofilament is comprised of many synthetic components combined in a gel that solidifies into a slick, string-like substance. It is made of a single fiber of plastic. Monofilament is low-cost and has been the mainstay of fishing line for many years. Fluorocarbon line is made using a complex and expensive process during which a polymer (plastic) of fluoride (a chemical element yellow gas) is bonded to a carbon at a molecular level.

Monofilament lines:
• cost less than other lines.
• are easier to tie into knots and to cut.
• are more visible to the fish.
• make it easier to undo knots and backlashes than with braided line.
• do not dig into the spool like braid when snagged, causing bird nests in your bait-casting reels.
• get dried out and brittle with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light. Depending on usage, mono may have to be changed yearly.
Avoid buying the cheap big spools of mono. Line diameter is not consistent with cheap lines.

Fluorocarbon lines:
• stretch less than mono, making better hook sets.
• are more dense and stiffer than mono, but because of this, some people complain that it does not stay on the spool on spinning reels.
• are much harder to see underwater than mono. There is less chance of scaring off the fish with your line.
• have a much faster sink rate than mono. You will get into the strike zone faster.
• won’t get damaged from ultraviolet light (UV) like mono lines do.
• can cost twice as much as a mono line, but fluorocarbon lines are more durable, making them more cost-effective.
Care must be taken when tying knots. Fluorocarbon lines are stiffer and more slippery, making knots more difficult to tie.

Now, with all this info, what do you use? I normally prefer to use mono for bobber fishing. The line is buoyant on top of the water, whereas when using a fluorocarbon and a bobber, the line will sink in between the top of your bobber and the tip of your rod and could get tangled in a snag below the water’s surface, leaving you high and dry when your bobber goes down. When it comes to vertical jigging or spider rigging, or when I want to be stealthy lure fishing like down at Deep Lakes, fluorocarbon is my go-to. First, it is basically invisible, which is a great help in the clear water. Second, the line sinks, helping you get your lightweight jigs down to them crappie. And because it doesn’t stretch as much as mono, I can feel them nibbling on my jig.