Mono, Fluoro or Braid?


Once it is on the reel, we rarely think of it. That is, until the fish decides to show you that you have waited too long to respool, and it breaks off. Fishing in general is rough on line.

Exposed to the elements, drastic temperature changes, in and out of trucks and boats, it’s no surprise that all your gear takes a beating. Line is no exception. It is consistently skipped, flipped, pitched, and punched into some pretty inhospitable places. We drag it across gravel and sand bars, bounce it off boat docks, and expose it to ultraviolet light. After all that, add wind knots and the occasional bird’s nest and we have thoroughly thrashed our line.But modern lines are surprisingly durable. Human beings are great at innovating and engineering our way out of problems and fishing line is no exception.

It’s a challenge, to be sure, to perfect fishing line. Not only must line be incredibly strong, but it must also be extremely fine and possess the ability to cast effortlessly. Fishing lines must be able to withstand immense force; they rocket through guides at speeds that would make professional baseball pitchers green with envy. To top it all off, on a cast, line must deal with acceleration forces nearly 14 times that of gravity.

While the breaking strength of any line is listed on the spool, there are other important parameters you should consider.

You may see a diameter measurement that becomes important if a substantial amount of line is needed on the reel. Braided line is often shown with its break strength rating, plus a diameter comparison to monofilament since braid is so much thinner than other lines. Braid is stronger and less likely to break, but also more visible than fluoro or mono. A good rule of thumb is to check what weight of line is recommended for your specific rod and use that to ensure you won’t place too much stress on the rod when you hook that big one.One common question you may be asking yourself, does fishing line have a service life? The answer is, yes. Well, yes and no. Between monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid, monofilament degrades the quickest. This is because it is the most affected by exposure to direct sunlight. For every 100 hours in direct sunlight, monofilament will lose about 20% of its tensile strength according to Pure Fishing. Mono is also very “stretchy”, good in some situations, bad in others.Fluorocarbon fishing line, while herculean in comparison to monofilament when dealing with sun exposure, has its own drawbacks as it is more prone to suffer nicks and scratches during use, degrading the line over time. Most fluoros are also stiffer than mono, so don’t cast as well. And a bad knot in fluoro can cause it to break just as quickly as a bad knot in monofilament. On the plus side, they’re low stretch so offer better hook setting and fish fighting capabilities, and most fluoros sink, so they’re good for pushing crankbaits and jerkbaits deeper.

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Now let’s discuss the strongest of the group-the “go-to” for froggin’, flippin’, pitchin’, and punchin’. Braided fishing line is essentially immune to the effects of UV light and provides the strongest breaking strength by diameter. Braided fishing line has a similar construction to a rope; many microfibers are woven together to create one strong strand of line. It does, however, have a weakness: most common failures with braided line are caused by abrasion and shock.

Monofilaments and fluorocarbon fishing lines are not immune to abrasion issues. Brushing line up against anything that is sharp (rocks, logs, limbs, fence posts, even fish teeth) can cause degradation. Improper knot tying, backlashes (it happens to the best of us), and wind knots are just a few of the other culprits that may weaken fishing line. It is also critical to match rod action, line, and lure weight for optimal line performance. See the manufacturers’ specifications for more information here or seek out your local retail bait shop staff, professional guides, or fishing club to gain insight into good pairings for the equipment you have and the species you are after.

Most anglers put their line through many different trials and are oblivious to the damage that has incurred. As a person fishes, the damaged line will continue to weaken. This weakness may rear its ugly head at the most inopportune time. Think of a fishing tournament with a big check on the other end of that damaged line.

So, at the end of the day, it is important to respool reels in accordance with each angler’s individual needs. As a general rule, give your line a once over before heading out on each trip. Simply running your fingers down the line should reveal any noticeable imperfections. Normally, the first six to eight feet of line will receive the most wear as this portion is consistently exposed to UV rays and abrasive materials like rocks, wood, vegetation, etc. If you notice any defects, cut the line above the problem area, and retie.

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Unlike the nicks and rough spots on fluorocarbon and monofilament, braided line will appear fuzzy or frayed when damaged. Now if there is money on the line, you will want to respool before each tournament. For your average angler, respooling before each new season should suffice. In saltwater use, you might need to respool mono after every trip or two, especially if you’re fighting heavy fish. Just trust your fingers and your eyes: if it looks nicked or worn, better to remove the bad line or respool than to lose the big one!

Lastly, remember to dispose of discarded line appropriately. Left at the water’s edge it becomes a death trap for birds and other wildlife. For monofilament line, visit your local Berkley retailer and locate a Berkley Conservation Institute bin.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>