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To further my fishing education, I’ve been reading about and comparing my experiences with veteran fishing guides and anglers in regards to fishing lines made of fluorocarbon and gel-spun Polyethylene, which are the micro fibers super-lines are made from.
Here is my latest thinking. See if it matches yours.
Fluorocarbon Fishing Lines
The extreme popularity of fluorocarbon fishing line is due to it being invisible to fish. You see, unlike monofilament, lines made from fluorocarbon refract light nearly the same as water. In addition, fluorocarbon lines do not absorb water so they maintain their original strength and abrasion resistance regardless of conditions; they are fast sinking and exhibit low stretch characteristics, which deliver enhanced sensitivity.
While fluorocarbon lines look and feel similar to monofilament they are different in many ways. For example, fluorocarbon lines tend to resist twist even more than monofilament, which can make them more difficult to manage when used on a spin reel – especially in heavier pound tests.
You can overcome this characteristic by not filling your reel spool quite so full, employing quality swivels (like Berkley McMahon) to relieve twist, and by using light pound tests. For example, I rarely use more than 8-pound test fluorocarbon on a spinning reel. It’s different with bait-casters, since fluorocarbon lines work just fine on them - given the fact that bait-casters produce no line twist.
In addition, fluorocarbon lines don’t dissipate heat nearly as well as monofilament, which means you’ll need to take a few extra seconds when tying by wetting/lubricating your knots and make sure to cinch them up slowly.
While fluorocarbon lines are less visible to fish, realize that even clear fluorocarbon can show up when surrounded by green-colored water, which is prevalent in many freshwater lakes and rivers. Anglers who previously employed low-vis green monofilament for its camouflage like abilities should know that there is now a green tint fluorocarbon available under the Trilene brand.
In addition, tinted fluorocarbon offers the added feature of diffusing unwanted light that has been known to occasionally travel down the length of clear fluorocarbon and produce unwanted sparkle and flash.
Having your main line be invisible fluorocarbon is worthwhile when employing techniques where you will be tying direct from your rod to lure or bait. For example, I often use clear or green-tint fluorocarbon (depending on water color) when casting plug, spoon, spinner, fishing a jig, or employing the crawl-retrieve method for trout. However, there are many methods, like still-fishing PowerBait, where using monofilament (even hi-vis mono) works just fine as your main line when combined with a leader made from invisible fluorocarbon.
High Tech Super-lines
Manufactured from gel-spun Polyethylene, micro fibers are what super-lines are made from and what enables them to be stronger than other line types. For example, 6-pound test FireLine is the same diameter as 2-pound monofilament and will cast 30 to 40 percent further than mono of the same pound test.
Due to high-tech braids having almost zero stretch, they offer increased sensitivity. In addition, they float better than monofilament and are more tolerant of line twist, which makes most super-lines a dream-come-true for use on a spinning reel.
Besides offering extreme strength and thin diameter; when properly selected super-lines can totally eliminate the thought of an unexpected break off. When choosing for trout, panfish and walleye going with the same test as you would monofilament is fine.
However, when after big fish like steelhead, salmon, sturgeon or halibut stepping up to a higher pound test will offer you a significant difference in strength and performance. For example, if you now use 25-pound test monofilament for salmon, I would encourage you to select 50 or 65-pound test super-line, which equals the diameter of 12 or 15-pound test monofilament.
Unlike when first introduced only a few super-lines are a straight braid these days, since most are enhanced with additional processing. This is done to provide body to the line so it resists tip wrapping, which is often associated with single process braids.
In addition, further processing is used to provide color, smoothness for longer casts, and to seal the line so it will shed water and float higher. For example, Fireline goes through a firing process that fuses it into a single strand after it is first braided.
Due to their smooth, slick, exterior finish super-lines (regardless of brand) can slip on the reel spool after spooling, which might cause you to think your reel has a faulty drag mechanism. You can eliminate this risk (when tying direct to the reel arbor) by taping the line down – just place a 1-inch length of electrical or duct tape over your line tie. Another option is to splice your super-line to monofilament backing - used to fill the reel spool part way. A UNI-to-UNI knot is the best when splicing super-lines or splicing monofilament and super-line together.