September 6, 2019
Fishing lines are grouped into two primary categories when it comes to material; braided and monofilament, or mono as it is commonly known.
They come in all kinds of colors and can even be multi-colored. Some anglers will take permanent markers to color the line. This serves two purposes.
1) With mono, it helps to hide light traveling down the fishing line under the water. While mono is not anywhere near as good transmitting light as fiber optic cables, it does happen.
2) It marks distance and depth. Once you find fish, especially when they are suspended, you need to hit that depth every time. Line markers make this easier.
Braided and monofilament are further broken into two categories.
Braided can be the new super braids made from the same fibers used in bullet-resistant vests or traditional braids made from cotton, linen or rare cases, silk. Traditional braided line is very hard to find these days as the synthetics are more durable, last longer and are much stronger compared to the diameter of the line. The threads are woven together to make a thicker and stronger line.
Mono is a single strand of a blend of synthetic material. Traditional mono breaks down in ultraviolet light. Fluorocarbon line, also a single strand, is made from fluorine and carbon. It does not break down under UV light.
Which is the best line to use? That depends on what you are fishing for and how. With this subjective nature in mind, we will outline the benefits and drawbacks of both kinds of lines, allowing you to decide what works best for your style of fishing. Braided line below refers to the newer synthetic lines.
Fishing line is categorized by breaking strength. The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has internationally recognized standards for how much weight a line should hold based on the advertised poundage. The rules give a little wiggle room so the line does not have to break at exactly the advertised pounds.
Beyond how strong the line is, the other major item in fishing lines is the diameter. Going pounds to pounds, braided lines are always thinner than mono lines.
Diameter is also going to vary in much more in mono lines in the same weight class compared to braided lines. The reason for the diameter difference in mono is abrasion resistance. Freshwater fly fishermen are not as concerned about abrasion as a catfish angler, so fly line leader material is thinner. Mono leaders for fly fishing can also be tapered.
When comparing line size, the same diameter braid is going to be far stronger than the same diameter mono.
The size and strength of braided lines means you can fill a reel with much more braid than mono and stay in the same line weight class. When trying for a line-class world record, that can be very important. Another 40 yards of line could be the difference between wearing out a fish and having it spool the reel and break the line.
Braid is a lot tougher when it comes to standing up to wear and tear, especially when dragging lures or baits across rocks, piles, coral and other structure. It is also easier to see when the line gets frayed. You can continue to fish with some damage to the line with braid. Once mono frays, it is time to cut the hook off and retie well above the fray frayed area.
Here is an abrasion test of mono vs. braided on a cinder block. This test compares lines of the same diameter.
Fluorocarbon rules the visibility scale. When in the water, it nearly vanishes. Since it is also more expensive than traditional mono, fluorocarbon is often used as leader material for leader-shy fish. The IGFA rules page spells out how long leaders can be for world record purposes.
Traditional mono takes second place. It does transmit light. This is one reason companies produce mono in various colors. They hope the color helps hide the line.
Braid is nothing more than a rope. No way to hide it. Leader-shy fish will turn away in a hurry.
Traditional mono absorbs water. Fluorocarbon does not. Braids do not absorb water in the same way as mono, but water does get into the weave unless the line is treated to repel water. This is not an issue fishing in Florida. It is a concern when ice fishing up north. Frozen line is hard to reel in.
Thinner line casts farther. It has less resistance to the wind and the rod eyes. Here’s a test casting the same pound line of braid and mono.
Mono stretches. Braid does not. Stretch can be an advantage when fighting fish because the line helps you wear it down. Stretch is also bad because the more line you have out, the harder it becomes to overcome the stretch to set the hook.
With braid, you feel every pull of the fish and it becomes a fight directly between you and the fish. The line is no help.
The casting test also discusses the difference in feel. With braid, you can feel much more.
Planning a fishing trip?
Find a Fishing CharterSearch Trips