Deciding which line to use for your spinning reel can be a daunting task. A trip to the local tackle shop will reveal dozens of brands and variations: monofilament, braid, fluorocarbon, all claiming to deliver better performance, accuracy and value. With so many options, how do you know which line is best suited for your fishing style?
Know the difference
The first step to choosing the right line is knowing the differences between the various types of lines.
Monofilament: As the name suggests, "mono" refers to a single strand of material. The line is constructed by transforming molten plastic (most often nylon) into a single long strand using a die. First developed in the 1930's, mono took off among anglers during the 1950's due to its low manufacturing cost. Today, mono accounts for two-thirds of all line purchases. The benefits of mono include its low cost, flexible and easy to manage nature, and its versatility. Downsides include low sensitivity, slow sink rate and degradation in sunlight.
Braided line: Prior to the 1950's, braided dacron was the most common fishing line on the market. It was bulky, brittle and possessed poor knot strength, quickly falling out of favor with the advent of mono. Braided line has come a long way since those early days, and with new synthetic fibers like gel-spun and kevlar, braided lines provide a thiner and stronger core than monofilament. Popular among professional bass anglers, braid's strength and stiffness allows anglers to apply more pressure to the fish, keeping them from diving back into structure. Advantages of braid are its high sensitivity, high breaking strength, and thin diameter, allowing anglers to pack on hundreds of yards onto a spool. Downsides of braid include its brittle nature and expensive cost.
Fluorocarbon: A popular material for leaders for years, fluorocarbon has been growing recently in popularity as a full fishing line as well. As a refractor of light, fluorocarbon is practically invisible when submerged. Advantages of fluorocarbon are its low visibility, high sink rate, and durability even when exposed to high levels of sunlight. In clear water and heavily pressured areas, the stealthy presentation of fluorocarbon gives it a meaningful advantage over braid and mono. Downsides of fluorocarbon are its high cost, limited versatility and the fact that it is incredibly stiff, which presents challenges for knot tying. Although recent technology has decreased the manufacturing cost of fluorocarbon, it remains the most expensive option of the three lines.
When to use each line
Trolling: Monofilament. Mono's ability to stretch makes it ideal for trolling in all conditions.
Casting (fresh and saltwater): Braided line. Braid's thin yet strong core makes it easier to deliver longer, more accurate casts. Plus, its lack of stretch allows anglers to keep fish out of structure.
Live bait: Monofilament. Mono's stretching property allows live bait to swim more naturally in water.
Jigging: Fluorocarbon. The density of fluorocarbon makes it sink much quicker than braid or mono. It also is extremely sensitive, making it ideal for feeling fish while jigging.
Which line do you prefer to use? Tell us in a comment below!