There are 3 main fishing lines in the bass fishing world: fluorocarbon, braid and monofilament. There are a few hybrid lines out there made to incorporate various materials and characteristics but by and large, these three line types dominate the market.
When I’m choosing which type of line and which pound test, there are three main determining factors: water clarity, cover and action of the bait. There are certain situations, baits and techniques where I’ll always use mono, fluoro or braid. Example: punching mats with heavy braid. And then there are situations, baits and techniques where I may alternate between two of the line choices. Example: sometimes I’ll use topwaters with braid and sometimes mono. Furthermore, there are times when I’ll use two of the line types at the same time. Example: I'll tie a fluorocarbon leader to my main braided line.
You should know that each angler is different and what works best for me might not work best for you but I believe this will give you a good starting point if you’re struggling to figure out what line to use.
I primarily use two brands of line now, Sufix and Sunline. These are top of the line products and when making an educated purchase, not terribly expensive. As long as I know exactly what I need, I prefer to buy the best quality line I can.
My braid, fluoro, mono percent usage is about 50, 40, 10. I use braid anytime I can, fluoro most times when I can’t use braid and mono sparingly.
Pros: strong, near zero stretch, near zero memory, long-range casting, high sensitivity, floats
Cons: can be very visible in clear water, low stretch can tear a hole in the fish’s mouth, a little tricky to cast, backlashes can be really hard to get out, high sensitivity can lead to premature setting of the hook.
I’ve been using Sufix 832 Braid for several years now and really don’t have a substitute in the braid category that I would feel comfortable recommending. Sufix has never let me down from 20-pound test on a spinning reel to punching thick mats with 65-pound test.
Common Braid Applications:
Exclusively on braid: Punching (65#), buzz frog (40#), floating frog (40#), buzzbait (40#)
Most of the time on braid: ChatterBait (40#), spinnerbait (40#), flipping soft plastics (50#), flipping jig (50#), swim jig (40#)
Occasionally on braid: worm (30 to 40#), topwater (30 to 40#), lipless crankbait (30#)
You’ll notice right away, most of these are single hook baits where strong hooksets are needed to penetrate the big hook through the fishes mouth. I don’t throw many treble hook baits on braid because the low stretch of the braid can tear a hole in the fish on the hook set and lead to the fish getting off as it nears the boat. Other times the fish will surge at the boat and tear off even if you didn’t tear a whole on the hook set. There are two situations where I will use braid with a treble hook bait: if I want to make long casts with a topwater and if I’m ripping a lipless crankbait through submerged vegetation. With the topwater, the braid allows me to make longer casts and the low stretch helps with the hook up on the end of a long cast. You just have to be careful as the fish nears the boat to not let it tear off. With the lipless crank, the low stretch allows me to pop the rod tip and break the hooks free from thick vegetation like hydrilla.
Anytime I’m in thick vegetation or around a lot of wood I like to use braid. Nothing compares to its strength. I lean towards braid over fluorocarbon most of the time anyway. And that’s in large part because of how and where I grew up fishing. My dad was a big fan of braid and fishing shallow muddy water, so I am too. In recent years I’ve started using more fluoro than in years passed but I’ll still lean towards braid when I can get away with it. I like the strength and lower stretch compared to fluoro. In thick vegetation, I think the braid blends in and doesn’t bother the fish even in clear water. The braid also cuts through the vegetation and hauls the big ones out. In muddy water the braid is hidden in the low visibility.
- Keep a black or dark green marker in your boat to mark your line, as it will fade overtime. Marking your line will make it a little less visible.
- Superglue your knots. The tag end of the braid will fray and could unravel the knot.
Pros: less stretch than mono, stronger with smaller diameter than mono, abrasive resistant, better sensitivity than mono, sinks
Cons: some brands have high amounts of memory and are stiff,
I have been testing and incorporating more and more Sunline Fluorocarbon into my arsenal over the last year. Although Sunline manufactures several technique specific fluorocarbon lines, they have outdone themselves with their most recent invention of Sunline FC Assassin. This stuff is super strong and casts better than any other line I’ve used. If I were to recommend one all around great fluoro, it would be Sunline Assassin. That being said, I have also had great luck with Seagaur in the past. I used their Invizx for a few years without any issue but have always been intrigued by the level of research and development that goes into Sunline. Though Sunline is on most of my reels at the moment, I feel comfortable giving both brands the thumbs up.
Common Fluorocarbon Applications:
Exclusively on fluoro: football jig (15 to 20#), crankbait (10 to 15#), swimbait (15 to 20#), jerkbait (10 to 12#)
Most of the time on fluoro: sight fishing (25#), worm (20#),
Occasionally on fluoro: swimjig (20#), ChatterBait (20#), spinnerbait (20#), flipping soft plastics (20 to 25#), flipping jig (20 to 25#)
Fluorocarbon has definitely established its presence in the bass fishing word. For football jigs and swimbaits, there’s really no comparable option. You’re typically fishing these two baits in clear water where braid would be too visible while also making long casts where setting the hook with stretchy mono would be impossible.
Crankbaits are another place where fluorocarbon reigns supreme. You can actually get a crankbait to dive 20% deeper with fluoro versus mono. Two reasons: mono floats where fluoro sinks and fluoro has a thinner line diameter for the same pound test compared to mono. When throwing a crankbait on mono, the bigger diameter and buoyancy of the line causes a lot of resistance and actually creates a bow under the water. This won’t allow the bait to get as deep as it will with the thinner, denser fluoro. Often times, if you’re not bumping the bottom with a crankbait, they won’t bite it. So the difference between a crankbait diving 10 feet and 12 feet is pretty substantial.
There are times I’ll lean towards fluoro in situations where I’d like to use braid. If I think the braid is too visible due to the water clarity, I’ll fall back to the fluoro. If the vegetation is too sparse I’ll get away from the braid too. And sometimes when the fish are a little slow to take the bait, I’ll move to fluoro over braid for spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits and swimjigs. The reason for that, I feel the bite a little slower and thus set the hook a little slower. There’s also a little more stretch in fluoro than braid so if the fish are barely getting the bait, I don’t tear through as many of the hair-lipped ones.
- Wet your line before synching down your knot. The fluoro will actually rub itself when synching the knot if it’s not lubricated and weaken the line.
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I definitely use monofilament the least of the three line categories. The invent of fluorocarbon with its thinner diameter and low stretch along with advancements in the manufacturing process of braided line put monofilament up on the shelf for most techniques. I currently use Sunline Super Natural Monofilament but over the years I’d say I’ve used more old school Berkley Trilene Big Game than any other mono. I’ve moved to the Super Natural mono out of curiosity more than anything. Again, I’m a fan of the amount of research and development Sunline puts into their products so I wanted to test out their mono.
Common Mono Applications:
Occasionally: topwater (15 to 20#)
I really only use monofilament on topwaters, and only sometimes. I’ll use mono on a topwater when I’m fish a bait with small hooks or when I’m fishing a topwater in close quarters. If I’m skipping a popper under bushes, I like that the mono stretches on the hookset. I can still make sure I get a good hook in the fish, but I don’t tear through them because the mono absorbs the hookset. I also don’t need the long casting advantage of the braid in these situations.
Braid to Flouro:
Common Braid to Fouro Applications:
Most of the time on braid to fluoro: wacky rig (braid :20# fluoro: 10 to 12#), drop-shot (braid :20# fluoro: 10 to 12#), Senko (braid :30# fluoro: 12 to 15# on baitcaster),
I’ll use the braid with a 5-to-6-foot fluoro leader when I need low visibility, high castability and low stretch. I determine leader length by reeling my knot down nearly to the reel, then trimming the leader to where the amount of line beyond the tip is about what it would be during the windup of a normal cast. This prevents the knot from having to come out of the reel when casting while giving you a long enough leader that you can retie a few times without having to redo the leader.
Most of the time when I have this combo rigged up I’m using a drop-shot on a spinning reel but it also works well on a baitcaster. One reason I prefer braid/flouro with a drop-shot over straight flouro is the lack of memory in the braided line versus the flouro. This prevents the mayhem that results from a spinning reel backlash. Eliminating the line twists helps cut down on those headaches. This setup is also great when skipping a wacky rig or Senko around. The 5-to-6-foot fluoro leader makes the part of the line the fish see nearly invisible.
There are a lot of great leader knots out there. I typically use a double-uni knot but have been experimenting with the FG knot.
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