The question has been asked for years: Is monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line better? I have wrestled with this decision for too long at various times of my life. When shopping for a spool of line, you generally end up looking at two choices: Mono and Fluoro. Which is better? Hopefully I can help you make an informed decision, so you will feel confident when it’s time to buy line in a tackle shop.
Which is best – monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line?
Like many things related to fishing, the real answer is “it depends”. The right type of line will vary between different fishing styles and targets. We’ll go over these in more detail in the rest of the article.
If I did have to pick only one type of fishing line to buy to cover most situations, I’d go with fluorocarbon. But to be clear, there’s situations where mono is the best choice.
What situations exactly? Read on to find out.
What are the Advantages of Monofilament Line?
Mono is Easy To Find
Monofilament line is widely available, as it is the “starting” class of fishing lines with many beginners choosing this as their first line. Why? Well, as I said before, it is widely available, and very inexpensive compared to other fishing lines. This means that you will be able to go and grab more line in a hurry at your local tackle shop, for a cheap price, and be able to get out there and fish.
Another key component of monofilament line (which may be considered a disadvantage) is that it can stretch . Why is this important? When a fishing line stretches, the tension that the line can hold is greater than if it was rigid. Let us say that you have a rope, and a bungee cord. In this example, the rope and bungee cord are the same size. If I have a machine which can rip pieces of rope apart by pulling on their two ends, and I feed the rope in there, the rope gets rigid and stops, therefore allowing more tension and eventually snapping.
Now, let’s say I put the bungee cord in the machine… the bungee cord can stretch and therefore spread out the tension on the line, causing it to be able to hold more force against it as the pressure increases. Eventually the cord will snap, but it will most certainly be able to withstand more pressure than the rope, just due to the “stretchiness” or elasticity of the cord.
This can be a disadvantage, but it is generally much more of a positive than a negative.
Monofilament line can absorb water, like a sponge, and can vary from soaking 1% of their weight in water, while some can absorb up to 8% of their weight in water! The water being absorbed means that the line behaves differently underwater than if you tested it in the shop (yanking on the line, etc.). This can make the line more elastic, allowing for more stretch, and can cast further compared to when it is dry.
What are the Disadvantages of Mono Fishing Line?
While monofilament line can have its ups, it has a hearty list of downs as well.
Stretchy Cuts Both Ways
You might remember I mentioned in the above section that the stretchiness of monofilament could be a disadvantage.
Why you ask? Well, picture this scenario: You have 60+ feet of line out and are retrieving a lure, when suddenly a fish hits. BAM! You set the hook with your rod by yanking back and your line streeeetches….
This means you are putting tension on the line. With monofilament, the stretchiness can stretch and absorb more of that tension, therefore causing the hook not to go deep into the fish.
If you don’t set the hook well, you are giving the fish a chance to “spit” out the hook. If you’ve fished for any amount of time, you have probably lost a fish not due to a snap, but due to a shallow set. And you know it’s really frustrating.
This would happen more often with monofilament compared to fluorocarbon line.
Gets Nicked and Cut Easily
Another disadvantage is monofilament line isn’t very abrasion resistant . That means that if you are fishing the rocks close to shore (or maybe found a nice sand bar to get some bass) when the line scrapes the rocks your line will actually take damage.
Over time, these repeated scrapes result in worse line condition and more likelihood of your line breaking. The water absorption factor makes it even less abrasion resistant, so be careful fishing rocks!
Noteworthy Mention: Monofilament line gets thick when you get to thirty and fourty-pound line. This means that your spinning rod will flow over with the amount of line just because of how thick it is – so using heavier line on spinning rods is a big no. However, you can use heavier line such as 30+ on bait casters.
Weakens In UV Light
Finally, mono line is damaged by prolonged exposure to UV light – so the sun can damage your line! This means you want to store your line in a dark place where sunlight is not able to reach, and keep it dark so it doesn’t weaken.
Because of this factor, I recommend replacing your mono line at least once a year if you don’t fish too often. For people fishing often I recommend replacing your line 2-3 times a year so that you don’t lose any big ones to sunlight damage!
Fluorocarbon Fishing Line Advantages
One of the biggest advantages fluorocarbon line holds is transparency . This makes it very hard for fish to see the line in the water.
This means that you could get that fish that is especially weary of your lure as it would not be able to see your line. It is not invisible – the line still slices through the water, giving a small but distinct outline.
It is a high step up compared to the relatively opaque mono line. Luckily, you can still see fluorocarbon line – so you won’t have to watch out for line on the ground and get tangled up. I have experienced this numerous times just due to my clumsiness.
Another huge perk for fluorocarbon line is abrasion resistance . It does not scratch or scrape and get damaged on rocks. With fluorocarbon, you can fish rocks much more than mono-filament just because of the fluorocarbon being less damaged when scraping against these underwater structures.
I highly recommend fluoro for fisherman who wants to fish bass or other rock/sandbar dwelling fish! I personally use this whenever I go fishing in sandbars, just to get the extra edge and make sure my line does not get scratched!
It Doesn’t Hold Water
One of the largest out of water advantages fluorocarbon has is that it does not absorb water. This means what you see is what you get. The line behaves the same way when you try pulling on it in the shop as how it will behave when it goes in the water.
Speaking of absorbing, fluorocarbon also does not absorb light – unlike monofilament line. This is good for your line because you do not have to store your line hidden from any sunlight. This also means you will not have to replace your fluorocarbon as much as mono because the line is not affected and weakened every-time you go out and fish due to the UV rays.
Overall, I think that fluorocarbon line has more advantages than disadvantages. There are downsides to fluorocarbon as you will see in the next section.
The Disadvantages of Fluorocarbon Line
Fluorocarbon fishing line doesn’t have many disadvantages. Those that it does have are extremely minimal compared to lines like monofilament. But, disadvantages still need to be noted, so here are the disadvantages of fluorocarbon:
Money can be a problem for fishermen on a fixed budget. Fluorocarbon is somewhat expensive as it is made with its molecules packed closely together compared to monofilament, which means it costs more in materials and more time to make.
The formulas are generally proprietary in nature. That means it’s not a commodity like mono, so competition isn’t quite as fierce. On the plus side, you don’t have to replace it as often as monofilament so you get more bang for your buck.
You may be thinking: “But you just said it was an advantage!” It is most of the time, but I wanted to include caveat in here because it could be considered a disadvantage as well. There is some strength gain that comes from wet vs dry monofilament.
You don’t get any such benefit with fluoro line. However, it is generally “stronger” for fish strikes than mono for the same size line, so this isn’t as big a deal as some make it out to be.
While the best line can depend upon your exact fishing situation, for the bulk of anglers fluorocarbon line is the way to go. While it is more expensive up front, it’s many advantages and long-life more than justify the extra cost.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use mono line – it works well for most fishing. The world’s most expensive fluorocarbon sitting in a drawer can’t beat mono line being used out on the lake. So get out there and fish!