Choosing the right fishing line

Choosing the right fishing line is one of the most important decisions an angler makes before hitting the water.  Unfortunately, most people use the same type of line for every application no matter what.  They say that 8 pound mono worked in the past.... it will work again.

I can understand the logic behind this.  Most people are creatures of habit so they continue to use the same type of line year after year.  My Grandpa used mono and caught fish so that is what I am using.  That is fine and dandy if it is 1920 but we have options today people.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying gramps didn't catch fish.  Some days the fish are biting so hard you might as well drop your shoelaces in but what about the other days?  Having the right type of line when the fish are picky can make or break your trip. 

If you are going to spend the money trying to catch fish, you might as well give yourself the best shot at doing so.  That is why I decided to write this article.  Hopefully this post will help the new fisherman figure out the difference between the different types of fishing line available today.

This article will focus on monofilament, fluorocarbon, and superlines only.  There are quite a few more lines out there but these three are the basics.  Once you master these, you can start learning about the other types like lead-core or copper.

Fishing lines

Monofilament -- This line is probably what most of you are using and I would guess the most popular line out there still today.  Most people feel comfortable with mono because it has been available to the mainstream for the longest.  Mono is still a good line but it has to be used in the right situations.  Mono is also the cheapest line compared to the other two.

Monofilament is used when fighting aggressive fish.  Most anglers use mono when fishing for steelhead or other hard fighting fish.  The reason for this is that when an aggressive fish like a steelhead takes your bait with mono, the line acts as a shock absorber between the fish and the hook.  You don't want to work 10 hours hooking a steelhead only to have it get off because your hook straightened out because your line had no flex...

Another characteristic of mono that helps anglers is that it floats.  Anglers throwing a topwater bait or wanting to have their jig take longer getting to the bottom of the lake should use mono.  Mono also comes in handy as a backer to superline or a filler for other lines.  I know quite a few anglers that spool half of their lines with cheap mono and the other half with another type of more expensive line.

Mono is also used for trolling applications when specialty lines aren't required (copper, lead-core) or you aren't targeting massive fish.  Some fisherman use superlines for trolling because of the smaller diameter of the line but I stick with mono because it is cheap and gets the job done.  When trolling, you don't feel the bites with your hands so why waste the money on a superline? 

Fluorocarbon -- This type of line is great for anglers fishing in very clear water.  One of the best things that fluorocarbon provides anglers is that it is invisible in water.  This advantage is why many anglers use fluorocarbon as a leader.  A reel spooled with superline paired with a flourocarbon leader can be a deadly combination.

A lot of anglers know about using fluorocarbon as a leader but the line is starting to become popular as a main line.  The reason for the increased popularity is that fluorocarbon sinks.  This is a great advantage when you want to fish deep and fast.  Think vertical jigging over structure or tossing a bait to walleyes hugging the bottom of the lake when choosing fluorocarbon.  Fluorocarbon also is a no-stretch line.  This makes the line much more sensitive than regular mono.  The price of fluorocarbon is higher than mono but not quite as expensive as a superline.

Superlines -- A "Superline" is my favorite line to fish with and many anglers are starting to prefer them as well.  The main advantage that a superline offers is sensitivity.  There is no stretch when using a superline so you can feel every tick.  I still remember the first time I tried a superline.  This type of line is truly a breakthrough.

Another advantage of using a superline is that you can get away with using a heavier test than you normally would.  An 8 pound test version of a superline has the same diameter of something like a 2 pound monofilament line (check my numbers but you get the point).  Anglers use this line when targeting big fish while trolling.  Watch a show about catching marlins or another fish like that and most captains will say they are using some type of superline.

A disadvantage of superline is that it is a lot harder to work with than the other types of lines plus it is harder on your equipment.  I have heard horror stories of broken rod eyes and cut hands when using a superline.  The line is just that tough.  This is why you should never grab a superline with your bare-hands especially when it is stuck or going off the reel fast.  Superline is also hard to cut.  Regular scissors will cut it (not very well) but you should forget about using your teeth.

Superline is the priciest of the three lines and it requires a backer to stay on the reel properly.  Most anglers put monofilament on their reel for the first fifty or so yards and then use the superline.  Some fisherman also believe superline is easier to see in the water than mono so you should always use a leader when using superline.

That concludes my article on choosing fishing line.  Hopefully this article will help the newbie fisherman pick out the right line for the situation he/she is experiencing on the water or ice.

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