Fishing Line Selection Is A Serious Matter

The Wrong Choice Can Make Or "Break" Your Day On The Lake

Could The Manufacturers Make It Any More Confusing?

When choosing fishing line an informed decision is critical. Today there many different lines on the market and every manufacturer makes claims about the uniqueness of its product and its performance. This adds to the general confusion many bass anglers have about line. There is one truth however:

There Is No Single Line Good For All Applications!

All fishing line manufacturers make product claims in regard to the strength, abrasion resistance, memory, diameter, sensitivity, stretch and visibility, to both angler and bass. All of these are important considerations for sure. Each of these is either more or less important depending on your own gear, the rod and reel combination(s) you're using, and whether you're fishing structure and cover or open water.

Realize that in given situations some of these features found within the same line will actually cancel out others. For example, greater strength may also mean more difficult handling or a thinner diameter could mean less abrasion resistance.

My first consideration in choosing a line is not so much the individual claims of performance by each manufacturer (we all understand marketing and the inherent liberties taken therein, right?) but is the material from which each line is made. These materials all have inherent features that define their limitations and benefits when used in fishing line.

What are the materials from which fishing line is made today? Each has unique traits. There are primarily the following:

  1. Nylon, which is monofilament line
  2. Dacron, which was the component of original braided line, now relegated to catfish anglers and backing for fly reels
  3. Polyethylene, gel-spun plastic basically, which is the major component of Superlines, fused rather than braided, like SpiderWire and Fireline from Berkley
  4. Fluorocarbon, which is fluorine and carbon bonded together to form a polymer which is fluorocarbon

Let's Keep This Topic Simple, Otherwise you Gotta Be A Chemist To Understand It


Monofilament, mono meaning single, is a single strand of extruded nylon. It's an over simplification, but think squeezing toothpaste from the tube under high heat.

The quality of monofilament fishing lines varies widely. Since they are a mixture of polymers to which chemicals are added, the type and quantity of chemicals added during production impacts the various qualities of the line. Furthermore, the level of quality control exercised by different between manufacturers, intended to assure consistent diameter, strength, abrasion resistance and stretch, varies as well, further affecting quality.

In addition to this, even quality manufacturers offers their product in several variations with one emphasizing one feature over another. For example, maybe one product has great "castability" and a small diameter but yet sacrifices durability because of reduced abrasion resistance, yet it's a quality line. So carefully evaluate the "specific" features of each line you're considering to insure you buy the one that will meet your needs.

Bottom line, all monofilaments are not the same in quality or features within a quality product line. With this family of lines you really do get what you pay for.

Positive Features

  • Easy handling (easy casting, good on spinning and baitcasting reels)
  • Good knot strength (most any knot will do)
  • High stretch (good in that it absorbs shock when bass run)
  • Floats (great for topwater fishing)

Negative Features

  • High stretch (it can make hook sets more difficult)
  • Multiple formulas (means wide range of quality levels)
  • Poor abrasion resistance (frequent re-tying required)
  • Strong memory (can cause problems casting)

BRAID LINE, The Power Lifter

With the demand for stronger lines with thinner diameters came the creation of braided lines. Originally made from Dacron (polyester) these have evolved significantly over the recent years. They're now refereed to as "Superlines".

The "Superline" family of fishing lines is not "braided" Dacron. It's created by "fusing" multiple braided fibers of new types of micro filamentous materials like Dyneema, a gel-spun polyethylene (plastic). This is what you find with Spiderwire, PowerPro and Fireline.

Superlines are strong, very strong, and have very low stretch, only 2-7%. So be careful when matching it up with your rod and reel. The lack of forgiveness of these lines can easily break a stiff rod and even damage the ferrels (guides). Pair this line with softer rods that can absorb some of the shock of hard hook setting that would normally be absorbed by monofilament or fluorocarbon line.

Though they are quite abrasion resistant they will fray if nicked. Periodically check your line for signs of fraying.

With braided line knots have a tendency to slip. Many anglers use some sort of Super Glue on their knots to insure this doesn't happen. Most anglers will tell you a Palomar knot is the best for Superlines.

Backlashes with braid can be extremely bad. You can't pick them out like you can with mono. To see how to help remove or minimize braid backlashes click here.

Positive Features

  • Thin diameter (more line can be put on your spool
  • High strength (ten times stronger than steel, great for hook sets)
  • Abrasion resistant (great for flipping and pitching heavy cover)
  • Low stretch (high sensitivity, good hook sets)
  • Less memory (easy handling)
  • Long shelf life (less re-spooling)
  • Extremely sensitive (you will better feel what's going on at the end of your line)

Negative Features

  • High visibility (bass can see it too)
  • Low stretch (can damage your rod and reel, if improperly used)
  • Knot slip (might need Super Glue)
  • Very high strength (can damage your rod and reel, if improperly used)


Fluorocarbon lines are a type of monofilament line in that it's a single strand line. It's a polymer derived from combining fluorine and carbon and is referred to as the strongest bond in chemistry. That's enough said on that subject. I was never that great in chemistry class.

The key feature of fluorocarbon fishing line, as stated by all the manufacturers, is that it has almost the same refractive index as water, which allegedly means the bass can't see it. Another benefit is its toughness. It's far more abrasion resistant than monofilament. Unfortunately, due to its inherent stiffness, it's not a good choice for spinning reels.

Positive Features

  • High density makes it abrasion resistant (good in tough conditions, fewer re-ties)
  • Virtually invisible under water (bass have difficulty seeing it, great for clear water
  • Average stretch, contrary to popular opinion it does stretch
  • Resistant to sun degradation (last longer than monofilament)
  • Doesn't absorb water (sinks, won't weaken or stretch, great for deep diving crankbaits)
  • Great leader line

Negative Features

  • Long memory (makes it not good for spinning reels, "Slinky" effect)
  • Affected by heat (if you don't wet the line before tightening your knot the heat that's generated will weaken the knot and you will experience break-offs)
  • Sinks (not good for fishing topwater)
  • Expensive

The preponderance of opinion is that the best knot for fluorocarbon fishing line is the Trilene knot, though other traditional knots are often used. Just be sure to wet your line thoroughly before cinching it down. This will minimize any weakening effects of the heat generated by friction.

Return To Bass Fishing Tackle From Fishing Line

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