As the adage goes, the weakest link between you and a fish falls squarely on the shoulders of your line. With a market saturated with choices, including monofilament, copolymer and braid, shedding some light on the latest to join the fraternity — fluorocarbon — will help you become a more informed, and successful angler.
Although not a newcomer to the fishing scene, the buzz about fluorocarbon line has exploded over the last couple of years. In terms of manufacturing, fluorocarbon is a polymer consisting of fluorine that has been chemically bonded with carbon. This chemical makeup has almost the same light refraction rate that water holds, or in laymen terms, it appears virtually invisible when in the water.
A fluorocarbon leader works great when chasing toothy critters, such as northern pike.
Fluorocarbon line has unique properties in comparison to monofilament, making it resistant to degradation from such outside sources as sunlight, gasoline, or DEET (a common component of insect repellant). As most anglers know, monofilament will break down when exposed to such substances — that’s not the case with fluorocarbon.
If those benefits weren’t enough, fluoro will not absorb water (another factor in line failure and degradation in monofilament), is denser than H20 so it sinks, has greater abrasion qualities, and is highly sensitive with a decrease in stretch.
Sound too good to be true? Those all are facts, although independent testers are beginning to question the claim of fluoro’s decreased stretch properties — the jury is still out on that one. For now, take the manufacturer’s word on it.
To achieve all of these benefits, however, make sure the line you purchase is 100 percent fluorocarbon. Not all of them on the market are 100 percent fluorocarbon so check on it before you purchase.
All in all, fluorocarbon brings some excellent advancements to the forefront of line development. Like anything, though, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here is the nitty-gritty on those.
Best Uses For Fluorocarbon Line
The two most intriguing properties fluoro holds, are its near invisibility and a significant resistance to abrasion. The advantages of invisible line are great — with clear water applications, finicky fish, and finesse presentations. Catch rates can increase significantly when faced with these tricky situations, and switching to a line such as fluorocarbon can see a dramatic upturn — especially where stealth is concerned.
With more anglers concentrating on abrasive structure areas (rocks, wood, docks, snags), using a tough line that can hold up better. Fluoro can bring the added benefit of toughness and resistance when facing these conditions.
Increased sensitivity — a factor that makes many anglers fall in love with braid — is also worth a look with fluoro. Presentations such as tossing crankbaits, jigging (especially deep-water and drop-shotting), and working soft stickbaits can be done more effectively with fluoro.
Clear water and finicky fish are ideal conditions for tossing crankbaits with fluorocarbon.
Fluorocarbon’s sinking properties also make it beneficial for those trying to gain extra depth when fishing certain lures, be it crankbaits or wacky worms, as well as ensuring that they sink at a faster rate of speed.
If the stretch claims are true, sinking the hooks into fish more quickly during certain situations (deep-water jigging comes to mind, as stretch can impede hook penetration), puts fluorocarbon out on top again.
The Downside To Fluorocarbon
The following situations are not necessarily disadvantages, but more so occasions where fluoro may not be the best choice.
If working slow moving topwater baits — think Pop R’s — fluoro’s ability to sink may impede both the action of your lure, as well as your efficiency in picking up line for wrist and arm movements.
Although many improvements have been made, fluorocarbon line does exhibit a greater stiffness and more of a memory than traditional lines. This can cause problems when using spinning gear (due to their small spools and the manner the line comes off), as well as on baitcast gear if braking systems are not properly adjusted. It takes a bit of getting used to.
Of course, expense has to be mentioned when dealing with any fishing product. Expect to pay significantly more for fluorocarbon line. Prices vary across the board, with some line economical and others high-priced. Therefore, read specific reviews, heed positive reports, and ultimately make an informed decision before buying. Utilizing a backing on your reels, such as monofilament, to cut down on cost is definitely recommended.
Many folks also use fluorocarbon line as a leader material, as certain situations don’t warrant a full spool of fluoro. Carolina rigs are another good choice for fluoro leaders, as are drop shots, walleye jigging, and when trolling or casting for toothy critters. Again, if it is only your offering that will benefit from the use of fluoro, then tying on a leader is the way to go.
Deep-water jigging is a great technique for utilizing fluorocarbon line.
Knots are a hotly-debated subject with fluoro line — tie one wrong or improperly, and line failure at the knot can certainly occur. Spending a little extra time getting that knot perfect can make all the difference. It’s definitely not as forgiving as mono, at least in knot strength.
Ask five anglers their preference and chances are you’ll get many different answers. Suggested knots to try are Uni to Uni, Blood, and Surgeons, although there are a host of others. Again, experiment and see which works best for you.
As for line to lure knots, Palomar and the Double Clinch seem to get the most play. Whichever you choose, lubricating the knot is paramount to decreasing the risk of failure, as well as ensuring that line doesn’t fall on top of other layers. Similar to doing your homework on the best line, investigate the best knots before heading out for the day.
As you can see from this overview, fluorocarbon line can bring some specific perks to fishing. Although not advantageous to all situations you may encounter, I’d recommend introducing it to your arsenal this season in order to see what all the fuss is about.
Line will always remain the most crucial link between you and that trophy fish, so choose wisely.