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“When It's All On the Line”

Most anglers will tell you the most important piece of equipment in fishing is not the rod, the reel, or even the bait; it has to be the line.  I mean, really when it is all on the line, you should be fishing with the best line you can.

This is not an article to tell which line brand is the best, as that is truly a preference, but I will breakdown the different types of lines and most used applications for each one.  

By: Jason Stanton

The Three Best Fishing Lines for Bass Fishing

There are three main types of line used by most anglers, Braid, Monofilament, and Fluorocarbon.  

Each one has qualities that make them better than the others depending on the technique you are fishing with, here are the breakdowns.

Braided Fishing Line

Braided fishing line is exactly that, strands of fiber braided together to form a super-strong line.   This adds some positive attributes like, high knot strength, amazing power in relation to diameter of the line, and little to almost no stretch.  

Original braid was made from natural fibers like cotton and linen, but throughout time, it has evolved into more manufactured fibers like Spectra, Dacron, or Micro-dyneema.  

These fibers are woven into a braid that make a truly stronger-than-life line at a relatively small diameter. 

The hole size can vary which will produce different diameters or tensile strength, which is typically called “test”.  

I am talking one-third to one-fourth the diameter of the same tensile strength as its counterparts of fluorocarbon or monofilament fishing line.  

Braided fishing line has little-to-no stretch. In turn it gives the angler awesome sensitivity to bites or bottom structure.  

Another added bonus to braid is the cast distance increase. Braided line allows the angler to cast a ‘country mile’.

Photo Cred: @Zandertackletour

Some drawbacks of braided line…

A few drawbacks to fishing with braided line include that braided line has a high visibility of the line, and the low abrasion resistance.  

Fish will see the line and sharp rocks have been known to cut through it.

Braided line also typically floats on the surface of the water.  

Photo Cred: @GearDog

Manufacturers of braided line…

Manufacturers of braided fishing line often use proprietary or patented materials. Therefore, you’ll see fewer manufacturers of this type of line!  Here are some examples…

Power Pro Super 8 Slick Braided Fishing Line
Spiderwire Stealth Braided Fishing Line
P-Line TCB-8 Braided Fishing Line
KastKing KastPro Braided Fishing Line - Spectra Super Line

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon Line Spooled for Umbrella Rigs

Fluorocarbon fishing line is made from a small variety of things like, fluorine, chlorine, and carbon. These chemicals are melted and mixed similarly to monofilament and extruded through small holes into a single strand as well.  

The molecules of fluorocarbon are more dense or packed together tighter which can make it heavier in relation to diameter. This is why fluorocarbon-fishing line sinks instead floats like other lines.

This line is very sensitive, more so than mono, but less than braid.  It is far more abrasion resistant than the other two options as well, which makes it great for fishing around or in thick cover.  It is virtually invisible because it has almost the same UV index as water, which helps around clear water or skittish fish.

Unlike braid and mono, this line is waterproof, which allows it keep the same strength and sensitivity in the water as it does dry.  

As far as stretch goes, it is in between the braid and mono.  

Overall they each bring a variety of advantages and disadvantages, this is why you will see many pro-anglers have reels spooled with each depending on their technique.

Here are some examples of when to throw what.

Manufacturers of fluorocarbon fishing line

Manufacturers of fluorocarbon fishing line also use high-tech material that are also patented. As as result, you’ll see fewer manufacturers of this type of line!  Here are some examples…

Gift Ideas For Anglers fishermen sunline fc sniper fluorocarbon fishing line
Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
P-Line 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Seaguar Red Label 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Monofilament Fishing Line

Monofilament or mono for short is line made from a single fiber or plastic, hence the term “mono” or one.  It is made by melting and mixing different plastics or fibers and then forcing them through extremely small holes into a long strand.  

Monofilament line is not as strong as braid in relation to the diameter of the line.  Mono also floats and has a much more stretch than braid, and fluorocarbon lines.  

Mono has a stronger abrasion resistance than braided line.  It absorbs water, which will make knots become loose, so always check your knots periodically.  

This line can come in a variety of colors as well, but unlike braid, it can be clear, which makes it much less visible to the fish.

Manufacturers of fluorocarbon fishing line

Manufacturers of fluorocarbon fishing line also use high-tech material that are also patented. As as result, you’ll see fewer manufacturers of this type of line!  Here are some examples…

Sufix Elite Monofilament Fishing Line
Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line
KastKing Premium Monofilament Fishing Line
SpiderWire Ultracast Ultimate Monofilament Fishing Line

Applications:

What is the best fishing line for Topwater?

For most top-water applications, braid or mono is preferred or a combination of the two.  The simple reason why is they float. 

From this, you can decide which is better depending on the force needed to produce a hook-set on which to use.  

For example, I throw my frogs on braid because of the large diameter hooks and force needed to set the hook through the lips of a bass.

I prefer to throw my treble hook top-water baits like a popper or walking bait on mono because the stretch allows the hook to dig in rather than pull it out of the fish’s mouth.

Buzz Baits – Most anglers use 40-60-pound braided line especially if you’re fishing above floating vegetation the braided line carries the buzz bait to the top of the water column and will cut through the grass.  

However a different way to look at it this quote from Kevin VanDam in Bassmaster.com…  “Above all, use heavy line. I throw buzzbaits on 25-pound monofilament that has some stretch and allows the fish to eat the bait. Fluorocarbon line wants to sink and has less stretch”.

Booyah Buzz Bait
Photo Cred: @christlikefishing

Walking baits“I throw monofilament a lot, that’s what I like and that’s what I’ve done well with.” – Jacob Wheeler, Rapala.com

Poppers “I will go as light as 12-pound, but generally it is going to be 15-pound. The only time I will go up to 17- or 20-pound is if I am making short casts under overhanging cover with a big popper” – Scott Canterbury, Westernbass.com

Photo Cred: @nordicanglerscom

What is the Best Fishing Line for Crankbaits and Moving Baits?

For most reaction or moving baits, the choice is between braid and fluorocarbon.  This will dynamically depend on the rod you are using and the cover you are fishing around.  

If I am using a heavier action rod with little to no give I will use fluorocarbon, I actually want a little stretch to get the hooks in and not pull them away.  

With a more sensitive rod, braid maybe more preferred to help drive those hooks home when the rod gives.  

Remember braid floats, which may limit the depths your baits will be traveling at versus fluorocarbon, which will allow for greater depths.  

Squarebill Crankbaits“There are times when we don’t want our plugs to reach their maximum depth. Sometimes, like when you’re fishing over brush or weeds, we want them to stay high. 17-pound monofilament will help with that.” – Mike Iaconelli, Mikeiaconelli.com

Squarebill Crankbait - Strike King
Med Diving Crankbait - Spro Little John

Medium Diving Crankbaits“10-15-pound fluoro makes [your bait] run a foot or so deeper, while thicker 20-pound mono cuts a foot or two off its running depth.” – Randall Tharp, Bassmaster.com

Deep Diving Crankbaits – “I’m running 12-pound fluorocarbon on a lot of these crankbaits, but when I use the giant Strike King 10XD, I pair it with 14-pound because it’s so big and heavy you’ll risk breaking the line as you snap to cast it with anything less.” – Gerald Swindle, wired2fish.com

Xrtra Deep diving crankbait - Strike King Pro Model Series 10XD
Jerk Bait - Lucky Craft Pointer 100

Jerk Baits“12-pound fluorocarbon fishing line is [the] standby as it has a small enough diameter to get good depth.” – Kevin VanDam  Basspro.com

Soft Plastic Swimbaits – Fluorocarbon is the most popular line choice for swimbaits. Use the heaviest you can get away with based on water clarity. Usually, 12- to 17-pound test will work for mid-sized swimbaits. For jumbo baits, some anglers use 20- to 25-pound-test fluorocarbon or monofilament. Others prefer 50- to 65-pound-test braid with a clear leader of fluoro or mono. – FLWFishing.com

Soft plastic swimbait - Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper.

What is the Best Fishing Line for Finesse fishing?

Finesse is limited to either monofilament or fluorocarbon as they are the more invisible, which is always better when you are trying to coerce those finicky fish to bite.  

The vast majority of anglers will finesse fish when the water is clear and they’ll stick to using all fluorocarbon or they’ll use a braided main line and a fluorocarbon leader.

Both combinations allow you to use lighter line, maintain sensitivity, and strength, all while minimizing the diameter to increase the chance for bites.

Drop Shot“The line is 12-pound braided main line tied to 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. I run a 7-8 foot leader. The biggest trick on leader length is if I’m casting I always want my knot outside of the reel when I cast. If that knot is inside the reel the stiff fluorocarbon will wrap around the first guide and stop your cast dead in it’s tracks. So I always want that knot between my finger and the first guide.” – Brent Ehrler, Jay Kumar’s BassBlaster

Photo Cred: @hogfarmerbaitco

Shakey Head“When I rig [the shaky head up], I like 10-pound braid for my main line. It’s very sensitive and no stretch. Then, I’ll tie it to a fluorocarbon leader in 10-pound test. I’ll use a Double Uni knot on a 5-6 foot leader” – Scott Martin, Scott Martin YouTube Channel

Wacky Worm–  “I prefer to use wacky rigs on spinning tackle with 15-pound braid and 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon leader combination. The key is to make sure you have a long enough fluorocarbon leader that you get a good sink rate.” – Kevin VanDam

Photo Cred: @Yakfishingus

What is the best fishing line for Flipping or Pitching?

Before you automatically assume that the only line you flip or pitch with is braided, think again.

Most professional anglers will choose between braided or fluorocarbon line. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.  

We’re going to quickly break it down for you.

First, evaluate your surroundings, what type of structure you’re pitching or flipping to and what’s the water clarity.

Braided Line for Flipping and Pitching

Ideal Conditions:  Vegetation, floating mats, stacked or packed structure

Braided line: What you need to know…

Water Clarity:  stained – muddy.

Size: 55-65-pound test.

Even if you heard of anglers using braided line by listening to the finesse fishing gurus over the last few years, many well known anglers have been quietly dukeing it out UFC style with bass lodged deep in cover.

For starters, braided line has ZERO stretch, giving the angler the ultimate line to detect even the slightest of bites.

Braid works great in thick mats of grass and vegetation. It can cut, slide and slice it’s way through because of it’s ultra-thin diameter.  Normally braided fishing line diameter is just a fraction of what monfilament or fluorocarbon line is at the same test strength!

Braided line makes it insanely easy to set the hook because of it no-nonsense/ no-stretch attributes.

It’s not so appealing qualities is that braided line is completely visible to bass when the water is clear.  That’s why is shines in stained to muddy water.

How often do you need to respool your braided line?

Honestly, since braid would crack or become brittle like fluorocarbon or monofilament line you can go a year or two before you change it.  However when we asked several pro anglers, they change out their braided line 1-2 times a year. Some will change it out sooner if they encounter a backlash.

Fluorocarbon Line for Flipping and Pitching

Ideal Conditions:  The structure you’re pitching to is isolated, (meaning is there nothing else around it), sparse vegetation, standing timber, an isolated bush, dock post, bridge piling.

Water Clarity:  Clear – lightly stained.

Size: 25-pound test.

Bass can be easily spooked if they are in clear water and see something like a fishing line.  Braided line is 100% visible to a bass in clear water.  On the other hand, fluorocarbon line is nearly 100% invisible underwater to a bass.

The high stress that you’ll put on the line when you hook into a fish with flipping or pitching you’ll need a super low-stretch like a fluorocarbon line.

“I can pitch [flurocarbon] into isolated cover in ultra-clear water and the fish will have no idea I’m there. I know it sounds a bit heavy, but I actually prefer 25-pound test for the large majority of situations.” – Danny Brauer, Wired2Fish

Ideal Conditions:  The structure you’re pitching to is isolated, (meaning is there nothing else around it), sparse vegetation, standing timber, isolated bush, docks, bridge piling.

Water Clarity:  Clear – lightly stained.

Size: 25-pound test.

Bass can be easily spooked if they are in clear water and see something like a fishing line.  Braided line is 100% visible to a bass in clear water.  On the other hand, fluorocarbon line is nearly 100% invisible underwater to a bass.

The high stress that you’ll put on the line when you hook into a fish with flipping or pitching you’ll need a super low-stretch like a fluorocarbon line.

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Good luck with this new technique!

Tight Lines.

Jason

About The Author – A newly married paramedic by trade loves to spend his free time fishing and filming for this YouTube Channel Loud Mouth Bassin’. Jason has been fishing for over 30 years thanks to his father. Jason is also a dedicated tournament angler fishing with several bass club.  Holding nothing back, Jason loves to share all of his tips and lessons to make you more successful on the water.

Check out his channel here:  Loud Mouth Bassin’.

Jason Stanton

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