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Monofilament Line 101

When we talk about the different kinds of fishing line, we mention organic fibers. Fishing with hook and line is something that appears in the archeological records more than forty thousand years ago. We can assure you that people were dropping lines with hooks on them into the water a long time ago.

Petroleum products such as monofilament changed fishing and moved us away from organics. One type of line dominated our angling communities since just prior to World War II but is now losing popularity -- monofilament fishing line. Monofilament means ‘one fiber” so traditional monofilament line is made of single strands of melted plastics extruded through small holes that determine their diameter and their breaking – or tensile – strength during the process.

berkly vanishing monofilament fishing line sml
This Vanish fluorocarbon from Berkeley Baits is available on Amazon. Many anglers still prefer to use monofilaments. This form of the material does not stretch as much as conventional single-fiber fishing lines.

Good and Bad Things About Traditional Monofilament Fishing Line

You find less and less conventional monofilament in use today, with modern anglers preferring braided, gel-spun fibers melted, and otherwise bound (multiple) strands. They pay a lot more for sensitivity and thin diameters, but there are still good reasons to use conventional and much more inexpensive monofilament lines. What some people think is good, others dislike. But you should fish with it before you make a decision. Different fish and different fisher folk are what make the world go around.

  • It stretches. Although lack of stretch was one of the reasons braided line tookover the angling world being called super lines, having stretch can be a good thing. While trolling, for example, when large fish can stop a lure if the drag is too tight, a little stretch will set a hook when braid would have snapped or ripped the hook out of the mouth of the gamefish.  This is true inshore too, if a big fish hits and your drag was too tight. There are anglers who prefer the stretch, and trolling with braid can lose fish otherwise headed for the ice boxes.

  • It is easier to handle. Monofilament is softer and easier to tie knots with. It is easier to tie together two different diameters – a line to a leader, for example. This critical connection is something that challenges anybody thing using braided line to leader. It is a little more difficult.

  • Diameter. This is another thing considered a fault with traditional line.  Because monofilament line is thicker in diameter then braided line.  But work a plastic worm in thick cover for a largemouth bass, and you might find the thicker and softer and more finger-friendly thicker monofilament a solid and effective alternative to the braided lines you are probably using now.

    This subtle difference between modern braid and traditional monofilament fishing line is one you have to experience to appreciate. And despite what they say about braid and its razor sharp sensitivity, a lot of anglers caught a lot of fish before it entered the market and dominated the fishing line aisles at your local tackle shop. Remember that modern fishing lines – braided or single strand like we are talking about here – are a new addition to the civilized world. It is not a hundred years ago people were figuring out how to weave cotton fishing lines from fibers pulled from cotton fields.

  • Sink rate is another thing you cannot compare unless you try fishing the same conditions with braid on one rod and monofilament fishing line on another. But monofilament soaks water (a bad tag because it stays wet) and because it soaks water it sinks faster than braided line. If you are fishing with a bait that you want to suspend deeper or sink deeper monofilament will get you that little extra depth. We can only give you our suggestions based on our own years of experience.

  • But a lot of people that never fished monofilament fishing line have opinions that it is bad without having tried to compare the difference in feel. Sink rate is a feel thing. There are probably dozens of studies of sink rate and absorption comparisons. All we know is it feels better in some cases. Subtle, but different. If you are as nuts as we are about catching that trophy snook or that tasty bluegill, you study this stuff with your fingers, not your calculator.

  • Cost is not the most critical concern to some, but a lot of us count every dime we spend and always will. Monofilament works and is far less costly than multi-fiber braids. It lasts a decent number of seasons if maintained and cleaned with fresh water and put somewhere with air flow so it dries before being stored.

Thoughts About Traditional Monofilament as Your Fishing Line

We like a lot of things about monofilament. For example, your color options are wider. Monofilament is less visible in the water, and even bright colors cast less contrast and therefore less shadows than the much thinner braids do. It is easier to use, and while its lack of sensitivity means some anglers miss gentle strikes, overall its cost combined with how easy it is to tie knots with make it an excellent choice for the modern world of sport fishing. You should definitely spend a few dollars and try it on one of your favorite rods. You might not be so surprised when you see it in the tackle boxes of successful and experienced anglers.

The Online Fisherman

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