#25 – Reading Between the Lines

Selecting the right fishing line can be a confusing task for new anglers. Without guidance, all the different materials, brands and prices will have you frozen in a state of information overload. Your first thought might be to buy the strongest line possible to make sure you can haul in that lunker rumored to be swimming around in the farm pond down the road. However, the heavier the test rating, the thicker the line is—making it more visible to fish, harder to cast and less sensitive when it comes to feeling your lure under the water. Lighter test line is less visible to fish, easier to cast and provides better sensitivity for detecting strikes. Confused yet? “What about that lunker!?”

There isn’t a single type of line that is best for every situation. Here is some general info about three different types of fishing line you should know about in order to increase your success on the water… also take a minute to learn about setting your reel drag (I sense another post in the making).



Simply put, monofilament line (mono) is made from a single strand of plastic. It is the most commonly used fishing line due to its low cost in comparison to other lines.

Characteristics of mono:

  • Inexpensive
  • Semi-transparent underwater
  • Floats
  • Stretches under pressure
  • Thicker than equal strength fluorocarbon and braided line

Where mono excels:

The characteristics of mono make it a good choice for topwater baits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. The stretching quality of mono helps to absorb pressure of a short strike on moving lures. That way the lure doesn’t pop out of the fish’s mouth before the angler has a fighting chance of landing it.



Fluorocarbon line is a more recent development in the fishing world. It’s constructed using a combination of polymers resulting in a dense material that is almost completely clear underwater.

Characteristics of fluorocarbon:

  • High density (much thinner than equal strength monofilament)
  • Low stretch (more sensitive feel than mono)
  • Nearly invisible in water
  • Sinks
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Higher priced

Where fluorocarbon excels:

Fluorocarbon is good for just about any clear water situation or when fishing finesse lures such as drop shots, shaky heads, Senkos, small swim baits, etc. It is also a good choice when bottom contact and sensitivity is crucial—fishing jigs, tubes, worms and other soft plastics.



Braided line is pretty much self explanatory. It is constructed of strong braided synthetic fibers.

Characteristics of braid:

  • Strong fibers equal a small line diameter (even thinner than equal strength fluorocarbon)
  • No line stretch at all
  • Braid is not clear and is, therefore, more visible to fish
  • Also abrasion resistant
  • Decreased knot strength due to line slip (try a Palomar knot)
  • Also priced higher than mono

Where braid excels:

Braid is a good choices when you need the strongest line possible (30+ lb test). Use it when flipping/pitching or using topwater baits in the thickest cover and vegetation. Many anglers also prefer the sensitivity of light braided line combined with a fluorocarbon leader for finesse presentations.

In my experience, you do get what you pay for when it comes to buying line. Quality in each of these categories does differ from one brand to another. However, you have to consider where your fishing goals align with your budget. If you’re just starting out, I recommend going with low cost mono. At that stage, confidence factor in the line you are using will be greatly overshadowed by your focus on fundamentals. As you build your skills, you will discover the importance of each type of line.