When setting up your gear to fish for different types of fish, the type of line you pick can have a big impact on your success. Most fishermen know the difference between monofilament and braided line (braided has a much high tensile strength at the cost of being more visible to the fish), but few know the differences between monofilament vs. fluorocarbon. We aim to fix that!
In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of using a monofilament vs. fluorocarbon fishing line.
As with all of Finn’s fishing tips, if you have a setup that has been catching fish, don’t change it!
As the saying goes, don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.
Let’s start our monofilament vs. fluorocarbon analysis by covering what they are.
What is Monofilament?
Monofilament is the most common type of fishing line. It’s called monofilament because it’s extruded as a single strand of material – as opposed to multiple strands that can then be fused or braided together.
Authors Note: Monofilament can be made from many different materials, but the most common is nylon. Usually, brands use several different types of nylon that they blend together before extruding.
These polymers are engineered to have different specifications depending on the application. The strength, stretchiness, and abrasive resistance are all considered when designing a monofilament line.
Monofilament is not invisible in the water but also doesn’t stand out, in some very clear bodies of water or heavily fished bodies of water, the slight visibility might be an issue, but otherwise, it’s acceptable for fishing in all conditions.
Strengths of Monofilament
Given the monofilament line’s unique properties, there are several reasons why you would want to use monofilament over a fluorocarbon line. Here are the details.
- Monofilament stretches well. Monofilament stretches much more than fluorocarbon – up to 25% in some cases. This means that it has a higher forgiveness factor built in that fluorocarbon doesn’t have. If you set the hook too hard, the line will stretch and is less likely to tear out of the fish’s mouth. It will also protect your from your drag getting stuck and ripping the hook out due to too much pressure on the line.
- Monofilament is more flexible. Monofilament is easier to handle than stiffer lines (fluorocarbon) and makes tying knots a simpler task.
- It has the thickest diameter. Some fishermen might think this is a disadvantage, but there are certain techniques that this actually helps. If you want to slow the sinking speed of your bait or lure, having a thicker line will increase its drag and limit its sinking speed. The diameter also helps with abrasion/gives monofilament added toughness against rocks and logs.
- Increased sink rate. On a similar note, the buoyancy of nylon helps monofilament sink slower than fluorocarbon. This makes it a great choice for top-water lures or suspended surface lure presentations.
- Increased color palette. Monofilament is easier to tint than fluorocarbon, which allows for a greater breadth of color options. Depending on the water conditions, you can buy blue, green, or clear monofilament to help make your line invisible. This can be crucial when fishing for especially skittish fish.
- Monofilament is cheap. It’s the cheaper option vs. fluorocarbon, which is important for fishermen who go through more fishing line than others (like guides).
Weaknesses of Monofilament
While there are many benefits of using monofilament, there are also some downsides.
- Stretchiness can be bad. The flexibility of monofilament can make it harder to detect bites and set the hook. This especially becomes a problem with long line lengths.
- Monofilament has a lower tensile strength. Fluorocarbon is just flat out stronger than monofilament.
- Prolonged UV exposure can weaken monofilament. Nylon weakens after long exposure to UV light. This shouldn’t be a huge factor though, as it takes hundreds of hours to damage the line.
- Monofilament is cheap and familiar.
What is Fluorocarbon?
Fluorocarbon line used to only be used for extreme saltwater applications, but in recent years it’s become very popular among both freshwater and saltwater anglers across the globe.
Fluorocarbon is made from a variety of compounds, including fluorine, carbon, chlorine, and various hydrocarbons, which are then extruded to create the fishing line and any desired diameter.
The most common combination used for making fishing line is polyvinylidene difluoride.
Authors Note: Much like monofilament, it’s extruded in a single strand. Fluorocarbon molecules are more tightly packed, so the line is more dense and heavy than monofilament, which is why it sinks in the water, while monofilament is more neutrally buoyant.
This also adds to its strength and limits its stretch.
Pro Tip: Fluorocarbon is also virtually invisible underwater due to having an almost identical light refraction as water, this means that Fluorocarbon lines excel in water that is very clear, or on bodies of water that have high levels of angling pressure.
Strengths of Fluorocarbon
Now that we know what fluorocarbon is, let’s take a look at why you might use it over monofilament.
- High sensitivity. Compared to monofilament, fluorocarbon has a higher sensitivity to disturbances in the line. This means that it’s easier to feel a tentative fish bite as well as if your line gets stuck on something. This makes it great for bass fishing.
- Low visibility. Fluorocarbon is just as hard for fish to see underwater as monofilament is.
- Fluorocarbon has a higher tensile strength. The tighter packed molecules of fluorocarbon give it a higher tensile strength than monofilament, allowing you to go for larger fish on the same size line.
- It’s even more abrasion-resistant. Fluorocarbon has the highest abrasion resistance (even more than braided), which makes it the choice among fishermen who plan on casting their baits in heavy cover (like rocks, grass, and logs).
- Fluorocarbon is waterproof. This might come as a surprise, but monofilament actually absorbs water. This changes it’s properties when it’s underwater (makes it more flexible). Fluorocarbon doesn’t absorb water, so it’s properties stay the same.
- Fluorocarbon has less stretch. Monofilament has a significant amount of stretch, fluorocarbon on the other hand has much less stretch, which translates into better hook sets, especially when setting the hook on long casts.
Weaknesses of Fluorocarbon
With the added benefits listed above, fluorocarbon does have some cons.
- It’s not as manageable. The added strength of fluorocarbon makes the line stiffer than monofilament, which makes tying knots harder.
- Lower shock strength. The added stiffness of fluorocarbon also decreases its shock strength. If a powerful fish does an aggressive headshake or your line snags on a rock, fluorocarbon is more likely to snap than monofilament is.
- Faster sink rate. Fluorocarbon sinks faster than monofilament, which can be detrimental to some types of fishing (like surface casting or topwater lures).
- More Expensive. While still affordable, fluorocarbon is much more expensive than most monofilament lines.
Monofilament vs. Fluorocarbon
Now that we’ve cataloged the differences between monofilament and fluorocarbon, which one is better? As with many comparisons, the answer is “it depends”.
Top Tip: For fishermen just starting out or that are more price-sensitive, monofilament could be the better option. It’s also better for fishing techniques that require your lure to stay near the surface (like fly fishing for bass).
For fishermen looking for adding strength and sensitivity to their line, fluorocarbon might be the better option (when you’re fishing for big fish). It’s also likely to last longer than monofilament and can handle larger fish at the same line diameter.
For advanced spinning fishermen, fluorocarbon can also work well if you pick the right kind of spinning fluorocarbon line.
At the end of the day, both lines are suitable for most fishing situations among the average angler, but if you are seeking to get a certain advantage for certain fishing situations, line type will come into play.
We hope this article on monofilament vs. fluorocarbon helped you decide which type of line is better for you and your style of fishing.
If pressed to pick between the two, we’d most likely pick fluorocarbon for the added strength and sensitivity.
But that’s just us. Want to throw in your two cents? Hit us up in the comments below.