It used to be that anglers just had one decision to make when buying fishing line and that was determining how strong their line needed to be. “Hmmm do I need 6 pound or 8 pound?” Nowadays it’s a little tougher, there are lines that promise to do everything but clean and cook the fish! Tougher, smoother, more visible, invisible, stiffer, thinner, abrasion resistant, and the list goes on and on. Let’s forget about all of the features that are available across the myriad of brands and focus on one easy decision, why should I use fluorocarbon instead of traditional monofilament line? Monofilament is actually the term that can be generically applied to all single strand fishing lines, the more accurate term when we are talking about “good old mono” is nylon. Both nylon and fluorocarbon are essentially plastic lines that are made by extruding hot resin through tiny holes, taking what was once a hot soup of plastic and making it into a long thin filament of line. What makes the two products unique is the resin. It’s the stuff that’s in the soup that makes or breaks the line!
Dupont introduced the world to nylon in 1938 and in 1939 they created the world’s first nylon fishing line. However it wasn’t until 1959 when Dupont introduced the Stren brand that nylon fishing line rose above braided Dacron to become the standard line in use by most fishermen here in the U.S. Seaguar was the first fluorocarbon line ever made, and it has been around since 1971 when it was invented by Japan’s Kureha line company. Seaguar eventually found its way to the United States in 1992.
Fluorocarbon is being used by more and more fishermen because:
It’s known for its exceptional abrasion resistance.
Its ability to almost disappear under water.
It’s very dense which makes it sink well. Fluorocarbon will not float. Pay attention dry fly fishermen!
Normal heat, cold, and water have little effect on the strength of the line.
Doesn’t absorb water like nylon.
Since it has low stretch it provides better sensitivity.
Fluorocarbon is chemical resistant. Nylon isn’t, so be careful with that bug spray and sunscreen when using nylon!
Several years ago, fluorocarbon lines had an issue with knot strength but this is no longer the case. More manufacturers coming on line with more advanced equipment and resins have resulted in a very high tech product with exceptional knot strength. Ultraviolet rays from the sun, the heat of a hot car and cold winter fishing have an insignificant affect on fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon will last longer on the spool than nylon. You still have to re-spool when the line is looking bad or frayed, but with fluorocarbon you will have to do this less often. When buying fluorocarbon lines and leaders it is important to know that even though you are buying the same brand name, you may not be getting the same line in each package. This is a good thing because leader and main line perform different functions and need different characteristics. The manufacturer may not be using the same resin or process to make both its leaders and lines. Leaders are often designed to be stiffer and with less stretch whereas that same manufacturer’s line may be flexible with little memory and since it is intended for use as main line it will have more stretch.
We personally use braided main line, but use Maxima fluorocarbon leader material when fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout. I have found this material to be incredibly strong, and because it is so abrasion resistant it allows me to step down to a lighter leader such as 25 pound for spring Chinook and 40 pound for fall Chinook. When I was using nylon leader, I would use 30 pound in the spring and 50 or even 60 pound in the fall. We use the heavier lines in the fall because the salmon have harder, sharper teeth that will just slice through soft nylon lines. Since switching to fluorocarbon I have not had a single Chinook bite through the line. If there were any draw backs to using fluorocarbon line it would have to be that it is so darned expensive. This is the next generation of fishing line and the fluorocarbon manufacturing process uses the latest technology and in general it’s just more expensive to produce than nylon. 100% fluorocarbon can cost several times more than nylon, but it also catches more fish and lasts at least twice as long. Maxima fluorocarbon is the only brand that we currently use. There are some cheap fluoro resins available in other lines as well as fluoro-coated nylon lines, but nothing beats using the real thing when you fish for a living or if you live for fishing!
The author, Kevin Newell, and his wife Lacey DeWeert are professional fishing guides in Oregon and Washington!