Mono is just a part of today’s game for flats anglers.
Gelspun polyethylene braid (Dyneema or Spectra), has taken over the saltwater inshore scene because it’s superior for many applications. For some types of fishing, anglers spool up fluorocarbon line, while others choose traditional nylon monofilament. Let’s look at some logical reasons for these decisions in a fishing lines FAQ.
First, poly braids. Because of incredible strength at a given diameter, this multiple filament material has become the preferred line of most Florida flats guides and tournament pros for spinning tackle; when you can spool 12 and have the diameter and castability of 4-pound-test, the advantages are obvious. Plus, the fact that braid has zero stretch means you can really add snap to the action of any lure, and that you have far more authority at setting the hook and fighting the fish than is possible with mono, which stretches 20 percent and more in some tests under pressure.
Braid also has good abrasion resistance around gnarly cover like oysters and barnacles on mangrove roots. And last but not least, though it’s far more expensive than most mono, it lasts many, many times longer; some anglers fish the same braid for six months and more, while mono may have to be changed weekly if you’re fishing hard. Not to say braid is best in all applications, however.
For one thing, in lower tests, the stuff is horrible on baitcasters; it’s so thin that it digs into itself under pressure and can jam on the spool, causing you to break off fish.
Second, for less expert anglers, it can be a problem on spinning gear when they don’t keep an eye on the spool to make sure no loose loops form—if these take shape, they’ll form a “knotmare” on the next cast, and it’s often necessary to cut off many yards of the expensive line to solve the problem.
And, if you’re not careful with your knots, you may see the slippery line simply pull through itself just when you’re pumping on a lunker. It is highly visible, too, so in clear, calm water, most anglers use a clear fluorocarbon or hard mono leader—but tying on that leader can be a challenge because braid can cut through both if you don’t tie your knots just right. (Quick tip—if you double braid before tying any knot, it’s less likely to cut or slip.)
Fluorocarbon line is winning converts for some applications—this line allegedly has nearly the same refractive index as water, and therefore is the least visible of lines underwater. It has low stretch—less than half that of most mono—and it has a higher specific gravity than water, so it sinks, unlike monofilament or braid.
So, for applications where you’re dealing with clear, calm water, fluoro solves the visibility issue. And, if you’re fishing lures that you want to get deep without a lot of added weight—maybe drifting a plastic shrimp or crab in a pass, for example— then fluoro is superior to both mono and microfiber. And it lays nicely on a baitcaster, giving long, smooth casts and no digging into the spool.
So, what’s left for mono? Quite a bit, actually. It’s still the preferred line by many anglers using baitcasters to toss big topwater plugs—good distance, low vis, and it floats so that makes it easier to walk-the-dog with a Spook or similar lure. Common knots stay put in mono, and if you’re tossing a hard lure that may tend to come unbuttoned when a snook or a tarpon jumps, the stretch of the mono can give you a safety margin.
First Published in Florida Sportsman Magazine.