There’s no question that braided lines and fluorocarbon have made a huge impact on some aspects of sportfishing in Florida and around the nation in the last 10 years. For some types of angling, these new high-tech lines just can’t be beat.
But monofilament has some special properties that still make it the best choice in many situations.
For one, it’s “stretchy.” While this is the very quality that caused a lot of us to switch to braid or fluoro originally, for some types of fishing a bit of give is very helpful. For example, when you’re after soft-mouthed fish like seatrout or crappie, a little built-in stretch can be a big help in putting lightly-hooked fish in the boat.
And, if you’re a quick-on-the-trigger kind of guy, some stretch can also be helpful in adding a millisecond or two to your strike reaction time when a redfish or bass blows up on your topwater plug; maybe just enough for the fish to get the hook, instead of you snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so to speak. With no-stretch braid, it’s very easy to pull the lure away from the fish with a quick hookset.
There’s also some evidence that mono can be useful to crank bait anglers, bass the primary application but also for some northeast Florida redfish anglers who want a little leeway when their plug strikes a stump, piling or other woody obstruction that may want to latch on and keep it. The stretch and the “snap” built into mono will often allow springing these lures free, while the more authoritative fluoro or braid will drive the hooks into the structure–end of lure, if you don’t have a lure-retriever handy. The stretch and elasticity of mono can also be handy in snapping a lure off a snag at times.
And, mono’s give can also be useful when you’re fighting a jumping fish. Particularly with big guys like tarpon, which have a nasty habit of falling on taut line and breaking it, the stretch of mono can be an advantage. Of course, that advantage is offset in deeper water by the lack of braid’s cable-like ability to pump a fish up, but for tarpon on relatively shallow flats like the Keys or Homosassa, there’s much to be said for mono.
And, monofilament can also “tell” an expert angler when he’s exerting the maximum amount of pressure that’s safe on a given fish. Mono has a slight “give” as it approaches breaking strength, and long-experienced anglers can feel this threshold in the rod, allowing them to ease pressure at just the right moment to avoid a breakoff. Particularly with braid, there’s no warning, one moment you’re hauling the fish in like it’s attached to a logging chain, the next it’s gone.
Mono is of course considerably less visible than braid, and is close to the visibility of fluoro. It makes good leader material, particularly the harder varieties like Mason’s Hard mono which is not only highly resistant to abrasion from fishy jaws, but also is stiff enough to prevent doubling back on itself and snagging the hooks of a topwater with multiple trebles, a frequent problem if you fish braid without a single filament leader. I like TrikFish X-Rated Co-Polymer for this duty as well, and there are a few others that are particularly abrasion-resistant.
Mono casts better than fluorocarbon on both baitcasters and spinning rods–it’s simply more limp and less inclined to take a set than most varieties of fluoro. Not to say light fluorocarbon is problematic, many professional anglers on the top bass circuits fish nothing else, but if you have casting difficulties with fluoro in heavier tests, a switch to quality mono will often solve them. Mono also handles better than braid on baitcasters in tests up to about 40 pounds–after that, the braid diameter is thick enough that it won’t cut down into the spool and cause jams, as lighter braids often do.
Last but not least, of course, good mono is cheaper than quality fluoro and a lot cheaper than name-brand braid. It does not last nearly as long as braid, though, so maybe that’s a wash–in any case, don’t write monofilament off just yet.
First published Florida Sportsman December 2015