As any seasoned angler will tell you, the most important link between the fisherman and the fish is the line. The moment of a lifetime can easily be ruined by the most minute of nicks or frays. Fishing line can be an absolute nightmare to successfully spool and utilize on any given day and I, unfortunately, have numerous times witnessed line warp itself into asymmetrical arrays and knots that do not even seem physically possible.
The fishing lines of today present a new problem to anglers that strikes even before the line touches their hands! That common issue is the choice of not only which brand to purchase, but which type of line is most suitable as well. The vast majority of anglers are familiar with the first line that I will discuss, but many people are still learning about the others that follow. This is just a brief overview of the various types of lines and this thought process can definitely become more detailed depending on an angler's mindset and needs.
This is the standard nylon fishing line that has been around for decades. This line is very affordable and causes the least issues to a beginning angler. This line is suitable for the majority of applications, but is not always the best line for someone desiring a technique specific line. These lines are very basic, but are offered in varying styles that accomodate different features that an angler may be looking for such as strength, knot strength, abrasion resistance, and castability. These lines are best for jerkbaits, topwater, and crankbaits, but can most certainly be used for any technique or species.
Visibility: Mostly invisible/Green is great for grass/algae areas and Clear/Blue for night fishing
Buoyancy: Almost Floating
Strength: Good/Varies with Type/Brand
Abrasion: Good/Varies with Type/Brand
Memory: Low to Mid/Varies with Type/Brand
Stretch: Varies by Type/Brand, but most have notably more stretch than other lines
This type of fishing line is becoming increasingly popular due to the low visibility of the line. Fluorocarbon refracts light in a nearly identical way as water which creates an almost invisible line. This line possesses minimal stretch which makes it more sensitive than mono and also allows for bettter hooksets. Fluoro can be a bit difficult to handle to begin with as some of the lines exhibit a stiffness and memory issue that is not generally found in monofilaments. The line is being used more often for crankbaits due to the sinking factor, but is also great for jigs, shakey heads, and soft plastics because of the abrasion resistance, sensitivity, and low stretch.
Visibility: Almost Invisible
Strength: Good/Take extra care during knot tying however
Memory: Mid to High/Varies by Brand/Often times worse in colder weather
Cost: Mid to High
This type of line is surging in popularity this year due to the Alabama Rig craze. This line has superior strength and has been popular for many years in areas with heavy grass cover such as Florida. The line has very small diameter allowing for the use of much stronger pound test ratings on standard spools. Most brands have excellent abrasion resistance with an ability to cut through most grasses. Braid has basically zero memory and zero stretch which allows for extreme sensitivity and eye crossing hooksets. The main downsides to braid are visibility and cost. The practice of using monofilament backing underneath the braid on a spool is popular to assist in decreasing backlashes and line slippage during drag pulls. Fluorocarbon leaders are also quite common due to the high visibility of braid. This line is great for soft plastics, jigs, alabama rigs, and single hooked topwaters such as frogs.
Visibility: Very Visible
There are other lines available that are either very new to the market or have much controversy to the true nature surrounding them. Copolymers are an excellent line choice for many and are generally categorized closely to monofilament and fluorocarbon with similar traits and price points. Berkley also has a new line that hit the market this year that is dubbed a Uni-filament line and goes by the name of NanoFil. This line is specialized for spinning gear and is very similar to braid in most characteristics. The line floats, has no stretch, small diameter, and casts very well.
In closing, I encourage every angler to get acquainted with every line type to find which is most suitable for them and their needs. Please be open to speaking with an associate at Bass Pro Shops about each line and their characteristics. Most of us have used various types and brands and will always be glad to share our experiences, both memorable and forgettable.
Gary G. Garver
Fishing Team Lead
Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops