Knowing when to use a fluorocarbon fishing line can be challenging at times, especially to new anglers just getting into the hobby. Though the fluorocarbon fishing line is probably the most technically advanced fishing line out there, there still isn't a single fishing line that is best for every circumstance. Having an understanding of what fluorocarbon is and knowing its strengths and weaknesses will be key to putting you on track for having the right fishing setup.
What is Fluorocarbon Fishing Line? Fluorocarbon fishing line (or fluoro for short) is a single-strand fishing line. Considered a compound material, fluoro is made up of fluorine, chlorine, and carbon. It is known for being nearly translucent in the water, has a quick sink rate, and is widely used among many anglers.
We regularly reach for this versatile line and always have some handy! Read on to learn why we love fluoro, and a few gotchas to keep in mind.
Fluorocarbon History: New Technology Disrupts The Fishing Industry
Fishing with a rod, line, and hook is thousands of years old. During this time, there have been huge amounts of technological advances, especially in the area of fishing line. Natural fibers, cotton, and even horsehair have faded in popularity as manufactured alternatives that offer more flexibility, strength, and dependability have been made available.
Some type of braided line has been available for over a hundred years, monofilament hit the scene in the 1950s with the rise in popularity of nylon, and fluorocarbon arrived in the 1970s when advancements in compound materials paved its way.
The industry continues to advance over the years, with manufacturers constantly trying to improve their lines and tune their manufacturing recipes and process to develop lines that are optimized for specific features or characteristics. Major manufacturers such as Power Pro and Berkley continue to make waves with new and innovative variations of fluorocarbon that continue to push the envelope every year.
Thanks to extensive research and heavy R&D, fluorocarbon has blown past the expectations of its skeptics and has become a staple in the industry. There isn't a fisherman alive today that isn't at least familiar with fluorocarbon, and in most cases, there is at least one spool of fluoro in their tackle box.
Buying Guide for Fluorocarbon
There are 2 general uses for fluorocarbon fishing line, fluorocarbon as mainline and fluorocarbon as leader line. In this section, we will go over the purchasing options for each of these uses.
Fluorocarbon as Leader Line
Many anglers find that they do not need an entire spool of fluorocarbon, and they can get away with purchasing a mini spool of fluoro as a leader line, combining it with a monofilament main line. This is perhaps one of the most cost-effective ways to get the best of both worlds—the flexibility and stretch of mono at a palatable price-point, and the abrasion resistance and durability of fluoro at a fraction of the cost.
Here are some of our favorite products for fluoro leader line:
- Berkley Vanish Flourocarbon Fishing Line/Leader Material
- Berkley Trilene 100% Flourocarbon Fishing Line/Leader Material
Fluorocarbon as Main Line
Contrary to popular belief, fluorocarbon line can be used for more than just leader line. Actually, many of the pro anglers will actually spool up their entire reel with fluorocarbon fishing line over the more prominent mono and braid. Usually, fishermen who go this route are looking for line that feels like mono but has higher abrasion resistance and less visibility. However, if you do go this route be prepared to spend quite a bit more when compared to spooling your reel with mono.
Here are some of our favorite options for fluoro main line:
Why Should You Choose Fluorocarbon Line?
There are many reasons to love fluoro, but our biggest highlights are:
- The molecules of fluoro are tightly packed, making it dense, abrasion-resistant, and reliable.
- Fluoro is a stealth operator: it is nearly invisible in clear water, because of the way that light refracts through the line. This spooks fish less easily.
- Flouro is a sensitive line, and because its molecules are tightly packed, you can generally feel what’s happening on the other end of the line.
Pros of Fluoro
Translucency and Color
You generally do not have much color choice when it comes to fluorocarbon line—as we mentioned, its superpower is in its transparency. When the light refracts through the line, it is nearly invisible in the water, which marks its biggest and best advantage. Adding color to fluorocarbon can degrade the integrity of the material over time, so we suggest you stick to the basics and leverage the line for its superpower.
Other types of fishing line, like monofilament, are available in a multitude of colors for various applications. To learn more about that, check out our post Monofilament (Mono) Fishing Line – A Complete Guide.
Density, absorption, and sink rate
Flouro has a faster sink rate than other types of line, in part due to its density and overall weight. This makes it a great choice for bottom fishing, trolling, and casting for depth. And, because of its quicker sink rate, we also like to use fluoro as a leader line when paired with braid or mono.
Flouro will also not absorb much water, giving it a consistent performance from the beginning of your fishing trip all the way through to the end.
To learn some real-life applications of using fluoro as a leader, check out our article about the Top 10 Most Common Fish Caught From The Beach.
Abrasion Resistance and Durability
Abrasion resistance, or how well a fishing line can withstand wear, tear, and general use, is a tricky thing to measure. Every manufacturer will claim they have the best, most resistant line, but that truly depends on the situation.
Over the course of a fishing trip, your line might come into contact with razor-sharp gill plates while you're fighting to reel it in, it could get trapped in rocks or sharp shells, or even on a dock. All of these obstacles can impact the integrity of your line. Over time, these objects can cause nicks and small tears in your line, weakening your overall line strength and breaking your line.
Another reason we love fluorocarbon is that it has incredibly high abrasion resistance and it can sustain its strength when other lines of the same diameter might weaken significantly or break completely.
Adding to fluoro's strength is its UV resistance. Unlike other types of line, like mono, that tend to break down over time under the sun's harsh UV rays, fluorocarbon shrugs UV rays off, leading to a longer-lasting line. Combined with its high abrasion resistance, you've got durability for days.
Fluoro can be a little tricky to knot, but when tied correctly, offers strong connection points. Everyone will have a preference, and there's more than one way to tie a knot, so we encourage you to be the judge: try them out at home before you head out.
But, first thing's first: be sure to moisten the line before you tighten your knot all the way, or it may slip right on through.
A common setup we use is a fluorocarbon leader with a braided mainline. This gives you the smooth cast and lighter weight of braid with the abrasion resistance and translucency of a fluoro leader. You may have heard that to connect these two types of lines you need a swivel, and while you can certainly do that, you don't need to overcomplicate your setup. The key here is to make sure you're using the right knots.
We recommend practicing the following knots for strong fluoro to braid knots:
- The FG knot. This knot is slim, sleek, and strong. It can be a bit time-consuming to tie off when you're first learning, so get plenty of practice at home before you leave. Check out this video from our friends at Salt Strong for some tips on how to tie this strong, reliable knot more quickly.
- The Uni-to-Uni knot. This simple, reliable standby can be used in so many applications that many people call it the best fishing knot out there. You be the judge! Get the scoop and step-by-step instructions on the uni-to-uni knot from Salt Strong.
Why Shouldn't You Choose Fluorocarbon Line?
While fluoro has many positives, there are also some drawbacks that could lead anglers to turn to alternatives such as mono and braid. The important thing to know is how these “cons” weigh up against the “pros” for your fishing needs listed above.
Cons of Fluoro
Some people think that fluoro does not stretch when indeed it does… it just takes more force to get it to stretch.
Having low or no line stretch removes some level of forgiveness for situations like a stuck drag, hard strike, or too aggressive of a hook set. Having a line with some stretch helps to absorb some of that energy that normally would be applied directly to the hook and fish's mouth.
In some cases lower stretch could be considered a pro, in actuality, it really is just a balancing act that fishermen need to play.
Out of the three main types of line—fluoro, braid, and mono—fluoro has the highest line memory meaning that it remembers the shape of the spool and can be somewhat unmanageable when casting.
High memory can be very problematic as it can greatly reduce cast efficiency and increase the occurrence of shags and tangles. Effect of memory is more prominent in spinning reels versus casting reels, which is why you will find more anglers using fluoro as the main line with smaller baitcasting reels over the more popular spinning reels.
A good combination that is common in many fishing applications is combining braid as mainline for its low memory and castability and the fluoro as leader line for its reduced visibility and abrasion resistance.
Fluorocarbon line tends to be more expensive than the standard monofilament line, but for good reason. Not only is it more complicated to manufacture, but it has additional noteworthy features like that high abrasion resistance and strength that make it worth the extra dollars to invest in this line.
When comparing the cost of Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon and Berkley Trilene Monofilament, of equal break strength, the Berkley fluoro comes in at over 7X the cost of the mono. That can be a big chunk of change when talking about high-capacity reels.
How Long Does Fluoro Last
Like monofilament, fluorocarbon also has a shelf life. If unused and still in the packaging, fluoro can sit on a shelf for several years. However, if you are regularly using fluoro to the elements, then it is wise to replace this line once a season due to exposure to the elements as well as general wear and tear.
No matter what type of line you use, we recommend regularly inspecting your fishing line for tiny nicks and abrasions that, if ignored, can cause you to lose valuable line, lose valuable fish attached to that line, and lead to frustration and disappointment! And, it can never hurt to rinse all of your gear, line included, with freshwater when you return from a trip to keep it in tip-top shape.
How To Dispose of Fluorocarbon?
It's important for us here at Tight Lines and High Tides that we leave our fishing spots better than they were when we arrived. And that means properly disposing of, or cleaning up, any and all fishing line or gear when we are done fishing.
Just throwing your line in the trash or recycling bin is generally not enough. Fishing line is a difficult material to recycle and requires special processing and should not be tossed in a standard blue recycling bin. While it may be tempting to just throw away your line when you're done with it, we strongly recommend finding an appropriate recycling center through a store like bass pro shops or your local bait and tackle shop.
More frequently we are seeing recycling centers right near popular fishing destinations giving you no excuse for not properly disposing of your fishing line.
The risks to leaving your line on the shore or in the water are great; leftover fishing line and nets can cause death or injury to local marine life.
Learn more about proper fishing line maintenance and disposal.
We would love to hear about your next big catch with fluoro. Drop us a line and let us know how it goes.