What’s in a Line?
article by Kenny Covington
When I started bass fishing as a kid, there were only two companies that I knew of that produced fishing line. One of them was Dupont Stren and the other was Berkley Trilene. Sure, years earlier your grandfather used the old nylon monofilament but when Stren introduced monofilament fishing line in 1959, little did they know how they would change the world of fishing.
One of the more popular discussion questions heard around tackle shops and tournament venues is, “What type or pound test line are you using for such and such technique?” Now there are several types of fishing lines and, to add to the confusion, even more techniques in which to try to match the right application.
There are basically three types of fishing lines. There is the aforementioned monofilament, then you have braid and the newest of the fishing line family is fluorocarbon. Instead of two fishing line companies, there are now too many to mention, but some of the more popular are Suffix, P Line, Viscious, Stern, Berkley Trilene and the list goes on and on.
An interesting side bar concerning each company is that most all of them produce the trio of lines mentioned earlier. Competition for the consumer’s dollar is at an all-time high and brand loyalty is at a premium. Not wanting to fall behind their competition, the companies realize this. Fishing has slowly but surely become as specialized a sport as golf. Like a golfer needs a specific club for a specific situation, the same is true for fishing lines.
Monofilament has always been and probably will always be the first choice among recreational fishermen. The applications in which to use mono are endless and there is a wide variety of sizes to choose from. However, a local angler will generally only need a 12, 15 and 20 pound test.
For crankbaits and small topwater lures, I prefer to use 12 lb. test. Easily the more popular choices are those in the 14/15 lb. test category. It is effective in most all fishing applications. It can use it for throwing spinnerbaits, topwaters, Carolina rigs or flipping/pitching soft plastics into and around more sparse cover.
I use 20 lb. test when fishing heavier cover, bigger lures or if I am flipping or pitching in heavy cover areas. My rule of thumb has always been if the presentation is horizontal, such as topwater, spinnerbaits and crankbaits, the line size isn’t as critical as it is on a vertical presentation such as jig and worm fishing.
The introduction of braided line changed the face of fishing but not to the extent that was originally planned. Introduced specifically for flipping and pitching lures into heavily covered and areas of matted grass, it soon became all the rage in the fishing industry. It didn’t take long before fishing fans discovered other tactical uses for braided line and companies struggled to keep up with the changing market. Now, braided line is more popular now because of its longevity.
While monofilament is across the board with its applications, braided line is more technique specific. It’s a very good choice when using frog presentations, topwater walking baits such as a Spook or Chug Bug and the aforementioned flipping and pitching. The more popular size braids are 6/20, 8/30 and 12/50. The first number is the line size diameter and the second will be your pound test.
Braid is not a good choice for using moving lures such as crankbaits and spinnerbaits due to the lack of stretch in the line. Often times the fish will tear a hole where the hook has penetrated, which results in lost fish. However, if braid is your choice, it is recommended that a lighter action rod be used to help compensate the braided lines lack of stretch. If you prefer to use a medium heavy rod, consider going to a medium action.
The newest member of the fishing line community is also the most confusing. It has little to no visibility in the water, it’s very resistant to scraps and frays and has very little stretch making it very popular for techniques that require a hook set from a distance. The biggest draw backs to fluoro are that it will break if the proper knot isn’t used and it can be expensive.
On the pro tours, many fishermen prefer fluoro when throwing a deep diving crankbait. Techniques such as drop shotting and Texas rig worm fishing are also very effective. Rat L Trap type of lures and bladed swim jigs, such as a Chatterbait, seem to have better results when used with fluorocarbon.
As you can see, the line choices are endless as are the questions that come with these choices. A little bit of trial and error in the beginning can make your next fishing trip one of a lifetime. Remember to be safe on the water and catch one for me! See you next month!