Aside from proper hook selection, there may not be a more important fishing gear choice than deciding which fishing line is best for your needs. Monofilament, braid, hybrid line, and fluorocarbon each have their distinct advantages and some clear drawbacks. Do you know which one to select for a given fishing situation?
Which fishing line type is the best? Braid, fluorocarbon, and hybrid fishing line each have their situations where they are best, but the best fishing line with the widest applicability is actually monofilament.
Mono is abrasion-resistant, has some stretch which allows more forgiveness when it comes to struggling fish, has good casting ability, holds onto knots very well, and can be used in almost all fishing situations where the other 3 types of line simply cannot.
In this article, I will cover all four types of fishing line highlighting their strengths as well as weaknesses. Furthermore, I will explain which situations they are best at and which ones they are the worst.
It is important, as well, to highlight specific fishing situations and pair the appropriate line with the situation. This way you can be sure such an important fishing gear selection choice as fishing line will be made with all the facts you need to know.
I know this is a bit random, but if you ever wanted to go on a guided or chartered fishing trip in freshwater or saltwater, you should check out Fishing Booker. They are the leading database of certified and professional fishing guides at the guaranteed lowest prices.
They have countless listings for such dream destinations as the Florida Keys, Corpus Christi, Great Lakes, San Diego, Central America, Montana, and many more. Click here to visit Fishing Booker and book your trip of a lifetime at very affordable prices.
Mono vs. Braid vs. Fluorocarbon vs. Hybrids
Mono is the most commonly used type of fishing line by a large margin. Mono is the cheapest fishing line to buy which lends to its extensive use. Mono is typically half to 1/3 the cost of braided line or fluorocarbon.
It is also arguably the most universal in its uses. Mono has such a wide range of uses and while it may not excel in any one particular field, it is generally pretty good in all situations.
Mono is abrasion resistant making it a much better choice in areas with dense cover in the form of wood or rocks. Mono is a much better choice here than braid as braid will fail easily if provided an abrasive force and tension.
For anglers who do fish with braid in these situations, it is smart to use a monofilament leader were the line is most likely to be affected by abrasions. This will give you the benefits of braid while protected the line from abrasion near the bait.
The downsides to using mono is its thicker diameter which reduces casting distance, makes it more affected by wind or heavy current than other line types, tougher to pull through weeds, and a marked reduction in reel-line capacity.
The wider diameter of mono also makes it much easier for fish to see compared to thinner diameter braid or fluorocarbon.
Mono is also stretchy which can be good since it acts as a shock absorber making it less likely for a fish to break off but the added stretch can prevent solid hooksets, bad for trolling, and cause a reduction in line sensitivity making subtle bites tougher to distinguish.
Mono also does not sink well compared to fluorocarbon meaning it will be harder to get your lures down deep enough using mono. Lastly, mono has a lot of memory as it will stay kinked or curly which can lead to rats’ nests.
Braid (Braided Line)
Braid is another good choice. It comes in a much thinner diameter than mono allowing for better casting and greater line-reel capacity. Braid has no stretch and no memory.
The lack of stretch means you can haul large swimbaits and deep-diving crankbaits through the water, trolling bigger baits, and deliver very solid hooksets once a fish bites.
Furthermore, the non-stretch nature of braid means an extreme sensitivity to bumps to the bait which will help you detect even subtle bites. The lack of memory is important as it means no rats’ nests and far less likely a chance of backlash (birds’ nests) when casting with a baitcasting rod.
Braid is also more expensive than mono. Depending on the brand and quality, it can cost 2-3 times more than monofilament. Braided line is also poor in abrasion resistance. It can cut and fail very easily if rubbed against a rough rock or log. This is why a lot of serious braid-fishermen will use mono leaders at the end of the braid.
It’s also important to note that not all reels can handle braid attached directly to the spool. When it’s cold or dry out, your line can slip off the spool. To counter this, some people will wrap their metal spool first with electrical tape or roughly 100 feet of mono backing before spooling on braid.
You also do not want to try breaking the braided line with your hands. Braid will cut into your fingers fast. You need scissors or pliers to safely cut braid.
Not all braided lines are created equal. The quality of braid is measured in the number of weaves per inch. SpiderWire has roughly 3 times the weaves per inch as cheaper braids. This is important because the tighter the weaves, the better the castability and durability.
SpiderWre also will not chew through your rod’s lead eyelet like cheaper braids will. Some SpiderWire models also have a special coating on them for improved casting. In my opinion, SpiderWire is the gold standard of braid.
Fluorocarbon is pretty new to the fishing market. Many fishermen haven’t tested this style of fishing line yet for themselves. It definitely has its value. Fluorocarbon looks a lot like mono but it behaves vastly different. Fluorocarbon sinks more aggressively than mono and braid making it great for fishing deep-diving baits.
It can also be great for fishing dead bait on the bottom in waterways with extensive boat traffic. The line itself will sink much lower than the wash caused by passing boats which will keep your bait in place.
Fluorocarbon is not only much thinner than mono but it is pretty much transparent making it tough for fish to see. This is a great option for clear water fishing and for fish like bass and trout that rely heavily on their vision. Fluorocarbon can be a great option for bass fishermen in many different settings.
Of course, this type of line has its share of drawbacks. Fluorocarbon is not cheap. It can cost roughly the same as good braid and be up to 3 times more expensive than mono. It is also stretchy like mono which has its benefits and drawbacks. It also tends to not play nice with knots.
Fluorocarbon has interesting memory to it and it has a tendency of loosening and slipping out of some knots. Not all knots will work with this line type.
Because fluorocarbon has so much memory, you are likely to experience line twists, rats’ nests, as well as the occasional cast backlash with a baitcasting reel.
Hybrid Fishing Line
A prime example of this is Berkley FireLine. Hybrid line is essentially braided fishing line that has been heat-treated to fuse together the braids.
Hybrid line resembles dental floss in that it is ribbon-like instead of round. It acts a lot like mono except there is no stretch. Hybrid line floats on the surface so I wouldn’t recommend you fish with deep-diving baits with it.
It is likely the thinnest diameter line available. This makes it very hard for fish to see and gives it great casting distance. It does have decent abrasion resistance but can still be cut off by a rock. This type of line also has no memory so you won’t experience kinks or loops in the line.
This type of line is the most expensive line type generally speaking. It can cost up to 4 times more than good monofilament. Hybrid line works best with smaller pound tests. 2, 4, 6, and 8-pound tests are where hybrid line really gives anglers the best value.
It doesn’t offer s much value above 10-pound test. As a result, this type of line is great for ultralight rods and finesse fishing bass, crappie, trout, panfish, and shad.
If you are serious about catching fish,I have crafted a recommended hook and gear list for bass, bluegill, trout, yellow perch,carp, crappie, catfish, and pike. These are jam-packed with proven baits and tackle designed to catch you more and bigger fish.
Importance of Matching Line Type with Situation
Each type of line category covered in this article has a specific situation where it shines best. Mono is very abrasion-resistant making it ideal for thick cover and around rocks. Braid is tremendous at long-distance casting but has bad abrasion-resistance.
Fluorocarbon is very hard for fish to see so it works well in clear water but it can kink and foul up on you. Hybrid line is very hard to see but it works best in ultralight finesse fishing situations.
Quality: Importance of Not Cheaping Out
Far too many fishermen invest big money in top-of-the-line rods and reels. This can be important but the most important factors in your success are not these expensive items but are actually hooks and line.
Fishing rods, for example, will rarely be the weak link in the chain. But if you want to know everything there is to know on the topic, check out my complete guide to fishing rod selection.
Everyone wants a rod that won’t break and the truth of the matter, in your lifetime of fishing, you may never experience a fish breaking the rod. What fish will break are reels, lines, and hooks. I think we all have lost count the number of times a fish has broken our line.
If you have the extra money to spend, sure invest in some good rods and reels. But for far less money, you can get a much better return on your investment by buying excellent quality fishing line and strong, super-sharp fishing hooks.
In my honest opinion, these two facets are the best places to invest in quality when it comes to fishing gear.
Rod and reel companies don’t want you to stop buying their premium gear, but you can get away with cheap rods and reels if your line and hooks are top-notch.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about fishing hook selection to include the characteristics of a quality hook and the importance of a proper hook, read this article I wrote on the topic.
Which Line is Best Casting?
The best casting line, in my opinion, is braid. Beyond that, a good premium braided line like SpiderWire which has very tight weaves will pair extremely well with a solid baitcasting reel.
Mono and fluorocarbon can cast far too but nothing will cast smoother and further than a really good braid. Don’t cheap out and settle for knock-off brand braid though.
A cheap braid can actually saw through the first eyelet at the end of your rod when fighting a fish. This won’t happen with a quality braid since it will be tightly woven.
Which Fishing Line is Strongest?
I don’t think any fishing line is necessarily stronger than the next. They are rated on a pound-test scale so 10-pound test braid should, theoretically, be just as strong as 10-pound test mono.
A bigger question is which line is more durable. Braid has terrible abrasion-resistance compared to mono. This means your braid will easily break if you rub it the wrong way on a rock. That said, braid outcasts mono every time and it’s much thinner so it has its pluses.
Which Line is Hardest for Fish to See?
In general, I would say both fluorocarbon and hybrid line are the toughest to see for both fish and fishermen. Yes, you don’t want fish to see your line but there are times when you do want to see your line and will have a hard time doing so with these two lines.
I think I will give the slight edge to fluorocarbon in terms in invisibility since not only is it really think in diameter but it is also transparent in color. Hybrid line is very tough to see as well.
Which Line is Best for Clear Water?
To me, this is a toss-up between fluorocarbon and hybrid line. Fluorocarbon is not only exceptionally thin but it is transparent making it very tough for fish to spot even in clear water.
What I don’t like about fluorocarbon is it will stretch and will kink up because it has a lot of memory in the line. This can cause issues with casting. Hybrid line is the thinnest line making it the toughest to see but it is limited at larger pound tests. It is best fished below 10-pound test. I love that it doesn’t stretch like fluorocarbon will.
Best Line for Ultralight Fishing?
Hands down, the best fishing line for finesse and ultralight fishing is a hybrid line which is essentially just a heat-treated braid. These are strong lines with good casting ability.
What really sets them apart is the fact they are the thinnest line which makes them very hard for vision-predators like bass, perch, and trout to see even in clear water. The fact that hybrid line is also stretch-free is another bonus.
Which Line is Best for Spinning Reels?
I would say the best lines for spinning reels would either be mono or hybrid line depending on the size of the fish. Mono works great with spinning rods at all pound tests but since it is thicker in diameter, it will reduce the amount of line you can fit on your spool.
Hybrid lines work very well with spinning reels as their ultra-thin diameter makes for excellent line-reel capacity. If you are using ultralight spinning gear, go with a hybrid line if you can afford it.
Which Line is Best for Baitcasting Reels
Mono and fluorocarbon can work fine for baitcasting reels, but I don’t think they can touch braid in this category. Braid has superior casting ability to all other fishing line types which pairs perfectly with baitcasting reels.
Fluorocarbon has good casting range too but it is too susceptible to backlashes and rats’ nests for beginner and intermediate baitcast fishermen. Mono just doesn’t get the range of braid in terms of casting distance and spoils up at inopportune moments.
Best Line Type for Trolling
The best fishing line for trolling line for trolling is a tie between fluorocarbon and braid. Fluorocarbon is very hard to see as it is both see-through and of thin diameter. It is fairly abrasion resistant which I think gives it an edge over braid which simply is not abrasion-resistant. Where fluorocarbon really makes its money in that it naturally sinks in water. This will allow you fish deeper baits at faster speeds while trolling.
Braid, on the other hand, deserves plenty of love too. Braid has no stretch which is ideal for trolling larger baits. There will be no stretch which can cause issues in both your setup and your line integrity. Even more important is you will deliver powerful hooksets even if your bait is 100+ yards behind the boat since there won’t be any stretch in the line.
It will be a straight shot to the hook. Braid is hard for fish to see but not as hard to see as fluorocarbon. Braid is also poorly resistant to abrasion so if you are trolling around or through any cover or rocks, switch to fluorocarbon.
Which Line is Safest on Your Hands?
The safest line for your hands is probably monofilament. At lower pound tests, you can break the line with your hands. Chances are it won’t break the skin. Have fun trying that with braid. Braid will cut into your fingers like a saw.
Hybrid lines can be nasty as well since they are simply heat-treated braided lines. The dental-floss ribbon-like nature of fluorocarbon makes me a little uneasy too. I think your safest bet is mono above the other three options.
Best Fishing Line for Bass
For bass fishing, I think a quality braid with a monofilament leader is the best fishing line setup for most situations. Braid is thinner than mono making it tougher for bass, very dependent on their sense of vision, to detect.Braid is not as hard to see for bass as fluorocarbon but it also lacks many of the negative aspects of fluorocarbon that make it less than ideal for bass fishing like its tendency to backlash, stretch, and not hold some knots.
Good braided line cast amazingly well and pairs perfectly with a baitcasting reel as it won’t foul up and cause issues. Mono and fluorocarbon cannot claim this ability.
For bass anglers who spend hours a day casting, braid is the best route to take. Now I recommend a monofilament leader because most bass fishing is in and around cover.
Braid is very vulnerable to abrasion but a foot of mono as a leader is perfect. Most abrasions occur within the last foot of the line near the bait so that is why I recommend a good mono leader.
Best Fishing Line for Trout
The answer to this question largely depends on the situation. Braid for trolling, hybrid lines for ultralight finesse fishing, and fluorocarbon for heavier fish in clear water are preferred. Mono really should be excluded from most trout fishing as there are better options.
Braided line would only be good for trolling large trout in rivers and reservoirs since it is no stretch. I would strongly advise against braid in streams since they can be nicked easily by rocks. Mono is abrasion resistance which would theoretically make it good for rivers with rocks but since it is thicker, it is easily seen by sharp-eyed trout in clear water.
Fluorocarbon is a great choice when you need a hard-to-see fishing line greater than 10-pound test for bruiser rainbows and browns. This line sinks well and is hard to see. The downside to fluorocarbon is knots are sometimes hard to keep and this line is too stretchy for some trout situations.
My top choice for most trout fishing would be a hybrid like FireLine as it offers no stretch and some abrasion resistance. Most importantly, hybrid line is the thinnest and hardest to see which makes it great for finesse trout fishing in clear water. The major downside is hybrid line has the most value under 10-pound test.
Best Line to Use as a Leader
In my personal opinion, if you are going to use fishing line as a leader, go with monofilament. Mono maintains a knot extremely well and won’t slip like fluorocarbon can. More importantly, mono is abrasion resistant.
This is important since the majority of a line’s abrasions occur in the last foot or two right beside the bait. Mono is able to withstand abuse from rocks and sticks as well as the sandpaper-like teeth of bass.
A major drawback to using mono as a leader is mono is thicker than braid and fluorocarbon. This makes mono a lot easier for fish to spot. In cloudy or stained water, this will not be an issue but if you are fishing in clear water or for trout with keen eyesight, fluorocarbon is a better choice.
Fluorocarbon is less resistant to abrasions than mono but is still a lot better than braid. The best thing about fluorocarbon is it is virtually invisible to fish.
Remember that a mono or fluorocarbon leader won’t do much for fishing fish with teeth. Chain pickerel, walleye, northern pike, gar, and muskies will tear up your line leaders. For those species, I recommend a strong wire leader. Yes, fish will be able to see the leader but at least it won’t shred to pieces once it grazes a tooth.
Cost Analysis: Mono vs. Braid vs. Fluorocarbon vs. Hybrids
Mono is going to be your cheapest option. You can get even premium monofilament from a great brand for at least half the cost of decent braid or fluorocarbon. The most expensive option is hybrid lines but they are unbeatable for ultralight and finesse fishing due to their invisibility and casting.
Braid and fluorocarbon are in the middle of the road in terms of cost. They cost a bit more than mono but are great values for their delivered applicability.
Best Line for Windy Conditions
For cutting through the wind, I like braid the best. Braided line is thinner in diameter than mono and often comes with a special coating for improved castability.
There is a reason why so bass anglers spool braid on their baitcasting setups. Braided line casts very far and better, in my opinion, for slicing through wind than mono or fluorocarbon.
Best Line for Fishing Crankbaits
I think this one is a tossup between braid and fluorocarbon. I like fluorocarbon for deeper-diving crankbaits as this line will naturally sink in the water column. It is also the toughest line for fish to see since it is thin and see-through.
What I don’t love about fluorocarbon is it does provide some stretch which could result in poor hooksets, it has a lot of memory which can result in birds’ nests, and not all knots will hold with fluorocarbon which can be disastrous.
The benefits of braid are it is tough to see (not as tough as fluorocarbon), you cast a country mile with braid, and there is zero stretch. I think the stretch aspect is what I value most. Not only can horse heavy swimbaits and crankbaits through the water, but you can deliver a killer hookset once a fish bites you simply cannot match with mono or fluorocarbon.
Mono vs. Braid vs. Fluorocarbon vs. Hybrid: Best Overall Line Type
This is a loaded question because it really does come down to specific situations but I genuinely feel like monofilament is the best option for a majority of applications. It lacks the casting ability of hybrid line and braid, and it is not as invisible to fish as fluorocarbon, braid, and hybrid line but it is generally good at all traits you need from a line.
It is abrasion-resistant, durable, holds onto knots well, and can be used for lures and bait fishing alike. It’s a close contest with braid, but for sheer adaptability across all fishing situations, I have to give the edge to mono.