Skip to main content

Braided vs mono vs fluorocarbon fishing lines: what's the best combination

fishing lines
Bass angling pro Carl Jocumsen is an expert when it comes to the different types of fishing line and how to use each one (Image credit: Carl Jocumsen)

Understanding which type of line to choose for your new or existing fishing set-up can be a tricky process with so many different lines available. This is a common question and sometimes the choices can be confusing regarding when and where to utilize the different types of line. So let’s break it down and make the buying process a little easier.

Over this guide, we’ll cover braided, fluorocarbon and monofilament lines, plus some general information on leaders that’s sure to help you out wherever you fish. After reading this, you’ll have a good understanding of when to use each type of line along with their strengths and weaknesses.

When to use braided fishing line

fishing lines

Braid can be great for bass fishing near heavy cover (Image credit: Carl Jocumsen)

Let's start with straight through braid – which means the braid is tied direct to the hook, lure or sinker. The advantage of going braid all the way is the feel, sensitivity and strength. This is because braid has no stretch and is made from ultra-strong, high-tech materials.

The main techniques when bass fishing will be flipping and punching heavy cover, frog fishing and swimming a jig. When fishing heavy cover, grass and mats, the braid is going to come through the grass better and cut through when a bass is hooked. It gives you direct contact with the bait, you'll detect bites faster, set the hook better and get the fish out easier.

Other advantages of braid include its low diameter enabling you to fit lots of line on the spool and you can go for a higher breaking strain main line because of this thinness when compared to mono main line. The disadvantages are that it can be tricky for a beginner to handle and the fish can see it, so it's not good in open clear water situations. Tying a fluorocarbon leader can help that, and we will get into that later on.

When to use fluorocarbon fishing line

fishing lines

Using a fluorocarbon or mono leader on the end of a spool full of braided main line is a great idea for many reasons (Image credit: Carl Jocumsen)

Fluorocarbon is at the opposite end of braid when it comes to visibility and elasticity – we are using this for the stretch which will help keep hooked fish on and allow the bait to maximize its action in open water. Most popular techniques with fluorocarbon are bass fishing with crankbaits, jerkbaits, chatterbaits, jigs and swimbaits – the list goes on.

Another big advantage of fluorocarbon is that it’s basically invisible when in the water, which will help produce more bites on pressured fish in clear water from any species. This is because the fluorocarbon is made from material that has the same refractive qualities as water, making it much harder for the fish to spot. It’s a good go-to line for when you need low visibility and a degree of stretch – this can apply to any fishing situation.

When to use monofilament fishing line

Mono is the original line that has been used longer than most but has faded out to just a few techniques when it comes to bass fishing. Mono has a lot of stretch – almost too much sometimes – and that's why it is not as popular these days. It is also colored which fish can see in clear water and can stop them from hitting your bait, but it can handle a lot of abrasion compared to braid.

Some anglers love mono for topwater bass fishing as it floats and helps keep your topwater up and giving the right action. It is also good for spinnerbaits and chatterbaits where you want the stretch to allow them to take the bait, get the hook and not put too much pressure on your lure.

In general, mono lines are good for when you need a lot of abrasion resistance, stretch or elasticity in the set-up, wherever you fish. Anglers fishing light lines for lots of species use mono main lines – it’s cheap and easy to handle for beginners, too.

When to use a fluorocarbon leader line

Combos rigged with braided main line and a fluorocarbon leader (a length of fluorocarbon tied to the end of the braid) have become one of the most popular setups with anglers. This gives you the best of both worlds; you are getting the feel and sensitivity of braided main line, plus the invisibility and stretch from the fluorocarbon leader.

There is a wide range of bass fishing techniques being used with this set up and it’s most commonly seen on light line spinning gear. Some techniques include drop shot, shakyhead, small swimbaits, wacky rigs and on baitcaster setups flipping, topwater and weedless swimbaits.

In general fishing, a fluorocarbon leader is a great option when you need the benefits of braid and fluorocarbon together without the disadvantage of both. It’s a great go-to set-up for most types of fishing, freshwater or saltwater.

Choosing the right leader knot for fluorocarbon to braid fishing line

Tying the fluorocarbon-to-braid leader knot is the toughest part. We’ve been tying a knot called the FG knot for over 15 years. It's the strongest knot out there but can be tricky to tie. But there’s a wide range of knots that are easy to tie – check out the back-to-back uni knot or the alberto knot – and the best way to learn is through online tutorials. This way you can keep watching each part until you get it right, so we suggest learning this way and eventually tying the FG Knot when you’re confident to do so.

How to choose the right leader length for your fishing line

Leader lengths all vary depending on what you’re targeting; in super clear water with light line on spinning tackle, we like 20ft / 6m leaders. This keeps your braid as far away from the fish as possible, gives you a perfect amount of stretch to keep fish on, and allows you to retie your bait many times before having to tie a new leader.

At the other end of the scale, on baitcaster tackle with heavier braid, we tie a short 2ft / 0.6m leader and keep the knot outside of the rod tip. This gives you a short shock leader which will help produce more bites and give you some stretch to keep fish on. The only time bass fishing we will tie mono to braid for a leader is for topwater – fluorocarbon sinks and usually mono floats, so utilizing the mono for topwater bass fishing will give your bait the perfect action it needs.

This range gives you an idea of the types of leader length we use when bass fishing, and the same general principles apply to other styles of fishing too. A mono leader is useful when abrasion resistance is key but visibility isn’t an issue, but fluorocarbon has obvious advantages over mono in many regards as a leader material.

We hope this guide helps you decide between braid, mono and fluorocarbon lines and which ones suit your fishing set up. There are many brands out there and we like to use Sunline for fluorocarbon applications and Power Pro Super Slick for braid.

Good luck out there and happy fishing.

Carl Jocumsen

Pro bass angler Carl Jocumsen has been successfully competing with the best-of-the-best on the FLW, Bassmaster and Bassmaster Elite Series tours for several years and is a go-to expert for  anything bass, lure and tackle-related. During the competition season, he truly lives the fishing life with his wife and dog chasing the hot bite and pro tournament schedule from their RV. There’s nobody more enthusiastic about catching bass of all shapes and sizes!