Ontario Fishing Network - Fishing Lodges - Fishing Tackle - Fishing Gear

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 9,  Issue 4 - April. 2009 #100

The Fundamentals of Fluoro
By  Justin Hoffman

As the old adage goes, the weakest link between you and a fish falls squarely on the shoulders of your line. With a market saturated with choices, including monofilament, copolymer, and braid, shedding some light on the latest to join the fraternity – fluorocarbon – will help you become a more informed, and successful angler.

The Lowdown
Although not a newcomer to the fishing scene, the buzz about fluorocarbon line has exploded over the last couple of years. In terms of manufacturing, fluorocarbon is a polymer consisting of fluorine that has been chemically bonded with carbon. This chemical makeup has almost the same light refraction rate that water holds, or in laymen terms, it appears virtually invisible when in the drink.

Fluorocarbon line has unique properties, in comparison to monofilament, making it resistant to degradation from such outside sources as sunlight, gasoline, or DEET (a common component of insect repellant.) As most anglers know, mono will break down when exposed to such substances – not the case with fluoro.

If those benefits weren’t enough, fluoro will not absorb water (another factor in line failure and degradation in monofilament), is denser than H20 so it sinks, has greater abrasion qualities, and is highly sensitive with a decrease in stretch.

Sound too good to be true? All are factual statements, although independent testers are beginning to question the claim of fluoro’s decreased stretch properties – the jury is still out on that one. For now, I’ll take the manufacturer’s word.

To achieve all of these characteristics, the line you purchase must be 100% fluorocarbon. Not all are on the market. Keep a close eye when checking out the tackle shelves.

All in all, fluorocarbon brings some excellent advancements to the forefront of line development. Like anything, though, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here is the nitty-gritty on those.
Best Uses for Fluorocarbon Line

The two most intriguing properties fluoro holds are near invisibility and a significant resistance to abrasion. The advantages of invisible line are great – clear water applications, finicky fish, and finesse presentations. Catch rates can increase significantly when faced with these tricky situations, and switching to a line such as fluorocarbon can see a dramatic upturn – especially where stealth is concerned.

With the advent of zebra mussels, and with more anglers concentrating on abrasive structure areas (rocks, wood, docks, snags), using a tough line that can hold up to these “string eaters” is paramount. Fluoro can bring the added benefit of toughness and resistance when facing these conditions.

Increased sensitivity – a factor that makes many anglers fall in love with braid – is also worth a look in fluoro. Presentations such as tossing crankbaits, jigging (especially deep-water and drop-shotting), and working soft stickbaits can be done more effectively with fluoro. But is it more sensitive than braid? Not sure. But it certainly is harder to see under the water, making it a plus in my books.

Fluorocarbons’ sinking properties also make it beneficial for those trying to gain extra depth when fishing certain lures, be it crankbaits or wacky worms, as well as ensuring that they sink at a faster rate of speed.

If the stretch claims are true, sinking the hooks into fish more quickly during certain situations (deep water jigging comes to mind, as stretch can impede hook penetration), puts fluorocarbon out on top again.
The Downside to Fluoro

The following situations are not necessarily disadvantages, but more so occasions where fluoro may not be the best choice.

If working slow moving topwater baits – think Pop R’s – fluoro’s ability to sink may impede both the action of your lure, as well as your efficiency in picking up line for wrist and arm movements. Not necessarily your best bet.

Although many improvements have been made, fluorocarbon line does exhibit a greater stiffness and more of a memory than traditional lines. This can cause problems when using spinning gear (due to their small spools and the manner the line comes off), as well as on baitcast gear if braking systems are not properly adjusted. Takes a bit of getting used to.

Knot tying is extremely important when using fluorocarbon line, and if not done properly or with the appropriate knots, line breakage can occur – and more frequently than with monofilament. Spending a little extra time getting that knot perfect can make all the difference. Definitely not as forgiving as mono, at least in knot strength.

Of course, expense has to be mentioned when dealing with any fishing product. Expect to pay significantly more for fluoro line. Price variances are across the board, with some economical and other high priced product available to the consumer. My advice is to read up on specific reviews, heed positive reports, and ultimately make an informed decision before buying. Utilizing a backing on your reels to cut down on cost is definitely recommended.
Leader Material

Many folk use fluorocarbon line as a leader material, as certain situations don’t warrant a full spool of fluoro. Panfishing with light line is one that comes to mind. As finicky as these fish are, a three-foot “invisible” leader can definitely work wonders, and is all that is needed.

Carolina rigs are another good choice for fluoro leaders, as are drop shots, walleye jigging, and when trolling or casting for toothy critters. Again, if it is only your offering that will benefit from the use of fluoro, then tying on a leader is the way to go.

Knots are a hotly debated subject with fluoro line – tie one wrong or improperly, and line failure at the knot can certainly occur. Ask five anglers their preference and chances are you’ll get many different answers. Suggested knots to try are Uni to Uni, Blood, and Surgeons, although there are a host of others. Again, experiment and see which works best for you.

As for line to lure knots, Palomar and the Double Clinch seem to get the most play. Whichever you choose, lubricating the knot is paramount to decreasing the risk of failure, as well as ensuring that line doesn’t fall on top of other layers. Similar to doing your homework on the best line, investigate the best knots before heading out for the day.

As you can see from this overview, flurocarbon line can bring some specific perks to the realm of fishing. Although not advantageous to all situations you may encounter, I’d recommend introducing it to your arsenal this season – at the least, in order to see what all the fuss is about.

Line will always remain the most crucial link between you and that trophy fish, so choose wisely.

Back to Front Page of Magazine

Get North!
Stressed? need a vacation?  Visit Get North to find your Northern Ontario get-away!

Fishing Lodge Classifieds
Come fish your heart out at one of these many Lodges, Camps and Resorts.