Some of the commonest questions I get asked are about the advantages and disadvantages of Fluorocarbon, and does it justify the general increase in cost over standard monofilament?
To keep things simple, Fluorocarbon is a special line designed to be much less visible when immersed in water than monofilament is. Some people doubt this, but the reality is that catches show a marked improvement when fishing with hook traces made from Fluorocarbon when fishing in shallow gin clear water, as opposed to fishing with normal mono.
If you regularly fish shallow surf beaches by day, then you’ll catch far more fish if you switch your hook lengths over to Fluorocarbon. It often pays in these conditions, when the fish are likely to be small and wary, to also drop the breaking strain of the Fluorocarbon down to just 8 or even 6lbs. This really pays off in these flat conditions and makes it doubly hard for a shy, spooky fish to see the line and be put off from taking the bait. The other advantage to hook lengths as light as this is that they induce more natural movement to a small bait giving it a natural presentation that can add extra fish on a difficult day. Try it with small maddie rag for close in flounder, or golden grey mullet, and you’ll quickly agree with me!
Another advantage is that Fluorocarbon is heavier then mono, so sinks faster and stays on the seabed better than conventional mono does. This again gives good natural bait presentation, especially in calm, clear, shallow water conditions.
For short range fishing you can also use the heavier breaking strains of Fluorocarbon to construct your rig bodies. Use small sections of black neoprene tubing as simple swivel stops and small size 10 rolling swivels to attach the light Fluorocarbon to, to minimise visual impact. These inconspicuous rigs are called “Ghost” rigs for obvious reasons!
Older forms of Fluorocarbon lines tended to have problems with excessive memory. This is much less common nowadays, yet so many anglers perceive this still to be the case because they haven’t tried modern Fluorocarbon. Modern Fluorocarbon is suppler and remains semi limp even in bitterly cold winter sea temperatures. This increased softness again improves the presentation of baits making them behave more naturally. Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon is a prime example of a modern Fluorocarbon that retains a more supple nature and knots as easily as mono does.
Simple to tie knots, such as the 5-turn Grinner, work especially well with quality Fluorocarbons. Cheap Fluorocarbons often have poor knotting ability and are overly stiff meaning the knot will not close neatly, nor securely.
However modern Fluorocarbon does retain some stiffness, especially in breaking strains over 20lbs, and this can be used to advantage. When fishing rough seas and high surf tables, a semi stiff Fluorocarbon is a better hook length choice than plain mono because the slightly stiffer nature reduces the chances of tangles and accidental knotting when baits are fished right in amongst the breaking surf table.
Fluorocarbon also has a harder surface than standard mono does. This means the line is very difficult to cut with teeth, plus it offers a high abrasion resistance. When fishing for big fish, such as surf cod, bass, rays, huss and anything else that has coarse grinding teeth, Fluorocarbon is the better choice as it is more durable when in contact with fine teeth and will not scar easily and weaken as quick, or to the same degree, as mono will. This also means that Fluorocarbon is again the better choice when fishing over rough ground as contact with rocks and barnacles is less likely to inflict major damage on the harder surfaced Fluorocarbon.
In the past, due to the stiffness of older Fluorocarbons, it was never really considered as a main reel line. However technological advancement has produced these supple Fluorocarbon lines that now sit well on the reel spool, cast smoothly, and suffers minimum memory. Lines, such as Berkley Trilene, are now popular with anglers looking to spin for bass, float fish for mullet and other shy species, and also for anglers looking to bass fish at very short range with ledgered or freelined baits.
When fishing lures with braid lines, it’s wise to add a few feet of Fluorocarbon knotted to the end of the braid to act as clear separation zone between the lure and the coloured braid. Connecting braid directly to a lure in clear water will often deter fish from attacking. The addition of the clear leader minimises any visual contact the fish may have with the leader when chasing and taking the lure. I usually use a short 6 to 8-foot leader, and of the same breaking strain as the braid, when working plugs for bass. I do the same, but extend the leader length to twice the length of the rod, when using braid for shallow to deep water drift fishing with baits off the boat. The leader reduces the visual impact to the fish, but also adds abrasion resistance and protects the braid.
As you see, modern quality Fluorocarbon lines, offer many advantages over standard mono in specific situations and will increase your catch rate. You do not have to carry a wide range of different sizes of Fluorocarbon, nor spend large amounts of money. To begin just two spools covering 12lbs for clear shallow water fishing, and 20lb for standard hook lengths will cover most common fishing applications. For plug leaders 15 to 20lb is a good choice, but for drift fishing from boats good option would be 20 and 30lbs. As you become aware of the true advantages of Fluorocarbon, you can add more sizes appropriate to the type of fishing you do, as and when you need to.