By Nick Simonson
The first thing I look at when inspecting a young angler’s reel is the type of line coming off of the spool. Over the holiday, I had the opportunity to connect with my wife’s cousin’s kids and introduce them to my style of bass fishing. While we had angled together a number of times in the past, it was never specifically for bass and would allow me the chance to explain the finer points to a 13- and 9-year old who were getting the feel for various niches of fishing. In looking over their reels, I explained the pros and cons to what was on my spool and what was on each of theirs, and what techniques would work best when pursuing bass, and other fish that they encounter most often from walleyes, to panfish to pike.
In doing so, I broke the line selection process down into three categories: superlines, monofilament and fluorocarbon. By doing so, I realized that in all three categories there are a number of situation-specific positives and negatives that each offering brings with it when spooled onto a reel. What follows are those explanations, and other insight for anglers advancing into having multiple reels or spools of line ready to go this summer and into the future for all of their fishing needs.
Monofilament is the oldest of all line offerings, and as such, has a number of variants with coatings, chemical make-ups, and tweaks to make today’s spools better than the first ones that hit the market many decades ago. When focusing generally on mono lines, the pros are many, starting with price. Monofilament is the least expensive offering on the market and can be bought in bulk in some cases for less than a penny a yard. Monofilament has some stretch, which can be good for certain fishing applications such as trolling or casting and when a fish needs a little more give during the battle. That stretch makes it less sensitive, however, and not the ideal choice for detecting subtle bites. Mono is generally clearer, reducing visibility under the water, but it is also easier for fish to cut with their sharp teeth, requiring leaders when fishing for toothy creatures like pike.
Superlines, such as PowerPro and Berkley’s Fireline, give anglers strength and sensitivity in a line that is more compact than monofilament. There is virtually no stretch, making superline a great choice for detecting bites and even feeling out bottom composition. However, these offerings are often fused or braided filaments that are solid, and reflect light instead of refracting it, making them highly visible to fish, especially in clear water. The other thing to be aware of is that superlines are stronger than monofilament of the same diameter and can be used to cut through snags in vegetation like a rope saw and even bend hooks straight that are lodged in timber or other underwater obstructions, before breaking. Handling lines connected to snagged lures with a bare hand can result in a nasty cut though, and anglers would be wise not to pull on a superline as they would for monofilament when trying to break off or pull a lure loose. Utilize a glove or wrap the line around a pliers before pulling to avoid injury.
Fluorocarbon lines have come to the forefront of angling in the last two decades as the material has been mass produced, reducing its cost to a manageable level and allowing more anglers to spool up, or at least add leaders of the offering to their reels. Fluorocarbon line has low stretch for better sensitivity which falls between monofilament and superlines. Due to its chemical makeup it also refracts light, making it far less visible than a superline and even monofilament under the water. The lone major drawback to fluorocarbon remains its sticker price, relegating it to leader applications in most cases, but even then it serves in its role admirably, especially in clear waters, helping baits look more natural and reducing the snubs other lines might cause when fish see them attached to a bait.
Whether it’s bass around fields of shallow summer lily pads, or jigging for discerning walleye in super clear waters, there are many options to consider when it comes to setting up a reel with the right kind of line. Keep the pros and cons of each major offering in mind when making that selection and be better prepared to deal with what’s to come as you expand your arsenal and take to the water this season and in those to come.
Featured Photo: A major advantage of monofilament is it’s price point. A bulk spool can reduce cost per foot to mere pennies. Simonson Photo.