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Fluorocarbon performance and versatility have progressed significantly since its early days of large diameter, leader-only line.
It took some time as leader only until design, materials, and production methods were established making it spoolable.
In the early days of spoolable fluoro, it was a challenge to tie good knots, hard as a rock, and way too thick
The last decade or so, however, has seen fluoro carve out a special niche.
It’s dropped many of its bad habits and is now not only fit for the spool but a performance option for a host of fishing applications.
Fluoro is not cheap, nor are all fluoro’s created equally.
To help with your fluoro deliberations, I’ve listed 5 of the best fluorocarbon fishing lines below that might suit your applications and are a worthy consideration.
Before we review, let’s have a look at the features and benefits of fluorocarbon fishing line.
What are the Features and Benefits of Fluorocarbon Line?
You will no doubt have noticed that there appear to be great similarities between fluoro and mono.
Nonetheless, there are also differences. I find these differences usually show up when spooled on baitcasters.
Different fluoro brands have different features, and I have found that some fluoros can be a little tricky to manage on a baitcaster.
For that reason, I tend to spool baitcasting reels with braid and mono.
The science behind my decision is pretty poor, however. Plenty of anglers spool up baitcasters with fluoro and have little trouble.
Perhaps it’s the hardness and the memory of some brands I have used. Perhaps it’s a combination of these things.
Whatever the case, I can feel a difference when it is spooled on my 200 and 400 baitcasters. So I fill them with braid and mono instead.
However, I think all of my spin reels 3000 and under are spooled with fluoro. I find fluoro provides some noticeable benefits for fishing heavy structure with light gear.
I feel the benefits are such that it warrants the extra money I have to pay to fill a spool.
This comes down to some of the unique features of fluoro, that separate its performance from that of braid and mono.
Let’s go through these features now. Perhaps you’ll find there are fluoro properties that will suit your applications.
You will all be familiar with the cuts, scrapes, and fraying you see and feel on your line after a battle through the snags. This is abrasion.
One of the main reasons fluoro became so popular, particularly as leader material, is because it has superior abrasion resistance.
This is why I’m a fan of fluoro with lighter applications because I’m afforded excellent protection from submerged sharps, as I drag lures through the structure and across the bottom.
Abrasion resistance is important for any application where teeth and gnarly structure will be encountered.
There is a trade-off, however, as lines with strong abrasion resistance are a harder composition.
The harder the line, the less supple it becomes, and less supple lines affect casting and knot tying.
Invisible Under Water
While not invisible per se, it’s so opaque as to be very difficult to see. Importantly, it’s difficult for the fish to see, which is critical when fishing clear and still waters.
Fish can be very cautious when the waters are still and clear. If they can see your line, they are far less likely to have a serious investigation of your bait.
For some applications, it can be advantageous for the angler to be able to see exactly where their line is. This can be a bit of a challenge when using line almost invisible.
Low Stretch/No Stretch?
I’m often picked on by others when I say fluoro has no stretch – and I say it all the time. Truth is, fluoro does stretch, it’s just negligible and far less than mono.
Mono is infamous for having a tremendous amount of stretch, for which there can be pros and cons.
Fluoro lines require significant force to stretch. So much so, you’ll probably barely even notice.
Low stretch offers excellent benefits for hook setting and sensitivity. Without any give, you have a better feel and a more immediate impact on the hook when you strike.
Low stretch limits shock strength and is less forgiving. Like braid, aggressive strikes that are poorly timed can pull hooks, resulting in lost fish.
You will have heard sensitivity in relation to rods and fishing line. Essentially, sensitivity is the feel a fishing line transfers from the hook end to the hand of the angler.
Braid is by far the most sensitive of all fishing line. However, due to its low stretch, fluoro comes in at a close second.
Like many anglers, I appreciate the combination of forgiveness and sensitivity that is unique to fluorocarbon lines.
Strength refers to breaking strain, or how much force is required to break the line. These days, an important factor is strength relative to the line diameter.
This ratio has become a critical feature, as anglers want more line on the spool, without sacrificing line strength.
A lower line diameter also delivers a stealth benefit, as thinner lines are harder for fish to see.
In that regard, the advantage goes to fluoro because you can up the line class considerably and fluoro still remains invisible.
As mentioned earlier, Shock strength refers to a line’s ability to handle the sudden onset of heavy loads.
In my experience, fluoro has better shock resistance than braid but is not quite as good as mono.
Shock is never really a problem for me as my drag is set at a point where the damage of heavy strikes is cushioned by the drag.
If I’m fishing an application where I can’t allow any drag because of nearby structure, I will use mono, allowing for the stretch to mitigate shock.
Fluoro lines will sink as they have very little to no water absorption. Moreover, they can sink pretty quickly, depending on the brand.
This can be of benefit when you need to get your bait to the strike zone which might be deeper in the water column.
Those fishing topwater applications might prefer mono for its buoyancy. However, I don’t find it necessary to make the change, I just adjust my technique.
Both mono and braids absorb water. Water absorption impacts line strength, including knot strength.
As fluoro does not absorb water, strength and knot strength remain the same as when dry.
Durability and Longevity
Braids will last the longest depending on exposure and frequency and consistency of use, and the terrain it sees.
Mono can degrade very quickly when exposed to UV rays, however, there are many mono lines now with additives to mitigate UV degradation.
Fluoro has outstanding UV resistance. This means you will get more use from a fluoro spool than you will from a mono spool, generally speaking.
And due to the hardness of fluoro, it will also take a lot more punishment from abrasion before requiring a change.
So, while fluoro costs more upfront, there can still be value for money as it lasts longer.
Value for Money
Good fluoro is expensive. But as it is so durable, you will likely find that you require less of it over the fishing year.
The trade-off is value over the longer-term versus the pain of the initial outlay.
When Should You Use Fluorocarbon Fishing Line?
This is a pretty common question. The answer I give these days is whenever you like.
Fluoro is versatile and well suited to countless applications. While I’m personally cautious with spooling baitcasters, I’m quickly falling into the minority on that count.
The contemporary fluoro fishing line is excellent. While I’ll not spool a game reel with fluoro, I can think of few applications where it’s not appropriate.
As I noted earlier, I’ve not had a great experience with fluoro on baitcasters. But that’s not to say others don’t prefer it on baitcasters. It’s just my experience.
I have found fluoro to be awesome for light spin applications, particularly when casting lures and other baits into heavy structure.
Light class lines are particularly susceptible to sharp things, particularly when there’s pressure on the line.
When you’re finessing a bass from gnarly structure with 6 pounds, you will find that the extra abrasion resistance is invaluable.
A further benefit to light applications is that the line will help lighter lures sink faster in the water column, getting you to the strike zone faster.
In my experience, fluoro, like any other line requires plenty of experimentation.
There are as many technique application combos as there are anglers, and there are also plenty of disparate ideas as to what line rates are appropriate or high performance.
The best thing you can do is invest in a few brands and try them out for suitability. By and large, it’s often undefinable personal preference that puts one line ahead of the rest.
Here are the top 5 best fluorocarbon fishing lines to try.
Top 5 Best Fluorocarbon Fishing Lines
The FC might be considered a little too expensive for some. However, I can say firsthand that I get excellent value for money from every spool.
I have this line on every reel I have from 3000 down. They see plenty of action, with some of them lasting several seasons.
FC is available in a wide range of breaking strains with my personal preference being the lighter classes from 10 pounds down to 4.
I fish the snags pretty frequently and pretty hard. I continually cast around barnacles and other such line-killing demons with pretty good results.
What’s more, the FC is a very strong line.
When snagged beyond redemption I have to be very careful not to snap rods as I pull hard in frustration trying to release the snag.
It’s when I’m doing this that the lack of stretch and line strength becomes apparent. Use caution when tying knots. Make sure they are secure before you cast.
Apart from knot caution, this is a fantastic line, particularly from 10 pounds down. If I was spooling up baitcasters, this is the fluoro I would use.
- Great abrasion resistance
- Low memory
- Easy to use
- Achieving knot strength takes care
2.Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL – Low Stretch For Sensitivity
A highly popular fluoro that’s been around from the beginning. As a Berkeley product, I would probably attribute a lot of its popularity to name (brand) recognition.
It seems to attract plenty of pro endorsement, but that can be attributed to the Berkely label as well.
XL is a good fluoro, strong in key criteria. However, just because of its popularity I’m not going to join the crowd suggesting it’s one of the best. Reliable, predictable, yes.
For me the best feature is the Trilene feel – there’s plenty of feedback from hook to hand.
Part of the advertising suggests it’s good for spin reels. I find this an odd selling point and interpret it more as being poor on baitcasting reels.
Trilene is not the cheapest, but nor is it one of the expensive fluoros. It delivers solid performance across the board so long as you take care with knots.
Durability seems OK, but I have heard it can lose its suppleness over time. I’m not sure how, it’s something you’ll have to discover for yourself.
- Abrasion resistance
- Knot strength
3. Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon – Excellent Low Vis Fluoro
Vanish is another very popular offering from Berkeley and is an ideal choice for when stealth is required in still clear water conditions.
Seeing is believing and I suggest you check it out for your stealth operations, especially when finesse fishing.
With vanish, your lure appears to be swimming all by themselves delivering outstanding presentation – the key to action in clear water.
I rarely use low vis lines. My applications are better suited to a line I can see.
However, when I fish the clear water conditions inshore, I make a point of spooling up with low vis. It really can be the difference between cleaning up or heading home empty-handed.
While low vis is the key feature of vanish it also offers excellent abrasion resistance, so it’s a great choice for the gnarly structure.
It’s not so supple but you’ll only notice it when tying knots. Focus is required when rigging up, but a conscientious angler won’t have any trouble.
Like many other fluoro lines, strength is also a feature with vanish, but its biggest selling factor is that it’s a great line for applications where stealth is a must.
- Visible above water, invisible beneath
- Ticks all desirables such as abrasion resistance and strength
- Available in a wide range of test weights
- A little pricey
- Not the most supple fluoro available
4. Seaguar Red Label 100% – Best Budget Fluorocarbon
Seaguar Red is billed as spoolable fluoro. While it works ok on a spinning reel spool, there are many others that I’d prefer.
And I’d never spool up a baitcaster with it as it is a little too stiff, and will cause the average angler plenty of casting issues.
But Seaguar Red is an ideal leader. If you’re anything like me and go through miles of leader each year, a reliable brand that doesn’t cost the earth has plenty going for it.
Yes, you’ll have to pay close attention to your knots, but it’s a very strong line. It’s a particularly hard composition also, making it ideal for fishing structure with plenty of sharp bits.
I Like it for ocean rock fishing, where barnacles and other such line smashing aquatic critters, including rocks and teeth, cut leaders.
As Red is sold for spooling, it becomes a really cost-effective way to stock up on leader.
While I like it for heavy saltwater fishing, it’s also a great option for chasing bass out of structure on lighter class outfits.
Red Label ticks all the boxes, adding the key benefit of being affordable. I choose other lines to spool with, but this is a great option for a cost-effective leader.
- Very Strong
- Excellent Abrasion Resistance
- Excellent Leader
- Value for Money
- Not a great mainline
- Not supple
5. Yo-Zuri HD Leader Pink – Best Top Shelf Fluoro Leader
Yo-Zuri is leader and leader only. When your target is heavy and has decent teeth, Yo-Zuri is a great, if a little expensive, option.
Supple and Yo-Zuri don’t really sit well in a sentence together. This stuff is pretty hard, and you’re going to have to work at getting secure knots, especially when you get into the heavier test weights.
I really like Sunline FC for light work, but Yo-Zuri is a sure bet for chasing anything with teeth around reefs and other ocean rock or blue water structure.
If you look at a Yo-Zuri packet, it says it’s supple. I’ve no doubt the light class test weights are, but the heavy stuff is designed for heavy fighting, and it’s pretty hard fluoro.
Like Berkeley’s Vanish, it’s also invisible when submerged.
It appears pink on the spool and has a unique feature of showing this color underwater when the line becomes damaged.
This is a great feature for you to see when your leader should be replaced.
There are plenty of leader brands that are far more affordable. One of the main criticisms is that it’s just too expensive.
However, when you’ve invested the cash to fish big, you’re generally content to pay a little bit more for insurance.
Nobody likes to drop a trophy fish due to an underpowered leader.
- Super Strong
- Excellent abrasion resistance
- Color warning telling you the line is damaged
- Not so supple in the heavier line classes. A Little too hard for some applications
- Caution required when tying knots
- Very expensive
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Fluorocarbon Fishing Line for Bass?
Of the fluoro listed above, my choice for bass would be the Sunline FC.
Sunline FC covers all the bases, be it spin or baitcasting, gnarly structure, or finesse application.
Having said that, it’s important to note that it’s a feel thing and others will ‘feel’ differently.
What Line is Better Mono or Fluorocarbon?
There is no “better”, just different. Each line type, mono, fluoro, and braids share some common properties yet have unique properties making each line better suited for particular applications.
Can you use Fluorocarbon on a Spinning Reel?
Yes. Modern spoolable fluorocarbon works very nicely on spinning reels. Just be aware that some fluoro, although advertised as spoolable, are best left to leader only.
How Often Should You Change Fluorocarbon Fishing Line?
This is a very difficult question to answer. On reels I use infrequently, I’ve had fluoros on for three years and they still work perfectly.
On other reels I use frequently, the line is changed usually based on abrasion damage, which diminishes the spool volume. This can happen over a matter of months.
As Fluoro is highly UV resistant, sun exposure generally won’t be an issue for line degradation.
If you don’t fish the gnarly structure and target big teeth, you can have fluoro for quite a long time.
Is Fluorocarbon Good for Main Line?
Modern fluoro is an excellent mainline. It will help to test as many as you can. All fluoros are not created equally, and that’s particularly true of spoolable fluoro.
In my experience, the only way to find a line that satisfies your needs is to try as many as your fishing budget allows.
Fluorocarbon is a great fishing line to spool with and also an outstanding leader.
Like anything, the marketing suggests plenty of promise, awesome performance, and more. I’ve found that the truth is something you’ll need to work out for yourself.
Fluoro line is like any consumer product, there are good ones and there are bad ones.
What I can say, to help you avoid blowing your cash, is that the ones above have proven very effective, with the FC and Vanish being true to marketing hype, and the blurb on the packet.