Although your fishing rod and reel may get most of the credit when a trophy fish is landed, it’s really the fishing line that has done majority of the heavy lifting. Making sure you have the correct fishing line is one of the most crucial decisions to be made when picking a new fishing setup or spooling a new fishing reel.
In this buyer’s guide, the BCF’ing experts will be running you through all you need to know when choosing a new fishing line. We’ll be talking about the different types of fishing line, what size line should you use, the importance of a leader, plus a few handy tips and tricks that will help ensure your next fishing adventure is a cracker.
What are the different types of fishing line?
When it comes to fishing line there are three very distinct types available to the fisho: braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon, each type with its own individual characteristics and benefits. Although no fishing line can claim they are the best, there are definitely some styles of fishing that are better suited to one over the other. Below we will take a squiz at the different types and see what they are best used for.
Gel spun Polyethylene line, more commonly known as braid, can lay claim to being one of the key factors that revolutionised the tackle industry in past decades. Braid has helped pave the way for the exceptional tackle design and quality of the fishing gear we see and use today. It has also been the catalyst for the popularity of lure fishing, which has gone gangbusters around the globe. Braid is seen as the first choice for lure fisherman, as the thin diameter, minimal stretch and zero memory allows for superior contact with your lure. It is equally at home whether fishing rivers, estuaries, offshore or in freshwater impoundments. Braid dates back as far as the 15th century when fisherman would use braided horsehair as fishing line. These days there is a constant supply of new and different products coming out of both the USA and Japan to fit any fishos needs. The benefits of using braided line are:
- Extremely thin - with a diameter of roughly 1/3rd of monofilament in the same breaking strain, braid casts effortlessly and cuts through the water.
- No memory - will not kink or retain line twists. This eliminates the need for a swivel in some situations
- Almost zero stretch - minimal stretch is a real asset when lure fishing or you require better contact with your bait
- Large spool capacity - As braid is extremely thin you will fit much more line on your spool
In order to extend the life of your braid try flipping or reversing the line. After 12 months or so you will begin to see the colour of your braid fading, this is the perfect time to give your braid the flip. Normally it is only the first 30-50 metres of line which is actually used during a cast or while fighting a fish. Simply remove your braid and spool it on backwards with the help of a few empty spools, this will leave you with the fresh braid from the back of the spool now sitting atop ready to hit the water.
monofilament (mono) or nylon has been a popular pick for many fishermen over the years. Chances are your first fishing experience would have been with mono because it is simple to use, doesn’t tangle easily and is cost effective. The first monofilament line was invented in 1937, originally made from a mixture of water, coal and air and was renowned for its very high strength. Nowadays you will find quality mono lines coming from Japan, France, Germany, USA and of course home sweet home, Australia. Mono is still readily available and used by many anglers but for a lot more specific fishing situations, whether you are fishing the rocks or break-walls at your local river mouth, wetting a line at the beach with the family or out for a spot of trolling chasing gamefish. The benefits of using monofilament line are:
- Stretch - Monofilament can stretch up to 25%, this can be helpful for setting hooks correctly and combating sticky drags with the added shock absorption
- Superior abrasion resistance – This makes mono a great choice when fishing around structure such as sunken timber or rock walls
- Positive buoyancy - Helps provide a natural slow sinking bait presentation to weary fish
- Low cost and large spool sizes – This means one spool of mono will keep you going for ages
- Diverse colours - Available in a range of both natural and bright colour variations that you can choose between to suit the water you will be fishing
- Superior knots - Makes tying knots extremely easy and provides great knot strength.
Although braids and fluorocarbons may come with a level of UV protection that makes them better withstand the harsh Aussie sun, the same can not be said about monofilament. This means care should be taken to avoid leaving your monofilament to roast.
fluorocarbon, or fluoro as it commonly named, has become an extremely popular item for anglers of all skill levels. Whether used as a leader material or mainline, the advantages of using fluoro in your fishing setup is extensive. Fluorocarbon is made using a similar method to standard monofilament lines, however, in the final stages of construction it is packed tighter and receives an extra additive which makes it denser and more transparent. When fishing ultra-clear waters or chasing weary fish species, the almost invisible characteristics of fluoro can be a game changer. Most experienced fisherman have also begun using a length of fluoro as a bite leader as the abrasion resistance and low visibility helps entice more bites and avoid bust offs.
- High abrasion resistance - is great for fishing structure and helps keep you connected when fighting toothy critters
- Some stretch - helps with setting hooks but also provides better sensitivity
- Low-visibility - due to a refractive index similar to that of water, fluoro is almost invisible underwater
- Naturally sinking - with a higher density fluoro will sink, resulting in less slack line between your lure or bait and the rod-tip.
What size fishing line should you use?
When it comes to what size line to use, it really comes down to personal preference, but there are several factors you should consider which will help ensure you choose correctly.
Whether you’re targeting barramundi in the impoundments, flatties from the river mouth, snapper from the coastal reefs or billfish from the deep blue, each species is completely different but catchable with the correct fishing line. It’s important to choose a breaking strain that roughly matches the average size or weight of your quarry. Also, do they have a mouth full of pearly whites? Some species such a mackerel have sharp teeth that make light work of most line classes. Do they fight dirty? While some species like trevally will play the game nicely and swim away from cover once hooked, other species such as mangrove jack have a reputation for playing dirty and have you bricked in a heartbeat.
Many fish love structure, it provides a source of cover while also attracting baitfish. Structure is both a fisherman’s friend and foe, as many forms of structure such as rocks and mangroves can make light work of fishing line. In most situations it can be handy to bulk up your line class to avoid the line being cut on sharp objects. All types of fishing line can be used around structure, but it is important to remember that braid does struggle with abrasion so mono or fluoro may be a better alternative.
When fishing deeper water, the advantages of using a thin diameter line are enhanced. Thinner lines cut through the water and create less drag, this can be useful for getting your lure or bait to the bottom and will also provide you with better connection. Braid would be the best pick for this situation as it is much thinner than other types of line and its lack of stretch lets you feel every bite through your line, even in the deepest of water. Jigging braid has line indicator markings so when fishing you know how deep down the bait is.
Why you should use a leader?
The addition of a leader to your fishing rig is an absolute necessity. Not only does a leader help to provide natural bait presentations through the low-vis materials it is constructed from, but also its superior abrasion resistance can be the key to helping you land many trophy fish. Ranging from as light as 2-4lb for finessing bream and trout, 8-12lb for most river and estuary species such as trevally and flatties, 40-80lb for chasing horse barra and reef dwellers, through to 150-300lb for chasing marlin and other gamefish.
The length of your leader material is completely up to you, but most commonly they are between 60cm - 2 metres long.
Braid tied to leader using an FG knot.