Tom is a former FFF Federation National President and a Master Certified Casting Instructor and a Rep for the Grand Slam Group that reps the Maxima Line in the South.
Check out his web page at http://tomjindra.com
Though it has been used by anglers since 1971, “fluoro” made its first big splash in the U.S. market in the early 1990s. That splash was pretty serious, but short-lived. Though the idea of a truly invisible line was appealing, prices were exorbitant. The material, meanwhile, was so stiff that it was difficult to use. Given the handicaps, anglers largely lost interest.
espite the failures, manufacturers still believed in fluorocarbon’s potential, so they went back to the drawing boards. Today, we have a new generation of fishing lines from companies such as Maxima
that have earned anglers’ respect.
Anglers have also come to understand that fluoro is more than a one-dimensional line. Yes, it is essentially invisible, but fluorocarbon has other attributes as well. Let’s break it down, both the good and the bad:
Cost: Fluorocarbon is still expensive. Compared to standard nylon monofilament, fluoro is quite pricey, in part because it is difficult to make. The molten material used to extrude the line is highly corrosive to metal, and that requires specialized machinery. The raw material is also considerably more expensive than nylon, and more material is needed to make the same amount of line. Given those factors, the higher price tag is hardly a surprise.
Visibility: Fluorocarbon will always be associated with low visibility, because it has a refractive index that closely matches water. You can see this for yourself by dropping a length of Maxima fluorocarbon into an aquarium. The fluoro really disappears, making it essential for finesse presentations in clear waters.
Toughness: Fluoro is harder and more abrasion-resistant than nylon. That makes fluorocarbon especially desirable for leaders, even when visibility is not a concern.
Density: Unlike nylon and braided lines, fluoro is more dense than water, meaning it sinks. Jigs will sink faster, and crank baits will run deeper with fluoro. And because it sinks, fluoro is less likely to “belly” like nylons and braids as it goes down, so you get less slack between you and your lures. That means fluoro is better for detecting strikes and setting hooks. The fact that it sinks, of course, makes fluoro a poor choice for surface lures such as topwater baits and dry flies.
Stability: Fluorocarbon is a very stable material and is highly resistant to ultraviolet radiation. In other words, it doesn’t break down like nylon when exposed to sunlight, so you don’t have to change your line as often. The downside is that fluoro doesn’t degrade well in the environment, so be careful when disposing of old line.
Knots: Fluorocarbon is notorious for poor knotting qualities. Though I favor the uni-knot, I’ve seen a lot of debate and disagreement here. In the end, you’ll have to decide the matter for yourself, but this much is clear: Take great care that your knots are perfectly tied, and don’t hesitate to retie often.
Another big debate is whether to lubricate fluorocarbon when tying knots, with some anglers insisting that lubrication is a mistake. To settle the debate, I posed the question to the best knot expert I know, Bernard “Lefty” Kreh. Lefty’s advice: Lubricate, but don’t spit on your knots. Saliva, Lefty said, contains certain proteins that cause fluorocarbon to slip. Use water, or even lip balm, instead.
If you still don’t trust your knots, fish with a heavier line. Fluorocarbon, after all, disappears in water.
Fluorocarbon has one big advantage over nylon when it comes to knots. Nylon absorbs water, and that weakens the line and knots. Fluoro has the same breaking strength regardless of whether it is wet or dry, because it doesn’t absorb water.
Lack of stretch: Fluorocarbon has less stretch than nylon. This is both good and bad. It is good in that fluoro telegraphs strikes better than nylon and gives a more solid hook set. It is bad in that fluoro lacks nylon’s impact strength. The solution is to use a heavier line; it’s invisible, after all.
Is fluorocarbon right for you?
I still hear arguments on both sides of the debate, but the fluoro advocates are rapidly increasing in numbers. My answer: I’m not ready to throw away my nylon, but fluoro has too many advantages to be ignored. The angler who never uses fluorocarbon will find he has missed the boat.