We’re dedicated to bringing you the best advice available on tying knots that will help land a big one (or a little one) at your local fishing spot.
t’s important to understand tying a good knot isn’t as simple as good finger-work however; our Line Effectiveness Factors series will highlight other elements that go into creating a strong knot.
Approach a conversation about knot-tying and you’ll hear an array of colorful names and techniques—as well as arguments regarding which is best. It’s easy for a new fishing enthusiast to miss the forest for the trees however—or, more appropriately, miss the knots for the line. Everyone knows that you need a fishing line to tie a knot. What kind of line you decide upon can make a major impact on your tying as well as other aspects of the fishing experience.
We’ve assembled a basic list of the four line varieties that are popular in fishing today (excluding fly lines for now), as well as the pros and cons for each. Keep in mind that different fishing conditions and targets call for different kinds of line...you’re always better off asking a local expert for some friendly pointers if you’re looking to hook a specific specimen.
Monofilament lines are a single strand of material, usually nylon. Thanks to their simple construction, lower cost and performance attributes, they’re easily the most popular form of fishing line in the world today.
PROS: The simplicity of monofilament manufacturing makes this the cheapest kind of line on the market, as well as being offered in a wider variety of colors, diameters and tensile strengths than other kinds of line. The flexibility, or “limpness,” makes this option perhaps the easiest to tie and cast. This flexibility also contributes to its stretch, which makes it more forgiving when you set your hook too hard. All of these reasons make monofilament an ideal, more lenient option for the beginning fishing enthusiast.
CONS: Be prepared for monofilament to perform differently when you’re out on the pond than what it did in the shop. These lines behave differently when they absorb water, sometimes hurting tensile strength and abrasion resistance. The quality of the line can also degrade in heat, such as when it’s left out in the sun too long. Its flexibility can become a weakness if left on the spool too long, as this line will take the shape of the packaging or spool it was wrapped around.
Fluorocarbon lines are also single strand, but are usually made of stronger, polyvinylidene fluorides.
PROS: The fluorocarbon material used in this variety of line helps improve upon the weaknesses of monofilament lines: It doesn’t absorb water, which helps make it more resistant to abrasion. It’s more dense than water, so it naturally sinks. Combine that element with its low visibility and the fish won’t know what hit them.
CONS: Sinking is great...unless you don’t want your line to sink (as is the case for some types of fishing, especially topwater). The stiffness that allows fluorocarbon to be more abrasion-resistant also means that it’s a bit tougher to tie than monofilament. Most knots are still possible on fluorocarbon lines, but may be tougher for beginners. That abrasion resistance also comes with a higher price tag than monofilament.
Hybrid lines are essentially an attempt to take the best elements of monofilament lines and fluorocarbons, by combining their base materials into a polymer.
PROS: As we said, these lines combine some of the best parts of both single-strand options (and it floats, unlike fluorocarbon). Basically, take the abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon options and make it easier to cast.
CONS: Although still an option for beginners, it’s still a tad tougher to tie than monofilament lines. Also expect to pay far more for hybrid lines than you would for lines made from its parent materials.
Braided fishing lines are different than the other options we’ve looked at because they’re not single-strand; instead they consist of woven fibers, often of Dacron (polyester) or similar material.
PROS: These lines feature almost no stretch, which consequently makes them more sensitive to bites. The thick, woven construction of the lines also makes them very resistant to abrasion and won’t undergo any spool “memory” from being wrapped up too long. Although you can get monofilament lines that will match its strength, they’ll be considerably larger in diameter.
CONS: The construction that works to the line’s benefit also makes it easily visible to fish. These lines shouldn’t be used by beginning fishing enthusiasts as the combination of low stretch and slippery nature make them the toughest to tie and difficult to cut cleanly without specialized tools.
Again, make sure you investigate what kind of environment you’ll be angling in as well as what kind of fish you’ll be targeting. These choices can make a major impact on what kind of line is ideal for you.