Recreational anglers are curious about what the pros use on a daily basis. Is it better? Is it more expensive? Can I buy it? These are all great questions. Fishing line is one area where you can use the same products the best in the business spool up with.
Professional bass anglers use one of three line combinations. When the conditions are right they often use straight braid. Other techniques, like fishing crankbaits, utilize fluorocarbon. Many pro anglers also use a braid to fluoro leader.
This article will break down the pros and cons of each and explain why top professionals are so careful about their line choice.
The Pros and Cons of Each Line Type
There is not one perfect type of fishing line. Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, and Braid all have positive attributes and negative ones. Pro anglers understand these characteristics in-depth and apply the right line for the situation.
The below chart lists the pros and cons of each type of fishing line.
|Monofilament||Inexpensive, Easy to handle||Lots of stretch|
|Fluorocarbon||Low-visibility, Abrasion Resistant||Expensive, Wrong knot will snap easily|
|Braid||Very sensitive, Lasts a long time, No-stretch||Expensive, Very Visible|
Every bass angler is in agreement that we all want more bites and don’t want to lose fish. Our choice of fishing line is the first step toward success.
Most Important Line Attributes
Our fishing line is often underappreciated in the recreational world. This is proven by the fact that many folks leave the same line spooled up for multiple seasons or do not switch it out when needed.
That need could be caused by water clarity, cover, and the depth we want to target. This sounds like it could get expensive, but we will talk about cost-effective ways to reduce line costs below.
When I was fishing the tournament circuits on a regular basis and doing television, I would easily spend around 150 days a year on the water. Swapping out line was a constant task and I learned a lot from some of the best anglers in the world about why our line needs careful consideration.
So what are the attributes that are most important?
The top two qualities we want are sensitivity and strength while using as little material as possible – line diameter.
A lot of attention is given to our fishing rods and sensitivity, and rightfully so, but the line can mean the difference between a lot of fish caught and barely feeling bites.
Braided line takes sensitivity to an entirely new level. This is why pros use braid for techniques that require that detailed feel. And it just so happens that braid also has the smallest line diameter making it a win-win.
(Here is an article that goes in-depth on braided line.)
The downside is its visibility.
The next attribute that pros rely on is strength. While braid is extremely strong, it is not the best for all presentations. Crankbaits are a great example. Most pro anglers will use fluorocarbon when fishing deep divers. Fluro is very abrasion resistant and can be quite strong.
To give an example, this last year I was using 12 lb fluoro throwing squarebill crankbaits on the upper Mississippi River. I caught multiple northern pike, longnose gar, bowfin, and drum, as well as a ton of bass. My line never broke and keep in mind I was bouncing these lures across rip rap with lots of sharp edges.
Yes, I would run my fingers down the line every few casts to check for nicks and retie if needed, but when it counted I never lost a fish.
Which Line for Which Method
To answer what the pros use here, we need to break down our fishing into two different categories – vertical and horizontal.
Vertical presentations would be bottom-bouncing techniques like pitching jigs, shaky heads, and most Texas rig situations.
Horizontal bass fishing includes anything moving up in the water column. This could be swim baits, swim jigs, or topwaters.
The next consideration is the cover and structure. Is there a lot of thick vegetation and wood? Or is the cover sparse?
The thicker the more likely we are to go with braid. Horizontal presentations in sparse cover are well served with fluoro or a braid to fluoro leader.
The below table will give you an idea of what line to use for many types of presentations, water clarities, and cover.
|Lure||Clear Water||Stained Water||Dirty Water||Rocks||Vegetation||Wood|
|Texas Rigs Heavy Cover||Braid/Fluro Leader||Braid||Braid||Fluoro||Braid||Braid|
|Texas Rigs Sparse Cover||Fluoro||Braid or Fluoro||Braid||Fluoro||Braid or Fuoro||Braid or Fluoro|
|Swimming Plastics||Fluoro or Mono||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid||Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader||Braid/Fluoro Leader|
|Ned Rig||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro|
|Carolina Rig||Braid Mainline w/Fluoro Leader||Braid Mainline w/Fluoro Leader||Braid Mainline w/Fluoro Leader||Braid Mainline w/Fluoro Leader||Braid Mainline w/Fluoro Leader||Braid Mainline w/Fluoro Leader|
|Shaky Head||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro||Braid/Fluoro Leader or Fluoro|
|Topwaters||Mono||Mono or Braid||Mono or Braid||Mono||Mono or Braid||Mono or Braid|
|Swim Jigs||Fluoro||Braid||Braid||Fluro or Braid||Braid||Braid|
|Spinnerbaits||Fluoro||Fluoro||Fluoro or Braid||Fluoro||Fluoro or Braid||Fluoro or Braid|
Eliminating Line Twist – The Pros Know
Every angler deals with line twist at some point. You know what it is – the dreaded coiling of our fishing line like an old-school telephone cord.
It reduces casting distance by a lot, is responsible for huge snarls and backlashes, and causes the line to wrap around the rod tip.
Pro anglers do not have the time to deal with this. It is most often the result of lures that are not rigged properly causing them to spin when reeled back quickly. Another factor is excessive age, but there are simple solutions. Use the right line, condition it, and change it when needed.
Braid has virtually zero line twist. It flies off the reel with ease and can be used all season without problems. Monofilament will twist badly as it ages, but fluorocarbon can twist even worse.
Spooling the line properly helps, and rigging our lure straight will solve many issues, but starting off with a line that is not prone to twist is a huge key. That is why many pros will use a braid to fluoro leader.
They get all the sensitivity of the braid, the low visibility of fluoro, and a few feet of leader is not going to cause the line twist. And if it does, snip it off and replace the leader. There is no need to unspool the entire reel.
Save Money with The Right Line Combination
I know this sounds crazy when we are talking about professional bass anglers. We picture endless supplies of free stuff and fat sponsor checks.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Only a handful of professional bass anglers are living the life most people think about. The vast majority of them are scraping to make ends meet and looking to save money where possible so they can continue to pursue their dream.
Proper line selection is a part of that.
It can become quite expensive to re-spool twenty or thirty rods and reels continuously all throughout the season.
While braid and fluoro are very expensive, the combination of a straight braid and a braid to fluoro leader makes it easy on the wallet.
For the average angler, braid will last all season. And when it appears worn out, take it off the reel, reverse it, and then spool it back on. Seriously.
When water clarity and conditions require fluorocarbon or even a monofilament, use a braid to leader option when you can. I love this.
It allows me to swap out line quickly. I can go up or down in the pound test in just a couple of minutes. This means adjusting to the bite and the conditions is as simple as swapping out a few feet of line and leaving the braid mainline alone.
At the end of the year, you will be surprised how much money you actually save fishing this way.
Good luck out there and be sure to encourage someone today. You never know how you may change their life forever.