Monofilament and braided are two of the most common types of fishing line. The chances of having a successful fishing trip increase significantly when you are using the better suited line for where you are fishing, so it’s helpful to know when monofilament or braided line is the best choice.
Choosing between monofilament and braided line depends on a number of factors. There is not a one size fits all solution as to which line is better. These factors include water clarity, water depth, the species of fish targeted, line capacity, abrasion resistance and fishing technique.
Choosing the right fishing line is key and is a skill you can build with experience. There are pros and cons to both monofilament and braided line. In this article, we’ll look at the main features of these fishing lines and examine the circumstances where you may decide to choose one over the other.
What Is Monofilament Line?
Monofilament line consists of a single strand, usually made of nylon. Often referred to simply as ‘mono,’ this is an established, reliable fishing line, one which has been used by anglers for many years. Its ease of use makes it particularly popular with novice anglers.
Two of the main features of monofilament are its near invisibility to fish and its elasticity. Mono is also quite a hardy line, making it more resistant to abrasion when fishing. Monofilament is a good, general all-rounder and can be used on a baitcaster or a spinning rod, able to target most species of fish.
- Abrasion resistant
- Buoyancy and low sink rate
- Easy to tie knots, which remain strong
- Fairly cheap
- Stretches well and is flexible
- Good for beginners
- Less sensitivity due to more stretch
- Retains memory
- Absorbs water which can weaken the line
- Weakens when exposed to UV light (i.e. sunlight)
What Is Braided Line?
Braided line consists of synthetic materials woven together to create a single fishing line. The materials used often include nylon or polyethylene. The braided nature of the design creates a strong fishing line, one without much stretch.
Braided line is also referred to as just ‘braid.’ It has a much thinner diameter than monofilament when comparing like for like breaking strains. This can see a longer line length on the reel for the same comparative line strength, allowing you to cast further. The minimal stretch feature of braided line provides anglers with more feel for a bite.
- Low stretch, good for bite detection
- No memory
- Snag resistant
- Thin diameter
- Little water absorption
- Good buoyancy
- Resistant to UV light
- More visible to fish
- More expensive, although more durable if properly looked after
- Can be harder to tie knots
- Less shock absorption can place more stress on equipment
Monofilament vs Braided Line: Which Is Better?
While beginners will likely find monofilament easier to use, which line is better for more experienced anglers becomes dependent on the type of fishing you intend to pursue. Where you are fishing and the clarity of the water are two initial factors to take in to consideration when deciding between using monofilament or braided line.
The near invisibility of monofilament makes it a good choice when fishing in clear waters or when stealth is paramount. Its buoyancy makes monofilament line suitable for top water fishing, although most monofilament lines absorb water which will hasten its sink rate over time. Therefore, it will need replacing from time to time, but its relative low cost makes this more manageable.
Braided line can be the better selection when fishing in dense, murkier waters where visibility of the line to fish is not such an issue. Braided line is also a good option when fishing toward the bottom of a waterway, where it will comfortably slice through any weeds encountered. Braided line is often the go-to choice for bass anglers because of its proficiency in waters with heavy cover.
As well as water conditions, there are further factors which will influence your decision on whether monofilament or braided line is the better option.
Lures And Bait
In general, braided line is viewed as the best choice with artificial lures, while monofilament is the preferred option for live bait. With the sheer scale of varying scenarios you may encounter while fishing, there will always be exceptions to this, but the low stretch of braided line allows more control and feel of an artificial lure.
Low stretch also means braided line is more sensitive to bite detection, making it the ideal choice for certain forms of fishing, such as river salmon on lures. The extra give on monofilament suits the techniques used in live bait fishing, where braid can be a little too forceful.
While braided line quickly slices through weeds and riverbed vegetation, it can be more vulnerable than monofilament to firmer underwater structures. Monofilament has a thicker diameter which makes it more resistant when being dragged across rocky surfaces and over solid underwater structures. You may still prefer to use braid as a main line, but you may want to add monofilament as a fly leader.
The flip side to this is that fish often like underwater structures as a place to rest or to wait for passing prey. When reeling in a larger fish which is putting up a fight, the additional power offered by braided line may outweigh the risks of potential line abrasion. Therefore, the species of fish you are targeting is still important in your decision on which line to use.
The thinner diameter of braided line means you can have more line length for a comparative breaking strain than monofilament. This allows you to cast further, and some people will say with more precision. However, this still depends on the line capacity of your reel.
Braided line also has little memory compared to monofilament. A line with more memory can see more curls on the spool and increases the risk of line entanglement. Having little memory further helps with casting distance when using braided line, while also reducing the chances of the line becoming tangled when reeling in a fish.
Targeted Species Of Fish
Different fish can require different approaches, but the local environment will also play a role. Whereas braid is often preferred when fishing for bass in dense waters, if the fish are close to the surface the more buoyant monofilament could still be the better option.
Monofilament tends to be acknowledged as the better line when fishing for trout in streams and smaller rivers. Indeed, monofilament line works well with most trout fishing methods.
However, when trout fishing on lakes you may prefer braided line with a monofilament fly-leader to help reduce visibility of the line to the trout. Trout are skittish at the best of times, so stealth is key. Braided line may be better in this scenario as trout in lakes tend to be larger and braid offers more power to reduce the risk of losing the fish.
Monofilament line is a good all-rounder and is fine for catching small trout, catfish and bass, but once you are targeting larger, heavier fish braid may be the better option, particularly for more experienced anglers.
However, some species such as trout and catfish also have softer mouths. The stretch of monofilament can be better in these instances to help set the hook and remove the pressure on the mouth of the fish.
Certain fishing lines can also favor different forms of fishing. When trolling, many anglers find monofilament line the better option as it is less visible and less likely to break when a fish strikes.
However, once again, there are always exceptions and personal preferences to take into account. When trolling at a maximum depth you may opt for the thinner braided line, which you can also cast to longer distances.
Braid is often the go-to line when jigging as it has minimal stretch. When you are jigging with braided line you get the extra sensitivity to help you gain more feel through the hook and rod tip.
Choosing the line to match the style of fishing boosts your odds of success, and as experience helps, newcomers should look to tap into the accumulated knowledge of more experienced anglers.
Monofilament line is the cheaper, more beginner friendly option. It’s also buoyant and fairly snag resistant. Braided line is stronger but more expensive. It doesn’t show memory unlike mono, but it is more visible to fish, so you need to pick the right line depending on the fishing situation.