Fluorocarbon Fishing Line Basics
By Nick Ruiz
For those anglers who pride themselves on being filled in on the latest and greatest in fishing tackle, fluorocarbon fishing line will probably be old hack, but for the majority of the bass fishing population, this new breed of line may be something of a mystery.
Though new to the bass fishing scene, fluorocarbon line has been common place for years on the spools of saltwater flats anglers targeting line-shy fish, as well as fly fishermen who pursue various elusive trout species. This, due totally impart to its near complete invisibility once under water. This near invisibility, its claim to fame, comes from the line being made with a chemical called fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon has nearly the same light refraction rate as water, which explains how it "disappears" once beneath the surface. Understand that while this seems like the ultimate advantage over the fish, there are applications where it is an advantage, as well as applications where it might be a disadvantage.
There are currently several brands on the market which proclaim themselves as fluorocarbon line, though let it be known not all of them are made from one hundred percent fluorocarbon. The line I use, and swear by is produced by P-Line, and is, in fact, produced with one hundred percent fluorocarbon. Though despite this, it does handle rather well as a fishing line in general. The handling being a reason some anglers might shy away from fluorocarbon.
Though more prone to line memory problems than traditional monofiliment or braid lines, with a little time and adaptation, the difference might hardly be felt. I prefer fluorocarbon on a bait cast reel, as it is far easier to handle. But truth be known, most of the situations I will discuss as far as applications for this line, will require the use of a spinning outfit. Though fret not, while some getting used to may be in order, it certainly is not impossible by any means to use on such an outfit.
Fluorocarbon should be used any time stealth and a subtle presentation are needed or preferred. This means that while having the line invisible all of the time might seem like a good idea, using this stuff when flipping jigs into timber would be likened to swatting flies with a Scud missile. In a word: pointless. Finesse fishing is really where this line comes into its own. In the past, anglers would go out of their way to cut down on line size, cut down on entry noise and make the bait look as natural as possible. But still, regardless of what they did, there would still be a huge line signature coming out of the bait. Now, with the aide of the new fluorocarbon fishing lines, in addition to having a very natural looking bait, you lose the one thing that could ruin a presentation in and of itself, that being the line signature. It should be noted that aside from being invisible there is a greater bonus to using fluorocarbon in a finesse application. Now that your line is invisible, you can use considerably heavier line weights. Which takes away the one thing that many bass anglers dread using finesse techniques: ultra light line.
Another application for fluorocarbon line, which is certainly not new in any way, shape, or form, is to use it as leader material. Invisible line on a Carolina rig, when probing deep structure for finicky, lethargic bass, is a great plus and will most likely get many more fish in the boat as a result. As I have mentioned before, fluorocarbon fishing line has its own distinctive handling characteristics, different from monofiliment. As a result, some anglers who adapt to such characteristics, use the fluorocarbon as a leader all the time, regardless of presentation style. Usually, this requires the use of a blood knot to join the mono with the fluorocarbon line, and is fished as per normal. Though, by all means this is effective and certainly cheaper as a considerably smaller amount of the pricey fluorocarbon line is used, I only resort to this when long distance casting is necessary. This because mono will out-cast the considerably stiffer and more difficult to handle fluorocarbon lines.
On a final note, I have recently discovered another tactic that greatly exploits the good characteristics of fluorocarbon line. The fairly new technique of drop shotting, an imported tactic from the West Coast that allows a totally new way of presenting a soft plastic bait, can make great use of the invisible line. Simply by using the line in conjunction with the rig, by design, makes for a very interesting presentation in and of itself. I have experimented with this presentation with this line in a swimming pool, and to say it is awesome would be an understatement. For those of you who know what the drop shot rig is and what it looks like, already probably have a good mental picture of what I'm talking about. For those of you who don't, stay tuned, I'm sure I'll have an article on the technique soon enough. In the mean time, there are plenty other places to learn of its advantages and uses. As mentioned before, when presented in the pool, the worm appears to literally hover in place, no line leading to or away from the bait. Though I haven't tried this rig out on an actual lake yet, I by all means plan to, and can only imagine its effectiveness on heavily pressured water that take a regular beating from anglers throwing more traditional rigs. Again, the point here is to show how a small modification, the line in this case, can take a very effective rig and improve it to a potential tournament winner.
With that said, I urge every angler to at least give fluorocarbon fishing line a shot and see what it can do to new techniques as well as some other tried and true techniques that we all use every time we hit the water. In many cases, the lack of line signature and the overall increase in the realism factor of the bait just may be the determining factor of putting more bass in your boat.
Catch ya' on the water...