Less than 20 years ago, bass fishermen had only to decide what pound test Dupont Stren or Berkley Trilene monofilament line they wanted in one of three colors: green, clear or blue.
“It’s not that simple anymore,” said BASS Elite Series pro Pete Ponds of Madison. “Now, there’s many more brands and types. Monofilament is still a viable choice and has been improved.
“But there’s also the braids and the copolymers, especially the fluorocarbon lines that have flooded the market.”
Knowing the characteristics of the three should help a beginning bass fisherman make the right choice.
Good ol’ mono
Ponds said monofilament remains popular with most fishermen because of two simple reasons.
“They know what it is and they know it’s the cheapest, by over 50 to 75 percent,” he said. “The positive characteristics are that it is limber — making it the easiest to cast — it floats, it’s cheap and it has less memory. Its negatives are that it is visible, less sensitive and has a lot of stretch.”
Ponds uses mono on topwater baits that float, and he uses it with lures that have treble hooks and require extremely long casts that he can’t make with fluorocarbon.
Costly fluorocarbon tough to beat
Nine of Ponds’ 12 reels on any given tournament day will be spooled with fluorocarbon. It’s his line of choice for crankbaits, spinnerbaits, worms and just about everything else where feel is the most important factor in working the lure.
“It is the best all around for tournament fishing,” he said. “Mainly, it’s the sensitivity combined with the extremely low visibility. I put a lot of stock in those two factors. They are critical.
“Fluorocarbon’s negatives make it tough for beginners. It’s stiff and hard to cast. It breaks easier because it has less stretch. And it is by far the most expensive, about three times the cost of mono.”
Ponds has a line sponsor, Vicious, which supplies him with fluorocarbon as part of his contract.
“Still, as a tournament bass fisherman, I would still have to shell out the money and buy it because it is that valuable a tool,” he said.
Braids powerful but visible
Braided lines, like Spiderwire, are the strongest by circumference, but they are solid.
“Anything opaque is going to be visible,” Ponds said. “That’s why my use of braid is limited. I use it where visibility is not a factor and when strength is needed, like throwing a frog or flipping big jigs into grass and pads.
“Braids have zero stretch and are tough on rods and reels. It is the least easiest to cast on a baitcaster and it snarls in reels. But, boy, they are strong and extremely sensitive. You can’t use it on anything like a crankbait because it has no stretch and will rip a treble hook loose.”
Ponds also uses braid as terminal line on many spinning reels, which are easier to cast with braid than baitcast reels, and uses a foot or more of fluorocarbon leader to the lure.
“You still get the sensitivity and strength of braid, and the low visibility of fluorocarbon,” he said. “And, you save the cost of not having to use so much fluorocarbon. Yeah, braid is expensive too, but you are less likely to lose it and it has a much longer lifespan.”