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from Hank Parker!

Fluorocarbon has been a great addition to the bass angler’s arsenal, but it’s not the perfect, all-purpose line that some anglers say it is. I truly appreciate the benefits fluorocarbon offers in some fishing applications, but many anglers are fishing it exclusively, and I think that’s a mistake.

Fluorocarbon looks and feels like traditional monofilament, but it is very different. While mono is made of nylon, fluorocarbon is a polymer chemically bonded with carbon to create a substance that can be formed by molding, extrusion or other heat processes. It resists deterioration from sunlight, gasoline and even bug repellent, all of which would damage mono.

It also is heavier than water, so it sinks faster than mono. Fluorocarbon doesn’t absorb water and refracts light, so it is said to be less visible to the fish.

That’s one reason why it has become popular with anglers fishing clear water. They also like it because it has less stretch than mono. Therefore, it makes subtle strikes more noticeable.

The invisibility of the line is intriguing, but I’m not convinced it is critical. However, if it gets me one or two more strikes, it’s worth it.

One drawback to an invisible line is that it’s more difficult for people to see, too. Berkley solved that problem with the creation of Vanish Transition, a fluorocarbon that remains invisible underwater but changes to a golden glow when it contacts ultraviolet rays (sunlight). Transition also is more abrasion resistant than a lot of other fluorocarbon lines I’ve tried.

Fluorocarbon is my first choice for fishing soft-plastic stick worms (like a Senko) because of the sink factor, which makes it an ideal match for fishing a weightless plastic.

I also like it for deep crankbaits because it allows my bait to dig deeper than crankbaits fished on monofilament. And I really like it for fishing suspended jerkbaits in spring because my bait gets a little deeper, suspends better and works naturally.

I’ve also had experiences where fluorocarbon worked better in a drop-shot presentation than mono, like when my son, Ben, and I were drop-shotting spotted bass in 40 feet of water on Lake Lanier. I was using Trilene XL, and Ben was using Berkley Vanish. We both fished Mann’s Dragin’ Worm, but Ben out-fished me.

Why? We were fishing vertically, and it was windy, therefore his sinking Vanish kept the bait down while my more buoyant Trilene was blown around and didn’t stay where the fish were.

As is the case with any fishing line material, however, there are trade-offs.

The sink factor may make the new lines appealing, but some lure presentations are better if the line floats.

Topwaters are a good example. You want a monofilament line that floats on the water to keep popper or walking baits working properly. With fluorocarbon, those baits tend to nose beneath the surface, making them harder to work effectively.

Some anglers also use fluorocarbon as a leader on Carolina rigs, but I prefer mono. Again, mono floats better and helps the bait linger higher off the bottom, not cling to it.

Another theory I have – and it’s just a theory at this point – is that mono is better for making long casts to shallow water and fishing slow plastics. My reasoning is that the sinking line creates more resistance on the hookset. I’ve noticed that I get more drag from fluorocarbon, making it harder to set the hook. Mono may stretch a little more, but because the line sits on or near the surface, you get less drag.

Fluorocarbon also requires a little more care than mono, especially when tying knots. Fluorocarbon is more susceptible to heat and friction, so you must wet it thoroughly and cinch the knot carefully, or it may weaken.

But the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks. To maximize your fish-catching opportunities, use different lines, but always match them appropriately to your techniques.