If you have followed my career over the years, you’ve probably noticed I’m a little set in my ways.
I’m not the one to jump on tackle innovations without first putting them through the tests. Fluorocarbon line was one of those. I wasn’t fond of the new line material when it first came out because the early lines were stiff, had poor knot strength and broke easily.
The second generation of lines was much better, but I still felt more comfortable with monofilament, and in some special instances, braided line.
That’s not to say fluorocarbon doesn’t have merits. It sinks faster, and therefore you can get a bass bait down deeper and quicker. It also is more transparent under water, which can be important if you’re fishing in very clear water. It’s also far more sensitive than mono, allowing you to feel bites better.
But the drawbacks made me uneasy – until now. I’m officially a fluorocarbon convert, thanks to Trilene’s 100% Fluorocarbon Professional Grade. And that’s not a shameless plug. Pure Fishing, the parent company of Berkley, has offered a lot of fluorocarbon lines in recent years, and I’ve tried them all. In some instances, they worked well for me, but I never could get comfortable enough with them to want to spool up more than a reel or two.
Last year, company officials, who were aware of my issues with fluorocarbon and my resistance to change, asked me to test the new Trilene version they had developed. I put it to the test for eight months. The results were amazing, and I gained a new appreciation for what fluorocarbon lines can do. So much, in fact, that 80 percent of my reels are now spooled with the new Trilene.
One of the biggest eye-openers came while fishing a river near my home. I love caching smallmouth from this river, so I rigged up 8-pound test on a spinning rod and gave it a workout while fishing a shaky head worm in the rocks and current. I caught 42 smallmouth, several in the 2- to 3-pound class, and had two wrapped in brush and never broke either off.
And since fluorocarbon line doesn’t float like mono, I discovered I could control my bait better on long casts, which is a tremendous advantage in current. With mono, the line catches in the current and you get a big bow in it, which causes you to miss fish when setting the hook. My success with fishing the new line in current improved dramatically.
I found similar advantages when fishing jigs in 20 feet of water. You get a loop with buoyant mono in deep water and have to jerk hard to remove that loop to get a penetrating hookset. Mono also has a lot of stretch, which can be good on lures with treble hooks, but not with jigs fished in deep water. With fluorocarbon, I got a direct shot to the bait, which produced better hook-ups and fewer missed fish.
That advantage carries over to several other lure techniques, including Senko-style stick worms, Texas-rigged plastics, crankbaits, drop-shot rigs and other baits you want to sink. Because the line is more sensitive, you feel the bottom better and know exactly what the lure is doing.
About the only situation where I wouldn’t use it is with topwaters where you want your line to float. Fluorocarbon tends to pull the nose of the bait down, and you can’t work it properly.
I also prefer braided line when fishing vegetation because I can fish a stronger line in a small diameter. Also, braid cuts throughout vegetation better than mono or fluorocarbon.
The new generation of fluorocarbon is still a little stiffer than softer lines, but there aren’t many other trade-offs. It’s made me a better fisherman, and it will do the same for you.