A favorite among anglers, tackle shops, and fishing enthusiasts overall, fluorocarbon lines are a no-brainer when it comes to fishing, especially for heavier fish like striped bass and tarpons. From low visibility to more sensitivity to hooking power, there are several reasons to invest in fluorocarbon lines, regular or otherwise.
Yes, you can use a fluorocarbon line as a leader. Many professional anglers choose this material over its main competitor—monofilament—since it features better resistance to abrasion and is invisible in water. It’s also a cheaper alternative as you can use even regular fluorocarbon lines as leaders, in some cases.
Here’s a closer look at fluorocarbon lines, from what they are to why they’re far superior to most other leaders and lines. Read on!
What Is Fluorocarbon?
Scientifically speaking, fluorocarbon is the generic term used to refer to a family of organic and inorganic chemical compounds, ranging from hydrocarbon synthetics to organic chlorine, fluorine, and carbon.
Most of us are no strangers to fluorocarbon—if you own a vehicle or have been around one, you’ve probably encountered fluorocarbon in its Teflon coating.
Though similar to monofilament, this plastic polymer fishing line, made primarily from polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), outranks the former in durability, visibility, and stretch, which also means that it outranks monofilament in overall performance.
Fluorocarbon Leader vs Main Line
In your search for fluorocarbon lines, you’ll encounter two common variants—leader and main line.
Several differences set the two apart.
For one, each serves a different purpose, as seasoned anglers will know.
The leader is what connects the hook or lure to the main line. A knot connects these pieces.
I usually use an Albright Knot to tie the main line to the leader. Check the video below:
Secondly, main lines are made from a single polymer without any additives, unlike fluorocarbon leaders.
These are usually added to introduce certain qualities to the line, such as flexibility, stiffness, or stretchiness.
Thirdly, fluorocarbon main lines are less resistant to abrasion than leaders, making the latter stiffer.
This is extremely helpful when you’re attempting to bottom fish.
Finally, fluoro leaders are significantly more expensive than lines.
Many anglers choose to simply use regular fluorocarbon lines as leaders, usually because of how expensive fluorocarbon leaders are.
While regular fluorocarbon may get the job done, leaders are specifically designed for tasks like these and hence, do a much better job.
Why You Should Use Fluorocarbon as a Leader
Here’s a breakdown of the many benefits that fluorocarbon leader lines bring to the table:
1. Fluorocarbon Lines are Almost Invisible Underwater
The fluorocarbon line it’s nearly invisible in the water.
This happens because the material is capable of transmitting light without significantly distorting it (it has almost the same refractive index and properties as water), unlike materials like monofilament.
This feature comes in highly handy when you’re fishing in extremely clear waters or dealing with skittish and/or shy fish.
Fluoro doesn’t absorb water. Wet or dry, you’re assured of the same level of management, sensitivity, strength, and performance from your fluorocarbon leader.
This also significantly enhances the line’s durability.
3. Resistance to Abrasion
Fluorocarbon is impressively resistant to abrasion, which enhances its appeal for bottom fishing, fishing in thick cover, and fishing for huge predators with sharp teeth.
4. Sensitive Material
Fluorocarbon is quite dense, built of molecules packed tightly together.
This closeness allows energy, responses, and stimuli of any kind to transfer much faster and better from one end to the other.
Additionally, since fluoro sinks quite fast, there is lesser bow or slack to deal with.
Because of this kind of sensitivity, even light bites and the slightest contact are obvious.
When you compare fluorocarbon and nylon monofilament of the same length and diameter, the former effortlessly emerges as the victor.
This is because fluorocarbon lines are not only resistant to abrasion but also resistant to ultraviolet rays.
This makes them a much better option for a summer activity like fishing and ensures that they’re around for the long run.
This also means that you’ll be spending less on line replacements.
Drawbacks of Fluorocarbon Leaders
Like all things, fluorocarbon leaders have their share of cons:
- Difficult to Manage: Fluorocarbon as a material has better memory and stiffness than leaders such as mono, but this also makes them quite difficult to manage. In fact, many anglers deem it the hardest fishing line to manage.
- Rate of Sinking: While fluoro sinking faster than monofilament leads to better sensitivity, it makes the material unsuited for small baits and topwater lures.
- Knots: If you forget to seal your knot by wetting the line, your fluoro line is bound to come off.
- Shock Absorption: When it comes to absorbing shocks or big impacts, such as headshakes and hooking, nylon monofilament has the edge.
When You Should Use Fluorocarbon Leaders
Leaders are used for better bait presentation and to protect your main line against breakage and damage.
Most anglers use leaders in 99% of their fishing expeditions.
In addition to performing these tasks, a fluorocarbon leader can be extremely helpful when you aim for or encounter big fish.
The material’s durability, strength, and resistance to abrasion and shock will give you better odds of reeling in a prize catch.
Fluorocarbon is also great for thick-cover areas and for bottom fishing.
In thick-cover areas, especially, lures can get easily lost, but the additional resistance to abrasion in fluorocarbon leaders can get your lure back to you.
The Bottom Line
Fluorocarbon leaders are not absolutely necessary, but they’re a great accessory to have in your fishing kit.
The cost of the leader throws most anglers off, but fluoro leaders typically tolerate more force than their pound test rating.
This means that even if you opt for a smaller leader, you won’t have to worry about a compromise on capability and efficiency.
As mentioned earlier, many anglers also find regular fluorocarbon to be just as effective as fluorocarbon leader material.
In any case, make the decision based on how frequently you fish, what kind of catch you’re aiming for, where you’re fishing, and of course, your budget!
Tight lines, bend rods and may all your fishes come true!