Twenty-first century bass anglers have a wealth of options when selecting the critical link that connects them to their finned quarry: their line. Anglers of yesteryear were limited to justbrittle monofilament and frayed dacron lines, but today, we are blessed with a complete library of modern lines including braids, fluorocarbons, and others that bear little resemblance to those used in the past. It is important to recognize that there is no single best line; instead, each line has its own particular strengths and weaknesses which we must consider every time we spool a reel or cast a lure. Let’s examine the central role that line selection plays in bass fishing.
Let’s begin by considering the most important characteristics of the three primary types of modern fishing lines:
Mono is generally soft, castable, and easy to use. It is available in a wide range of colors, including low-visibility choices like clear, blue and green, as well as hi-vis options like red, yellow and orange. Mono tends toward neutral buoyancy but is not particularly resistant toward abrasion, nicks, scrapes. Monofilament is quite stretchy, and can stretch as much as 25% when under stress. Finally, mono does absorb water while in use and can be degraded by the sun’s damaging UV rays. For these reasons, if you spool up with mono, consider replacing your line at least twice every year.
Many of mono’s shortcomings are addressed by fluorocarbon lines. Indeed, fluoro can also be soft and castable, with the added benefit of significantly enhanced abrasion resistance, making it a better choice for fishing around cover like wood and rocks that might damage other lines. In addition, fluorocarbon is the least visible line underwater, making it the best choice for clear water and line-shy fish. Fluorocarbon lines are much less stretchy than monofilaments, tend to sink slowly in the water column, and are impervious to damaging UV rays. For many of the most popular bass presentations, fluorocarbon line (or a fluoro leader) is an excellent choice.
Modern braided lines have come a long way from the thick dacron lines of old. Today’s braids are the thinnest lines available at any particular pound test rating. Braids are tough, no-stretch lines with excellent tensile strength. Because braids are opaque, they are the most visible lines, both above and below the water; in situations when line visibility might limit strikes, use a fluorocarbon leader between the lure and the braided line. Braided lines are excellent at slicing through vegetation, and are excellent choices when fishing in weeds, grass and pads. Finally, braided lines float, making them the best option for topwater presentations.
Technique-specific line selection
While there is no single best line for all applications, we can consider the strengths (and weaknesses) of individual line types in a technique-specific manner, helping us to choose the best possible line for any given presentation. For example
Texas-rigged soft plastics
Line choices for fishing Texas rigs depends on the type and density of cover you plan to target. When punching thick grass or milfoil with a Texas-rigged tube and a 1 oz tungsten bullet weight, run braided line, typically 40 lb test Seaguar Smackdown in Stealth Grey. This exceptionally tough line has the same diameter as 12 lb test mono, and slices through weeds effortlessly when fishing fish in heavy cover. When fishing weed edges or sparse cover, spool up instead with 12 lb test Seaguar Tatsu, a unique, double-structure 100% fluorocarbon line that represents the ideal blend between castability, abrasion resistance and knot strength.
Carolina rigs are the perfect opportunity to leverage the strengths of both braided and fluorocarbon lines. Spool up with Seaguar Smackdown as your main line, selecting either low-vis Stealth Grey in 40 lb test or the hi-vis color option, Flash Green, in 30 lb test. A high-visibility option is fine here, because we will separate the braided line from the lure with a fluorocarbon leader. Here, select an 18-24” length of 15 lb test Seaguar AbrazX, a 100% fluorocarbon line with 2x the abrasion resistance of comparable fluorocarbons. Now you can enjoy the benefits of braid’s strength, coupled with fluorocarbon’s reduced visibility and toughness.
Deep diving crankbaits
Big-billed, deep diving crankbaits can be effective during many calendar periods. Big fish hooked on cranks are often lost as a result of powerful runs at boatside. Rather than using a stretchy monofilament line for its shock-absorbing characteristics, use a 100% fluorocarbon like 15 lb test Seaguar Tatsu, which will help protect the line against abrasion during the retrieve – which is particularly important when driving the bait into the bottom, or deflecting off cover like rocks, stumps, or dock pilings. Your tackle still needs to be able to absorb those boatside runs, so build that into your rod rather than your line: when cranking big-billed baits, use a moderate-action rod designed for big cranks, which will help bring more of those crankbait-eating fish to hand.