Fluoro: Where And Where Not
The beauty of fluorocarbon line, as NAFC member and trophy-bass specialist Bill Siemantel explains, “is that it has its own niche.” Translated, he means that fluoro can’t replace nylon mono or braid, but rather it fits with certain applications, presentations and situations. And certainly it outperforms the other two at times.
When crankbaiting, for example, fluoro allows lures to dive deeper than they do when fished on nylon mono.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to crank fishing,” says Elite Tour angler Boyd Duckett, “especially for small lures you need to run as deep as possible.”
There’s no dive-curve table to which anglers can refer that tells them how much depth fluoro will add to their retrieves, but it’s generally accepted that, depending on the lure, it’ll be at least a couple of feet. That squares with J.T. Kenney’s experience. A touring pro from Palm Bay, Fla., Kenney fishes fluoro regularly.
“A Norman DD14, on 12-pound nylon, will run about 12 feet,” he says. “When I tie it onto fluoro, I’ll get three more feet.”
But is fluoro the first choice every time you tie on a crank? Not necessarily. “Nylon mono is more forgiving and a more logical choice sometimes,” says Siemantel. “Speed trolling is one of those times.”
When pulling a lure at 3 mph, he explains, nylon’s stretch factor plays to the angler’s advantage; it allows the fish to engulf the bait more easily, which results in a more secure hookset.
Fluorocarbon line shines when conditions call for a light touch. That goes for deep jigging, drop-shotting and finesse-flippin’ alike.
Duckett, who has vast experience chasing spotted bass on deep rocks during the cold months, swears by fluoro. Not so much for its low-visibility as for its incredible sensitivity—a characteristic that can mean many more hook-ups per day.
“During the winter a spot can pick up a jig and you may not even know it’s there,” he says, explaining the disadvantage nylon mono presents in this situation. “You can feel everything when you switch to fluoro. When you lift the bait, you know for sure whether it’s a fish, or you just need to lift the lure over a rock. And if you wait just a second, you can actually feel the fish move the bait in its mouth.”
Fluoro matches perfectly with drop-shotting. Its stealth factor in clear water and its low-stretch in deep water make it the line to use in just about every case.
Flipping light jigs in or around brush or laydowns is another situation where fluoro shines. In clear water, low-vis could translate into more strikes, but more importantly, fluoro get lightweight baits into the strike zone faster, which means the lure spends more time in productive water.
Jigging heavy vegetation is one place, however, where fluoro isn’t the way to go, according to Siemantel. He chooses braided in thick weeds, because it blends in with the background.
"When you think about it,” he says, “What is the fish seeing? It’s an endless background of vertical stems. A green or brown braided line is not going to stand out among all those plants.”
Fluorocarbon line fills a niche in nearly every aspect of fishing—except one. It’s absolutely the wrong choice for any type of topwater lure.
“It’s a sinking line and will ruin the action of any topwater,” explains NAFC Executive Director Steve Pennaz. “If you really want to understand, tie a Pop-R on fluoro and try to fish it. The lure will sit nose-down, belly-down and there’s no way you can make it work effectively.
“But—it’ll sure give you a good idea of what it will do for you in other applications.”