A while back we discussed which was the better braid fishing line (The Best Braid Fishing Line: Dyneema or Spectra), and in Fishing Friday: Is it Time to Get New Line we talked about whether or not it was time to replace your fishing line. But in both cases, we managed to dodge the biggest question of all about fishing line: which is the best, monofilament or braid?
The mono-versus-braid debate has been raging on for over a decade at this point, with braid constantly growing in popularity. In fact, these days you’d be hard-pressed to find a serious angler who doesn't have at least a few of his rigs spooled up with braid. But we've also seen a lot of fishermen—myself included—switch a few of their rigs from braid back over to mono. What gives?
It’s not merely that fishermen are fickle. As we’ve come to learn, while braid is a superior fishing line in many ways, mono is better for some specific types of fishing. How do you know which to choose? It’s actually pretty simple: reach for monofilament when you go fishing with bait, but stick with braid for fishing with lures.
Any time you’re fishing with lures, you depend on the fish to make a strike. Then, either line tension and/or your reaction sets the hook in the fish’s jaw. The improved sensitivity and low stretch qualities of braid make for a better chance of setting that hook than anything you can hope for with stretchy mono. With bait, on the other hand, you may get a strike but just as often you’ll be working with a nibble. If the fish feels resistance, it may well reject the bait and move on. In this case, the stretching and lower sensitivity of monofilament is an advantage, because it works both ways—not only is it harder for you to feel the fish, it’s harder for the fish to feel you.
One exception: any time you’re fishing in water hundreds of feet deep, braid becomes advantageous even when using bait because with monofilament, you may well never even know you've had a bite.
For more information on specific brands, check out some of the FishingGearGuru line reviews.