Braid vs Mono: Which is the Better Fishing Line?
It has become one of the longest on-going debates between anglers for some time now – which is better, monofilament or braided fishing line?
Depending on who you talk to, the answer to this question can vary greatly. Some, typically veteran anglers, swear by their tried and tested monofilament fishing lines, mainly because they have been using them for as long as they have been fishing.
Conversely, a large number of anglers who prefer fishing with braided line cite the various unrivaled advantages it can provide over mono line (as will be discussed here). Then you have others who see the merits of both and use each type of line depending on the kind of fishing they are doing.
This just goes to prove that there are notable benefits to each and that you really can’t go wrong using either of them – it often just comes down to personal preference or particular fishing situations. But let’s look at the particular pros and cons of each and why anglers might prefer one over the other.
Deciding Which Fishing Line to Use
One of the biggest attractions to monofilament lines is the fact they are much easier to tie and cut. That means beginners can learn the basics of knot tying with a mono fishing line and find it will serve them well, making tying tackle and line knots that bit simpler.
Monos also provide better knot reliability than braids because they are more likely to stretch than break on a sudden, heavy hit and are especially preferred for that reason when live-bait fishing, trolling and kite fishing.
Speaking of knots, we have all created unwanted knots in the course of our fishing lives. Here, too, monofilament has an advantage, as working out a knot is not usually a much of a headache.
The same cannot be said for braided lines, however. This can be attributed to their thinness as well as the woven fiber materials from which they are made, requiring all manner of specialized knots to be learned, which can obviously be rather time-consuming.
Not only that, but accidentally knot up a braided line, whether through wind knots while casting with a spool that has too much line on it or through some other mistake, and you’ll pay for it by spending valuable time untangling multiple knots while you watch from the sidelines as your buddies are hooking up with fish after fish.
Also, many sport fishermen believe that monofilament line is a better choice for use in crystal-clear water as it provides better “invisibility” for certain species such as snapper, bonefish and permit fish that are able to pick up on the line.
Of course, the visibility/invisibility of your fishing line will also have a lot to do with other factors such as the color of your line and water depth, as well as the overall conditions of the water.
Another consideration: if you are going to fish with braid, make sure you also use a good fluorocarbon leader, for maximum stealth, especially when fishing for species that are skittish. Fluorocarbons also make it safer when handling the end of your line than with braid, which can easily slice your fingers.
But as far as I’m concerned, the benefits of using braided line far outweigh some of its drawbacks. But, perhaps, the greatest advantages of braids are their strength, thinner diameter, and line sensitivity.
To this point, to just quickly put into perspective braid’s size-to-strength ratio advantage over mono, let’s consider, for example, that Power Pro’s Spectra Fiber 50 lb-test line has the equivalent diameter of a standard 12 lb-test monofilament line.
Simply put, braid allows you to pack more high-strength line onto your reel, provides more distance for casting than mono out on the boat, flats or surf, and lets you feel those bites better.
Also, the lack of stretch and the sensitivity that it offers is particularly useful when throwing lures and plugs, jigging or fishing deep water/bottom fishing, and, again, the ability to pack on more and heavier test line on the reel is especially advantageous for the angler battling drag-smoking brutes like tarpon, kingfish and the like.
In addition, braided line tends to offer better durability (with the exception of abrasion around rocks and other sharp structure) when compared to monofilament, resulting in a line that lasts much longer. Mono tends to deteriorate faster than braid, especially in saltwater, though there are many who will tell you the opposite is true.
Is Braid Worth the Cost
Braided lines are made from either Dyneema or Spectra fibers. They are essentially the same synthetic materials made from UHMWPE (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene). They differ slightly only in how they are processed.
Fishing lines made from these two proprietary materials are some of the thinnest and lightest yet strongest offerings on the market today. In fact, on a pound for pound basis, Dyneema and Spectra lines are more than 10 times stronger than steel!
But all that comes at a price like most things. Because of the production costs involved in making a line that has superior strength-to-diameter ratio while providing zero-stretch and improved casting distance, braid will cost you, yard for yard, more than mono.
For many anglers, it is this higher cost that is regularly cited as one of the biggest drawbacks whenever debating the pros and cons of braided fishing line vs monofilament.
With that being said, the price of regularly replacing mono, particularly if it seems you are constantly going through it quickly, may end up making the cost of using braid roughly the same – or even possibly cheaper, in the long run.
To determine which ultimately offers the better cost value – if that’s a concern – It might be worth it test out braided against monofilament line to see how long each lasts you.
Many anglers are also divided over braid’s zero-stretch aspect. While many feel that this is great for added sensitivity and a firmer hook-set, others feel that the lack of line stretch, like you would get with mono, results in more instances of the hook being ripped out of the fish’s mouth.
However, those who love using braid will tell you there’s also nothing like it for setting a hook on a fish that is quite a distance way or for pulling one away from structure or heavy cover fast. Braids are popular with many bass fishermen for this very same reason.
Line twisting is also generally easier to avoid with braided lines. This is due to this line type having low memory; but many anglers who use monofilament line use a loop for casting to ensure there is no line twist, so it all depends on personal preferences for the most part.
Braid/Mono Pros and Cons at a Glance
The Advantages –
- Most popular type of line – still used by the majority of anglers worldwide
- Most cost-Effective – yard for yard costs less than braid
- Easier to cut and tie – better for beginners
- Better knot strength and stretch quality reduces breaks on sudden, hard hits
- Better for cautious fish in clear waters
The Disadvantages –
- Doesn’t allow as much line on the spool as braid due to the thicker diameter
- Does not cast nearly as well as braid because of bigger diameter
- Not as durable as braided line, needing more frequent replacement
The Advantages –
- Incredibly strong with a thinner diameter vs mono line
- Better strength lets you pull fish more quickly from structure and weeds
- Smaller diameter vs mono allows for better casting distance
- Zero-stretch – better bite sensitivity and stronger hook-sets
- Better long-term durability than monofilament
The Disadvantages –
- Costs more the monofilament (though prices have come down over recent years)
- Fishing knots with braided line are not as strong as with mono – unforgiving if the drag is not set properly
- Lacks the near invisibility factor of good Monofilaments – high visibility in clear water
Final Thoughts on Braid vs Mono
As you can see, there are certainly merits to using either. Both braided and monofilament lines have their strengths and weaknesses, and many anglers prefer one over the other for any number of reasons.
Yet, there is also a growing percentage of anglers who see the benefits that each one can offer and therefore use both to cover a wide spectrum of angling needs!
What is your preference when it comes to fishing lines – braid, mono… or both? Drop us a line (pun intended!) in the comment box.