Topic of the Day 3

Line choices

For years now I see consumers purchasing line that they do not understand or need to buy. I want to start this Topic of the Day by reviewing some of the lines we have on the market. Later, we will discuss the pros and cons of the various line types and why I make certain suggestions to anglers.


Monofilament lines have been around for many years. Most consumers no very little about this type of line and or may have misconceptions about the information on the labels.

All monofilament line is made from plastic beads, melted and extruded into fishing line. They are not like recycled plastic but contain specific polymers that give each line specific characteristics.

One of my favourite misconceptions is that all monofilament lines are the same and packaged differently.  Companies that sell fishing lines are very protective of their products and no two competing lines are made with the same polymers.

For instance, some years ago, Berkley and Stren got into an advertising war. Berkley (Trilene) felt that Stren (Original) had found and used the Berkley owned polymers to construct their fishing line.  Berkley scientists tested and re-tested the Stren line and found all the characteristics mimicked the Berkley product and was building line that equaled Trilene XT. Berkley could not decipher the polymers used after the line was manufactured and two years later, bought the Stren Company.

Monofilament lines use specific polymers that are manufactured in Japan. These polymers have specific markers and can be patented so no two polymers are the same.

In the case of Berkley versus Stren, the polymers came from two different sources and were near identical. Berkley is the fishing line leader worldwide. The company owns countless brands like Berkley, Stren, Trilene and SpiderWire. Each brand has a series of monofilament and fluorocarbon lines and there are no two alike.

Co Polymer monofilament

 Co polymer lines are lines that utilize two different polymers. As the line is being manufactured, there will be the initial extrusion followed by a second, outer coating. The second polymer on the exterior will give that particular line something a bit different. Consumers will see comments on the packaging that suggests sensitivity, abrasion resistance, knot strength or flexibility as examples. This is all true because of the different molecular structure of the two extrusions.

Fluorocarbon line

 Fluorocarbon lines have come on to the market fairly recently, with Berkley Vanish leading the charge. These lines caught on quickly because they disperse light similar to water, thus making them near invisible to fish.

Those of us who have seen the Great Lakes after the introduction of the Zebra and Quagga mussel know first hand why these lines are so popular.

When I fished there back in 2000, you could toss a quarter off the bow of the boat and see it sparkle 25 feet below. We had to put lures upwards of seventy-five feet to the side of the boat so as not to spook the fish.

At that time I struggled with the newly introduced Vanish fluorocarbon line until I found the answer.

Fluorocarbon, like any monofilament line does not like heat. I used to break knot after knot even if I made sure the line was wet. In 2000 I was tying Vanish in my live well and had very little confidence in my knot strength.  I believe over time the formulation changed and Berkley scientists were able to find polymers that overcame my original concerns.

Most fluorocarbon lines are less susceptible to knot failure today if the proper precautions are taken.

High Visibility line

 This is something that needs some explaining. High visibility lines were not constructed and sold as a marketing feature. They are called high visibility for a reason.

These lines are to help the angler see the line against different colour waters or the glare from the sun.

This gives the angler the visual aids required to see where a fish is headed, see a bite or follow a fish to net.

Those who feel a high visibility line can affect the bite can always tie on a short section of monofilament or fluorocarbon line to set fears aside. I use Berkley Transition and Berkley Sensation Solar green as well as SpiderWire yellow or red for many fishing applications.

Berkley FireLine and SpiderWire

Here are two great lines that occasional anglers need not use. SpiderWire was the first company to develop fishing line from micro Dyneema fibers. Previous to that, micro Dyneema fibers were used as thread to stitch patients who has joint surgeries.

SpiderWire first came out with a four strand braided fishing and then followed by eight strands and super slick coatings as well as colour fastness. This progressed to the first line with Gore fibres, which absorbed water and allowed the line to sink quickly.  This started the evolution of super lines and many copy cat brands followed suit.

Berkley FireLine however is slightly different. It starts with the same eight carriers but then goes through two additional processes whereby the line is heated and extruded as one solid line.

So the basic difference between FireLine and SpiderWire is this.

SpiderWire is hollow in the centre and will float while FireLine is solid throughout. Although FireLine has a wiry feel, the memory is minimal and the strength is second to none. None of the Berkley, Stren or SpiderWire super lines will adversely affect the eyes found in fishing rods today.

Fishing rod manufacturers upgraded their products to accept these super tough lines due to their popularity and consumers should not fear damage to rod eyes based on old history.


Monofilament lines are the least expensive fishing lines. They are durable and yet most forgiving. Lines like Berkley XL are extra limp so they have less memory on the spool and cast with little effort.  These are singular polymer lines that have the softness and castability the line is known for.

Co polymer lines like Berkley Sensation or Berkley Transition are slightly stiffer giving the less stretch and greater sensitivity.  Still, all lines are developed for certain market requirements.  This is why a consumer needs to read up on particular line characteristics and what suits the angler best.

There are now co polymer lines that excel in conditions that shorten the life of regular monofilament lines. Many fluorocarbon lines fall into this category and of course, your micro Dyneema products like SpiderWire and FireLine.

In future, if we are struggling with Zebra mussels or Quagga mussels, manufacturers will continue to improve on these lines.

Please note:

Singular monofilament lines are surprisingly stretchy. The more line out the greater the stretch and the reduction of hooking power. This is why I suggest lines like Trilene XT and Berkley Sensation when doing a lot of trolling, unless you prefer to pay more for fluorocarbon line.

SpiderWire and FireLine are non-stretch lines. You need to compensate for this lack of forgiveness by using longer, softer rods and lighter drag settings. These lines are also super tough and very thin in diameter. You will not be cutting these lines with your teeth or breaking them by wrapping around your hands.

You will need proper tools to cut this line effectively. The toenail clipper might work for a season and then you will be throwing them out.

There are also concerns whether your reel is designed to fill with a super line or how the line should be installed if not prepared by the manufacturer.

Tips to make your day better:

Here are a couple of tips.  Super lines are super slick, so they do not grip on reels like monofilament lines. You do not want to install a super line on a reel without first considering two methods.

First you can tie on your line and then follow up with a complete wrap of electrical tape before continuing. Or, you can wrap on some monofilament line and then tie on your super line using a uni knot.

Now comes the how to properly install super line on a reel. You take your reel and tighten the drag to maximum. Then find a wet washcloth and pinch the line in the palm of your hand and squeeze as hard as you can. Crank the line on like a winch. This will help prevent the line from dropping into the wraps when you get a backlash or hit a snag.

Further to this, I want to stress that you need to test your knots.  Some knots and some lines do not hold a knot due to their extreme slick exterior and thin diameter.  What worked well for monofilament line may be a far cry from what is required to hold SpiderWire and FireLine knots secure.


Courtesy of Sask Landing Fishing Adventures