We often hear in magazines, fishing shows and on the internet about people using Fluorocarbon straight through – What does this actually mean and is it the right choice for you?
Fluorocarbon fishing line is made of the fluoropolymer PVDF and it is valued for its refractive index, which is similar to that of water, making it less visible to fish. The word that is important in this sentence is, less. A common misconception about fluorocarbon is that it is invisible under water – this is actually incorrect. It is simply less visible than a braided line, a co-polymer line or a monofilament line.
Fluorocarbon is also a denser material, and therefore, is not nearly as buoyant as monofilament. A fluorocarbon line if left unweighted on the water’s surface will sink. The other line variants will float (some braids can actually sink as well).
Fluorocarbon lines were first invented in Japan in the late 1970’s, however it was not until the 1990’s that it was introduced as a new saltwater leader material. These early versions of the new leader were expensive, stiff and all-round hard to use – this was not a good start for the ‘new kid on the block’. Fast forward some years and various global manufacturers had found new production processes to make the line more affordable, easier to fish and more manageable. It was not until this point that anglers really started to take note of fluorocarbon lines.
It is also important to note here that the fluorocarbon line that you use as leader material is very different to main line fluorocarbon. The leader material can have different properties, usually being stiffer. In some brands the leader is the same breaking strain as the main line fluorocarbon but can be of a thicker diameter. The mainline fluorocarbon is usually suppler and more suited to being spooled on to a reel rather than just being used as a leader material.
Due to the way Fluorocarbon is made being a dual layer, or in the higher quality line a triple layer construction fluorocarbon line tends to still be stiffer than a monofilament equivalent. This has in the past put people off from using this line on spin reels. The fluorocarbon of years gone by would have a tendency to ‘jump’ off the spool resulting in many tangles and a lot of frustrated anglers. Over the past few years fluorocarbon lines have become suppler whilst retaining all of their qualities which make this style of line great to use.
So in a braid dominated world of fishing line why would I use fluorocarbon? There are three main reasons to use fluorocarbon straight through. The first being it accurately allows the user to fish a much lighter line class to its full potential. I will explain. If you tie a 50cm approx. piece of 3lb fluorocarbon to a fixed object and then pull on the line it will most probably break. Now if you tie on a piece of line going through a rod in the same 3lb breaking strain and stand on the other side of the room you will be surprised at how much pressure you can exert through the rod and line before the line breaks.
The second reason why people use fluorocarbon straight through is that it is a reasonably stealth approach. The line is less visible in the water compared to braid or a monofilament line. When fishing for wary species or in highly pressured waterways this stealth approach can be the difference between catching fish and not. The third reason is that between your line and your lure there is only one knot. Even when fishing with braid you have your braid to leader knot and then another to your lure or jig head. By reducing your knots by 50% you have greatly reduced the possibility of something failing.
Fluorocarbon lines are most suited to being used on slow taper rods. The shock absorber nature of the slow taper rod used with the slight stretch that fluorocarbon gives you is the perfect set up to effectively fish small hard body crank baits. The hooks that are usually on these styles of lures are small and sticky sharp. Sometimes a fish can be only lightly hooked, if a fish makes a dive for cover or a spirited run across a sand flat the rod working with the line will lead to fewer pulled hooks – just remember to have your drag set accordingly or this will ruin the party quick smart.
I have heard people argue this point saying that they can fish the same lure on braid on a fast taper rod and offset the stiffer action of the rod by the drag setting this will only be effective if a very light drag will be acceptable due to the technique being applied. In my experience this just simply does not work. I can fish with a stealth approach with a higher drag setting with less pulled hooks which means more caught fish by using a slow taper rod with fluorocarbon straight through. In saying this there are some techniques where this is not the ideal set up; soft plastics and bladed lures are two types of lures where I would choose braid and a long leader over a straight through fluorocarbon. When using a soft plastic lure you have one big hook that you need to set, in order to do this you need to be able to effectively apply a considerable amount of pressure. The no stretch nature of braid in conjunction with a fast taper rod will allow you to apply the pressure quickly, effectively setting the hook and hopefully leading to a caught fish. The only time I would go against this is if I am pitching soft plastics at structure where I want the added stealth approach, when using this technique the casts are shorter and less pressure usually needs to be applied in order to get a successful hook up.
Overall, Fluorocarbon straight through is a brilliant option for the large majority of light tackle sports fishing applications. If you match your rod to suit and then the technique I firmly believe this will lead to more caught fish. The technology that has gone into braid over the past few years is amazing and it is an option that will always be very popular, and in my opinion is the right choice in many situations. So when choosing a new set up maybe consider a fluorocarbon option, it might just give you the edge you need to land the fish of a lifetime.
ANDREW’S BONUS TIP: Daiwa RCS knobs are a great way to tell your reels with different breaking strain fluorocarbon apart. You can choose a different coloured knob for each different breaking strain and never have to question yourself again?