Anglers are always looking for new techniques and equipment that will give them an advantage over their gill-bearing opponents. While fresh bait and bulletproof terminal tackle are no doubt beneficial, perhaps the greatest asset of all is that of stealth. This is where pricey fluorocarbon leader material comes into play. To the naked eye fluorocarbon fishing line may appear identical to monofilament, but the buck stops here as fluorocarbon fishing lines cost upwards of double the price when compared to equivalent monofilament lines. However, the benefits are clear and as technologies continue to develop the edge is only going to get better.
Starting at its most notable selling point, fluorocarbon offers a distinct stealth advantage in its ability to reflect light. Refraction is the degree to which light rays bend as they pass through a certain material or substance. Saltwater has a refraction index of approximately 1.33. Fluorocarbon lines vary and can be as low as 1.42, with monofilament coming in around 1.52. This tells us that the path of light and associated reflections traveling through water and fluorocarbon are very similar and don’t change significantly. With that being said, there are claims that abraded, scratched or damaged fluorocarbon can shine bright and actually deter wary fish from striking. This may be true with poor quality fluorocarbon, but 100% fluorocarbon lines have a refractive index that will remain constant even when damaged.
While science proves fluorocarbon is less visible than monofilament, there’s more than meets the eye. Fish don’t rely solely on sight to track prey, and your selected line will also create a disturbance in the water. Since fish use their lateral lines to detect movements underwater, line diameter may be as important as line visibility. Taking this into account, when fish are spooky is it a stealthier approach to downsize your monofilament leader to a thinner diameter or rig with less visible fluorocarbon?
When it comes to manufacturing materials, fluorocarbon leaders utilize polyvinylidene fluoride polymers and are nonporous, unlike monofilament lines that can lose a significant amount of breaking strength when saturated. In addition, fluorocarbon leaders are more abrasion resistant and capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and exposure to ultraviolet rays. Fluorocarbon is simply more durable and lasts longer than monofilament.
Although manufacturers have introduced fluorocarbon lines that are much more supple than ever before, fluorocarbon will typically always retain more memory than monofilament. This goes hand in hand with its inherent stiffness and limited elasticity, which in turn results in greater sensitivity. When fluorocarbon was first introduced knot strength was a big issue, although manufacturers have since overcome this obstacle. Anglers have also developed knot variations that hold tight with slippery, thin-diameter fluorocarbon lines.
It’s important to note that not all fluorocarbons are created equal and you get what you pay for. While fluorocarbon makes for the ideal leader material, anglers have relied on monofilament for years and it remains the most cost-effective, all-purpose fishing line. In the end, the choice is yours. For us, fluorocarbon leader material is the only choice.
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