As an addicted blue water hunter happiest when I’m miles off the beach, it’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around the complexities involved in chasing largemouth bass in water that’s only a few feet deep. However, freshwater fishing is indeed highly involved and extremely complex. Let’s take the topic of line selection, which has seen vast enhancements over recent years. While one could certainly grab a push button combo off the shelf of your nearest Walmart, tie on a worm to the pre-spooled line, make a cast in the retention pond behind the conglomerate and catch a fish in a matter of moments, there’s much more to successful bass fishing than meets the eye.
Freshwater fishing line is available in a wide variety of materials and colors to suit and support numerous scenarios and technique specific applications. Similar to saltwater applications, fluorocarbon, braid, monofilament, copolymer and fused lines all have their place in sweetwater. There’s no perfect line that suits every scenario and anglers must carefully consider castability, abrasion resistance, visibility, tensile and breaking strength, in addition to water clarity, technique and lure selection.
…anglers must carefully consider castability, abrasion resistance, visibility, tensile and breaking strength, in addition to water clarity, technique and lure selection.
Monofilament fishing lines have been around for ages and are still the most widely used lines in any type of fishing. Highly desirable in certain situations because of its inherent floatation and stretch, monofilament is also the most affordable out of the bunch. Tim Frederick is a pro bass angler out of Lake County, FL and uses monofilament strictly when fishing topwater lures. “Because it floats, mono gives topwater presentations better action, and I typically use a heavier diameter to keep the line from twisting,” admits Frederick.
Monofilament can also help spinnerbaits run closer to the surface, however some prefer fluorocarbon for this application because of its reduced stretch and enhanced stealth. Unfortunately, to keep a spinnerbait riding high in the water column with fluorocarbon you’ll be forced to keep the rod tip high, which isn’t desirable or effective for driving the hook home. “It really boils down to personal preference and what you have confidence in. You’ll have to experiment and see what works best for you on any particular day,” continued Tim.
Professional bass anglers spend hundreds of days on the water every year and make subtle adjustments based on their experiences. In all reality, if a weekend warrior chooses the inappropriate line for a particular application it won’t be the end of the world, considering a single lost fish won’t cost them a major payout.
While anglers relied on monofilament for years when it was the only viable option, Tim tells us he’s a big fan of fluorocarbon line and prefers it when fishing clear water and employing finesse presentations. “Fluorocarbon works well and it works in all colors and clarity of water. It also has very low stretch, which results in solid hooksets. However, carbon sinks, so you unfortunately can’t use it with every bait you throw. I fish P-Line and Sunline fluorocarbon and depending on the bait I’m tossing anywhere from 16 to 20 lb. test. However, if I’m fishing outside of Florida I often scale down to 8 or 10 lb. test in deeper, clearer impoundments.”
Because flouro sinks it is well suited for many presentations, as it helps add action to baits on the fall. In contrast, mono can hinder your bait’s ability to flutter naturally. “In comparison to the heavier diameter monofilament I prefer to use for topwater, when fishing deeper presentations it’s best to scale down in line class. The thinner diameter not only helps lures fall faster and more naturally, but it also increases sensitivity. If you’re fishing a shaky rig you should definitely be using fluorocarbon,” added Frederick.
Braided lines are incredibly abrasion resistant and most often used when flipping or pitching around heavy cover. Braid is also incredibly easy to cast and super sensitive thanks to its ultra thin diameter. With all of these advantages braid certainly isn’t stealthy and is highly visible, but when fishing heavy cover in dirty water anglers aren’t too worried about stealth, rather the non-stretch and abrasion resistant properties are desired for setting the hook and pulling big fish from thick vegetation. Many bites that occur in this scenario are reactionary strikes where fish aren’t tracking your lures for great distances, so visibility isn’t much of an issue at all.
“Since I only use braid when fishing heavy cover, I tie the line directly to the lure with no leader using a palomar knot. Some anglers prefer to attach a leader to their braid, but I feel it doesn’t add any benefit and creates a potential breaking point in the system,” continued the Lake County pro.
There are an overwhelming amount of lines on the market, with manufacturers trying to blend the advantages of each into a single class, but don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. There’s no single line that’s ideal for every scenario and you’ll want to base your choice on personal preference and fishing style. Confidence is key and although some baits have several acceptable line options, there are others that require specific rigging techniques to maximize effectiveness. The bottom line is that confidence and experience are huge factors and if you go with what works for you you’ll undoubtedly get more lunkers to the boat.
The Clear Answer
Largemouth bass have incredible eyesight, which means selecting the appropriate line color is a critical component to your overall presentation. Many anglers fish green line with excellent results in water with thick vegetation. Some choose red because it is the first color in the spectrum to disappear underwater, while there are those who swear by camo lines with alternating colors. However, from coast to coast the general consensus is that you simply can’t go wrong with clear, which is an excellent option across a wide range of venues, conditions and water clarities.