braid vs mono fishing line

Braid vs Mono Fishing Line – Which To Use & When

The conversation about braid vs mono fishing line always comes up and everyone has a different opinion. This really doesn’t make it easy for anyone to make a decision. As always in fishing, it will depend on how and what you are fishing for and where you are doing it, and of course your personal preference. Before we go into all the different pros and cons and when to use what let’s actually work out what they are.

Braid and Mono, let us Get to Know Them

Mono is made from nylon, which is just a name for a family of polymers and it is actually a thermoplastic. Yes, I said it, that horrible word, plastic, the material the world is trying to remove from all its oceans. It is made by melting and mixing polymers and then pulling the mixture through small holes, know as extruding. It is the process of extruding that defines the diameter and the breaking strain.

Braid is made from fibers. Originally natural fibers such as cotton and linen were used but nowadays it is made up of synthetic fibers like dacron, spectra, and micro-Dyneema. So what are these synthetic fibers made of? Did you guess it, it’s that bad word again, yes its thermoplastics. Braid is made by weaving a lot of different individual lines of fiber and is done using a machine, after which is it colored. There is a big process to it and it takes 17 days to make one spool of braided line, no wonder it is a bit more expensive than mono. There is a great video explaining it below.

Coming back to the plastic part, I know it is on your mind, it is on mine. We have all broken lines and left some line in the sea, a lake, or river at some point and as that degrades, micro-plastics are released into the ecosystem. We will look at braid and mono’s environmental impacts later, but for now, let us talk about them in terms of why they are good for fishing.

Braid & Mono – The Pro’s and Con’s

Here I am going to run through the benefits and the negatives of each of the lines to give you an idea of their general character, and hopefully, help you to make a good decision about which one to use.

Mono

  • It is much easier to handle than braid as it is thicker, softer and more flexible. You’ll be able to tie knots fast and much more easily.
  • Mono has a high stretch and low memory.
    • The stretch is particularly useful when fighting big fish as the mono will give a little during the fight.
    • The stretch also protects the fish, as it acts as a bit of a shock absorber for the fish’s mouth, so you won’t be making holes in it.
  • Its bigger diameter makes it a bit more abrasion resistant around structure than braid would be, which is handy in this situation. It also won’t cut you or the fish if it gets wraps either of you up under pressure.
  • Mono does absorb water but remains neutrally buoyant, so it floats. This very useful when fishing topwater lures.
  • Mono is more affordable than braid.
  • Mono is transparent in the water so the fish are less likely to see it.
  • Mono may be affordable but it degrades faster than braid. You should change your mono every season whereas braid can last for 3-4 seasons and more.

Braid

  • Braid is thin. It has a much smaller diameter than mono and this has a lot of benefits.
    • You can fit a lot heavier braid on your reel than you could lighter mono. This gives you the edge against big fish, especially when using light tackle. You’ll have a big enough breaking strain and enough line to land a fish on a small rod and reel with braid.
    • Because braid is so thin, it cut’s through the water way better than mono. This means you’ll have less drag when fighting a fish and be able to get to deeper depths.
    • Braid’s smaller diameter also means you can cast a lot further than you would with mono, which is very useful in all fishing situations.
  • Braid has very little or no stretch.
    • This means you will feel a lot more when you are fishing. Those sensitive bites you may not notice on mono will become very apparent on braid.
    • The benefit of no stretch is also very useful for putting pressure on fish. If you are fighting a fish that likes to run deep, like a big tuna, you’ll be able to stop it quicker on braid.
    • No stretch can cause damage to the fish.
    • The lack of stretch when fighting big fish is an issue. If a 700lb marlin hits a rod just rigged with braid, then your tackle may get damaged. The lack of give in the braid will put all the pressure on to your gear and your boat.
  • Braid lasts a long time as it is not affected by sunlight and suffers from a lot less wear and tear.
  • Braid is expensive, but you won’t have to replace it as often.
  • Braid is prone to tangles which you can not undo and requires more management than mono.
  • Braid is harder to tie knots with.
  • Braid is quite visible to fish in the water.
  • Braid is sharp. If you or a fish get wrapped up in it under pressure, it will slice you up very quickly. I almost lost my thumb when braid wrapped around my finger while free-spooling and hooking a sailfish.

When to use Braid or Mono, or Both

First of all, let us get something straight. Whether you are using braid or mono as your mainline, you are always going to tie on a fluorocarbon leader to attach your bait to. It can be hard to attach fluorocarbon to braid successfully. I would recommend the FG knot. I have used it a lot to catch big marlin, dogtooth tuna and GT’s, and it has not failed me. Click here to learn how to tie it.

Trolling

When you are trolling for big fish, and I’m talking up to 1000lb marlin, you want a lot of line and you want enough stretch too. You are also going to be fishing upwards of 6 lines, so you don’t want to have to change these out every season unless you have to. I have been an offshore skipper for the last 10 years and this is the combination I and a lot of my buddies got to. Spool the reel with braid as the backing line, up to half or more, then attach your mono with the FG knot, and wind on a minimum of 100-150 yards. Make sure it fills the reel to the top. This combination gives you enough line, enough stretch and means the mono you do change out every season is very minimal.

Fishing in Clear Water

Mono is a lot harder for fish to see than braid. If you are fishing in gin-clear water, then mono is a good option. That being said, if you just love braid, you can try making your fluorocarbon leader a bit longer to see if it makes the difference.

Fishing in Weedy Areas

This is a time for braid. Braid will cut through weed whereas mono will wrap up and choke on it. This very useful when you are trying to pull a fish out of thick grass or a kelp ledge.

Fishing Around Structure

If you are fishing in an area with sharp snags, mono is the way to go. It has a lot more abrasion resistance than braid which if snagged will cut very easily. You’ll lose less fish and less tackle using mono in this situation.

Jigging/Bottom Fishing

This is 100% a braid situation. The braid will allow your bait to get to the bottom quickly and you will have enough line to reach it. The lack of stretch will also mean you will feel more bites. If you are fishing in very clear water, then the fish may see the braid and be put off from eating. Try increasing the length of your fluorocarbon leader so there isn’t any braid in the fish zone.

Sight Casting

In this situation braid is also your friend. It will give you way more accuracy so when you see a tailing bonefish or a school of rolling tarpon you can trust that braid will help you get your shot on the money.

Kite Fishing

If you are kite fishing, you definitely want mono sitting in the clip instead of braid due to its abrasion resistance. This being said, I would use a combination here, putting braid as the backing and making sure you have enough mono on your reel so it can reach the kite. This will give you the benefit of more line and less mono to change out every season.

Surf Fishing

If you are casting from the beach then braid is the obvious choice, it will give you a lot more distance and accuracy. It’s lack of stretch also means you will feel a lot more bites. Plus when you are fishing the surf, the potential to hook a huge fish is there and you will want as much line on your reel as you can get.

If you are fishing an area where you know there are a lot of sharp snags then mono might be a better choice as you will lose fewer fish thanks to its abrasion resistance.

When you are shark fishing from the beach or using something other than casting to get your bait out far enough, then a combination of braid as backing with a mono stop shot is your best option. You will win against snags and have enough line to land a big shark.

Spinning

When you are spinning, you cast means everything and braid is the way to go. It will give you more distance and accuracy and not only that, you will be able to work your bait back with a lot more feeling due to its lack of stretch. If you are spinning for trout for example in very clear water, they might see your braid and you may want to opt for mono or add a longer fluorocarbon leader.

fishing line tangle environment
Image Courtesy of Aristocrats-hat 

The Environmental Side of Braid & Mono

We now know a lot about braid and mono and that they are made of plastic. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about that. Whether you end up leaving braid or mono in the environment, they will both degrade and leave some micro-plastics in the water which will end up killing some fish. It is very sad I know but there is something we can do about it.

  • Use less mono and more braid. Braid lasts longer, so you will use less of it over your life than you will mono, saving on production and materials.
  • Marine life can’t see mono as well as braid, this means they are more likely to swim into it and get tangled up.
  • The most important thing we can do is to not leave any of our fishing gear in the places we fish. This means making sure nothing breaks and no offcuts get discarded.
    • Be sure that your knots are not going to fail.
    • That your gear is fresh and ready to be used and isn’t old and going to snap.
    • That all your old fishing gear is thrown away correctly.

So, Which is Best?

Now you have the facts, the choice is yours. A lot of it comes down to personal preference but if you are a mono guy and don’t like change, just give braid a try, please. You’ll cast further and more accurately, you’ll feel more and you’ll use a lot less line over your lifetime, but the choice as always is yours.

Personally, I use braid or a combination of braid and mono every time.

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