Understanding Fluorocarbon

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Making the best use of fluorocarbon fishing line.

As the ice fishing season winds down, many anglers are retooling their equipment for the open water season just around the corner. One of the biggest chores is getting new line on reels. There are so many choices out there that it can be a difficult and often frustrating process. I want to focus on the use of  fluorocarbon fishing lines and the applications in which they are the most effective.

FLUOROCARBON AND SPINNING REELS ARE NOT THE BEST MATCH!

I have been using fluorocarbon fishing line for a long time. I can remember when it first came over to North America in the mid 90’s. Everyone thought it would be the miracle line, so I had to give it a try. The first time I spooled it on my spinning reel, though, was also the last time. After the first bird’s-nest on the first cast, I was done with that. Nowadays almost every manufacturer makes a fluorocarbon with manufacturing processes that have made the lines more manageable. Back in the 90’s they were extremely stiff, thus extremely hard to handle, especially on a spinning reel. Instead, many of the top anglers like Al Lindner relied on the new braided lines that had come on the scene at the same time. Al and I were using the new Fireline from Berkley while filming an episode of my TV show, The Complete Angler, in 1993 on the Red River. (You can read about it in my new book.)

On our first drift Al caught this monster walleye on 12 pound braid with a monofilament leader.

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Friend Al Lindner caught this big walleye using Fireline in the early days of its existence.

Since those days, line application has come a long way. Japanese manufacturer Sunline, for example, makes five different types of fluorocarbon. Depending on your presentation, you can choose the characteristics you want, from stiff to supple, along with stretch factor.

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 Almost every spinning reel I own, open water or hard, has a fluorocarbon leader.  I still have some rods spooled with mono, which I will pick up for shallow water applications and a little stretch is a good thing. When tying on a leader to your braid, a Uni Knot is a good option. One other knot that is becoming really popular is called the FG Knot. While it does take practice to learn and good eyesight, it’s an awesome knot.

Fluorocarbon does disappear underwater more than any other line because this line has nearly the same light refraction index as water. Fluorocarbons have a light refraction index of 1.41 which is much closer to the waters index of 1.33 compared to mono’s reading of 1.55. This gives fluorocarbon an advantage in clear water situations. I will use this line in certain applications for crankbaits especially when long line trolling. Fluorocarbon has a bit of stretch to absorb strikes from big fish..

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NEW Soft Steel Fluoro-Stretch to Hit Decks in 2020.

When I was at ICAST last summer, I ran into a new product in the fluorocarbon market that got my attention. Soft Steel, used to be a small manufacturer, but recently was bought up by Okuma.  At the show, they were introducing a dynamic new product that really had me excited.

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Soft Steel’s new Fluoro-Stretch line is a 100% fluorocarbon line with the stretchable properties of monofilament line.  This stretchable line means you will get a tighter cinch on your knot, bringing your knot strength to 95%, which is much stronger than standard fluorocarbon lines. Available in breaking strengths of 10 to 150 pounds, the new Fluoro Stretch will available in 25 yard spools and coils as well as 5 yard single shot lengths. I used it this summer with outstanding results. Fluorocarbon works best in clear water and when the bite is tough.

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About Author

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Don Lamont - The Complete Angler Don Lamont has been a full time professional angler for 34 years, hosting and producing the award winning “The Complete Angler” television series for fifteen of those. Don has received several awards for his commitment to public education and the future of recreational fishing in Canada. Those include a 2000 Canadian Recreational Fisheries Award for his work with Manitoba’s Urban Angling Partnership. In 2003 he received a Manitoba Tourism Award for his promotion of Manitoba and western Canada. In 2004 he was a finalist at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada National Award for Tourism Excellence, presented by The Globe and Mail. Don has been a regular fishing columnist in the Winnipeg Free Press since 1992 and is currently editor of Hooked Magazine.

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