Fluorescent Line Applications

By Mark Hicks, Courtesy of Bass Club Digest

Just when fishermen were settling into a comfort zone with their monofilament and super line choices, along came fluorocarbon.

In the early days of bass clubs there were few monofilament lines to choose from. Most anglers opted for one brand and used it in varying sizes for every fishing application. The major dilemma was whether to buy a clear or fluorescent monofilament.

Things are more complicated today because line makers have continually developed new monofilaments to upstage their competitors. We now have monofilaments in a myriad of colors, and those that are tougher, stronger, more sensitive, more limp and cartable, and that have all these attributes to some degree.

When the super braids and their like blitzed bass fishermen, there was a hectic period of adjustment. Some pundits believed that the thinner, more sensitive super lines would replace monofilament. Bass anglers eagerly experimented with the new lines. Some fishermen have since forsaken super lines altogether, and few anglers use them exclusively. Most bassers use super lines for flippin' dense cover, such as matted vegetation, and for Carolina rigging, where the line's low stretch helps strike detection and hook setting.

The "Invisible Line"

Just when fishermen were settling into a comfort zone with their monofilament and super line choices, along came fluorocarbon. This "invisible line" has a refractive index nearly the same as water. When a fluorocarbon line is immersed in water, it blends in so well that it virtually disappears. Here, finally, is a line that will not spook fish, even in crystal clear water. As with the super lines, bass fishermen are now sorting out where fluorocarbon line fits into their fishing.

The first fluorocarbon lines were leader material for fly-fishing. A fly-fishing leader needs to be stiff so that it rolls over smoothly as it transfers the inertia from the fly line to the fly. But, a stiff line is detested for most bass fishing applications. It tends to backlash baitcasting reels, and it springs off spinning reels in stiff coils that reduce casting distance.

Newer fluorocarbon lines designed for bass fishing are more limp. But, Berkley states that fluorocarbon line is still inherently stiffer then monofilament. That's because fluorocarbon line does not absorb water, as does monofilament, and become more flexible. Even so, some anglers now use fluorocarbon line extensively, including Mike Fillmer of Lithonia, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Fillmer, an ex police officer and a retired IBM salesman, now manages a warehouse at SPRO/Gamakatsu. He has been a member (and the secretary) of the Dekalb Bass Club since 1986. The club fishes lakes throughout Georgia and the surrounding states.

As did many fishermen, Fillmer first used fluorocarbon line as a leader when he Carolina rigged with braided line. He soon found that, besides being invisible, fluorocarbon line is low in stretch and more sensitive than monofilament. It helped him feel bites, set the hook, and it proved tougher than monofilament. Fluorocarbon, unlike monofilament, is also unaffected by the sun's UV rays. Since it does not absorb water, fluorocarbon maintains superior wet strength to monofilament. It also sinks faster, because it is more dense. This is beneficial with sinking lures, such as jig and worms, but it can hamper the action of topwater baits.

"I've tried just about every fluorocarbon line out there," Fillmer says. "I've had good luck with many of them, but my favorite is Seagar. It's very limp."

Applications With Various Lures

Fillmer first tried 8- and 10-pound fluorocarbon as a leader for a Carolina rig on 14-pound braided line. He was so pleased with fluorocarbon's sensitivity that he eventually switched from a super braid to fluorocarbon as the main line. Another item that improves his sensitivity is a tungsten sinker from Tru-Tungsten instead of a lead sinker.

"With that tungsten weight and that fluorocarbon line, I can feel mud, I can feel brush, I can feel limbs, and I can feel grass,” Fillmer says. "And when a bass picks it up. I know it."

Encouraged by his success with fluorocarbon when Carolina rigging, Fillmer tried the line with other lures. He soon found that it improved his catch when fishing jigs and Texas-rigged worms. When he spooled 6-pound fluorocarbon on his spinning rod for drop-shotting, he knew he had found the perfect combination."

Fillmer also switched to fluorocarbon for fishing jerkbaits and topwater baits, including Lucky Craft's Sammy, his favorite dog-walking stickbait. By working the Sammy at a faster cadence, Fillmer overcomes negative effect of the sinking fluorocarbon line. "Besides being more sensitive, fluorocarbon sinks faster," Fillmer says. "It gets down there quicker and I can get by with a lighter weight."

When Fillmer tried 10-pound fluorocarbon line on his crankbait rod, he found that he could cast 15 to 20 percent farther than with monofilament. He admits that other anglers question this, but he claims there is no doubt that he casts farther. Since he usually fishes from the back seat of his club member's boats, longer casts help him keep pace with the angler fishing from the bow. He also claims that the increased casting distance, combined with the sinking line, allows his crankbaits to run deeper. The increased sensitivity of fluorocarbon tells him when the crankbait contacts cover or the bottom, and when a bass nabs his bait.

"I now use fluorocarbon for 90 percent of my fishing," Fillmer says. "I just love this stuff. I'm not about to switch to anything else."

The only bait that Fillmer doesn't fish on fluorocarbon line is a snagless frog, specifically the Rojas Frog. He retrieves this bait over matted grass and other nasty cover, and opts for 65-pound braided line so he can horse the bass out.

One drawback Fillmer has found with fluorocarbon line is that it is hard to see above the water, especially through his bifocals. He sometimes struggles to see the line when he watches for strikes with jigs and worms. However, Fillmer claims that fluorocarbon has so many advantages it more than compensates for this handicap.

Another negative is the high cost of fluorocarbon. You'll pay as much for 200 yards of fluorocarbon as for 750 to 1,000 yards of monofilament.

"It is expensive," Fillmer says. "But I tell you what, it handles well, it casts well, it holds up well, and I can feel everything down there with it. It's worth it."