Fluorocarbon fishing line can be the key to getting bites when all other methods fail. We have all been there at some point in our fishing careers, you sit helplessly on the opposite side of the boat as your fishing buddy, throwing the same lure as he or she is, only to watch them hammer hook set, after hook set. You ask the same questions as anybody would. How do you have that thing rigged up? Are we throwing the same color? Are you working the bottom? Come to find out, your setup is no different than theirs, with one exception. Your trusty ol’ fishing buddy is running a fluorocarbon, known to most bass anglers as “Fluoro”, leader and you are running the tried and true, Grandpa approved, same line the state record was caught on, 10lb monofilament.
Now, before I lose all of you old timers, hear me out…
You are fishing a rocky reservoir, with crystal blue water. It is late morning, mid-July, the sun has risen up, water temps are up, and you are fishing some tree cover about 100 feet off the bank. Your trusty fishing buddy has did their research and it has been decided, from the local fishermen back at the boat ramp, these fish are hanging close to cover, in medium depth. The bite has been tough and a shaky head setup is the way to go. You decide you are going to be throwing to specific cover, hit the spots you can visually see, then go from there.
In this situation, throwing into wood and rock cover, where the fish are getting away from the heat, and finessing a soft plastic; monofilament is going to be at a disadvantage for generating bites, especially because of its visibility. This happened to me so many times fishing with my dad as a teenager, before YouTube and Google were really a thing. I just thought my dad was that much better than me. Ol’ Dad was just working with a fluorocarbon leader. The fluorocarbon leader is going to make a giant difference in clear water, not to mention its durability against abrasive terrain and its higher level of sensitivity for those quick hook sets.
What is Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Fluorocarbon was invented in the 1970s in Japan. It was around the mid-90’s it became a popular leader for fly fishermen. It was later introduced to bass fishermen. In the beginning stages of Fluorocarbon, it was a high ticket item, not to mention expensive. Production and marketing have come a long way in the bass fishing industry since those times, which is why you see it being used more, and more.
Fluorocarbon is made of Fluoropolymer, also known as PVDF. This material can be found in a wide variety of products like musical instruments, air filters, and piping. In the fishing world it is mainly sought after because of its refractive index, making it harder for fish to see it.
Fluorocarbon is also denser than other fishing line, like monofilament. The density level of Fluorocarbon allows the line to sink faster in the water, while keeping it invisible to the fish. Crank Baits and Stick Baits have been proven to sink 20-30% farther, and faster, when being thrown on a Fluorocarbon Leader. The density level of Fluorocarbon also gives it that resistance to structure and cover, making it ideal for throwing into dense cover.
What is a Fluorocarbon Leader
This can be confusing. Especially if you are new to bass fishing, fishing in general, or just now expanding your knowledge.
Leader. Think of it as what it is. It is the leader of your line. You spool up your reel, get you’re fishing line on it, then, top it off with a “Leader line”. That is the simplest explanation I can give of what a leader line is. The purpose of the leader line on your fishing rod setup is usually to prevent the fish from seeing your line, as well as to protect your line from breaking off. In some cases, a leader line will prevent line twist when throwing a specific lure with a spinning or bait casting setup.
A good example is a spinning setup for finesse fishing. You would set your spinning reel up with a thin, 8-10 pound, braided line and top it off with an 8 pound, 8 foot, fluorocarbon leader. I personally use this setup when I drop shot.
Best Fluorocarbon Setups
Here are some setups where I find myself choosing Fluorocarbon fishing line over the others:
The Drop Shot setup is truly one of my favorites. You will see Drop Shot being used in deep, clear water, in a finesse form. Fluorocarbon is great here because its ability to go through heavy terrain and the visibility of the line.
Sometimes, flipping into cover, can stray you away from some areas. Also, the bite sensitivity for quick hook sets rises tremendously when using fluorocarbon while flipping. With Fluorocarbon fishing line, flip into cover and be confident about it.
Cold Water Jerk Baits
When fishing in colder water, and the bass are more lethargic, getting that bait deeper into the water makes a huge difference. Fluorocarbon will allow your jerk bait to sink faster, and deeper.
I encourage you to dive deep into the Fluorocarbon fishing line portals on the intrawebs. Find out what other anglers are using it for. I have seen many Fluorocarbon fishing line setups I had never thought of before, and they worked.
The Best Knot for Fluorocarbon Line
“I understand all those fancy fishermen on TV are using it, but they are pros! Every experience I have had with Fluorocarbon ended in my slinging my pole in the water after I set the hook and got broke off!”
Man, have I heard that from more than one fellow angler. Matter of fact, I had a taxidermy client in the shop the other day tell me that exact thing. I pulled out a pole that was setup with a Fluorocarbon fishing line leader and asked him to tie the hook on. I noticed several things.
- His knot was not neat. Matter of fact, it was so messy I couldn’t tell which knot he was trying to tie!
- The knot wasn’t a Palomar knot.
- He cinched the knot entirely too fast.
- He didn’t slobber all over that bad boy!
First off, let’s talk about the Palomar knot. I know pro anglers that will tie a Berkley Braid Knot in this situation. I am not going to argue with a pro, but I also know myself, the terrain I fish, and which knot I have had more issues with on a hook or bait. Palomar knot has proven itself time and time again for me in some of the roughest terrain I have ever laid eyes on. Some of the reservoirs I fish in the West have boulder fields. Not rock. BOULDERS. When I am fishing a drop shot in the boulders, between 15-25 feet, on a windy piece of water, I want my fluorocarbon tied with a Palomar knot. Fishing on the East Coast, growing up, and still now on my fishing adventures, yes, the Berkley Braid knot or similar worked. I am just more confident in my setup when I have a Palomar knot tied, and confident is key when starting a long day of fishing.
I go back to confidence on this next point. Once I noticed my Palomar knot working best in the worst terrain I had ever fished, and watching the success I had with it, it was easy for me to take my time and tie that knot NEATLY. Over, and over, because of my success and confidence with it, I would take 10 minutes to carefully tie that knot. Keeping your knot neat on fluorocarbon is a must to prevent break-offs. Cinch that knot slowly.
The last thing, but certainly not the least of importance, is lubing that knot up good. What works best for me is lubing the knot consistently throughout the cinching process. Cinch a little, spit a little. Do not just lube that knot once, or twice. Lube it over and over.
If you do not be careful, go slowly, and use the correct knot for your situation, and lube that knot, you will have break-offs. When I first started, yes, I had break-offs. Yes, I lost money on expensive tackle. You have to commit to the process and become proficient. If you do this, you will be rewarded.
OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW SCHOOL
I understand the struggle with change.
Do you have to use Fluorocarbon fishing line to catch fish? No.
Will Fluorocarbon fishing line catch you more fish? No.
Will Fluorocarbon fishing line get you more bites? Yes.
Is it up to you to set that hook and get that toad in the boat? Yes.
I respect the old school bass elites around the local boat dock. Confidence is key. I will tell you, from my Granddad, to my Dad, to little Ol’ me, we have found success with Fluorocarbon fishing line.
Go rip some lips!