Best Fishing Line for Spinning Reels: Braid or Mono
To help you decide which is the best fishing line for spinning reels, this article presents a side-by-side comparison of the two most popular line varieties: braid and mono.
And to make your life easier, we've put together a series of case-by-case line recommendations so you'll know the best line depending on the fishing techniques you use and the water conditions you fish.
Monofilament has a lot of elasticity, meaning it stretches when weight is applied and recoils when weight is removed. When you use monofilament on your spinning reel, your entire line becomes a shock absorber. The elasticity of monofilament tends to put less strain on the knots in your rig, which can save the day when you hook into a really big fish and have your drag set too tight.
Braid, on the other hand, has practically zero stretch and very little shock absorption. Anglers use this to their advantage as it allows for a more direct transfer of energy from the reel all the way to the hook or lure, resulting in better sensitivity and more powerful hook sets.
When mono stays wrapped around a spool, it takes on a coiled shape. This is known as line memory since the mono "remembers" the shape of the spool. This is one of the major downsides to monofilament line, especially on a spinning reel.
More often than not, when you cast monofilament line from a spinning reel the coils remain in the line which limits the ability of the line to shoot through the rod guides smoothly, ultimately reducing casting distance.
One of the biggest virtues of braided line is its lack of memory. Braided line remains supple no matter how long it's stored on a spool and peels off the reel completely straight. This allows the line to glide through the rod guides with little resistance, resulting in longer, more accurate casts.
20-pound test braid is much thinner than 20-pound test monofilament line. Anglers that require huge line capacities often reach for braid as the thinner diameter takes up less space on the spool, allowing for more to be used.
Due to a relatively low density, monofilament line floats — at first anyway. Being slightly permeable, monofilament will absorb a small amount of water over time, causing the line to slowly sink.
Braided line, made up of hundreds of small fibers, soaks up water very quickly and sinks right away. Plus, the thinner diameter of braid creates less friction in the water, resulting in an even faster sink rate.
Since monofilament is made of a single strand of nylon material, it's mostly see-through. While not as invisible as fluorocarbon, monofilament is often the line of choice when fishing very clear water.
Braided line is anything but clear. Made of fibrous, synthetic materials like dacron, dyneema, or spectra, braid is like a piece of yarn and is very visible in the water. To compensate for braid's visibility, most fishing line manufacturers produce braided line in colors intended to blend in with the water, typically dark green, white, beige, or yellow.
The weakest link in any fishing rig is always the knot and this is especially true for braided line. Monofilament has a certain bite to it that locks a knot in place when you cinch it down. Braided line, however, has more of a slippery surface, and if you aren't using the right knot or a few braid-specific knot tying tricks, the knot won't seat right and can fail under pressure.
While this isn't true in all cases, braided line tends to have more abrasion resistance than monofilament. Monofilament is susceptible to nicks, scrapes, and dents that greatly weaken the line. Braided line is still prone to damage when dragged over structure, but since it's made like a rope with hundreds of individual fibers, it can withstand more damage to the surface while the center remains intact.
If you primarily use your spinning rod for cast-and-retrieve fishing with artificial lures, braided line offers several advantages.
First, extra casting distance is always a bonus when fishing with lures as you can cover more water, making each cast more effective. Braided line, with it's thinner diameter and zero line memory, generally casts much farther than monofilament of the same strength.
Second, the no-stretch quality of braided line gives you a better feel of your lure on the retrieve. You can feel every vibration and wobble of the lure and detect even the daintiest of fish bites.
When vertical jigging in deep water, using braided line on your spinning reel is the way to go. Having no stretch, braid allows you to impart better action to your jig, and you can feel right away when you get a hit. Plus, braid's thinner diameter allows you to use a higher strength line without sacrificing the high line capacity you need to get down deep.
When using bottom fishing with sliding sinker rigs where the line is at a higher risk of abrasion damage, braided line offers a slight advantage over monofilament line.
When it comes to trolling, monofilament is the clear winner. When pulling lures and bait behind a boat, there's a lot of pressure put on the line, and when a fish comes along and takes a bite, the stretch of monofilament provides extra shock absorption to minimize strain on knots and damage to tackle.
When fishing reefs and wrecks in saltwater, or blow-downs and stump fields in freshwater, the tautness of braid helps you pull fish away from structure that could cut the line.
Sometimes stealthiness is more important than raw power. When fishing gin-clear water or fishing in areas that receive lots of fishing pressure, the lower visibility of monofilament gives you the best odds of outwitting a fish.
On a spinning rod, braided line almost always outcasts monofilament line of the same strength. Braid's thinner diameter and less line memory let the line peel off the spool and shoot through the rod guides as efficiently as possible.
While there certainly are times when monofilament is the line of choice, the overall best fishing line for spinning reels is braid.
With a thinner diameter and less line memory, you'll be casting farther, and with less elasticity, you'll feel every subtle vibration of your lure and have plenty of backbone to steer a fish clear of structure. Simply tie on a mono or fluoro leader to your braid and you're ready to catch anything that swims!