When I started fishing some 30 years ago there were no “other lines”, monofilament fishing lines were the only fishing line on the market so no choice was needed, life was simple!
Today, all fishermen from bass fishermen to offshore anglers have to make the choice between using braid vs mono fishing line when faced with any general fishing situations.
But making that choice isn’t so easy unless you know all the attributes of both mono and braided fishing lines, and they are confusing at best.
Join me as we run through all the features of braided lines and monofilament lines so you can choose the best fishing line for every occasion.
In this article...
Braid Vs Mono
Before we get stuck into all the details about braid vs mono, let’s look at how braided line and mono line is made as this will give you a better understanding of each of them.
Mono line is made from a single strand of nylon that is extruded in one continuous filament and left untwisted.
Whereas a braided line is made up of multiple strands of nylon and dacron that are braided together to create a single strand of braided fishing line.
Which is better: braided line or mono?
There is no right answer as to which is better as a main line for your spinning reels or baitcasting reel.
Both braid and mono lines are better and worse than each other for different fishing scenarios.
This is why we need to take a deeper look at the qualities of both lines after which we’ll discuss which fishing scenarios suit which line type better.
What’s Good About Braided Fishing Line?
It Has A Thin Diameter
Braided fishing line has a much thinner diameter than monofilament line when paired against one another in the same breaking strain. This means that 30 lb braid will have much thinner diameter than 30 lb mono which will have a thicker diameter.
If you picked out some monofilament line with the same diameter as some braid, you’d probably be holding 4 lb mono and 15 lb braid, that’s how different they are.
Effect on Line Capacity
Thus, if you choose to fill your reel with 30 lb braid, your line capacity shoots way up compared to the line capacity you’d get with 30 lb monofilament fishing line. This is useful on all reels but especially smaller reels as you might get an extra 100 yards of fishing line to play with if you choose a braided line.
Having more fishing line on your reel is very handy as it means you can target bigger fish like GTs with smaller tackle, as they won’t spool you when they take off into the distance.
Being thinner also has casting advantages as when you cast braid it picks up less resistance and thus increases your casting distance.
Braid Lasts Longer
Braided lines, especially performance braid that have a high dacron content, last a lot longer when compared to monofilament lines.
This is because the monofilament line slowly degrades when exposed to sunlight and absorbs water. It therefore needs to be changed out every year, or you’ll lose more fish than ever when it snaps under strain.
Braid lines, however, can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years without being changed which means we don’t have to buy new braid or go through the motions of respooling our reels every year. This also makes braid quite cost effective as you only have to buy new spools of it every 3-5 years.
It Has Low Stretch
One of the distinct advantages of braid is that it has little or zero stretch whereas monofilament fishing line is very stretchy.
Having no stretch increases line sensitivity to no end meaning that with braid, you will feel all the subtle bites of a fish, every head shake during a fight, how your lure is swimming, and you will be able to pull fish harder. This means when a fish is dashing for heavy cover, it’ll be a lot easier to stop it when using braid.
Casting Distance and Accuracy
Low stretch is also helpful when it comes to casting distance and accuracy as there is a more direct energy transfer through braid on the cast. This translates to all your energy ending up in the lure and it flying waying into the distance when you’re casting.
Less stretch also allows you to have more of a direct connection to the lure and thus make harder hook sets into the fish’s mouth.
This can be very useful when targeting fish with tough mouths like bass, but it’s a disadvantage when going after fish with a soft mouth like carp.
Is braid fishing line stronger than mono?
If you compare braid and mono lines of the same breaking strain, say 10 lbs for example, they are technically as strong as each other and will both break at 10 lbs of force or above.
Here’s a strength test comparing mono, braid, and fluoro.
That being said, braid has a lot more tensile strength than monofilament since it has almost no stretch whereas monofilament has loads.
But, because mono has a wider diameter than braid, it has more abrasion resistance overall giving it some edge over the tensile strength of braid.
If your braid was to catch some sharp structure like an oyster shell while you’re fighting a hooked fish, then it would snap 9 times out of 10 whereas monofilament of the same breaking strain (not diameter) would snap maybe once in ten when touching sharp objects.
Why is braided line banned on some fisheries?
Some fisheries have banned many fishermen from using braiding line while fishing on their waters.
This is because anglers are catching fish with braid that has a very high breaking strain and are simply pulling fish in without a fight and it’s thought that braid also damages the fish.
The low stretch can damage their mouths while the thin diameter easily cuts though scales and gills. Adding a monofilament leader or using fluorocarbon leader would solve this issue.
What’s Good About Monofilament lines?
It Stretches A Lot
Monofilament, as we now know, has a lot more stretch than braid and stretch can actually be a useful thing in certain fishing scenarios.
Having a line that stretches is particularly useful when going up against big fish that jump such as marlin as the stretch allows the line to handle the fight better.
If you used a line which isn’t stretchy when fighting a marlin chances are the hook would be pulled out the mouth of the fish as the line won’t absorb any of the head shaking. This would also be the case with other big fish species such as sailfish and tarpon.
Monofilament Is Soft And Flexible
While mono might not have as much tensile strength as braid it is very flexible which makes knot tying a lot easier and it’s softness gives it a much better knot strength than braid too.
This means your fishing knots will be quicker and easier when you tie mono and be a lot stronger when compared with braid. This is why most fishermen who fish with braid always add some mono or fluorocarbon lines as a leader on top of the braid.
Mono Is Thick
There is one advantage to the larger diameter of mono compared to braid and this is abrasion resistance.
When fishing around areas with a lot of sharp snags such as rocks or reefs, mono’s extra thickness makes it more abrasion resistant as small nicks are not going to affect its overall strength and therefore it will hold while you’re fighting a fish.
If you were to use braid in these scenarios, one small nick could damage 50% of the braid and then when you hook a fish, it will simply snap.
Mono is a neutrally buoyant line which means it floats and is therefore very useful when fishing with top water lures.
By floating, it won’t cause the action of the lure to change and thus you will be able to fish your lure more effectively.
This also comes in handy when fishing with lures that have different sink rates as with mono, you can ensure that the lure is fishing at it’s correct depth and not being dragged down by a line that sinks.
Mono Isn’t Expensive
Mono is a lot more affordable than braid which means you can buy more line for a lot less money.
This is particularly useful when you need to fill up a lot of reels like offshore boats that have 12-15 reels on board or if you’re fishing on a tight budget.
Braid is usually about three of four times the price of mono per yard, and this adds up quickly. But, as I mentioned above, braid generally lasts 3 years or more whereas mono only lasts one year or more, meaning the costs can balance out.
Braid vs Mono – The Pros and Cons
When it comes to braid and mono of the same diameters, braid is a lot stronger overall as it doesn’t stretch and thus can be pulled a lot harder before braking.
When using the braid and mono of the same breaking strains, braid wins too and therefore if you’re looking for the strongest line out there, braid is the clear choice.
It can also be used to spool a baitcaster, but it’s not without its disadvantages.
For casting purposes, braid is the obvious winner too.
Braid’s low stretch and smaller diameter provide a better energy transfer through the cast, creates minimal air resistance, and it’s increased sensitivity provides more feel.
All of these attributes come together to give you a better casting distance and more accuracy when fishing with braided lines.
If you look at durability over time, braid comes out on top and this is because mono absorbs water and degrades much faster when exposed to UV light, thus braid is the obvious choice of longevity.
But, when you look at abrasion, the tables turn since mono’s thickness means it can handle more scrapes while maintaining it’s tensile strength. Whereas a small nick on braid can cause it to unravel.
Mono lines, and fluorocarbon in particular, are almost invisible to fish whereas braid is opaque and very visible. This means that fish are far more likely to see braid in the water than mono.
Since braided line has little or no stretch at all, it has a lot of sensitivity to it. You can feel everything that is going on when fishing with braid whether it’s a subtle bite or how your lure is swimming.
Mono on the other hand is sluggish in this respect and you’ll have less of a direct connection with your lure and any bites.
Line Memory & Tangles
Mono has a lot more memory than braid, which means it remembers the shape it’s been held in, for example around the spool of a reel.
Here’s a quick video demonstrating line memory.
This can cause a lot of tangles as if you mono comes off your reel in coils, chances are it will hook onto your rod or reel handle.
That being said, while braid has no memory at all, it’s smaller diameter means that it can form small wind knots or catch easily on the tip of your rod. Also, when braid tangles, it’s almost impossible to untangle and usually you just have to cut it and start again.
We have already discussed that pound for pound braid has a much smaller diameter meaning you can load up your reel with a lot more braid that you could mono at the same breaking strain.
Having more line on your reel is always useful as when that day comes that you hook a trophy fish, you’ll want all the line you can get.
That being said, braid’s smaller diameter also has some disadvantages such as its ability to handle abrasion when fishing in areas with a sharp bottom. This is where mono’s thickness actually becomes an advantage.
Braid is about 3 times as expensive as mono per yard and it is therefore a much bigger upfront investment to fill your reels with braid instead of mono.
But, braid lasts around 3 times longer than mono as it doesn’t degrade in the sun or absorb water and therefore the costs come out around the same over time if you fish often.
If you look at both monetary cost and effort over 3 years, you’ll spend about the same amount of money overall but you’ll be refilling your reels every year with mono, using up more time and effort than with braid.
Which line should you choose?
As you can see, both braid and mono each have their respective advantages and disadvantages, and therefore choosing one or the other depends on your fishing situation.
Best of Both Worlds
You also have the option to choose both by either filling your reel with braid and adding a mono top shot giving you the best of both worlds. Or, by filling your reel first with mono and then adding braid on top to reduce the costs of using all braid.
It’s quite confusing isn’t it? There are so many options which is why I have broken down which line to use in different fishing situations below, and why.
When To Use Braid and/or Mono
Fishing in Clear Water
When fishing in clear water mono’s low visibility to fish is a clear advantage and therefore would be a better choice than braid. But, you could add 30-50 yards of mono to your braid along with a fluorocarbon leader and thus get the advantages of both lines.
Fishing in Weedy Areas
When fishing in weedy areas, braided line has the clear advantage as its small diameter helps it cut through weeds and thus stops your getting snagged.
You should still fish it with a clear mono leader though so the fish don’t see the braid near your hook/lure.
Fishing Around Structure
If you’re fishing around structure that fish will happily snag you up in then braided line is the way to go.
It’s low stretch will allow you to hold fish and pull them out of structure a lot more easily than with mono.
Jigging & Bottom Fishing
When bait fishing on the bottom or jigging you should use braided line with a mono/fluoro leader.
Braid’s increased sensitivity will allow you to feel every bite no matter how subtle and it’s low stretch means you can pull fishes up from the depths a lot quicker.
When kite fishing, using mono is a better choice as it stays in the clips of the kits better and it won’t cut other lines if it gets tangled up with another kite. Also, when fishing from a kite you’re usually going after species like sailfish when some stretchiness in the line is useful.
When trolling for species like marlin then using 60% braided line on the bottom and 40% mono on the top is the way to go.
This way you get loads more line capacity from the braided line but still get the stretchiness of mono to handle these bigger species, especially when they jump.
Thanks for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful.
Please let me know what you thought in the comments below and share the article with your fishing buddies who want to know more about line choices.
In the end, if you can use the advantages of both braided and mono lines together, you’re going to get the best out of both of them. But there are some clear scenarios where one is better than the other.