Battle Between Monofilament vs. Braided Line

John Malcolm
John MalcolmPublished: February 14, 2024
Battle Between Monofilament vs. Braided Line

When it comes to fishing, the line you choose can make or break your day on the water. Two of the most popular choices among anglers are monofilament and braided lines. 

Each has its loyalists and detractors, and for good reason. These lines offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on the fishing conditions and your target species.

What sets monofilament and braided lines apart?

Monofilament, often referred to as mono, is a single strand of material, typically nylon. It's known for its flexibility, ease of use, and affordability. It's easily one of the most common fishing lines out there as it's cheap and easy. For the most part, casual anglers go with mono, as most fishing rod and reel combos come with it already spooled up.

Up Close Shot of Monofilament Fishing Line on a Spool

On the other hand, braided line, as the name suggests, consists of several strands of material—usually man-made fibers like Dyneema or Spectra—braided together.

This composition gives it a much thinner diameter compared to mono, pound for pound. Typically, we see more experienced anglers using braided as they're fishing for something specific and know what they want.

Up Close Shot of Braided Line on Spools

When it comes to quality, braided line is over the top better than mono, but monofilament is fairly inexpensive and readily available.

Strength and sensitivity.

  • Winner: Braided.

One of the most significant differences between these two types of line is their strength and sensitivity.

Braided lines boast a higher strength-to-diameter ratio than monofilament. This means you can have a higher test strength on a reel without sacrificing capacity.

Additionally, braided lines offer virtually no stretch, which translates to superior sensitivity. You can feel even the slightest nibbles on your line, a crucial advantage when targeting finicky fish.

Sure, braided line sounds great. After all, who wouldn't want the strongest and the most sensitive? Well, there's a bit more to a line than just those factors.

With its inherent stretch, monofilament acts as a shock absorber, which can be beneficial when fighting a fish, especially with treble hooks.

This elasticity reduces the likelihood of the hook tearing free from the fish's mouth. However, this same quality can dampen sensitivity and make it harder to detect subtle bites.

Mono can be purchased in the same test strength as braided, 4lb, 8lb, or even more, but it will be a thicker line, which means you'll sacrifice space on your reel.

Equipment Compatibility: Matching Your Line to Your Gear

  • Winner: Tie.

When it comes to choosing between monofilament and braided lines, it's not just about the fish or the water—it's also about your gear. The type of rod and reel you're using can significantly influence which line works best for you, making equipment compatibility an essential factor in your decision.

  • Spinning reels. Monofilament often comes out as the top pick for spinning reels. Its flexibility and ease of handling make it a perfect match for the design of spinning reels, which can sometimes struggle with the slickness and thin diameter of braided lines. Mono's give and stretch mean less stress on the reel during a fight, reducing the chance of line breaks at critical moments.
  • Baitcasting reels. On the other hand, bait casters pair beautifully with braided lines. The strength and thin diameter of braid allow for more line on the reel, which is a boon for long-distance casting and deep-water retrieval. Plus, bait casters can better handle the no-stretch nature of braided lines, providing anglers with increased sensitivity to detect subtle nibbles.

When choosing a rod, the sensitivity and strength of braided line can be complemented by a fast-action rod, enhancing the angler's ability to feel bites and set hooks quickly. Meanwhile, the stretchiness of monofilament might pair well with a more flexible, moderate-action rod, offering a balanced approach that's forgiving yet responsive.

However, it's not just about performance; it's also about the wear and tear on your equipment. Braided lines, with their thin diameter and strength, can sometimes wear down the guides on a rod faster than monofilament. Ensuring your rod is equipped with guides designed to handle braided line can prevent damage and extend the life of your gear.

Durability and lifespan.

  • Winner: Monofilament.

When it comes to durability, braided lines have a longer lifespan. They're highly resistant to UV light and chemicals, and they don't absorb water, which can degrade line quality over time. 

However, they can be more visible underwater and more susceptible to being cut on sharp objects due to their thinner diameter.

Monofilament lines are less visible to fish, thanks to their ability to refract light, similar to water. They're also more abrasion-resistant, making them a better choice for fishing in areas with heavy cover.

Nonetheless, mono will degrade over time, especially with exposure to sunlight, requiring more frequent replacement. This isn't necessarily an issue if you change your line frequently and store your equipment out of the sunlight.

Casting distance and handling.

  • Winner: Braided.

The thinner diameter of braided line reduces air resistance and allows for longer casts. The first time you switch from mono to braided, you'll be amazed at how well it casts.

It also cuts through water more efficiently, making it an excellent choice for deep-water fishing. However, its slippery texture can make knot tying more challenging, and special knots are often required to ensure they hold. We're big fans of the Palomar knot on this type of line.

Monofilament is easier to handle and works well with a wide variety of knots. Again, it's a favorite of the casual anglers, and this is a major reason why.

Its stretchiness can cushion against sudden, forceful impacts, making it forgiving for beginners. However, its thicker diameter and tendency to have more memory (coiling) than braid can reduce casting distance and accuracy.

What's the verdict between monofilament and braided fishing lines?

Overall, braided line is much better than monofilament in just about every category.

However, that doesn't mean you need to run out and buy braided line. The choice between monofilament and braided line comes down to the specific needs of your fishing situation.

Braided line is your best bet if you're after sensitivity and strength for long-distance casting or deep-water fishing. On the other hand, if you need a forgiving line with less visibility and better abrasion resistance, monofilament is the way to go.

Ultimately, many anglers find having reels spooled with both types of line gives them the flexibility to tackle a wide range of fishing scenarios.

We recommend experimenting with both to help you understand their advantages and limitations, allowing you to make the best choice for your fishing style and the conditions you face.

John Malcolm

John Malcolm

Expert Angler

John is a highly skilled angler with over two decades of experience and a passion that has led him to participate in numerous tournaments, including reeling in a remarkable 9lb bass on Lake Okeechobee. His dedication to fishing and willingness to share his expertise make him a respected ambassador for the angling community, inspiring others to appreciate the sport.

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