With so many options on the market, choosing the best fishing line can seem a bit overwhelming. But it’s actually a simple matter of finding a line with performance characteristics that fit your style of fishing.
As its name implies, monofilament fishing line—or "mono" for short—is a single strand of material, as opposed to multi-filament lines, which are strung from multiple strands that are fused, braided or bundled together.
Monofilament fishing lines absorb water, which means they behave differently beneath the surface than when you’re testing them in the tackle shop.
The degree varies. Some are sponges, sopping up 8 percent or more of their weight in water. Premium blends absorb less, but still soak up some.
In general, water absorption makes mono "looser," or more relaxed than when the line is dry. It stretches more, handles better and casts farther. On the flip side, abrasion resistance tends to suffer, along with both tensile and shock strength.
Monofilament can be extruded from different materials, but nylon is by far the most common and popular medium. Often, different varieties of nylon are blended together into co- and multi-polymers to produce varying degrees of stretch, strength, abrasion resistance and other important attributes.
Easy To Handle—Thanks to its flexible nature, monofilament is easy to use and works well for many fishing situations. This flexibility—often described as limpness—makes mono more manageable and easier to cast than stiffer lines.
Stretch—Mono stretches more than superlines and more easily than fluorocarbon, which gives it a forgiveness factor other lines can’t match. If your drag sticks or you set the hook too hard, mono compensates by stretching up to 25 percent or more.
By stretching under pressure, mono also helps prevent your hook from tearing a hole in a fish’s mouth, which can make it easier for the fish to come unbuttoned. This is a factor both on the hookset and during the fight, especially when you’re dealing with big fish in close quarters. For example, many top bass pros prefer a beefy mono like Berkley Big Game over superline for pitching jigs.
Shock Strength—Stretch should not be confused with shock strength, which is a fishing line’s ability to absorb energy—and an equally important consideration. Shock strength comes into play when your line has to withstand the sudden impact of a hard hookset or a big fish thrashing violently at boatside.
Diameter—Mono is admittedly prone to larger diameters than fluorocarbon or superlines. While the added circumference can be a limiting factor in how deep your lures dive, you can use the extra breadth to your advantage—such as slowing the fall of a Berkley Gulp! or PowerBait softbait, or when threading a bait through cover as the thicker line makes it more abrasion resistant.
Sink Rate—Thanks to its near-neutral buoyancy, mono sinks slowly, making it a great choice for topwater lures and suspended subsurface presentations where you don’t want to accelerate the bait’s downward movement.
Color Palette—Mono is easier for manufacturers to tint than other types of line, so it’s available in a wider range of colors. You can choose from stealthy, low-visibility options such as green, blue or clear—or spin the color wheel the opposite direction and spool with high-vis shades perfect for line-watching presentations.
Some monos, like Berkley Trilene TransOptic, offer the best of both worlds by changing color from bright gold in sunlight to low-vis clear below the surface.
Tying The Knot—Mono is knot-friendly. You can use a variety of strong, easy-to-tie knots without sacrificing the strength of the line. In fact, a Trilene Knot or Palomar Knot offers nearly 100 percent knot strength when tied with premium mono.
Inexpensive—The most affordable of all line choices, mono is definitely easy on the pocketbook. Considering the critical role line plays in your quest to catch fish, it ranks among the sport’s best investments.
Ease Of Use—Thanks to a combination of manageability, stretch, easy knot tying and other fishing-friendly features, mono is the best fishing line if ease of use is your main concern. This makes it a great choice for everyone from first-time anglers to looking to simplify their presentations or seasoned veterans utilizing the lines characteristics for specific techniques.
While mono has many benefits, there are tradeoffs. For example, because of its stretchiness, it’s not overly sensitive. If you need to detect ultra-light bites, discern subtle changes in bottom composition or feel what your lure is doing at all times—especially at long distances—a superline or fluorocarbon is a better choice.
Mono also has a lower tensile strength than either of these options, which means it has a thicker diameter at a given breakstrength. This can be a benefit in slowing sink rate, but it also means lures won’t run as deep on mono as superline or fluoro.
Also, prolonged exposure to UV light can weaken mono, although it may take hundreds of hours to incur appreciable damage. We recommend changing nylon monofilament lines at least once a year.
As with other types of line, monos are designed for specific performance characteristics. Here are a few top picks to consider when choosing the best fishing line for your particular needs:
Berkley Big Game—Offers excellent shock strength and is built for battling trophy catfish, pike, muskies, bass and other big fish.
Berkley Trilene XT—An abrasion-resistant workhorse ideal for fishing in and around rocks or cover.
Berkley Trilene XL—More manageable and castable, and is a fine all-around choice for general fishing away from line-abrading snags.
Berkley Trilene Sensation—Extremely strong for its diameter, yet also sensitive and manageable, offering professional-grade performance in a monofilament package.