If you’re new to fishing then you have probably stumbled upon the option of spooling your reel with braided fishing line instead of the usual monofilament fishing line. But, what is braided fishing line?
In this article, we will run through everything you need to know about braided fishing line from how it’s made, to what useful features it has, the best uses, and whether it should be the main line on your fishing reel.
What is braided fishing line made of?
Braided fishing line, or braid as it’s usually called, is very different from monofilament in how it’s made. Monofilament fishing line is made of a single strand of nylon whereas braid is made up of multiple strands of both nylon and dacron.
The way braid is made is what gives this fishing line its unique set of features when compared to monofilament fishing line, and these features are better than mono in some fishing situations.
What Are The Benefits And Features Of Braided fishing line?
Braid Has A Much Thinner Diameter
If you were to buy a spool of 10 lb braid and a spool of 10 lb mono fishing line, the braid would be a lot thinner. Ten pound braid has a diameter of 0.011 inches and ten pound mono has a diameter of 0.008 inches, so what does this mean when you are fishing?
The first benefit of braid’s thinner diameter is that you can increase the line capacity of your reel or use a heavier pound test on a smaller reel. For example, let’s say that your spinning reel is rated with a line capacity of 250 yards of 0.011 inch diameter line.
You’ll be able to spool it with 250 yards of 10 pound mono, 300+ yards of 10 pound braid, or load it up with 250 yards of 30 pound braid which has a diameter of 0.011 inches. Having more line on your reel is incredibly useful when fighting fish that love taking long runs, and having enough heavy line is also great when putting the hurt on big fish with smaller gear.
Casting Distance & Accuracy
When it comes to casting distances and accuracy, having a thinner diameter is incredibly useful. By being thin, braid has a lot less air resistance than mono which means your casts will go further with braid compared to mono or fluoro lines.
Braid’s lower air resistance also translates to accuracy as it won’t get shifted around by wind while in the air.
Braid Is Very Durable
Of all the fishing lines on the planet, braid is the most durable compared to mono or fluoro and it lasts almost 3 to 5 five times longer than mono or fluorocarbon. This is because mono and fluoro fishing lines absorb water and degrade when exposed to UV light.
If you are fishing with mono fishing line on your reels, you should change it for a new mono line every year if you want to be certain it won’t break on a big fish. When fishing with braid on your reels, there is no need to change it every year, every 3 to 5 years will do.
This means, by using braid, you don’t have to throw lots of line in the bin every year or waste all that time re-spooling your fishing reels. This also makes using braid quite cost-effective as you don’t have to buy more of it all the time – more on this later.
Braid Has Very Low Stretch
By being made of multiple strands of nylon and dacron woven (braided) together, braid has little to no stretch whatsoever, and this comes with some benefits. Mono, on the other hand, has a lot of stretch. So, what is so good about a fishing line with minimal stretch?
By having zero stretch, braid has a lot of sensitivity meaning that whatever happens at the end of your line will be felt by you at the other end. This becomes very useful for detecting subtle bites, feeling how your lure is swimming, and hooking fish that sit deep like when you are bottom fishing.
Having close to no stretch also translates to braid having a much better energy transfer which in turn equals a longer casting distance.
When you go to cast a lure, the line and weight of your lure loads your rod full of energy and when you finally let go of your cast, that energy leaves your rod, travels through the line and into your lure.
When you cast with braid, more energy transfers into the lure than with mono, and this results in longer casts.
When you fish with a line that has minimal stretch and a more direct energy transfer, it allows you to hook fish far more effectively. When a fish with a hard mouth bites your soft plastic, like largemouth bass, you’ll be able to drive that hook into its mouth far more efficiently than if you were using mono.
But, this has the opposite effect when you’re fishing for species with soft mouths as with braid, you can easily rip the hook through the fish’s mouth instead of staying connected with it.
By having no stretch, braid gives you the edge when fighting particular species that like to play dirty as it gives you more control over the fight. If you’re fighting say a bass or a snook and it wants to run into mangroves of cover, the zero stretch of braid means it will be able to hold the fish and pull it out of the snag with ease.
If you’re fishing offshore for species that like to sound and swim down, like big yellowfin tuna, then using braid will also give you the edge. By having no stretch, you can bring those fishing up so much faster than if you were fishing just mono as the stretch of mono allows the fish to take control of the fight.
Braid Has A High Tensile Strength
If you compare the strength of the monofilament fishing line to braid you’ll find that braid has a stronger tensile strength. This means that braided fishing line is stronger than mono when being pulled lengthways and therefore will handle a fight with a dogged fish a lot better.
What are the cons of braided fishing line?
Braided Fishing Line Is Expensive
When you’re in the tackle shop or browsing online, you’ll immediately notice that braid is about three times the price of mono fishing line, so it’s pretty expensive.
This means, if you want to fish with braid, you’re going to have to make a larger upfront investment, and if you own ten reels that need braid, then your budget needs to be quite big.
But, you need to remember that braid lasts three to five times longer than mono, and therefore it works out at about the same cost as buying new mono every year.
Braided Fishing Line Isn’t Great For Knots
Braid is light, wispy, and to be quite honest, a pain in the ass to tie knots with! It also has a much lower knot strength than mono as it doesn’t bite into itself and the knots don’t seat properly.
This makes using braid as the line you attach to your lures a questionable choice as it can easily undo and therefore you’ll want to add some mono or fluoro leader to your braided main line.
When fishing with braid, you are going to want to learn quite a few knots and some of the most important ones are the FG Knot and the Double Uni Knot – as these are the best knots for connecting braid to mono/fluoro leaders.
Braid Is Easy For Fish To See
Unlike mono or fluoro, braid is opaque and therefore it’s incredibly easy for fish to see. This makes it a bad choice when fishing in clear water as it will be obvious to fish that your lure or bait is not quite real.
That being said, if you were to add a mono or fluoro leader to your braid using the knots mentioned above, and a long enough one, the fish would be fooled and you’d still get the benefits of braid.
Braid Is Not So Abrasion Resistant
Braid, as we know, has a very thin diameter and this translates to limited abrasion resistance, especially when compared to mono of the same pound test.
This means, if you’re fishing in areas with sharp rocks or oyster beds, for example, chances are your braid will become compromised if it nicks a rock or oyster. Then, when a fish bites, your line will snap.
If you were to use mono, it would stand up better to nicks on oysters and rocks than braid and this is simply because it is much thicker.
Should I Start Using Braided Fishing Line?
I would personally recommend using braided fishing line as the main line on all your fishing reels in combination with mono or fluoro.
If you use baitcasters or spinning reels, using braid with a fluorocarbon leader gives you all the benefits of braid along with the abrasion resistance and zero visibility of a fluorocarbon leader.
For a fly fisherman, using braid as your backing will let you add more line to the reel spool or use a higher breaking strain.
If you like bottom fishing for carp, an all braid coupled with a mono/fluoro leader is ideal and if you go after pelagics like marlin, filling your offshore reels with 60% braid and 40% mono is an ideal combination of line capacity and stretch.
Overall, there is no one right answer as to whether to use braid or not but using a combination of the two is ideal in almost every situation.
Braid is a complex and controversial topic, and debates will go on forever on if it should be banned, where it is best used, and the good and bad of everything braid.
Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.