By the editors
There are, of course, several factors to consider when choosing either fluorocarbon or monofilament tippet material: strength, density, visibility, knot tying and value.
In the strength department its a no-brainer, fluorocarbon maintains strength better than most monofilament lines that are manufactured today. That said, there are also performance differences in the manufacture of fluorocarbon lines as well (just like in monofilament). However, fluorocarbon lines are much more abrasion resistant than monofilament lines. Fluorocarbon lines are thinner pound test for pound test. Too, they are far more UV resistant and absorb zero water giving fluorocarbon a longer life span. Champions of fluorocarbon like the no-stretch factor which some believe provides more sensitivity to a bite-feel, especially trout fishermen.
One advantage that is inherent to a monofilament leader is shock absorbing. When a big jack, spinner shark, albie, striper or tarpon hits hard – the shock absorbing characteristic of monofilament is preferred by many fly anglers.
As aformentioned, fluorocarbon does not absorb water so the line maintains its strength qualities. Fluorocarbon is denser than water which reduces line slack. Being denser, fluorocarbon will sink noticeably quicker than monofilament.
Monofilament line suspends in the water, letting top-water flies do their thing better. Water permeability means a more “relaxed” line.
Fluorocarbon is invisible to fish that may be spooked by other kinds of lines.
Monofliament lines do come in invisible and visible colors so it can be used in any condition.
Knots are the weakest link in your whole set-up. Always choose material that knots well.
Fluorocarbon is stiff so ultra care has to be taken when joining lines. Seating knots correctly will insure a knot will not slip or break.
Nylon monofilament is generally more supple than fluorocarbon. For this reason, nylon is generally the choice when tying big game leaders that require extremely large diameter lines.
Because fluorocarbon is much more expensive than monofilament, many fly anglers will use fluorocarbon only as their shock tippet or terminal tippet.
Monofilament has been around since the late 1940s and improvements have made it the go to leader material for most anglers whether fresh or saltwater oriented. Too, it’s cheaper.
Lastly, there are big differences between competing manufacturers of both monofilament and fluorocarbon. Ask your local fly shop guys what they like and ask why they like it. Buy a few different lines and experiment.
Here’s a simple knot (invented by the folks a Seaguar) that is a pretty safe bet on joining fluorocarbon lines and dissimilar diameter lines.