Before we consider what is the best fluorocarbon fishing line let us discuss the properties and characteristics of this leader material.
When it comes to fly fishing the introduction of fluorocarbon may be one of the most outstanding developments since the creation of fly fishing itself. I joke, but it really has made a large difference to fly fishing catch rates and fun to be had by anglers of all ages and skill level.
Fluorocarbon has many properties but the one that makes it ideal for fishing is that light refracts through it the same way as water and so the fish (or so it is believed) can’t see it. This is especially evident in still water fisheries as trout are usually leader shy and will move away from traditional mono filament lines. This is were the fluorocarbon has helped get extra takes.
In river fishing especially fast water the light passing through it is refracted and distorted in numerous was and the trout can’t see you or the line as easily as in calm still water so it is not that important but the other benefits make it ideal in these conditions also.
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A tendency to be brittle!
Some fluorocarbon lines are very brittle but his can be compensated by getting the diameter that is correct for your type of fishing. There are many brands and breaking strains so it may be a bit of testing to see what is ideally suited but we will discuss that later.
Fluorocarbon is usually a lot stiffer than mono and is great for turnover on casts which helps in reduction of wind knots, tangles and bad casting. This makes it good for a beginner who is trying to learn fly fishing and also very good on weighted flies that have a tenancy to drop on the forward cast and catch the loop.
There is usually a lack of stretch in fluorocarbon at least it stretches a lot less than mono and so keeps you in better contact with your fly or lure. This also helps set the hook quicker when a takes comes.
The one draw back is you can be broken easily if a trout takes hard while you are pulling especially on smaller braking strengths so its important to be careful as the line gets closer to you during the retrieve. However with fluorocarbon the fact that it is virtually invisible in water you can get away with using slightly stronger and thicker strengths so snap offs can be reduced. This all depends of course on the size of fly you are using as a twelve pound line will not go through the smallest of hook sizes.
It sinks without applying xink?
Fluorocarbon sinks in water and is good to get weighted flies down to the bottom of a lake quickly. It is also great on dry flies when using smaller diameters as the leader sinks without applying sinkant while the fly floats which is the desired effect. Some anglers prefer mono in this case as it will not pull the dry fly under without constant re-application of float-ant.
Fluorocarbon is very tough and abrasive resistant when scrapping off rocks or underwater hazards which makes it ideal for fishing rivers and lakes. If by chance the line gets kinked on anything a rub with a cloth or piece of leather will usually get the kink out. Another good reason to use it. With mono you would end up having to tie or change to a new leader.
How do you make fluorocarbon leaders?
Making a leader with fluorocarbon is similar to mono apart from the fact that the material is slightly more slippery and because of such knots need to be well secured. Some anglers put on a spot of angling glue to the knot for this although a good idea I don’t feel it is necessary if you use the correct knots and tie them well.
As with all knots lubrication is even more crucial to fluorocarbon to avoid burn and weakening of the knot. I use water or surgeons knots for droppers and putting a loop on the end ready for tightening to the fly line by loop to loop. When tying on the flies I use blood knots with the end tucked in leaving the tag slightly longer than when using mono for slippage.
Fluorocarbon leader length!
Leader length is down to the type of fishing, the where and the when, but ideally you want the leader to be the same length of the rod or in some cases slightly longer. So for a trout rod of ten feet you would be looking at nine to ten feet of leader. If dry fly fishing you can extend this out to about fourteen or fifteen feet but you will need to taper it down a few times to get the proper turnover.
This can be a process of trial and error to see what length you can cast properly with the conditions you are fishing. For instance if it is particularly a windy day a long leader will become tangled very quickly and it would be better to fish one fly on a shorter leader maybe seven to eight feet that try to proceed with a longer one and spend a lot of time fixing wind knots and tangles.
Best fluorocarbon leaders
Many anglers have their own idea of what works for them when it comes to leader material but I have used a few over the last few years and have come up with a short list of my favorites,
- Seaguar fly leader very expensive but worth it especially in the larger sizes I have used this in Russia and it didn’t let me down. Knot strength is good, turnover is excellent. The No 1 fluorocarbon used in the Kola Peninsula where the leader is vitally important with those big Atlantic salmon.
- Riverge, softer ideal for nymphing as it allows the fly to rise and fall more naturally while retrieving.
- Fulling Mills is a bit stiffer and ideal for blobs and dabblers while stripping and is a bit cheaper.
- Orvis Mirage also a great soft leader material for dries and nymphs.
- Also on my list is SureCatch this material is fairly stiff and will suit both nymphing and pulling blobs. I have fished with it for the last several years and found the price tag is good for the quality of the leader you are getting. Knot strength is good as is turnover.
Beware however that softer thinner fluorocarbon is less tolerant of badly tied knots so make sure to tighten slowly and moisten with saliva. I have heard some anglers say they don’t moisten Fluorocarbon but I have always done so and it works for me, try it both ways to test for yourself.
OK there you have my take on fluorocarbon and why it is invaluable addition to the fly fishing tackle bag. As the caption says never leave home without it. Any comments or questions please leave them below and I’ll get back to you asap!