Learn to fish soft plastics- Braid Vs Mono
What's the difference between Braid and Monofilament fishing line?
This topic was suggested by Tink Newsome from the Soft Plastics Anonymous page.
Well for some people its not much, for others it a world of difference. This article is to explore why this is so and what's better for Soft Plastics fishing.
Let look at how its constructed first as this may help us to understand the differences in its capabilities.
Mono or monofilament as it is known is made by the melting, mixing and extrusion of a copolymer mixture through small holes. The term mono is a Greek term meaning alone, single or one. Filament refers to the long strand of polymer extrusion. So we can reasonably deduce this means a singular strand of line.
Braid on the other hand refers to a complex structure combining three or more interlacing strands of material. Believe it or not, braided fishing lines is how this whole fishing thing started as there was little natural material of sufficient length that could be used by itself, up and until the invention of Mono in the 1950's you brought your fishing cord in 30ft lengths. Thankfully the technology has come a long way since then and the advent of modern day braided fishing lines has revolutionised a few forms of fishing, soft plastics lure fishing is one of them.
Lets break it down and look at a number of areas to consider the differences and the pros and cons of each.
Affordability - Lets face it if you have ever stared at the wall of your local fishing store, you are definitely spoiled for choice ,if you have no limit on your credit card. However for many people this is a factor worth considering. Mono is substantially cheaper and has been catching fish since the 50s, it has a few things going for it, the first is the price. It can be up to 60% cheaper than an equivalent quality braid product.
Braid on the other hand is at the other end of the spectrum. Its smaller and stronger and hellish expensive. Now take into account that you can pack a least another 50% of the line length on the spool when using Braid, it can be a costly exercise to fill up even the smallest of reel spools.
Line memory - Mono by its construction, atomic bonding and material is more likely to retain spool memory, or try to stay in the same shape as the spool it was wound on to. Braid on the other hand, due to it's multi-strand make up is less likely to retain memory, this becomes a factor when we begin to talk about cast-ability later.
Shock absorption - Mono has stretch built in and therefore some shock absorption, once upon a time this was such a desirable trait as old school solid glass rods lacked the shock absorption and reels back then had less than optimal drag systems that were fairly stop start. During a high stakes encounter, often these whale clubs, sticky drags and low tech mono, tearing a hook out was a fact of life, so stretch was desirable. With new generation fishing tech this is so less of an issue.
Density - Mono floats, does absorb some water but is mostly neutrally buoyant, where as Braid is not and will sink, this is not always a bad thing for soft plastic fishing as we are not always fishing the surface for long.
Strength- Due to the way Braid is constructed with numerous fibres it is stronger for a thinner diameter. While Mono blended lines are getting better in their technology, they still cannot match the smaller diameter to strength relationship that Braid enjoys. Braided lines retain strength over time and are not as subject to UV degradation like their Mono cousins.
Diameter - As discussed above, strength and diameter are used together to describe each type of line. The benefit of Braid is that you can pack more onto a reel to make it a real fish slayer than you can with Mono. However, how much do you really need while chasing bread and butter species?
Braid is thinner and cuts through the water easier due to the reduced diameter, meaning that in deep water with current there is less belly in the line making contact with your fish or lure just that bit better.
Typically the diameter for one pound of Braid is the same for every 6 pounds of Mono. This means that running lesser diameter but stronger line is a distinct advantage.
Knot tying- In terms of tying the knot, Mono is much easier to handle and has an increased knot strength than braid due to its non-stretch ability. With Braid, this puts a greater emphasis on knot strength as it is the weakest link in the chain. If you are using Braid then you need to get your knots down-pat.
Stretch - Mono has more stretch and therefore in some environments may have benefit over Braid, especially in higher poundage applications and high shock environment. However the high stretch application is great for shock absorption, it affords less control and power in a close quarters battle of life and death.
Sunlight - Mono can be affected by sunlight and needs to be washed or it can exhibit wear and tear. Braid will fade over time and use, however this is more to do with the fading of the dye than degradation of the Braid.
Wear and durability- Braid is less likely to wear through use and repeated casting, however cheaper brands may have the propensity to wrap line over the tip. But generally the wear is negligible and the durability of Braid is markedly better than that of Mono. Mono does wear/scratch and chaff and requires greater care with cleaning to remain top notch. Braid will generally exhibit frays and good visual indicators to wear, prompting you to replace the line before you involuntarily have to. Mono is a little harder to see this and for those of us getting older, it is better picked up by running your fingers over it to feel for frays. You are less likely to feel this with Braid.
Tackle Technology- New generation reels and rods provide better cushioning and therefore the criticality of zero stretch line is reduced with smooth drags and shock absorbing graphite/carbon blanks. In earlier years, or if you are fishing with lesser quality rods and reels, then you may wish to use mono as this may reduced issues with larger fish and gives you a bit of line stretch to cushion impact.
Cast-ability- Thinner diameter/line thickness reduces friction through the line guides during casting and this coupled with low memory means that extra distance is possible with Braid over Mono. This can be one of the greatest advantages of Braid over Mono. 20% extra distance can mean the difference in reaching fussy or spooky fish on the edge of cast range and this can increase your catch rate considerably. Remember this is a numbers game and the greater amount of water covered the greater chance of hook up.
So what's the score?
General fishing - For general fishing, bait or otherwise, mono is great, cheap and affordable, easy to tie and as long as it is looked after with the occasional wash is great for general use.
Soft plastics fishing - Braid definitely has the edge when it comes to multi-use, but is more at home with specialist fishing types, like soft plastic fishing. Braid has good cast-ability, durability and capability for storing lots on the reel , this in turn makes it the best pick for us as soft plastic fisherman.
But be warned, with greater capability also comes risk of injury. Braid, especially thin diameters and high strength can cut like a hot knife through butter and any one who has experienced this will testify that it is something to watch out for.
But the benefits far outweigh the negatives when it comes to using Braid over Mono for our style of fishing. Be aware however that not all Braids are created equal and that cheap Braid that looks too good to be true, probably is. Look for a reputable brand with a high strand count and it should be soft, supple and as smooth as possible to the touch.
All in all Braid is best suited for soft plastic fishing, but it all comes down to cost. If you can only afford Mono then this will not stop you one little bit from getting out there and bringing home a feed.
Till next time, have fun, fish responsibly and remember take only what you need and post the rest to social media. @skulldragindustries
Till next time, have fun, fish responsibly and remember take only what you need and post the rest to social media.