Product Guide

Fluoro vs Mono

Choosing the right leader

Your leader/trace connects your mainline to the hook, rig, jig, or lure that you’re using. It should almost always have a higher level of abrasion resistance than your mainline and is what comes into contact with your fish and your fishing environment.

Connecting your leader to your mainline is generally done by either one of two methods. You can tie the end of the mainline and the leader with a joining knot (such as a PR or Albright knot), or alternatively by incorporating a rolling or snap swivel so leaders can be easily changed or to reduce line twist.

There are 2 main types of leader – monofilament and fluorocarbon. We’ll guide you through the differences between monofilament and fluorocarbon, so you can make an educated decision on the best leader for your next fishing trip.

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Monofilament (also known as “mono” or “nylon”) is made by melting and mixing polymers, then extruding the mixture through tiny holes and stretched, forming a strand of line, which is then wound onto spools. The extrusion process controls the thickness of the line.

The mixture used to make mono can be adjusted slightly to alter the leader’s properties. It can be made more supple, or more abrasion resistant, and colours can be added (like we’ve done to our Pink Shock Leader).

Here are some of the key points of difference when comparing mono and fluorocarbon:

  • Mono has more stretch than fluorocarbon and subsequently copes better with shock loads
  • It’s a good choice when visibility isn’t an issue i.e. at night or in low light conditions, or in deep water
  • It holds knots really well due to its supple characteristics
  • It’s more buoyant than fluorocarbon, which makes it ideal for topwater casting, or fishing higher in the water column
  • You may need to add some weight if you’re using it for bottom fishing
  • The suppleness of mono makes lures swim more naturally, making it a good option for soft baits, live baits, or any kind of metal lure
  • For this reason, anglers with cut baits also tend to use mono
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Fluorocarbon (also known as “fluoro”) is made from polyvinylidene fluoride. It’s manufactured in much the same way as mono leader, by being extruding through tiny holes forming a strand of line

Here are some of the key points of difference of fluorocarbon (in comparison to mono):

  • Fluorocarbon has superior abrasion resistance and a better strength to weight ratio. This is a great feature when targeting scrappy fish around reefs and other structure.
  • It sinks faster through the water column, getting your bait or lure into the fish zone quicker
  • It has a higher level of sensitivity due to the low level of stretch – you receive feedback from your leader quickly i.e. when a fish takes your bait
  • This lower stretch is also advantageous with hook sets as stretch in the line can create slack enabling a fish to shake or spit out the hook
  • It’s ultra clear, meaning it works extremely well in clear water where the fish have high visibility
  • It also doesn’t reflect sunlight
  • With the heavier weights of fluorocarbon, where the line diameter is thicker, it can be harder to tie certain knots. This is because it’s made from a more dense and rigid material, with less suppleness. However, fluorocarbon responds well to crimping, which a lot of game anglers do as it is a much stronger connection method
  • The reduction in suppleness also means that fluorocarbon has a lower level of shock absorption compared to mono
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There are 3 key things to consider when choosing your leader

  1. The species are you targeting,
  2. The fishing style you are using i.e. straylining, jigging etc,
  3. The environment you’re fishing in i.e. off the rocks, on the boat, near lots of underwater structure.

These considerations will help you determine what leader material and weight you should use, and in some cases, what length leader you should have.

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The leader you’ll use to target squid versus snapper or kingfish will be vastly different. One spooks easily but doesn’t put up much of a fight, the other will head straight for underwater structure to try and bust off and will put up a good fight once hooked.

For species that spook easily, like squid and trout; a lightweight fluorocarbon leader is ideal. It’s ultra clear and the thinner diameter of the lower breaking strains make it less visible in the water. The bonus is the higher level of abrasion resistance that fluorocarbon delivers, which makes it ideal for species like squid and trout who are generally found around underwater structure like rocks and weeds.

For smaller saltwater species like gurnard, mackerel, smaller trevally and kahawai/Australian salmon, that don’t put up much of a fight, a lightweight mono leader will work well. You could use anything from 12lb up to 30lb mono leader, and this will give you a good mix of suppleness and knot strength. Depending on the drift or tide strength, weight may or may not be required to get your bait down to your desired depth.

For your freshwater or estuarine species like rainbow and brown trout, salmon, perch and bream; lightweight fluorocarbon is ideal. 4lb – 12lb fluorocarbon tippet offers all the benefits of heavier weight fluorocarbon, but its thinner diameters and ultra clear line offer an increased level of stealth for these wary species.

If you’re targeting snapper, bigger kahawai/Australian salmon, mulloway or other mid-sized reef species, you’ll need to use a mid weight leader (30lb – 60lb). You can use either fluorocarbon or mono, but keep in mind that fluoro will give you a higher level of abrasion resistance. If you’re fishing with lures, and want a less visible and more abrasion resistance, then fluorocarbon will be the best option as its less visible than mono.

When you are targeting bigger or harder fighting species like XL snapper, kingfish, samson fish, groper/hapuku, or bass, a heavier weight leader with a thicker diameter is a must. These fish are strong, will fight long and hard, and will head straight for structure in an attempt to bust off. So, abrasion resistance is important, as is knot strength. Mono is a great option, for breaking strains from 80lb up to about 130lb. If you’re live baiting for these species, use fluorocarbon as it’s less visible to the fish.

When your game fishing, targeting marlin or tuna, you are generally going to be fishing with heavy weight leader – a minimum of 150 plus. If there’s even a slight possibility of catching a barrel sized tuna or a beast sized marlin, then 300-400lb mono leader is recommended. The difference here is that you may also need to increase the length of your leader. Because of the size of these species, you don’t want their bodies to come into contact with your mainline so your leader will need to be at least 3 meters, but many anglers use up to 9 meters when game fishing (if you are fishing for IGFA records, see comments below about combined leader length). Your leader offers a much higher level of abrasion resistance than your mainline, so it will handle chaffing against the fish’s body. It also gives your crew a stronger piece of material to grab hold of when you get your fish boat side.

If you’re chasing a potential IGFA record, make sure you’re up to speed on the rules and regulations around line and leader length. Find out more here.

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If you’re going straylining (or floatlining as it’s often called in Australia), you’ll most likely be targeting snapper. And because you will find them near structure, you need to consider the level of abrasion resistance your leader offers. But your leader also needs to be supple enough to naturally present your rig and bait. 30lb fluorocarbon or 60lb mono leader are good options to meet both of these requirements.

If you’re deep dropping, a heavy abrasion resistant leader is an advantage. Leader visibility isn’t really an issue when fishing at depth, so focus on other features like strength, shock absorption, and abrasion resistance. Most anglers will use mono leader, like our heavy duty 130lb – 400lb Tough Trace, but you could use fluorocarbon if you’d prefer an even higher level of abrasion resistance.

When you’re surfcasting off the beach, depending on your target species, you could be using anything between 10lb fluorocarbon and 60lb mono (we would recommend Tough Trace). Your choice could also affect casting distance. If you’re on a sandy beach, a more supple mono, like our Supple Trace could be an option. But if shellfish such as pipis or tuatuas are poking out of the sand, then you’ll need to increase the abrasion resistance of your mono, so our Tough Trace would be a better option.

Targeting freshwater species in rivers, lakes, and canals requires a lightweight leader. You can fish with either mono or fluorocarbon leader in weights from 4lb to 12lb, but you’ll need to consider the visibility of your line, any underwater structure your leader might encounter, and how much of a fight your target species might put up. Our Deception mono leaders come in ultra pink and green colours, which have a low gloss outer coating making them less reflective in water. But if you need a high level of abrasion resistance, then our fluorocarbon tippet is ideal.

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Jigging is a common and effective way of targeting kingfish and samson fish. A strong, abrasion resistant leader (80lb – 130lb) is recommended and gives you confidence that your set up can handle that initial strike and their strong, powerful runs. In this situation many fishermen use braid as their mainline, therefore we recommend using a mono leader as it will give more shock absorption when a large fish hits hard.

When you’re topwater casting, you’re using a lure to entice a fish to bite on or near the surface. As in game fishing, the same rules apply regarding the length of your leader. Try and match the leader length to be slightly longer than the target species. Likewise, choose a weight that is in keeping with the terrain, size of your target, and a tough, wear resistant leader material. Our Tough Trace or Pink Shock leader is a good option if you're using braid as your mainline, as it will give you some shock absorption when a fish hits your lure. If you're casting a mono mainline then fluoro is a good leader choice for its higher abrasion resistance.

Trolling is most commonly used for marlin and tuna but can also be used to target kingfish and kahawai/Australian salmon. Fluorocarbon up to 100lb breaking strain is effective for this fishing style. Mono can also be used, especially if you need or want to fish with a heavier breaking strain, which can deliver better knot strength in the heavier diameters.

Landbased fishing is a great way to target a number of species. But this is definitely a fishing method where your environment is a key factor in your leader choice, as is your target species. When you’re fishing off the rocks, or similar environments, fluorocarbon is a good option due to its high level of abrasion resistance, but a tough mono (like our Tough Trace) will also work well. Save your more supple mono leaders for fishing off sandy beaches.

Soft baiting is a common method to target a number of species including snapper, kingfish, trevally, or even some bottom dwellers like gurnard or john dory. Soft baits require a lighter weight leader, to ensure they swim naturally. 15lb – 30lb fluorocarbon leader is ideal for this style of fishing.

When you’re live baiting, it’s important to match the breaking strain of your leader to the size of your live bait and the species you’re targeting. If you’re chasing kingfish, a strong 80lb+ leader is recommended. But you can also chase marlin, snapper, and deepwater species like hapuku and bass with live baits. This is when you need to consider your target species, what depth of water you’re fishing in, and if there are any environmental factors that will impact your decision on what leader to use.

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Your fishing environment is always a factor in the leader you choose. This includes the weather, the water clarity and anything you might encounter under the surface.

Are you fishing near a reef, rocks, or any other underwater obstacles? Or are you targeting a species that is known to run for cover once it realises it’s hooked?

This is when fluorocarbon can be a good choice. It has a much higher level of abrasion resistance than mono so it can handle being scraped and rubbed against sharp or rough objects for slightly longer periods. Mono leaders will also work in these situations, but you just need to consider that it may not handle as much wear and tear as fluorocarbon.

Knowing the limitations of your gear is imperative to success. For example, fishing for kingfish off the rocks with 40lb Tough Trace might seem stealthy, but when you connect to a big fish, the risk of the leader breaking is going to be pretty high, and you might be left wishing you’d gone with 100lb fluorocarbon instead. Fluoro will handle more damage than mono, but neither will last forever if constantly under strain.

If you’re fishing in murky or rough seas, in low light conditions (or at night) then leader visibility isn’t such a concern. So mono leader will be ideal. Some mono leaders, like our Tough Trace, are manufactured to have a slightly higher level of abrasion resistance meaning they can handle some rough and tumble from structure and fish. But others are manufactured to be more supple, like our Supple Trace. While they maintain a good level of abrasion resistance, you really need to consider what is more important – suppleness (to deliver natural looking baits) or abrasion resistance.

A pink mono leader can also work well in these situations. This is because red is the first colour in the spectrum to disappear underwater. Our Pink Shock Leader is a good option to use in shallow murky water for saltwater species, and our pink Deception tippet is ideal to use when the rivers are dirtier than usual for trout. Our Pink Shock leader has very good knot strength combined with very good abrasion resistance.

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Fishing is all about balance. Match your mainline to the size and style of your rod and reel. Match the weight of your leader to your mainline, target species and environment. Match the size of your hook or lure to your leader. And lastly, match the size of your hook to the size of your bait.

At every stage of your gear set up, consider what species you’re targeting, what fishing style you’re using and what environment you’re fishing in. Set yourself up for success by using a balanced gear set up.

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