Talk to any group of anglers long enough and various debates will come up. What is the best lake, boat or motor, fishing lures, and of course what fishing line is the best are arguments that rarely get settled. Fishing line is a challenging topic and one in which there are lots of variables such as water color, cover, depth, and other conditions that come into play. Often times there are situations where one particular line may be better suited but for the sake of argument we will simply get the opinion of some of the nations best fishing pros on what their day to day choice of fishing line happens to be.
The guy who may just be the “hottest” bass pro at the moment is Kansas angler, Brent Chapman. Chapman is coming off two big tournament wins at the Cabela’s Top Gun Championship, and in the Bassmaster Busch Shootout. When I asked his choice of lines he stated that he utilizes fluorocarbon, specifically Gamma Line, about ninety-eight percent of the time. His reasoning is that the ultra thin diameter allows his lures to run deeper, function better, and cast farther than monofilament.
Side by side comparisons of fluorocarbon to monofilament prove to this pro that Gamma line is noticeably thinner than similar sized mono. Additionally Chapman’s experience has proven to him that this fluorocarbon is tougher and more abrasion resistant than mono. Likewise, the fluorocarbon is touted as being nearly invisible in the clearest of waters, and dozens of tests have proven this to be true.
Why else would a pro bet everything he had on this line? “I just really like the way it flies off the reel allowing me to get longer casts, and since it has less stretch it’s easier to set the hook,” advised Chapman. He used Gamma fluorocarbon line in the fore mentioned two big tournaments and raved about the ability to withstand nicks and cuts from fishing in heavy cover. Admittedly Chapman uses the fluorocarbon on everything from flipping heavy vegetation and thick wood or brush to finesse fishing a drop shot rig.
Only with topwater lures does the Kansas pro switch to a different line. “Fluorocarbon line sinks, and adversely affects the action on topwaters, so I use a co-polymer line made by Gamma for my spooks, poppers and other topwater lures,” explains Brent. The dense construction of fluorocarbon causes it to sink which may help gain extra depth for crankbaits but as stated by Chapman really disrupts the natural action of a floating topwater bait. His experience has shown that a co-polymer line is superior to standard mono for this application.
When I asked Brent to summarize his opinion of fluorocarbon lines he summed it up by stating, “Fluorocarbons are a happy medium between braid and mono”. Day to day use has him convinced that when there is money on the line, his line is going to be fluorocarbon.
“Fishing lines are like clubs to a golfer,” states Alton Jones. “There are lots of clubs in a pro’s bag and not one is perfectly suited for all situations,” he explained. For instance braided fishing line is what he would compare to a “driver”. Its use is to get the angler into the thick of things but then a more subtle approach such as a “putter” or standard mono line might offer advantages.
Jones spent years perfecting his trade by guiding on cover laden lakes in Texas. Its here he gleaned his passion for the “super lines”. Heavy wood cover or thick vegetation is probably the optimum place to toss the braided lines and that’s where you’ll usually find Alton who fishes a ton of jigs and plastic creatures.
His reasons for sticking with the braided stuff are simple. Limited stretch, ultimate feel (of bottom and bait) and control. Jones also saves an unbelievable amount of time by not having to re-spool with new line everyday like other pros who utilize the mono or fluorocarbon fishing lines. Often he will go three or four tournaments before rigging up new braid on his reels. This translates into more time rigging and perfecting lures, studying his maps or game plan and more time with the family.
In the modern bass fishing era, most of the top pros are neck and neck in skills. Often just a slight difference in one category may help an angler pick up a win or championship. Jones admitted that the use of braid may well be his ace in the hole. “I just feel like the lure presentation with braid is so much better than with typical lines,” claimed Jones. A mere matter of dropping a jig or any lure just a few inches closer to the target than another pro might translate in a bite or two more which is critical in the all so equal field of fishing these days. Jones says he is able to get his lures slightly closer to the “hole” with braid and is also able to control the lure better thus getting a quieter, softer landing which spooks less fish.
Normally, Alton’s braid set up consists of something like this. His main line is thirty pound braid to which a four foot long leader of twenty pound Silver Thread Fluorocarbon line is attached. The reasoning behind the Silver Thread leader is that it allows Jones a bit of a shock absorber since the braid has little or no stretch. The leader also gives him the opportunity to tie his lures on with a regular knot instead of a special purpose knot which again translates into time saved. Let’s not forget that the near invisibility of the Silver Thread Fluorocarbon line helps Jones bait look quite a bit more natural in clearer water situations.
In unique settings this pro will step up to an even bulkier line such as fifty pound braid with a twenty-five pound fluorocarbon leader. Another very unique situation is that which is found in Florida among the dense weed mats. Alton will tie his lures (usually a jig or plastic bait) directly to the braid when flipping or pitching in matted vegetation. The reasoning behind this is that a smooth line will collect less obstruction. The simplest thing like a knot connecting the leader to a main line will often pick up lots of debris and mess up the presentation. By the way, Jones’ choice of knot is what he calls a “hang man’s noose” which consists of about six wraps around the main line before being pulled tight in a noose fashion. He claims it’s as strong as anything he has every tested.
Braided lines do require a bit of specialized equipment admits Jones. He has scaled down the action on his rods from the stiffer, heavier blanks to a medium action for his flipping and pitching needs. Additionally when he sets the hook, he reels the line tight and pulls rather than snaps the line. Good rods with premium guides are also typical of Jones choice in tackle because the braid can weaken inferior guides.
Since he uses braid strictly for his heavy cover flipping and pitching what does Jones use on his casting set ups? Well here he has a much more standard approach. He scales back to Silver Thread monofilament for his topwaters, spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits. Most everything else is tied up to Silver Thread Fluorocarbon line including his crankbaits and jerkbaits. You might say Jones has a club (or line) for all situations.
Another fluorocarbon constituent is Randy Blaukat. One of the all time money winners and a staple on the FLW Tour, Blaukat has spent twenty years casting for cash and tried his share of fishing lines along the way. For several years he has chosen to spool his reels with Seagar fluorocarbon lines for various reasons. He is known as being an intensely mental angler and that translates into deep thought and research about all of his tackle.
“I use the best product I can whether they sponsor me or not, and for several years I bought and used Seagar even before I picked them up as a sponsor” relayed Blaukat. “The stuff is just extremely reliable, tough and versatile enough to use on baitcast or spinning reels,” he added. Originally developed for saltwater applications it wasn’t long before freshwater pros like Blaukat took notice of the seemingly invisible nature and reputed strength of fluorocarbon. Randy normally uses seventeen to thirty pound test when flipping and pitching and down to seven pound line when it’s necessary to finesse fish in heavily pressured situations.