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Bucksnort 12-24-2017 08:21 AM

Fluorocarbon vs. Monofilament
I watched an interesting video about the advantages and disadvantages of fluorocarbon and monofilament.

My questions are. Can you prove you catch more fish with fluorocarbon than monofilament? How 'bout this one. How many trout have you lost because your monofilament tippet broke from abrasion or, how many fish did you not catch because trout saw your line attached to the fly?

How did we ever catch trout before fluorocarbon?

Silver Creek 12-25-2017 07:23 AM

Why don't you post a link to the video?

Bucksnort 12-25-2017 07:29 AM

I will try to post the link.

Bucksnort 12-25-2017 11:06 AM

Silver Creek, here is the You Tube link. I hope it works. In another video, the narrator explains why fluorocarbon sinks, unlike monofilament. Apparently, monofilament has tiny air bubbles which you cannot see without a microscope.

Silver Creek 12-25-2017 12:11 PM

Here's the best article on Fluorocarbon vs nylon Monofilament.

Tippet shootout

The video contains some incorrect information.

First of all, the difference in specific gravity of fluorocarbon and nylon is not enough to make a difference in sink rates. Both nylon and fluorocarbon leaders and tippers will float because of surface tension. Furthermore, the extrusion process of making nylon and fluorocarbon lines coat the lines with a silicone lubricant that helps both lines float.

Nylon only degrades if heat, light, and ozone reaches the line. So if the line is stored in a cool cabinet in a zip lock bag, it will last for years. Fluorocarbon will last for centuries. There is no need to every replace unused fluorocarbon leaders or tippets.

Nylon monofilament absorbs water. Nylon mono can absorb 10% by weight of water and it loses 20% of its strength. Nylon mono is like spaghetti; it swells, and it gets weaker. Since the mono in knots swell as they absorb water the mono gets pinched and the knots weaken. The only good thing is that limper mono results a longer drag free drift. But the stretch also increases so there will be a slight delay in transmission of a strike. The result of a softer swollen water logged mono is that it is less abrasion resistant.

Fluorocarbon does not absorb water so it it does not lose any strength. What you start with is what you get. That alone makes it a tougher and more consistent leader for nymphing.

If you are using a 5 lb tippet, the nylon will eventually be a 4 lb tippet. The 4 lb nylon is 20% (5-4=1 and1/5 = 20%) weaker than the 5 lb fluorocarbon. The other way to look at it is that the fluorocarbon is 25% (5-4=1 and1/4 = 25%) stronger than the 4 lb nylon. It funny how they both mean the same thing. I prefer to use a product that is 25% stronger than one that is 20% weaker for nymphing.

The same is actually true of most of the knot tests that are published. The knots are tested dry and not wet or after a few hours of soaking. So they are better than nothing but they are not real world tests either.

Yellowstone angler did a water absorption test. Although nylon was stronger in dry knots, when the knots were soaked in water, fluorocarbon won out:

"Since nylon absorbs water and fluorocarbon is supposed to be impervious to it, we conducted a few knot tests with materials that had been soaked for 4-5 hours. We found both the straight-pull break strength and knot strength for nylons did decrease - about 20 percent when wet. We found breaking strengths for fluorocarbon also decreased - however only about 3 to 5 percent when wet."

Modern nylon and fluorocarbon and nylon materials are no longer a single type of nylon or fluorocarbon. Modern fluorocarbons are not the same stiff lines of years ago. The best nylons and fluorocarbon leaders and tippets are now composites that can have a core of stronger hard material and a coating of softer material for better knot holding. It all gets very complicated and the leaders and tippets are getting thinner and stronger with better knot holding ability.

If the nylon is not submerged there is little water absorption. Both nylon and fluorocarbon are equally visible when the are floating so fluorocarbon has no visibility advantage for a floating leaders. So all I need to know is that nylon is cheaper and better for dry flies and fluorocarbon is better for sunken flies and nymphing. If I use a nylon leader with a tippet ring, I can add a nylon or fluorocarbon tippet as needed. Even if the nylon part of the leader absorbs water, it will still be stronger than the fluorocarbon or nylon tippet that is tied to the tippet ring.

As for replacing nylon every year, consider my logic for not doing so. Lets assume the mono loses 20% after a year of fishing. It is 4 lb after one year ( 5 lb - .2(5)). So while I am fishing near the end of the first season, it would be 4 lbs. So you are telling me because it is weaker at 4 lbs at the BEGINNING of season 2, I need to replace it but when it was the SAME 4 lbs at the END of the first season, and it was OK to fish it then?

Do you see that the logic of that makes NO SENSE at all. I take a very practical view. The loss in strength is gradual so the "tipping point" of replacement cannot be at any given set time. Degradation varies with the exposure of the tippet material, how it is cared for during the season, and during the off season. Now I don't know if it loses 10%, 20%, 30%, etc during the first season. What I do know is that whatever the loss, it is the same at the beginning of season 2 as it was at the end of season 1. The key is that I test the strength of the mono at the beginning of the year and during the year. When I think it is too weak for the fish I am fishing for; OR if it breaks too often I throw it away. If it begins to break and the beginning, middle, or end of a season, I get new tippet.

There is an exception and that is when I fish very thin tippets say 7X in locations with large fish, I use new tippet. But for 5X and thicker, these are so much stronger than the tippets of the past that I do not feel a need to swap them out every year. I started fly fishing in the 1970s when the very best tippet was Nylorfi and it was about 2.4 lbs breaking strength. I landed plenty of large fish on the San Juan. If you want a lesson on how strong 5x tippet is, tie your leader to a 4 lb bag of sugar and try to lift it with your rod. but make sure you have a free replacement warranty.

Bucksnort 12-26-2017 07:57 AM

Silver Creek,

Thanks for the information. Although it falls in the TMI category (too much information), I will keep it.

I can't justify paying $10 to $15 for a spool of tippet when I'm not convinced of the advantages for my type of fishing. For me, the monofilament system isn't broken so I'm not fixing it. As Red Green would say, "if it ain't broke, you're not trying hard enough".

It's like when anglers, myself included, started using a two fly rig for nymphing in rivers. I cannot say the extra fly helped me catch more fish but I was religious about tying on the second fly. Without the help of some sophisticated whatever, I could never prove it did or didn't.

Many years ago, and I mean many years ago, Fly Fisherperson Magazine (notice the political correctness) published an article about whether trout see tippets. After hashing around different colors and brands, the bottom line was, most trout see tippet no matter what you use. I suspect the same with fluorocarbon.

There is a way to minimize the chance of trout seeing tippet while nymphing moving water and that is to place your nymph(s) in water where trout must make a quick decision.

There is another reason I don't want to change to fluorocarbon and that is, I have probably 50 spools of tippet of various X ratings. I was going through my bag 'o' tippet spools and actually spotted three spools of fluorocarbon. I can't tell you where I got most of these spools but I can tell you I wouldn't have bought fluorocarbon unless it was on a close out (frugalness again).

Baiter 12-26-2017 09:55 AM

I have on theee occasions tested flourocarbon v mono. 1 bait fishing with scouts 2 other times with 4 to 5 Flyfishers same flies. Same stretch of river. Fluoride won every time by a ~20 to 35 % increased catch rate. This is for sub surface flies. This was on a tail water with a high fish population

I have also done experiments while dry fly fishing having my tip it intentionally sink using flouro and sometimes using xink to assist getting it under the surface film. This has helped fool picky fish on multiple occasions.

Obviously I am a believer. It is ridiculously expensive And I try to buy it at end of year clearance sales.

Good fishing to all regardless of what you are have tied on for leader.

Silver Creek 12-26-2017 10:44 AM


Originally Posted by Baiter (Post 171314)
I have on theee occasions tested flourocarbon v mono. 1 bait fishing with scouts 2 other times with 4 to 5 Flyfishers same flies. Same stretch of river. Fluoride won every time by a ~20 to 35 % increased catch rate. This is for sub surface flies. This was on a tail water with a high fish population

I have also done experiments while dry fly fishing having my tip it intentionally sink using flouro and sometimes using xink to assist getting it under the surface film. This has helped fool picky fish on multiple occasions.

I agree! As I stated in my original post, the extrusion process coats the mono and fluoro with a thin coating of silicone lubricant. This enhances the reflective surface

Any reflective surface draws attention. Can the fish recognize this reflection as abnormal so that it will refuse a fly based only on this? I think in some situations, over very wary in heavily fished waters, it does occur.

A leader floating on surface tension, displaces the water surface just like a person lying on a trampoline displaces the surface. Since the water surface under the leader is now tilted and not horizontal, this creates mini windows that the fish can see just like the legs of an insect dimple the water surface allowing the trout to detect them even though they are theoretically outside of the "window". Since the light pattern is disrupted, it can be seen by the fish that are looking up AND by the fish that are looking down, because the disrupted light pattern is displayed on the stream bottom as well. This is important in still waters and the clear slow waters of spring creek type fishing situations where the water surface is smooth. It also only important IF the fish are wary enough that this change in light pattern (either by the floating leader or by leader sheen) puts the fish off.

Take a look at the photo below of 3 identical tippets treated in 3 different ways. The tippet on the left that has been wiped clean, the middle one degreased and the right one treated with a floatant. If seeing is believing, which tippet is most easily seen?

The photo above shows direct visualization of the tippet. What it does not show is the effect of refraction on the bottom of the stream. When refracted light hits the stream bottom, bright flickers of light are cast on the stream bottom (see photo below). This spooks trout that are heavily fished over in clear slow moving water. During bright days you might as will toss a rock into the water. The fish immediately stop feeding.

Commercial degreasers are commonly called "mud", such as Loon Snake River Mud or "tippet degreaser" such as Airflow Tippet Degreaser.

Degreasers do three things. First they contain a cleaner (detergent) that removes any oils or residual chemicals that are on the surface of commercial tippets. These oils prevent the leader from sinking. Secondly, they contain a sinkant or surfactant (detergent) that destroys the surface tension of water molecules so the leader sinks immediately. Thirdly they contain fuller's earth compound that dulls the leader to remove the shiny surface so that the leader surface is less reflective. And finally, they contain a substance (glycerin) that keeps the degreaser from drying out.

If you look at the formula you may think that the only thing you have in your house is the detergent. However, you may already have a substitute for fuller's earth which is a special kind of bentonite clay. Bentonite is a clay material that anyone who visits Wyoming for fishing has probably walked on. It is a common material in cat litter and commercial bags of clay oil absorbent. So if you have clay cat litter or oil absorbent for your garage, you have the major ingredient for making your own degreaser.

Glycerin is used in commercial leader degreaser to keep it from drying out. If you don't have glycerin, you can get some at a drug store. It is used as an anti-constipation agent. However, it is not absolutely needed.

I make my own degreaser by crushing the clay to get the finest particles and then mix in Dawn or another dishwashing detergent to get a paste. I happen to have glycerin and so I also use it but you don't have to. I store the degreaser in a 35 mm film canister and rub it on the section of leader you want to sink.

Degreasers are different from sinkants such as Gerke's Xink. These are liquids surfactants that you put on flies that you want to sink. They are commonly used on the marabou of wooly buggers so that they sink and absorb water from the very first cast. Another use is for small flies like midge pupa so they will sink faster. You can make your own sinkant as well.

KodakPhoto Flo, a wetting agent used in photo processing, is used by fly fishers to sink flies. Photo-Flo has two compositions, one has propylene glycol and the other has ethylene glycol. Both are glycols are surfactants and wetting agents. One does not need to buy Photo-flo, however. Automotive antifreeze is composed of propylene or ethylene glycol. So automotive antifreeze will sink tippets. Ethylene and propylene glycol disrupt the hydrogen bonding of water that creates the meniscus surface film that supports flies. That is how these glycols prevent water from freezing. So try some antifreeze as a wetting agent.

That is why over in Europe where the fish are extremely heavily fished, they use leader degreasers to remove the sheen and get the leaders to sink just below the surface. I think if you can make the leader less apparent to the fish, that is a good thing and I can't think of much of a downside to lowering visibility.

They sure swear by it in Europe.

For more information, there is a discussion and video below:

Suggestions for best line degreaser? - Fly Fishing Forums

How do you degrease leaders? - Fly Fishing Forums

aztightlines 12-26-2017 01:21 PM

Having the longterm perspective of fishing 4x tippet with a breaking strength of 2&1/2 lbs in the early days - before graphite rods, let alone fluorocarbon leaders/tippets - I appreciate all the numbers and studies, but have only anecdotal opinions to share.

I ran an urban flyshop for about 15 years, during which fluorocarbon appeared on the market, and evolved through the development of the technology, but now feel that fluorocarbon is about like using a one size larger tippet diameter than monofilament - i.e. 4x has about the same stealth factor and strength as 5x mono, while being as strong as 4x mono.

I have a bucketload of old tippet, so may not be the typical angler when it comes to old spools of tippet, so fluoro holds a distinct advantage in expiration date - like 10,000 years or so longer. The downside is you must be careful with it out on the water, as it will not deteriorate the same way in the heat/sun.

I don't observe any difference in knot strength between tippet/leader, just the same challenge to tie good knots as mono/mono. I believe most of us gave up on fluoro leaders some time ago as a waste of money, but could be wrong.

A summer trip to Montana inspired me to return to blood, rather than surgeon's, knots for that connection, on the advice of experienced, accomplished fly fishers - but that's another story. I fish almost exclusively on stillwaters, once a week in the last season, so the fish have all day to examine the fly and I spent a lot of time on the water.

Silver Creek 12-26-2017 02:42 PM

I also fished Nylorfi back in day on the San Juan when it was the strongest mono tippet material at about 2.5 lbs for 5X. In the old days a 20 X 20 was rare (20+ inch trout on a size 20 hook or smaller). Not only were tippets weaker, hooks were also weaker and either broke or opened up.

We played catch up because as tippets became stronger, the hooks failed; and then as hooks became stronger, the tippets failed.

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