When restocking items like tippet and leader you are often faced with a choice – Mono or Fluoro?
If you are reading this, chances are you are already receiving a fresh tapered monofilament leader every month in your Postfly subscription. If you aren’t receiving them then you should be, so sign up!
There are some obvious differences between these two materials, but generally you get the same result – fish on a line. Initially you may think, holy crap, that’s expensive! You are 100% correct on that observation. A single fluorocarbon leader can run upwards of $15, while a monofilament nylon leader can be had for around $3-5. For the budget minded fly fisher, this is a tough decision to make. If we can get technical for a second, Fluorocarbon leaders are monofilament, a single filament made through an extrusion process. To see how it’s made, check out this video.
The actual difference is the material its made of. What we refer to as Monofilament is made from nylon (a polymer) while Fluorocarbon is made from a material known as polyvinylidene fluoride (also a polymer).
In my opinion, it really just comes down to your method of fishing…or your budget.
For saltwater, nymphing or hucking streamers, typically I fish Fluoro. Fluorocarbon tends to be more abrasion resistant and more dense than nylon monofilament. These properties (although marginally different than nylon mono) help make this a better tool for the job. Debatably faster sinking and more resilient against breakage for when the fish is trying to break you off in the rocks or coral. If I’m fishing around rocky structure or an area with a lot of submerged logs I think this is a good call – nobody likes to loose a fish.
If I’m fishing topwater, be it dries or poppers, I’m using standard nylon Monofilament. More often than not, it’s a Postfly leader but I’ll use whatever the local fly shop / grocery store / gas station has too, which is a good selection of everything you need and a whole lot you don’t. Nylon Monofilament tends to be slightly more buoyant than fluorocarbon and lets face it – it’s cheaper (more beer money) and works.
All things considered, both work well and will get the job done in a variety of conditions. Additionally, both materials are susceptible to UV degradation – when sunlight breaks down and weakens the material. As a best practice, keep your leader and tipped stored in your pack and try not to leave it in your car or truck bed (guilty!) all season. It’s also a good idea to write the date you buy it on the spool or package – this way you don’t loose a hog because you are using a spool of tippet from 2004.
At the end of the day, the important thing is you are out on the water, having a good time and making memories – both of these materials do that. So get out there and chase some fish.
There are also a fair amount of myths surrounding these materials, for more information refer to the links below so you can make up your own mind on this topic.
Big River Collective is a tag-team duo, Ryan Michelle Scavo (@RyOutside) and Sam Scavo (@S_Scavo). They are content creators – photographers, writers, & more. – and lovers of Postfly & The Wade blog. They do a lot of playing outside including chasing trout and rambling around southern Colorado looking for the next adventure with their two kiddos and cattle dogs.