Once relegated to extreme duty as bulletproof saltwater leader material, fluorocarbon fishing line has from a stiff, unwieldy bristle into high-performance filament fit for near-limitless applications.
Case in point: Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Professional Grade.
I’ve put this fluoro through its paces extensively, as both mainline and leader material, and never been disappointed. For me, the biggest benefit is low visibility. Since fluorocarbon doesn’t distort light passing through, it’s nearly invisible beneath the surface—a huge plus in clear water and when targeting line-shy fish. This is, of course, true of fluoro in general, but this line is a category leader.
Fluorocarbon also offers benefits in sensitivity, thanks to its tightly packed molecules’ ability to transmit energy—and telegraph strikes—better than mono. For me, this means light bites are easier to detect, and I know what my live bait, jig or lure is doing at all times, whether it’s ticking bottom or sliding over a logjam.
I also appreciate the fact the line doesn’t soak up water, so it offers the same handling, strength and sensitivity once deployed as it does above the surface. And since fluoro lacks the low-end stretch of nylon mono, I’ve stuck hard-mouthed fish at the end of a long cast, and in deep water, with far more authority. Another plus, fluorocarbon is roughly the same diameter as nylon mono of comparable strength—which means you can upsize the break-strength of your fluoro for extra power and abrasion resistance, without spooking fish.
Speaking of which, fluoro fights abrasion more than nylon mono, which is one reason I like it for leader material. The other is its low-vis properties. As a leader material, the 20- and 25-pound-test options work when throwing spinnerbaits or other presentations for toothy quarry like northern pike. When bass or walleye fishing where pike are common, I like a 12- to 18-inch leader tied from the 12- to 15-pound options.
Finally, there’s knot strength, which refers to the line’s ability to absorb and withstand sudden impacts, like a violent hookset or head-shake. There’s no argument nylon mono rules the waves in this department, but fine fluoro like Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon runs a close second, and I’ve found that it’s up to all but the most abusive of challenges.
Admittedly, there’s a wide palette of fluorocarbons on the market, even within the Berkley stable, so you can toggle between lines of extreme limpness, such as Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL, and even choose options that change color above the surface, like Vanish Transition.
But, while both of these have benefits and fit nicely into their own niches, the fact remains that standard Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon is engineered for the highest shock strength in a fluorocarbon. Plus, it offers stellar abrasion resistance and knot strength compared to other choices. All of which means this line is no pushover. If you’re tasked with tackling beefy bass or other burly species hunkered in gnarly cover, or perhaps plucking plump walleyes from atop a zebra mussel-encrusted substrate, then this is for you.