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Fluorocarbon vs. Monofilament - what’s the difference

November 11, 2010
Author: Trouts Staff

Introduced in 1971, fluorocarbon quickly established itself as a superior product to monofilament for three main reasons.  First, fluorocarbon is more transparent underwater than monofilament.Fluoro-vs.-Mono Water to air has a refraction index (a numerical value assigned to how light is bent when something extends from air to water) of about 1.33.  Air to fluorocarbon has a refraction index of 1.42, while air to monofilament has a refraction index of 1.62.  From these numbers one can conclude that fluorocarbon refracts light closer to water, thus making it more difficult to see when under water.

The second benefit to fluorocarbon is that it is more abrasion resistant than monofilament.  This comes in handy when you have a nice fish on that is trying to run under a rock or around a submerged log.  While using fluorocarbon won’t guarantee that you will land the fish, it will certainly increase your chances of keeping it on.

The third benefit to fluorocarbon over monofilament is it’s increased break test.  See the table below, it compares the break test of fluorocarbon tippet to monofilament tippet for Umpqua and Rio Products, as well as giving you the break test strength for Seaguar, one the strongest and best fluorocarbon materials available (Seaguar was also the original inventor of fluorocarbon).


Now you can see that depending on the brand and tippet size, there are occasions where monofilament is just as strong, or stronger than fluorocarbon.  But for the most part, it is easy to see that a majority of the time, fluorocarbon is a stronger material.

So why doesn’t everybody purchase fluorocarbon tippet if its more transparent, more abrasion resistant and stronger?  The answer is quite easy, a normal spool of monofilament will cost around $4.25, where as a spool of fluorocarbon will run you $14.95 – $22.95 depending on the brand.  So while it is a more superior material, there are many anglers that can’t justify spending the money on converting all their tippets to fluorocarbon.  To people in this situation, our suggestion is to have a couple of spools of fluorocarbon in 5X – 7X, as when you need to go this small the added benefits of fluorocarbon are well worth the money as stronger tippets equals losing less flies.

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