As our water gets more and more fishing pressure, a finesse fishing skillset is becoming a must have for all bass anglers. Line choice is key when it comes to finesse fishing. Ideally you want something with low visibility underwater, but with solid strength, sensitivity, abrasion resistance and castability. In this article I explain the pros and cons of my two favorite line setups for finesse fishing: Straight fluorocarbon and braid to a fluorocarbon leader.
Fluorocarbon line is a staple for finesse fishing, its tough to find an experienced angler who doesn’t use fluorocarbon, either as a leader or a mainline.
Benefits of Straight Fluorocarbon
Fluorocarbon is highly sensitive and has low visibility, making it ideal for fishing in clear water or pressured situations where fish are finicky and “line shy”. Fluorocarbon, especially among premium products also offers good abrasion resistance which is key when finesse fishing in cover.
Fishing fluorocarbon as a mainline means that every bit of line you have in the water is very unobtrusive. As a result, this approach excels in ultra clear water where fish are very spooky.
Cons of Straight Fluorocarbon
While fluorocarbon can absolutely be used as a mainline, it is stiffer than both braid and monofilament which can make it difficult to manage on a spinning reel. Seeing as you will usually be using a spinning reel for finesse fishing, you need to make sure you choose a high quality, supple fluorocarbon if you want to go with the straight fluorocarbon approach.
Highly manageable fluorocarbon does exist, but it comes with a hefty price tag and this is one of the major reasons most anglers lean towards braid to fluorocarbon leader instead.
Manageable Fluorocarbons on a Spinning Reel
Here are my two favorite fluorocarbons to use as a mainline on a spinning reel. They come with a bit of a price tag, but are super supple and a pleasure to fish on spinning applications.
Seaguar Tatsu (1st choice)
Largely considered the best fluorocarbon on the market, Tatsu is low diameter, supple, and strong. Its right up there price wise but it really is as good as it gets.
Super FC Sniper is significantly cheaper than Tatsu but is still incredibly good. It is not quite as supple as Tatsu, but it is more than manageable as mainline on a spinning reel especially in lower (6-8lb) size tests.
Size wise, you want to stick to lower size tests when finesse fishing. The whole aim of the finesse approach is to be as unobtrusive as possible. Lighter test, coupled with fluorocarbon’s low visibility underwater allows you to do just that. Anywhere between 6-10lb is great for the majority of finesse fishing applications. Gauge this based on water clarity and whether you are getting bites or not. The clearer the water, the lower the test. Struggling to get bites? Consider dropping to lighter fluorocarbon to make your presentation less intrusive to finicky fish.
Braid to Fluorocarbon Leader
Notice how I don’t even include straight braid as an option here. Using straight braid is not an option for finesse fishing because of how visible it is underwater. Braid to a fluoro leader however works incredibly well and gets rid of the visibility issue because your lure will tied onto fluorocarbon, which has very low visibility underwater.
Benefits of braid to fluorocarbon
Braid has a lot to offer and this is exactly why it has become so popular as a mainline for finesse fishing. It is strong, has the lowest diameter of all line types and virtually no stretch. The low diameter of braid makes it easy to make long casts, allowing you to get your bait further away from the bank/boat where fish are less spooky. Low stretch makes for good, effortless hook sets. Another plus is that braid is cheaper than fluorocarbon so as a mainline, it is more economic than going with straight fluorocarbon.
Cons of braid to fluorocarbon
The main con of using braid to fluoro is the fact that you need to connect it to a leader for it to be viable for finesse fishing. A leader knot, no matter how well tied it is is always a potential weak spot, and can cause noise and friction coming through the guides when casting. Having said that, many pro anglers use this as their main finesse setup with great success.
Another problem with braid to fluoro is that while it is largely unobtrusive thanks to the leader, you still have a lot of visible braid sitting in the water. In ultra clear conditions this can spook fish.
Top Braids for Finesse Fishing
When choosing a braid, you want something that is strong, reliable and casts well. There are so many braids on the market that fit this profile. I have included my first choice, and budget option below:
Seaguar Smackdown (1st choice)
Seaguar Smackdown casts better than any other braid I have used. It is super low diameter, tough as it gets and casts like a dream. It does however come with a pretty hefty price.
What size braid should you use for finesse fishing?
To get the most out of braid, make sure you don’t go too heavy. One of the key benefits to finesse fishing with braid is the casting distance and manageability it provides. This benefit falls away when you start using 15-20lb braid. Sticking to 10-12lb braid will maximize your casting distance.
How long should your leader be?
You want your fluorocarbon leader to be around 6-7 feet depending on the length of your rod. The big thing is you don’t want it so long that it runs into the reel as this can cause issues with the knot hitting your first guide when casting.
In my opinion, these are the two best line setups for finesse fishing. I didn’t touch on monofilament here as to be honest, the only benefit it offers over the others is its lower price tag. So what should you go with, straight fluorocarbon or braid to fluorocarbon leader? Honestly, it depends. I don’t like a leader knot and I usually fish very pressured water so I almost exclusively use straight fluorocarbon. Braid to fluorocarbon however has its pros so my recommendation to you, try them both out and see which one feels the best to you.
Have the latest bass fishing insights and tackle reviews delivered straight to your inbox.