Mono or Fluoro for Trout: Best Choices for Different Situations

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White background with fishing line

Generally, anglers prefer fluorocarbon when they’re trout fishing. While some only use it as a leader, others use it as their main line. Fluorocarbon catches trout because it is challenging to see underwater, it’s durable, sensitive, and the stiffness prevents bird’s nests or unnecessary snags. 

When I first walked into my local tackle shop to pick out line for my first ever solo trout fishing trip, I just about left because I was so overwhelmed. The different brands, types, and tests confused me and prevented me from finding the proper formula. Thankfully, a kind employee told me I had one primary decision: monofilament vs. fluorocarbon line. 

Fluorocarbon Line for Trout Fishing 

Line choice is an age-old debate that’s only getting more complex due to the changes in upgrades to fishing lines. While fluorocarbon is still the slight favorite, it’s not as obvious as it once was. 


Fluorocarbon has many benefits for trout fishing, so don’t hesitate to invest. 


Another factor I weigh before I choose my line is the conditions below the surface. Monofilament may be the best choice if there are massive rock piles, downed trees, and other objects that snag and break line. It won’t snap or break as soon as it’s tugged against something sharp. 

When I know snagging is a possibility, fluorocarbon jumps to the top of my list. 


You feel every small tug and bump on fluorocarbon line. When I’m fishing in the winter, or an area with calm fish, fluorocarbon leader is my top choice. It’s more dense than monofilament, making detecting strikes easier. 

Low Visibility

I love fishing in gin-clear streams for wild and native trout. Before I even get to the water, I know these fish are especially sensitive to their environment. Their populations have survived for generations due to their ability to avoid predators and other dangers. 

The low-visibility fluorocarbon line proves to be second to none. It blends into the environment, so trout only focus on your lure or fly and don’t spook as soon as it hits the water. Any advantage I can find while fishing for the sensitive populations, I take it. 

I’ve found trout consistently hit lures on fluorocarbon line in those ultra-clear waters. If the water is slightly stained, I’m not as eager to use fluorocarbon, but I know when it gives me the best chance at landing fish. 

Plenty Stiff

You don’t get the stretch in fluorocarbon line that you find in monofilament. It doesn’t snag on your hooks or become a nuisance in tight fishing areas. However, you’ll find that the stiffness gets especially annoying in the colder weather because it becomes more challenging to cast. 


Some of the negative attributes of fluorocarbon turn anglers off entirely. They’d rather deal with the less-than-ideal aspects of monofilament to not have to work with fluoro, but it’s personal preference. I still find value in it, so I use it despite the annoyances. 

Sinks Quickly

Due to the denseness of the line, fluorocarbon lines drop quickly in the water column. If you’re trying to land trout on the surface, fluorocarbon doesn’t always make that easy. Even fishing lures in the middle of the water column present challenges because they’ll pull your lure to the bottom instead of letting it float freely. 


Fluorocarbon is more expensive than monofilament by a fairly wide margin. Rigging an entire reel with fluoro hurts more than it does when you use monofilament. If you’re looking for budget-friendly, use fluoro for your leaders and braid or mono for your main line.

Little Variety

You don’t get the variety in colors that you find in monofilament. It’s challenging to match the water color, so that’s why it thrives in clear water. 

Isolated on white background are braided cord and fishing monofilament.

Monofilament Line for Trout Fishing 

Anglers throughout the fishing community love monofilament line. When I first started fishing for bass, I used monofilament. It was cheap, easy to use, and still landed fish. 


As a passionate trout angler, I find uses for monofilament in numerous situations. It works well in numerous situations. 


Monofilament isn’t perfect at one thing. Due to the countless colors and sizes available, anglers can usually find a setup that works for them. It’s great at many things and not an expert at anything. Whether fishing for trout in stained water, still water, or clear water, you can find some mono that fits the situation. 


As a beginner angler, I never ventured away from monofilament line. I wasn’t sure if I would stick with the sport, and I didn’t have the means to purchase a ton of fluorocarbon line every few weeks. 

I thought monofilament was good enough, so I stuck with it. Mono will not break the bank, so if affordability is your priority, look no further. 

Sits High in the Water Column

Monofilament can sit higher in the water column than fluoro. While it’s not completely buoyant, it has more buoyancy than fluorocarbon. When the trout feed on emerging or adult insects, monofilament keeps your lures up next to them. 

Trout generally feed on the surface in the mornings and evenings when the light is lower, so the higher visibility of the monofilament isn’t as detrimental as it might be during the late morning or early evening. 


Monofilament can stretch. If you’re going after big fish, the added stretch helps. You can pin the trout easier than you would if you use fluorocarbon, which doesn’t stretch nearly as much. When they make big headshakes, the line moves with the fish instead of preventing it from moving. 


Despite the positives of monofilament, a few features prevent it from being the best option for trout fishing. 

Higher Visibility

As mentioned, I fish in waters that are extremely clear. They’re difficult to maneuver with monofilament line. The sun reflects off the line, and trout make one swipe and turn when they see it. If I have monofilament on my reel, I always attach a good amount of fluorocarbon to act as my leader and prevent spooking fish. 

Big Memory

It has a higher memory if your line spools off your reel and doesn’t fully stretch. Monofilament doesn’t return to straight, and then knots form as a result. I always keep my spool partially empty so I don’t run into too many tangles or challenges. 

Plus, it makes it tough to cast smaller lures or baits. The line doesn’t allow easy casting in tight windows like fluorocarbon. I don’t mind the monofilament if I’m trying to cover water with heavy baits. However, it becomes a challenge when I’m working small streams or tight windows. 

Not As Tough

While knots with monofilament line are strong, the line doesn’t always keep its strength. It’s not as abrasion-resistant, and constantly pulling around sharp objects leads to more breaks. Mono works well if you aren’t fishing areas with heavy cover and structure. 

Fly reel paired with a fluorocarbon leader with wooden background.
Fly reel paired with a fluorocarbon leader

What Line to Use When

Certain situations call for certain types of line. If you want to land more fish, it’s important to understand what situations call for what line. 

Monofilament in Stained Water 

I like to stick to mono if the water is stained or dark. Numerous color options are available, and I like to carry around a few depending on the water’s color stain. Trout have more reactionary strikes in stained water. They don’t have as much time to analyze the bait before they bite.

Fluorocarbon in Clear Water 

Even if the water isn’t perfectly clear, I do my best to use fluorocarbon in all situations where the trout can spook. Even if it only acts as my leader, something is better than nothing. Early in my trout fishing days, I had too many fish dart away from my lures and bait when they saw the monofilament. 

Alpine Lake in Colorado
Alpine Lake in Colorado

Monofilament in Still Water

I want more versatility when fishing still water. Since monofilament sits higher in the water column, I can throw different lures all day. If I’m only using fluoro, I have to switch reels or throw different types of bait that don’t need to sit as high. 

The monofilament is easier for trout to see, but I’ll drop down in test if I’m fishing clear water. 

Monofilament for Big Lures and Spinners and Fluorocarbon for Small Stuff

I’m not afraid to use monofilament when throwing big lures and spinners for lake trout or other large trout species. I don’t need as much sensitivity or less memory because the weight of the lures easily pulls the line off the reel. I’ll use 8-12 pound test. 

When I’m in tight quarters and throwing small spinners and spoons, I stick with fluorocarbon. I’ll sometimes attach the fluoro as my leader, but I generally stick to fluoro whenever possible. 

Monofilament and Braid for Trolling

When trolling, I need a bigger, heavier line that isn’t as expensive. Monofilament and braid tend to do the trick when fishing for trout. 


The monofilament vs. fluorocarbon debate isn’t going to stop any time soon. You’ll get a different answer depending on the angler you talk to. Each type of line works to catch trout in almost every situation. For the best results, fish fluorocarbon in those ultra-finesse situations and stick to mono when you don’t need to stay as hidden. 

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