Co-polymer line is the Battle Mage of the fishing world.
About 3 weeks ago I received my monthly Lucky Tackle Box (which is a really great service that is well worth the money if you are interested – it helps me find and try new things… case and point – co-polymer line), and in that package was a little spool of co-polymer line.
“What the hell is co-polymer line?” I thought. The simple packaging didn’t help, it just contained buzzwords: “Super Strong!” “New and Improved!” “Easier Castability!” etc. etc…
Most of us are familiar with 3 line types: they are Monofilament (“old faithful, fished that on my first Zebco”), Fluorocarbon (“all them scientist folks say that stuff is invisible”) and Superline (“I need a bolt cutter to trim my tag end”). I wanted to put together a short bullet list of the key features I keep in mind now when considering each:
- Monofilament stretches – that’s point #1. It offers great shock absorption, which is why it is used commonly in trolling situations. (Also, manufacturers that offer depth charts for trolling plugs often use 10lb Monofilament as the base measurement. For example, 100 feet of 10lb Monofilament out at 3mph with lure X will dive to 20 feet, etc.)
- Monofilament typically floats (or sinks slowly) – so it is a common choice for topwater presentations. It allows the baits to work like they are meant to, not pull them down.
- Water permeability means this is naturally a “more relaxed” line, but this attribute can also weaken the line over time.
- Monofilament is usually made of nylon.
- Monofilament is not invisible underwater.
- Monofilament comes in a wide range of colors and sizes.
- Monofilament is a great all-purpose line that is inexpensive.
* Understand that the term “mono” simply means “single strand”. Monofilament line is usually a single strand of nylon. However, Fluorocarbon is also a single strand of a different material. From the Berkley website:
“[Fluorocarbon is] extruded in a single strand similar to nylon monofilament. But because fluorocarbon’s molecules are more tightly packed, the line is denser and noticeably heavier by size. It also differs from mono in visibility, stretch and durability—all of which affect how it performs in the water.”
- The primary advantage to Fluorocarbon is that it is almost invisible underwater, due to the fact that it has nearly the same refractive index as water – and it became popular in salt water applications, then fresh water for targeting spooky fish.
- Fluorocarbon does not stretch, and therefore offers anglers a better “feel” – however, critics note that the fish on the other end has more sensitivity to YOU as well.
- Fluorocarbon is denser than water and it sinks – this can allow diving presentations to run deeper.
- Fluorocarbon is typically stiffer than Monofilament and harder to manage.
- Fluorocarbon does not absorb water and is UV resistant, and therefore maintains its strength longer.
- Fluorocarbon is more abrasion resistant than Monofilament.
- Fluorocarbon is more expensive, and therefore it is often used as a leader on Monofilament for the advantages listed above.
* Note that knot strength has been a serious issue for me. I usually tie a Uni-knot, and when used with Fluorocarbon I’ve seen the line fail many times by simply cinching down the knot… Berkley addresses this briefly:
“If you cinch down a knot without wetting the line, fluorocarbon will fail. However, a properly tied and moistened Palomar Knot or Trilene Knot provides excellent knot strength.”
So I suppose I either need to wet the line better, or switch to the Palomar.
- Not invisible underwater.
- No stretch, so again – more sensitivity on both ends.
- Super strong when compared to the same diameter Monofilament or Fluorocarbon.
- Superlines (like braid) float – making them a common choice for frogs or other topwaters.
- Braided Superline is typically very supple with little memory and easy to manage.
- Certain kinds are very abrasion resistant – while others are less abrasion resistant (do some research on the kind you want to use).
- Braided line cuts through vegetation like a knife.
- Knot strength: look up what knot is recommended for the type of Superline you’re using.
* Superlines are typically made from multiple strands or fibers that are woven or fused (or now even molecularly linked) to form an extremely small diameter super-strong line.
So this is a new one for me – but I am extremely interested in using Co-Polymer line, and here’s why…
- “Co” indicates two – or the joining of 2 things. Co-polymer line is the joining of two other kinds of line or material. For example, Monofilament coated in Fluorocarbon – to combine some of the properties of both (listed above).
- Other Co-polymer lines exist that actually blend the two materials (or even other materials) ahead of time – not just coat one with the other.
- If this is the case, then typically Co-polymer line would sink faster than Monofilament, but slower than Fluorocarbon.
- Co-polymer would have less stretch than Monofilament, but more stretch than Fluorocarbon.
- Co-polymer would be less visible than Monofilament of the same diameter, but more visible than Fluorocarbon of the same diameter.
- Co-polymer is typically less expensive than Fluorocarbon and Superline. For me, this means less time messing with tying on Fluorocarbon leaders – I can just spool up with Co-polymer.
- Finally, depending on whether you are dealing with a Fluorocarbon coating or a mono-fluoro blend, the line could be more abrasion resistant and not absorb water – but it seems like every case would be a bit different…
Kind of confusing in a way, eh? So how do you pick? Is it a marketing ploy with no real advantage? Well, personally I love the concept of Co-polymer lines because there are things that both Monofilament and Fluorocarbon have that I want.
I suppose the best way to find out what Co-polymer line will work for you is to do some research. Read what the blend is, how it is made (just the basics will give you enough information – is it a blend or a coating and what are the manufacturer’s claims), discuss the Co-polymer in question in the CWS forums… and then test some on the water yourself.
I mean when I play RPGs, I’m typically a Battle Mage – I don’t want to go full bore Barbarian, but I don’t want to be a sickly Mage that just casts spells… perhaps Co-polymer is my new Battle Mage…
In summation – Co-polymer line is a Battle Mage. So the next time someone asks you the difference, think Battle Mage and you’ll immediately remember that it’s simply a combination of the two – with certain characteristics of both.