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Ice Fishing With Fluorocarbon Line

It seems that fluorocarbon line is becoming more commonly used these days than monofilament line. For sure fluorocarbon has a time and place, but not always is fluorocarbon the best choice.

Jake and Paige Romanack teamed up to catch this impressive Saginaw Bay walleye. Using monofilament as the main line and adding a short fluorocarbon line as leader has served our family well when ice fishing for walleye and a host of other species.

Using fluorocarbon as main line is a good option for some open water applications, but fluorocarbon is in general too stiff and has too much memory to be a good main line for most ice fishing applications. The problem is that in icy cold water fluorocarbon line becomes overly stiff, kinky and laden with memory.

It’s true that some manufacturers are producing two grades of fluorocarbon line, with one being designed as a main line and the other a leader material. Unfortunately in cold water even these softer and more manageable fluorocarbon lines become a handful when used on spinning tackle. The stiffness and memory of fluorocarbon causes the line to literally pop off a spinning reel spool the second the bail is opened.

For those anglers who ice fish using baitcasting reels, fluorocarbon is a viable option as a main line. On a baitcaster reel fluorocarbon line is much more manageable.

Fluorocarbon line has other disadvantages for the ice fisherman. Winter panfish typically use high visibility lines to help in detecting subtle bites. Fluorocarbon is so clear and tough to see, using it for a main line creates another set of problems for anglers who line watch.

Panfish like these crappie are light biters. Using a high visibility main line can help detect subtle “line twitch” bites. To get the maximum number of bites, the author recommends using a short fluorocarbon line as a leader at the terminal end.

For panfish I recommend a high visibility main line made of monofilament and a zero visibility fluorocarbon leader about 24-inches in length. The high vis main line helps in detecting subtle strikes, especially from fish that strike from below and move upwards in the water after taking the bait.

When ice fishing for larger species like walleye, pike, lake trout, etc., the best option for mainline is a low visibility premium monofilament like Berkley XT or Big Game. This line can be tied directly to a host of lures and also live bait set ups or a leader of fluorocarbon line can be easily added. The advantage of the fluorocarbon line as a leader is this stuff is literally invisible in water and highly abrasion resistant.

The best knot for joining monofilament line to a fluorocarbon leader is called the double uni knot. The web page is a good resource for learning how to tie this knot and many others.

For my money the best compromise for targeting panfish is using two pound test high vis monofilament as the main line and the same break strength premium fluorocarbon leader material at the terminal end. For larger species like walleye that are easier to detect bites, I use eight to 10 pound test low visibility monofilament as the main line and a 10 to 15 pound test fluorocarbon leader.

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