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Tight lines!

By BY DONNELL TATE/Harbor Report - | Nov 20, 2020

The next generation of monofilament gives anglers a strong advantage. Higher abrasion resistance, thinner diameter, greater strength. Don’t discard these claims as pure marketing hype. Thanks to rapidly evolving technology, today’s monofilaments offer distinct improvements over lines of just five years ago.

When the age of plastics began in the 1940s, monofilament fishing line represented a bold new idea because up until then, most line consisted of woven natural fibers. Since its introduction decades ago, monofilament has undergone constant improvement as manufacturers strive to meet anglers’ endless demand for the perfect line.

All monofilaments contain some form of nylon as their basic ingredient; most lines these days also contain copolymer plastic resins. “Polymer” refers to a synthetic compound built on the repeated linking of a relatively simple molecule (monomer). In other words, polymers are formed by long, strong molecular chains. Combining two or more polymers creates a copolymer.

Monofilament lines originally consisted of one type of nylon and a coloring agent. Now manufacturers mix nylons to achieve a blend of certain characteristics, so nearly every line contains copolymers. There are many different polymers and an infinite number of formulas when combining them as copolymers.

The raw materials for monofilament reach factories in pellet form, and manufacturers heat these pellets to extrude molten nylon through dies. The “pre-mono” comes out like a fat, wet noodle and passes through water or some other liquid cooling agent. This step, called quenching, solidifies the line. If you picked up this line, it would feel very soft with exaggerated stretch and no strength.

After quenching, a line goes through a series of ovens and rollers that heat and stretch it. The amount of stretching and relaxing during this process dictates many of the monofilament’s final properties, such as diameter and elasticity.

Many monofilaments exceed their labeled breaking strengths. And as technology advances, breaking strengths are going through the roof. This happens because manufacturers often assign a pound-test rating based on the line’s diameter and not its actual strength.

Casual anglers pay little mind to ratings and true strengths, but tournament anglers may gain an upper hand with superstrong monos: Some tournaments specify line strengths to be used, but anglers remain legal as long as the line’s label rating meets requirements. Anglers who chase world records for the International Game Fish Association must use lines with on-the-money breaking strengths.

Monofilament line must have an appropriate balance of properties. It has to have good handling features, strength per diameter, low stretch, high abrasion resistance and excellent knot strength. Cinching a knot stresses mono, or “burns” it, and reduces strength. If you wet the line before cinching — as you should with all knots — it will reduce knot burn.

Monofilament lines usually stretch 20 to 35 percent before breaking. Too much stretch makes a line rubbery and hard to control; too little stretch results in a brittle line. Controlled stretch provides shock resistance and the ability for a line to recover from stress.

Some people say memory is bad for monofilament. Mono that can get stretched and stressed, then remember to return to its original diameter and characteristics? That’s good memory.

Give the new, extremely angler-friendly monofilaments a try and you’re sure to come away with some pleasant memories yourself.