Are your ice fishing reels spooled with fluorocarbon line? If not, common sense and as important, “common science” says they ought to be.
It used to be there were only two types of line ice angers would even consider: braided Dacron and monofilament. The former was used mostly on tip-ups or for jigging in extremely deep water, and the latter used for everything else. Now, many guys have switched to braided line instead of Dacron, but many of these guys quick to embrace the braid technology, continue to spool up with the same nylon mono they strung on their ice sticks 10 or 20 years ago.
So what’s the common sense and science?
Fluorocarbon is very dense compared to regular mono. It’s more compressed because the fluorocarbon resin, which has more fluorine atoms and less hydrogen, packs more mass into the same space. This means it’s as close to neutral buoyancy as line can be, and, a great choice for vertical personations. It also has less stretch due to its denseness, which is crucial when it comes to getting good hook sets; especially when using the light-pound-tests lines needed for proper presentations during the winter months. Less elasticity makes it much more sensitive, either allowing “tight-line” anglers improved feel, or telegraphing the actual fish strike to an ice float, spring bobber or super-sensitive rod tip better.
Using line with such a thin diameter as fluorocarbon is key when using tiny jigs for panfish and the like. Not only is thin line less visible, whether it’s mono or fluoro, fluoro is just plain harder to see underwater due to how in interacts with light.
Fluoro also gives the lure or bait a more natural presentation. Consider the minuscule aquatic insects fish forage on most under the ice. Not only do they waggle wildly on their own, they also waft about in the most minute water currents. Thick, rigid line doesn’t allow lightweight lures to drift naturally and persnickety fish will turn tail without as much as taking a second look.
“The evolution of fluorocarbon line has been amazing,” says Troy Peterson of Mr. Bluegill Guide Service. “There was a time when I only used it as a leader because fluorocarbon line on a reel would come off coiled like a Slinky; and worse, stay that way. But fluoro is so much softer now and when spooled onto an in-line reel there is absolutely no looping or line twist.”
The Wisconsin ice-fishing guide’s preferred line is Seaguar’s AbrazX Ice, which is offered in 50-yard spools of 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-pound test. The same manufacturer’s Blue Label is another great choice, and is offered in higher-pound tests.
“And it’s not just AbrazX’s softness and thin diameter, but its abrasion resistance,” Mr. Bluegill continued. “They say AbrazX is twice as abrasion resistant than its competitors. The bottom of a hole is rough and will shred inferior line as a fish swirls below the ice. But since I started spooling with Seaguar, my clients have lost less fish at the hole from being cut off or weakened from repeated catches during a hot bite.”
Another top choice is Sufix Ice Magic for panfish or Sufix Invisiline Ice in heavier strengths for pike, walleye or other gamefish. Both brands of line will do a great job.
Last but not least, is how fluorocarbon comes off a reel in extreme air temperatures. Braided line tends to hold water, which will freeze up quickly. It’s a poor choice if you are fishing outside in below freezing temperatures. If you always fish in a heated shanty, it is much better.
Not so monofilament. It may actually expand once your shanty heats up causing mono-line to swell and come off with a jerky motion rather than nice and smooth. Fluorocarbon’s compressed nature keeps it water free and with less condensing and expansion.
While fluorocarbon’s been around for a while, anglers are just starting to take note of its superiority when ice fishing. Soft, less stretch and a thin diameter. That’s the modern-day fluoro.
That’s the sense and the science.