Is Fluorocarbon Leader Really Stronger Than Main Line? [Test Results]

By: Luke Simonds on October 26, 2017
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fluorocarbon fishing line test

Wow!!!

Wait until you see the results of this fluorocarbon fishing line strength test…

It shocked everyone on the team here at Salt Strong.

Quick backstory:

With the rising popularity of fluorocarbon lines, we’ve had numerous Salt Strong Fishing Tribe members have asked about the difference between the material in a fluorocarbon leader line compared to a fluorocarbon line designed to be in the reel’s spool.

This question is coming up because there is a large price difference between the two.

In fact, it is very common for fluorocarbon leader line to be 5+ times more than fluorocarbon main line when measured on a price-per-yard basis.

Fluorocarbon Leader Price

Screenshot of Fluorocarbon Leader priced at $0.49 per yard.

See what I mean above?

As shown in the screenshot above, the price per yard of this Red Label Fluorocarbon Leader line is $.49 cents per yard.

This is much higher than the cost of the same brand that is sold as main line…

Fluorocarbon Main Line Price

Screenshot of Fluorocarbon Line at $0.07 per yard.

The cost of this Fluorocarbon Main Line in this offer is just $0.07 per yard.

This is a special offer, but the normal cost per yard of this same line is typically just ~10 cents per yard.

So what is the justification for such a big (500%) price difference when both lines are both 100% fluorocarbon line?

Is some fluorocarbon better than others?

These are the two primary questions that I set out to answer.

Why Is Fluorocarbon Leader More Expensive?

After some research, it seems like the most common answer to the reason for the increased price of fluorocarbon leader is due to it being more resistant to abrasion.

And the importance of that makes complete sense because the leader line gets exposed to rough surfaces so much more than the mainline due to it being in contact with a fish’s mouth as well as any sort of structure that a fighting fish will seek out for protection.

So a line that’s more abrasion resistant would give anglers a huge boost, which makes paying a higher premium a valid choice.

But that led me to this next question…

The big elephant in the fluorocarbon fishing line room…

Is Fluorocarbon Leader Extra-Abrasion Resistant?

If you go with the chatter in online forums, the answer to this seems to be an absolute Yes.

HOWEVER…

I have personally not seen any documentation on exactly how much stronger fluorocarbon leader line actually is (if any at all).

So I decided to build a line testing tool that would allow me to actually test the abrasion resistance of lines against one another so that I could know for sure.

Here’s what the line testing platform looks like:

fishing line test assembly

This line testing assembly allows for an accurate abrasion test because it isolates the two lines on the same surface (sandpaper) with same tension (weights of equal magnitude).

And although the oscillation is controlled by hand (vs. machine), any inconsistencies of oscillation speed will not interfere with the overall results because any imperfect motions will impact both lines equally at the same exact time.

Here are the steps I took for each fluoro line test:

  1. Tie each line to a screw at the top of the line tester
  2. Tie each line to a weight with the same length of line so that their swing rates are equal
  3. Place each line over the sandpaper slowly so that it doesn’t cause any wear on the lines
  4. Oscillate the sandpaper pole back and forth until the lines break
  5. Document which line broke first (aka. which line was the weakest)
  6. Document how many more oscillations the winning line could take

And the final step was, of course, to report the findings to you in the video below.

Note: To make sure that all was recorded properly, we filmed the entire test so that we could spot any anomalies.

The Fluorocarbon Leader vs. Fluorocarbon Main Line Test

Since this seems to have been a heavily discussed topic, we thought it would be helpful to share the video of the experiment with you so that you could see exactly how it was performed.

Here’s a video that shows the experiment along with the final conclusion that was quite the surprise:

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Conclusion

This first line test taught me to be cautiously optimistic about what I read in online forums.

Because the major theme that seemed to be the dominant answer to why fluorocarbon leaders are more expensive (or better) than fluorocarbon main line was because it’s more abrasion-resistant.

But given the results of this test, there doesn’t appear to be true for all lines.

Given that just two lines were analyzed in this test, we, of course, can’t draw any conclusions about the abrasion-resistant capabilities of other fluorocarbon leaders…

All we can conclude right now is that not all fluorocarbon leaders are stronger than their equivalent main lines.

More lines will need to be evaluated, so I’ll be sure to perform more tests.

And if there is interest generated from this post, I’ll be happy to film the future tests so that I can show the results as they come in.

Leave a comment below with any line brands that you’d like me to try next if you would like to see more tests like this…

I plan to perform many more tests so that we can know which ones truly are the best at withstanding the rough mouths of our favorite fish for when we hook up to a fish of a lifetime.

And if you have ideas for how we can improve this analysis, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Fish On!

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George LaytonLuke SimondsLarry CarrMichael Van LaanenGeorge Murphy Recent comment authors
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George Layton
Member

Use the main line in murky water & Vanish leader in clear water as it is a true (soft) Fluoro that is as close to invisible in water that any other leader. (IMHO) Love the tests Luke !

Larry Carr
Member

Wondered myself over the years, and I even know the reps.

Michael Van Laanen
Member

Thanks for re-sharing this video again. Missed it in my first run through the tips and tricks list. And thanks bunch for doing these. Really nice to get some non-partisan info on gear and tackle.

George Murphy
Member

x

Steve Szenay
Member

Luke great video showing test results. Love how Salt Strong is very neutral giving us fisherman some great advise, I have been buying Leader line instead for reasons I was not as informed as I am now so thank you. Great job you and your team is doing. Glad to be a Salt Strong member

Mark Hedl
Guest
Mark Hedl

I found this video right before hitting “Add-To-Cart” on a spool of fluoro leader. I normally just use fluoro main line as my leader material but was considering buying the dedicated leader instead. A quick google search found me your video. I realize the tests *may* not be conclusive given only two lines tested but they confirm my own belief. I now have 10X as much leader material 🙂

Thanks guys, tight lines in 2019!

kyle walker
Guest
kyle walker

The rest of the claims of flurocarbon are b.s. marketing as well. It isnt invisible in water, knots like shit and breaks easily when knicked. We’ve all been fooled

Johnny Stansell
Guest
Johnny Stansell

Test K-9 100

Dustin Burbage
Member

I was under the impression that flourocarbon had a diffraction index very close to that of water, making it much harder to see than any other line.

Timothy Chrest
Member

Great test!!!….For flour leader, I have mostly used vanish main line. After a little while it gets a haze and it probably more visible than good mono. I was wondering the leader remains clear better than the mainline. Anyone had expericene with this….

Michael Pritchard
Member

Not sure if someone else posted this or if this has been covered but Seaguars FAQ page says that they use different resins and process to make the leader than the line. The Leader material is designed to take a greater load in a short piece while mainline is designed to take the load over a longer section. They actually don’t claim that either one is more abrasion resistant. I found this years ago when I accidentally bought main line instead of leader. I never tried the mainline because I would rather be safe than sorry.
Here is the page:
https://www.seaguar.com/applications/faqs.html
Its #5 in the Seaguar Fluorocarbon Questions near the end.

David Culver
Member

I was just asking myself this very question today as I stood staring a wall of lines at BPS. It was crazy with all the options available. I backed off and waited until I could do some reading on SS and BAM, there it was, the video I needed. The exact test I needed to support my suspicions. Exactly why I enjoy this site and all the help and support I get here. Kudos to the entire team for what you do.

Jared Martin
Member

Love the test! I’d also like to see the same thing done with braided line. It’s an easy platform to test multiple lines. So I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing comparisons of FC line and braid.

Paul Blackford
Member

Thanks for that test it shows how dedicated you are to this club looking forward to the final results

TOMASZ GONDEK
Guest
TOMASZ GONDEK

great test buy on you next test try different abrasive surfaces that would mimic underwater environment like piece of broken concrete, coral or volcanic rock, oyster shell/barnacles and it would be good idea to conduct the test underwater in a fish tank!
also the lines in your test are tied to a static wooden frame maybe the anchor point should be more dynamic like a tip of a fishing pole?

Neville Walters
Guest
Neville Walters

Nev Walters,, Good call guys on coming up with this test. I am an ‘opportunistic’ fisher of my local beach, (I go whenever I can sneak out), and have downsized to 6 – 10 lb braid and leader combinations for less than 1 kg, bread and butter fishing. With more hook ups and way more fun but am trying to work out if the seemingly more line fail bust offs and higher flouro leader costs are worth it. So will follow this with interest, especially as I aim to have my project boat in the warm East Coast Current, chasing MUCH BIGGER pelagic species very soon!

Dave Frymier
Member

The guys in my fly club back in PA figured out the leader scam long ago. We didn’t rate tippet by “X” – 4X, 5X, etc. but by mic’ing the actual diameter of the line. We’d buy big fluoro spools and then divvy it up in 30 yard increments on reused tippet spools. Don’t mix nylon with fluoro, and the fluoro line is exactly the same as the stuff marketed as leader material. Since I’ve moved to Florida, I buy 200 yard spools of 10, 17 and 20 lb Berkley Vanish. Works great.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Thanks for the video. I had the same question last time I went for leader line. Big difference in price and nobody at academy could tell me the difference. I opted for the 250 yard spool and you just re-affirmed my decision.

Rick Brixon
Member

I have been questioning if using main line fluorocarbon as leader would be a suitable alternative. This test has convinced me to give the main line as leader a try. It is amazing how short the leader can be to be effective. Curious about the shock on leader. If a knot is weaker than the actual line would not the knot be the point of breaking and not the leader?

rshepard4@comcast.net
Member

One variance to consider in your abrasion test is the grain of the sandpaper, i.e. smooth vs rough.

I would be interested to learn if manufacturers use different extrusion machines when making leader material vs mainline material. One could argue that the extruders affect the performance of the material that is being made.

rshepard4@comcast.net
Member

Personally not a fan of fluorocarbons as it seems to crack when pinched and then the crack breaks when a force is applied–pinching can result from undoing a black lash. My experience is “visibility” to fish is oversold, i.e. fish do not “see” like humans. I do believe though leaders effect bait presentation, i.e. drag vs drift.

I am interested in learning performance characteristics of all leader material that is also available in mainline quantities. The 60# mono I am currently using as leader material is from a 1200 yard spool. It has a lot of memory, i.e. coils, twists, and is easily nicked, but knot tieing is easy and the knots seem to have good strength. My leaders are 20-ft long and their primary purpose is to absorb the shock of casting 6-oz weights. I connect the shock leader to 40# braid using either Salt Strong’s FG Knot or an overhand/uni knot combination.

I would spend extra money to eliminate memory in the leader material, whether winter or summer fishing.

Mike Neumann
Member

I would be interested in seeing a shock test. I have heard that a short piece of fluoro leader has much better shock absorption than a short piece of fluoro main line.

Steven Free
Member

IT was directly to the braid powepro 20lb test but now i use a 20lb test fluorocarbon invisoline leader from berkly very strong and i have never had a problem with breakoffsanyways thanks for answering my comment😁

Capt. Lee Parsons
Guest
Capt. Lee Parsons

Vanish

Jeff James
Guest
Jeff James

Never thought about this till you brought it up
Clever test and idea, thanks for sharing.

Kenneth Johnston
Member

I listened to a Big Box sports store employee and bought standard fluoro line to use as a shock leader. Didn’t give it much thought but then I started losing a lot of fish (reds and snook primarily). My son joined me for a week on the Indian River Lagoon and was hooking and landing good fish as I struggled with line breaks both on hook set and then while reeling in fish. We finally realized the only difference was he was using fluoro leader material while I was using regular fluoro line. Switched to leader fluoro and no more problems. Fluoro leader is definitely stronger, no doubt about it. Price is definitely worth it.

John W Carter Jr
Member

Hey Luke,
I use Ande mono but use Seagar and Ande fluoro leader. Don’t think Ande markets fluoro as main line but they do sell it in 1lb spools for a ton of money. If time permits, a test comparing Ande and Seagar would be appreciated.

Ira Cohen
Member

Luke, just saying; before you even mentioned the test, the thought that crossed my mind was. I believe when you test all the others, you’ll find the same results. I believe it’s called Marketing. These companies make an enormous amt. of Extra money for their bottom line making sportsman believe the leader material is much stronger than the main line. This is not done only in the fishing line companies but most consumer goods; before I retired, I was in marketing & have a degree in it… You did a good deed letting our members in ‘SaltStrong’. GREAT JOB Luke!!

Charles Phillippi
Member

Great Info, like one of the other tribe members stated, this is why we are here! It maybe a bait and switch, no pun intended.
Can’t wait to see the remainder of the testing. But I got a feeling…

Stephen Winston
Member

Off topic just a bit, do these lines have a expected shelf life?

Justin Alderman
Member

For what it’s worth, the coils in my FG knots have an easier time digging into 20lb fluoro leader material (of any brand) than when I attempt to use a leader made out of 20lb fluoro mainline. I can’t say this about anything higher than 20lb test, however. I use 30lb and 40lb leader material strictly for saltwater, but I do use 20lb mainline for freshwater chatterbait bass fishing, something that didn’t translate well into my saltwater leader applications. I’ve since shelled out the extra dough for actual 20lb leader material and haven’t had a problem with my FG knots.

Justin Alderman
Member

Also, hooray for science and for you guys to actually test this out rather than relying strictly on fluorocarbon marketing and forum chatter. No doubt this could save anglers a lot of money.
Another fine example of Salt Strong having a profound and positive effect on modern day angling! Keep doing what you’re doing!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Interesting. Usually use Upro but recently purchased Ohero on recommendation. Seagar seems hard to tie knots. Keep up the good work.

Clark Weaver
Member

Is there a difference in “stiffness” between leader and main line? I’ve never used main line but always assumed that the leader material was “stiffer” than main line which helps eliminate tangles with lures – particularly top waters or other jerk bait type lures.

Steven Free
Member

Luke I have been using fluoro carbon.leaders for only about 3 years now I used to tie directly to my main line but after reading several articles on fluoro carbon leader usage I decided to give it a try and I defiantly noticed a greater strike and catch ratio as opposed to just tiring directly and have also found that fluoro carbon is most undeniably better then a mono leader I don’t care how good the mono claims to be at abrasion resistance it doesn’t even come close to fluoro carbon it may be a lot cheaper then fluoro carbon but the quality is defiantly better then any mono but I have never used fluoro carbon as a main line but since I switched to powepro years ago I never will care to I’m very happy with fluoro carbon as just the leader and as far as the cost unless your catching very toothy fish fishing in extremely abrasive conditions cost shouldn’t be a concern because you don’t have to change them often and most brands now days are of good quality thanks for the post😊

James Cheyne
Member

I fell for the “leader line is better” lie once in my life. When I first began fly fishing in the absolute clear waters of northern Michigan for trout/salmon/steelhead, I “bit” on the leader material is better debacle. I lost many fish due to the “stronger” & “more abrasion resistant” leader material lie. Now I only use main line for leaders.

Mike Ruff
Guest
Mike Ruff

I would be also curious as to cost of 500 and 1000 yard spools.
Simply, when buying a spool of line how much of the cost is overall packaging.
We might be surprise to see what % packaging costs on pretty much everything we buy.
Just a thought.

Pat Crenshaw
Member

It was always my impression that the fluorocarbon leader was less visible to the fish that’s why it was used true or false

Gary Rankel
Member

FYI, here is the link to one article claiming, among other things, that knicks in fluoro leader render it more visible.

https://www.theonlinefisherman.com/ask-a-captain/do-fluorocarbon-line-and-leaders-differ

Justin Alderman
Member

Thanks for the link!

Dennis Embry
Member

This is why I joined saltstrong . There is always something to learn

James Woodmansee
Member

Luke, Sorry in advance for the long post:
1.Seaguar main line Red Label fishing line is marketed on Seaguar’s web site as a freshwater line. In the Saltwater section, Red Label is marketed as leader material. I checked the line diameter of 20lb test of both and they are the same. They appear to market the same line in 20lb and higher strengths as leader material on the Saltwater section and 20lb and lower as main fishing line on the Freshwater site. That could explain why the abrasion resistance was roughly the same in your tests. The web site does not seem to explain the difference between a Saltwater line and a Freshwater line. It would be helpful to understand this. (Nevertheless, based on your tests, I would now use Red Label freshwater main fishing line as leader material before buying any Red Label leader material.)

2. All 3 of the fluorocarbon lines in the Saltwater section of the Seaguar site are marketed as leader material, not main fishing line. Seaguar does not appear to market any fluorocarbon line as a main fishing line for Saltwater. They market only their braid models for Saltwater main fishing line.

3. After reviewing all 3 of the fluorocarbon lines in the Saltwater section, it appears that the main marketed difference is knot strength (Red Label says “30% better knot strength”; Blue Label says “34% better knot strength”; and Blue Label Premium says “42% better knot strength”).

–I would love to see you repeat the abrasion test with Seaguar Blue Line Premier, Seaguar Blue Line, and Seaguar Red Label leaders. (modifying my previous post).
–I would also love to see you conduct strength tests using FG knot on the same three leaders to test their marketing claims about knot strength.
Any interest?

Clay John
Member

I was also curious about the lack of fluoro main line in the saltwater section of Seaguar’s website, I thought I had seen a reference to Red Label being marketed as saltwater main line. I looked for and found the reference this morning on Seaguar’s website under the “Shop” tab and then “Freshwater” then “Red Label”…. “Red Label can be used in both Spinning Reels and Bait Casting Reels and is suitable for both fresh water and salt water.” Red Label main line only lists 20lb in a 175 yd spool, the rest are lighter lines, this may be why it is not listed under the saltwater section as main line. Very confusing, but I have never purchased fluoro as main line for saltwater so I never noticed it before now. After looking at Seaguars website this morning I am now curious about their “Tatsu” line although it seems very expensive….

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Yes

Joseph Simonds
Admin

We thought so too (until we did some testing). Is there any testing or proof to show that fluorocarbon leader line is really stronger and/or more abrasion resistant that normal fluorocarbon main line?

Keith
Guest
Keith

Yes

Ron Mahoney
Member

YES to all those suggestions

James Woodmansee
Member

Also, would you consider making this same test comparing Seaguar Red Label line with Seaguar Blue line leader material?

James Woodmansee
Member

So if flouro main line, at 10 cents a yard, is as strong as flouro leader at 49 cents a yard I would start buying it to use as leader material. As far as using it for main line, I would ask is it cheaper and thinner than braid and does it cast as far as braid? If braid is cheaper and casts longer I might want to buy flouro main line but cut it and use it as leader on the end of my braid.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Very cool I often wondered the same thing, I “felt” there was not much difference as I use fluorocarbon on my baitcasters without attaching a fluorocarbon leader and have never had an issue. Great job 💪👍

Moi Van
Member

Try doing a knot test as well for the mainline VS leader line. This will prove if that red label leader line is worth buying over the red label main line or not.

Ralton Albritton
Member

I use standard Berkeley Big Game 25-30 lb test main line as my leader attached to Big Game 12 lb test main line and they hold up pretty well. I use also power pro main line attached to the same big game leader with almost the same result. I would be interested in seeing other tests on flouro to flouro. Thanks for the info Luke!!

Gary Rankel
Member

Congrats on bringing us so many really interesting articles / videos, Luke, however, it seems to me that the bigger issue here is one of “invisibility”, not strength. I usually change my fluoro leaders every trip or two, because even the tiniest knick in them may render them more visible to fish, compared to a perfectly smooth unknicked leader. It’s rare that catching just one snook or ladyfish will leave the leader unknicked, and, therefore, more visible. Me thinks you need to focus more on visibility between the two lines.

Moi Van
Member

They are both 100% fluoro line. So visibility isn’t a comparison here… I hope..

Gary Rankel
Member

Thanks, Moi……it’s been awhile, but I do recall reading 2 articles in some of the fishing magazines I get stating that the leader is manufactured to higher standards with a higher degree of “invisibility”???? Seems like it will be a real challenge to test that.

Clay John
Member

Seaguar claims that nicks in a 100% fluoro line have no effect on the refractive index….
https://www.seaguar.com/applications/faqs.html

Gary Rankel
Member

Didn’t know that, Clay John, but I do know that I can easily see the knicks when I hold my leader up to the light. My common sense tells me that a fish should be able to see them as well. And, after catching just one ladyfish or snook, there usually are multiple knicks and a roughened area that looks very different from an unknicked section.

I fish with a 2-3 foot piece of 20lb fluoro leader and have never had strength issues. The only times I’ve had breakoffs is when a hooked fish swam right over an oyster bar when I’m quite sure that even 60lb fluoro would break. I’ll continue using the leader vs main line fluoro , and changing it as knicks occur, until I get convincing evidence to the contrary.

Clay John
Member

Seems like two issues are being confused here, the refractive index of fishing line deals with how light bends or “refracts” passing through the line. The closer you can get the refractive index of fishing line to the refractive index of water the less noticeable it will be to fish while the line is in the water. Seaguar claims that nicks in their fluoro do not change the refractive index of the line in which case nicks will not affect the “invisibility” of the line. Nicks can affect the strength of the line or leader so I also change or “shorten” my leaders when they are nicked, I do it so that I have full strength when my lure or jighead gets caught up on structure or I luck on to a larger fish than I was planning on. For Inshore fishing I use 12lb Seaguar Fluoro Premier and 10 or 15lb Sufix 832 Advanced Superline Braid (Ghost color). Lures cost a lot more than leader material so I will gladly sacrifice leader material first when it is nicked or has been stressed.

Gary Rankel
Member

Thanks again, Clay John…..As I indicated in responding to Luke, and notwithstanding the Seaguar page claims, when I see and feel the difference between a knicked up and unknicked portion of leader, I have to believe that a fish can also tell the difference. I also use 10lb Sufix 832 braid and 20lb fluoro leader. The 832 braid is great stuff – haven’t replaced it in 3 years on most of my reels.

Clay John
Member

I use Seaguar Fluoro Premier for all my saltwater leaders. I would like to see a test comparing Seaguar Fluoro Premier, Seaguar Red Label and Seaguar Tatsu. Seaguar only offers the Seaguar Fluoro Premier in 25 and 50 yard lengths….

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Have any of the mfg’ s given you any data or design specifics on the leader material? I would think there has to be some design or material element that they believe makes the leader material stronger. But, your results seems to say it may just be marketing. Please post your results on the water as soon as you can.

Ephraim
Guest
Ephraim

Fantastic test. Definitely not a sponsored test.

I look forward to more, as well as the same versus test between fluoro and mono.

Roy Noblin
Member

thank you–i will save a bunch of money as i see no reason now to pay the extra for leader line.

Henry Williams
Member

Cool test. Can’t wait to c some more results from other brands!