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June 5th, 2000

Fluorocarbon
By James Castwell


We get a lot of email here at FAOL. The whole range of subjects and questions. For instance, "I can't get the fly line through the eye of the fly!" "What does it mean, attach the thread to the hook?" "I don't understand fluorocarbon, is it worth it?" I don't have all of the answers, but here is how it looks at this point.

I did not want to ask a manufacturer to write something, you can see what they claim in any ad. Most fly-fishers are not scientists and feel unqualified to attest to any features of it. That leaves me. I like it, use it and plan on continuing to use it.

At first, when it came out, I was solidly against fluorocarbon. The 'word on the street' was it had a half-life of about forever. If any got tangled, lost or thrown away, it would be there for the next millennium. As time passed, I tried some for silver salmon. It was a pretty good test as I have been fishing them of the coast of Washington with the same fly, (The Castwell's Marblehead to be exact) for a number of years and knew about how many hook-up's to expect.

All that was available then was tippet material. When I switched to fluorocarbon I felt absolutely I got more hits. Absolutely, more hits. Where I fish there is not much for a salmon to get tangled with as far as abrasion problems, I had no idea if it was any better or worse as far as abrasion went.

Some wondered about knot strength, some confused it with the braided lines. For me, the only failure I had was on a streaking bonefish on Andros Island. The knot from leader to tippet was a double surgeons knot. It broke. Remember, this was from fluorocarbon to a mono leader. I re-tied using a blood knot and had no further problems. Does that say, or prove anything. No. It is just what happened. I still do use the blood knot now though. Is it better? I have no idea, but just try to get me to switch.

Today you can buy a knotless, tapered, fluorocarbon leader. Do I use them? You bet I do! A complaint seems to be the high price. Nonsense. With all I have invested in equipment and any value I place on my fishing time, the few pennies difference between a length of fluorocarbon and mono is ridiculous. I figure ten bucks for thirty yards. That equals at least thirty tippets, probably more. Divided into ten bucks makes them cheap.

In the clear water of the Pacific ocean I have watched my fly before I made my first cast. To me, the leader is invisible, or nearly so. It seems to be that way to the salmon too. It does sink much faster than mono with the number two streamer I use and this is a good thing for me. As far as bone fish, I have not seen any shy from fluorocarbon, but then that is now a subjective comment. I think I get more hook-ups from bonefish when I use fluorocarbon too.

There are the small flies to contend with also, the drys. Yes, I use it for my dry fly work. Does it work better? I don't know. It works just as well and that is good enough for me. I think it is stronger for it's diameter and presents a fly well. What more can I ask of it?

Some of the claims are that it: does not lose strength when wet as does mono, is more abrasion resistant, unaffected by ultraviolet light, is nearly invisible in the water, is stronger for it's diameter and sinks faster.

I do know this, it is not all made in the same factory as some would have you believe, not even the same country. It definitely is not all the same, the stuff can be controlled in many ways. It can be made to many standards, if you know what I mean. Some material was once coated and sold as 'coated with fluorocarbon,' not good. Look for even more improvements in strength. One maker has one out now that is considerably stronger than last years product. I am not here to try to tell you which brand is which, just that it is good and you should at least give it a try. Perhaps someday I will do a product review or get a maker as a sponsor.

I probably have left out some things, but for now, this is my view on the stuff. I hope I have not aggravated some manufacturer by leaving out some important information, but that's how it is. My opinion, go for it. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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