The two most common reasons that push anglers to connect nylon monofilament to braid are backing on a spool and tying on a tough leader.
Backing braid with mono cuts costs and prevents the braid from slipping on your arbor. And as we’ve discussed at length before, a leader is an excellent idea with braided main line, providing lower visibility, greater abrasion resistance, and some shock absorption right where you need it.
So what are the best knots to use for these two purposes?
Keep reading to find out!
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 The Best Mono Backing Knots for Braid
- 2 The Best Mono Leader Knots for Braid
- 3 Why Back Braid with Mono?
- 4 Why Use a Mono Leader with Braid?
- 5 The Problem
- 6 Final Thoughts
Related: Best Fishing Knots
The Best Mono Backing Knots for Braid
For most anglers, it’s extremely unlikely that their backing knot will ever be tested for strength, as getting spooled is pretty rare. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want a well-tied, strong knot, but rather that absolute strength is far from the most important consideration when choosing a connection.
Instead, you want a small knot that won’t impair casting.
You’ll see people recommend the awesomely strong FG knot as a backing option.
That’s just ridiculous.
The FG is a long knot, and there’s simply no need for it on your arbor. Furthermore, it’s really designed around slender braid and fat mono or fluorocarbon, precisely the set-up you don’t want when filling a spool with backing line.
Instead, the best backing knot is probably the Double Uni, since you will have selected similar diameter backing.
The Double Uni is an easy knot to learn and to tie well. It’s also fast and very strong, for what that’s worth as backing.
But most importantly, it’s relatively short and slender enough not to cause any real trouble.
Double Uni Knot
The double Uni is essentially two opposing knots that use both lines to increase integrity.
- Start with both lines side by side.
- Loop the tag end of one around both lines, repeating 3 to 4 times. You’re essentially duplicating a standard Uni, but rather than doubling the main line, you’re wrapping the two lines you wish to join. Don’t tighten it down!
- Loop the other tag end around both lines, repeating 4 to 4 times. Don’t tighten it down!
- Wet your knots and carefully cinch them down.
Give it a try - you won’t be disappointed.
The Best Mono Leader Knots for Braid
Trolling or casting with few to no re-ties
The FG Knot
For offshore anglers who’re trolling for big fish, retying a leader isn’t something that comes up often on the water. Instead, they’ll prepare that connection ahead of time, getting it right and tight, and then rely on that knot all day.
If that’s the situation you find yourself in, your best bet might be the FG.
Unlike backing, you won’t be picking your mono leader to match the diameter of the braid. Instead, you’ll be choosing it or its test strength, and it’s going to be much fatter than your main line.
That’s exactly what the FG was designed for. Created specifically for a braid to larger-diameter mono/fluoro connection, it derives its incredible strength by distributing load and friction. Essentially wrapping the braid around a larger leader to create bite, the FG tightens under load and will not slip if used properly.
It’s also long and narrow, allowing it to pass through guides easily. That makes it one of the best casting leader knots out there.
Probably the strongest of all the knots we’ll discuss, a properly tied FG is as good a connection as you can create between your main line and leader. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy knot to tie well, and it’s the kind of thing you probably want to do at home the day before you fish, not on the water in the heat of the action.
Here are two different techniques for tying the FG:
Trolling with plenty of re-ties
The 5-Turn Surgeon’s Knot
The 5-Turn Surgeon’s knot (5TSK) doesn’t get the press it deserves, especially as so many anglers have moved away from mono. But in the salt, where braided main line and mono or fluoro leaders are dominant, this knot has demonstrated its effectiveness, time and time again.
Not only is the 5TSK crazy strong, it’s easy to tie and very fast, too.
And if you know you’re going to be tying on new leader again and again, say, when fishing around abrasive surfaces like oyster shells or barnacle-encrusted pilling, this is a fantastic braided main line to mono leader knot.
The increased number of turns--five rather than two or three--distributes the load over a greater surface and creates more surface area for line-to-line friction. With five full wraps of braid, this knot will hold 10 to 15-pound PowerPro to 30 to 40-pound fluoro like the two were welded together!
But don’t take our word for it:
Notice that breaking strength on 10-pound braid: 18 pounds!
The only drawback of the 5TSK is that it’s pretty fat, and if you try to cast it through your guides, it’s going to bang and bump its way through, reducing casting distance and potentially compromising the knot.
The trick is to keep your leader short and never reel this knot through the guides.
Why Back Braid with Mono?
Even so-called “braid-ready” arbors can let super slick materials like Spectra and Dyneema slip, especially under heavy loads.
For instance, when you tie into a monster tuna or a big grouper, the line on your spool comes under tremendous force. This will inevitably test the friction created between your line and the arbor it’s wrapped around, and with braid, there’s a better than average chance it’ll start to slide.
When that happens, all bets are off, as your drag will be useless, as will the crank.
To avoid this, you want to back your braid with soft, grippy mono.
Because nylon has a high coefficient of friction, it simply won’t slip on an arbor.
No angler I know is thrilled with the price of good braid.
And for inshore and offshore fishing, where a 3000, 4000, 5000, or even larger reel comes into play, you’re going to need a lot of line.
Let’s say you’re fishing reds inshore, running the excellent 4000 Penn Battle II. You’ll need roughly 260 yards of 20-pound braid to fill your spool properly, and that’s going to get expensive fast.
But if you back that braid with mono, using a standard 150-yard spool of braid and another 100 or so yards of mono, you’ll cut your line costs considerably. When you choose backing mono, remember to match the diameter of the mono to the braid, not the test strength of the mono to the braid!
That will provide much better performance on your reel, guaranteed.
When you’re trolling for pelagic species like tuna, mackerel, or shark, you’re going to need even more line to fill your reel, making mono backing his even more cost-effective.
And the size of these species brings slipping into the equation as well, reinforcing the need for mono, even if the price of braid doesn’t bite you in the wallet.
Why Use a Mono Leader with Braid?
Braid is awesome main line for a lot of reasons:
- Strength - Braid is unquestionably the strongest line, diameter for diameter, yielding incredible test strengths. Chalk that up to the advanced fibers from which it’s woven, either Spectra or Dyneema, depending on the particular line you’re using.
- Diameter - Because braid is so thin for strength, you can pack a lot more line on your reel than you can with mono. That matters a lot when you’re fighting fish that run or when you know you’ll need to cut and discard line constantly throughout the day.
- Stretch - Braid exhibits relatively little stretch - just 1 to 8 percent of its length - compared to mono and fluorocarbon, which can elongate by as much 25 percent under heavy load. That enables sharp hooksets with single hooks, even when you’ve got a ton of line out, and even trebles lock-up well when trolling far behind your boat.
- Sensitivity - That lack of stretch and the density of braid provide excellent sensitivity, and nothing else even comes close.
- Casting - Braid is super limp, possessing almost no memory. As a result, it’s a dream to cast in most situations.
But braid has weaknesses, as well, all of which make a leader an excellent option:
- Low abrasion resistance - As we’ve demonstrated, because braid is woven rather than extruded as a single, round strand, it’s easily compromised by abrasion. When you’re fishing around barnacles, pilings, rocks, and oyster shells, or when you’re catching species with sharp teeth, a tough mono leader is essential.
- Visibility - Dyneema and Spectra can’t be made clear, and braided line tends to be quite visible in clear water. That’s not necessarily a problem when you’re fishing for catfish or bass in super low visibility, but it can be an issue with line-shy fish in clear water.
- Low shock strength - Because braid doesn’t stretch, it can break under sudden heavy loads. It can also be thrown from a fish’s mouth more easily. Shock absorption is critical, and a good leader provides just that.
It’s pretty clear why anglers use mono backing and leaders, so what’s the issue?
Dyneema and Spectra fibers are ultra-slick, and for the same reasons that they’ll spin on your arbor under load, they tend to pull free from knots.
The good news is that mono is very forgiving, being both soft and grippy. So with the right knots, tied properly, creating backing or a leader is a breeze. The braid will actually bite into the softer mono, creating a strong connection.
Assuming you’ve followed our advice above, you’ll be choosing your backing mono for its diameter, matching your braid as closely as you can.
That’s critical for a good, secure knot.
Dissimilar sizes can be joined with the right knot, but all other things being equal, similar sizes always result in a better, stronger connection.
But what you don’t need is a big, bulky knot that’s going to create a hump on your arbor. That can interfere with casting by creating a point of friction and affecting the lay of your line.
What you need in a good backing knot is strength without creating a huge hump as you wrap braid over the connection.
For leaders, the first thing to consider is length.
If you’re running a leader that won’t be passed through the guides of your rod, you’ve got a lot of awesome choices.
But if you need to cast your leader and the connection that joins it to your main line, you need to keep that knot as slender as you can. Every time your knot hits one of your guides on a cast or retrieve, it’s potentially taking damage, weakening the connection.
There you have it: three excellent knots for braid to mono connections that have you covered whether you’re backing with mono or connecting a tough, shock-absorbing leader.
We hope that this article helped you learn something new, and we’d love to hear any questions or comments.
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