How to Easily Avoid the Mono Rig Coiling Problem

by | Mar 18, 2020 | 24 comments

Monofilament fishing line tends to hold the curves of its home. Whatever spool it’s stored on, it peels off in roughly the same diameter as that housing. All monofilament has this tendency, but some brands hold their memory much more than others. This line memory — this line coiling — is a problem. But the fix is very simple.

Mono Rig, tight line, euro nymphing, long leader anglers all encounter the same trouble. Line coiling causes handling problems. It creates casting difficulties. Or it becomes tangled around the rod butt, creating heartbreak when the fish of a lifetime escapes on account of our own error. Every day that I’m on the water, I expect to encounter the biggest trout of my life. That’s my mindset. So I prepare, always, with that big fish in mind. I’m attentive to the seemingly small things, like wind knots, tippet diameter, hook strength and yes, line coiling.

READ: Troutbitten | Tight Line Tips: Stop the Mono Rig Pull Through

For the Mono Rig to cast like a fly line, we need it to be straight — not coiled. The leader should sail easily through the guides and lay out or hang tight to the fly, with no coils. And as we strip in or retrieve the line, we want it flat in our line hand as well — no coils. It seems to follow, then, that we should use the softest, limpest monofilament possible for the Mono Rig. But that’s not true. Because, to achieve fly-line-style performance from monofilament, the material needs some characteristic stiffness. Limp mono collapses sooner. It struggles to push light nymphs or dry dropper rigs under the overhanging hemlocks and back into that shady corner pocket.

Remember, with the Mono Rig, we substitute fairly thick monofilament for a standard fly line. The extra-long butt section of the Mono Rig leader essentially functions like a fly line, taking over the job of pushing flies to a target. But it’s also thin enough to be pulled to a target by weighted flies or split shot, and it doesn’t sag or cause drag nearly as much. Choose the right material for a butt section, and (with good casting skills) it will perform very much like a fly line.

So then, our needs for a Mono Rig butt section are very specific. The material should be stiff but handle well. It should lay flat when stretched and be thick enough to cast like a fly line but thin enough to prevent extra sag. I’ve gone into great detail about all of this before, so I’ll only summarize it here. My first choice is 20# (.017”) Maxima Chameleon. But I have other favorite butt sections that I use at certain times.

READ: Troutbitten | Ask and Expert: Leader Material for Mono Rig Butt Sections

All that said, even my favorite Chameleon butt section can coil if it’s not used properly.

Here we go . . .

Stretch It

What should you do before a workout or a good run? And fifteen minutes before baseball or football practice, what does every team do together?

S-T-R-E-T-C-H

Flattening out the natural coils of a leader has been my practice from the beginning. I hate having coils in any style of leader. I stretch my George Harvey Dry Fly leaders, my streamer leaders and the Mono Rig. All of them are stretched before I fish.

I don’t use a leader straightener. I don’t heat up the leader by pulling it through my hands or a piece of rubber. And I don’t wrap the whole thing around a tree stump and pull hard. Because all of that is a waste of time.

Instead, I simply stretch the leader in three-foot sections.

This is my process:

  • Pull the whole leader off the spool and through the guides.
  • Grab the first three feet or so between two hands.
  • Stretch the leader section to its maximum.
  • Repeat in three foot sections until finished.
  • Reel up the extra leader.
  • Go catch trout.

Couple more things, here:

Stretch each section to its limit. Pull hard until you feel the leader stretch all the way, and then stop pulling. You will easily notice when the leader can stretch no more. But you must stretch to that point. Pull hard, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Note, it doesn’t take superhuman strength, either. Just pull hard, feel it stretch. Then feel it stop expanding. Grab the next section and repeat.

Importantly, I find it easiest to do this while standing in the water, so I don’t accidentally step on the leader or have it tangle around my feet.

Photo by Trevor Smith

Material Choice

Bottom line: If you choose the wrong material for a Mono Rig butt section, it will hold a coil, no matter how you try to stop it.

I know from experience that 20# Zebco never lays out flat.The same is true for Berkley Big Game and other cheaper lines.

There’s really no point in trying to cut costs on leader material. One Mono Rig lasts for many seasons — or until you put the whole damn thing in a tree someday.

For under ten dollars you can have the best, high quality monofilament available, in a quantity that lasts for a very long time. Buy the good stuff.

Material Diameter

Choose a butt section that’s too thick, and it holds a coil no matter how much you stretch it. (It also sags more.) Thinner butt sections hold a coil less, but they also function less like a fly line — so fishing becomes more about lobbing weight around than casting.

READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing the Mono Rig — It’s Casting Not Lobbing

I encourage you to test things for yourself and see what you like. But I’ve never found a butt section over .017” that I enjoyed fishing. And for me, that diameter of 20# Chameleon is the perfect middle ground between handling, performance and versatility.

Storage Diameter

If you reel up your Mono Rig on a skinny arbor spool, troubles follow. When the mono comes off in tight coils like a telephone cord (remember those), no amount of stretching will alleviate the memory completely. This is why I strongly prefer a large arbor reel.

Likewise, do not store the Mono Rig on old tippet spools. I love Loon Rigging Foams for carrying pre-rigged tippett sections, but not for rolling up a whole Mono Rig. A tighter coil is just asking for trouble.

Instead, keep the Mono Rig on old Chameleon spools or something similar.

Basically, the Mono Rig should be stored in diameters of no less than three inches, whether that’s on a spool in your vest or on the fly reel.

READ: Troutbitten | How to Pick a Fly Reel — And why I choose the Sage TROUT

Photo by Bill Dell

Twisting rather than Coiling

I’ve done all this long enough that I’ve heard a handful of strange troubles that I’ve never run into myself. And after some conversations with anglers about their unique problems, we’ve always tracked down the issue. Here’s an interesting one . . .

Sometimes what is perceived as line coiling is actually line twisting. If you take any line and turn it in the same direction over and over again, it eventually shows some twisting — think about your garden hose.

Twisting of the Mono Rig occurs when an angler performs the same cast — the same circle — over and over.

I talked with a guy who had this trouble, and he described his fishing routine, we soon realized what was going on. He made casts up and across, and finished down and across. Then he picked up the rig to cast up and across again — over and over. This circular motion, without any breakup in the pattern, without some backhand casts, without different angles, false casts, etc., created twists. Because the line never had a chance to unwind and do the opposite.

Think about that if you see the line twisting. It’s an uncommon issue, but sometimes, it’s the source of the problem.

Comp Lines or Flat Mono

One final word here about your options . . .

Some anglers suggest using a competition fly line to solve coiling problems. So instead of using a long Mono Rig, use a thin competition fly line. That’ll work. And they do coil less. But comp lines come with their own troubles, and they sag more. Ironically, 20# Chameleon casts more like a standard fly line than most comp lines, because it’s stiffer. Remember, comp lines were created as a work around for the FIPS rules that regulate leader length in competitions. So if you’re not competing, I argue that a Mono Rig is a better tool for the job.

Flat monofilaments like Amnesia would seem to be a logical solution too. These lines are oval, and they have less memory than their round counterparts. But Amnesia must also be stretched at the beginning of the day. If stored for any length of time, Amnesia does hold a coil, although it lays out nice and flat once stretched. (But again, so does Chameleon and the other recommended options.)

Photo by Bill Dell

In the End

It’s easy to solve the Mono Rig coiling problem. Start with the right material and diameter. Store the mono on a large arbor. Then stretch the mono before use. And even in frigid temps the Mono Rig will lay flat.

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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24 Comments

  1. Have you tried this? Kevin VanDam mono line conditioner.
    reviews all sound very encouraging regarding reduced coiling/memory

    Reply
    • Hi Rick,

      Nah, I haven’t tried that because, honestly, I have no trouble with line coiling. I simply stretch it, like I mentioned in the article, and I have no problems.

      I would be concerned about what that product does to the line. If it “softens” it, that would change the peformance of the mono — make it more limp. And as I said, I don’t want a limp line.

      Gotta remember here, our needs are much different than spin fishermen. What we are looking for in a monofilament for building a leader is different than what many spin fishermen are looking for. We want fly line style performance — the ability to throw loops and push light flies to a target. Spin fishermen most often want a line that is easily PULLED from the spool by the weight of a (relatively) heavy lure.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks for the very effective way to stretch my chameleon, it also works on the sighter. I just tested your stretch method works one hell of a lot better than wrapping it around my bumper.

        Thanks

        Reply
      • To reduce line twist, how about placing a 2-eye swivel between the line and the leader. These swivels are very light and small.

        Reply
        • Hi Fred,

          Thanks.

          First, I’ll stress again that line twist is not an issue with how I suggest to use the Mono Rig.

          Second, I grant you that a swivel can be small, but it’s just not small and light enough. I don’t even like tippet rings of more than 2mm.

          Dom

          Reply
    • Have you ever tried Ice Fishing Mono line ? google this Berkley Trilene Micro Ice Monofilament Ice Line

      Reply
      • I appreciate the recommendation. But again, there is no coiling problem if we just do the things mentioned above.

        Cheers.

        Dom

        Reply
  2. Hi Dom! Great article, as usual! You mention line twist, but I missed the solution. Is it still to stretch out the But section? Thanks! -Bryan

    Reply
    • Hi Bryan,

      No, stretching it won’t help for the line twist. The solution for the line twist is to stop the repetitive casting. 🙂 Mix in some variation. This is another reason why I do not recommend finishing at the across and down position. Pick up and cast before the fly gets past you.

      But if you find the line twisting (it’s rare), just let it suspend in the current below you for a few moments, and it usually untwists. Know what I mean?

      Dom

      Reply
  3. Personally I don’t think Amnesia is anywhere close to as good as 20lb chameleon at being able to “push” flies out there, i.e. where you need the mass of the line to turn over a fly. I have used 15, 20, 25lb amnesia in red & green (haven’t used clear) and their performance pales compared to 20lb chameleon.

    Reply
      • One thing that I think we as mono-riggers haven’t really explored (maybe you have, I haven’t) is considering using high quality fluorocarbon level lines from the Tenkara scene as a substitute for chameleon. I some 4.5 and 3.5 size highly visible fluoro level line (imported from Japan) for my Tenkara rods that is stiff, has good mass, is easily straightened with a pull, and can turnover flies pretty well while being relatively light and easy to hold off the water. These lines are much more expensive per foot than chameleon, but have the advantage of high visibility with what I would assume is similar casting performance. Given that they are denser than mono, they can have similar stiffness and turnover ability with a thinner diameter, thereby leading to less wind resistance. One of these days I’ll get around to trying it (has been on my to do list for several years now).

        Reply
        • Hi Greg.
          Yes, I’ve tried a few of them. The main thing I don’t care for is that way they hold a coil. Even after being stretched, fluoro tends to coil back up pretty quickly. This works fine for Tenkara because, of course, there’s no reel for the line to coil on.

          But I encourage you to try them and see what you think.

          Cheers.
          Dom

          Reply
  4. The new Maxima I bought is .002 larger than what is indicated on the spool.
    Created a problem when I was tying leaders. Sections came out level instead of tapered.
    Thanks for another timely article. I am having coiling issues especially in the colder weather.

    Reply
    • Hi Rick,

      That’s cool that you’re measuring it. Me too. Your results are very common. Maxima usually mics out at over the stated diameter. Why? I don’t know. But I just roll with it. Almost all of their diameters are always over what is stated on the spool

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  5. Have u ever tried using a 4 to 6 foot braided leader attached between your 20 lb Maxima and your tippett. I’ve been using that some but not experienced enough in this mono rig stuff to know the difference in performance.. The braid acts as a float/indicator if lubed up.

    Reply
    • Hi JC,

      Thanks for the question. Yes, I’ve experimented a good bit with braids. Conclusion: I Do Not Like them.

      Remember, a good Mono Rig should perform a lot like a fly line (in my opinion). That’s how you get the most versatility and the best technique. Braid is always way to limp to carry that kind of performance.

      Here’s an article link:

      https://troutbitten.com/2019/07/07/fly-fishing-the-mono-rig-its-casting-not-lobbing/

      Those are my own opinions, but you asked!

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  6. Hi Dominic l live down in New Zealand and like to read and enjoy the writing style of your posts. I like the mono rig too but in my favourite fishery Lake Taupo and its Tributaries like the Tongariro River we have to use a fly line / competition line and the rules also dictate leader length. We are restricted to leaders of max two rod lengths ie 10 ft rod equals a 20 ft leader. My formula if you can call it that is this 8 ft #20 Maxima 2 to 4ft of # 15 followed by a short 1 ft mono indicator with backing barrels and then a Fluoro tippet to suit the depth up to a max of 10 ft. It seems to work well. I guess there are many other possible combinations but wondered if you had any suggestions on improvement you might have tried.

    Best regards stay safe from AJ in Wellington NZ

    Reply
    • Hi AJ,

      I think you nailed it. If leader length is restricted, then use a comp line, because it’s the next best thing.

      Regarding your formula, I would use a thinner transition piece. Perhaps 10 lb Chameleon. And I’d extent the mono sighter piece to 20 inches. Both of those changes will keep your overall leader weight a little less, and it’ll make a difference.

      Hope that helps.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks Dom sounds good I’ll give your idea a work out,

        Regards AJ

        Reply
  7. As always, I learn so much from your blog. I was going to try Amnesia line but
    Stretching my 20# Chameleon as you describe solved my cooling problems. Thanks.

    Reply

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