Hi-Vis Leader Material for Mono Rigs

by | Feb 15, 2024 | 28 comments

For over a decade, I’ve searched for visible monofilament suitable for building Mono Rigs. There are many options for hi-vis mono, but my preferences are specific. And for so long, I couldn’t find anything that checked all the boxes.

That search is over (for a while). Sufix Superior Neon Fire is my go-to monofilament for building butt sections and tapered transitions.

Sufix Superior mics out very close to Maxima Chameleon, per pound. Specifically, the Neon Fire has about the same stiffness as Chameleon, with a little less stretch. It handles well, and it’s relatively temperature stable — so it performs similarly in both warm weather and cold.

Here’s more . . .

Why Visible?

I was perfectly happy building leaders from Maxima Chameleon. And I still am. Chameleon remains my preferred material for most situations, because it has all the properties I want in a leader material (I’ll walk through those below). It only lacks visibility.

I truly don’t care to see the butt section of my leader. I build visible color into my transition, and the taper continues through my standard sighter, built from Amnesia and Gold Stren. I often add one to two feet of bi-color sighter material to the end of that standard sighter, before my tippet. So all totaled I have between four to six feet of highly visible material before my tippet enters the water. That’s plenty, and I’m an accurate enough caster that I never require more visibility built into the butt section.

READ: Troutbitten | The Full Mono Rig, All the Variations, with Formulas and Adjustments

However, when we started filming a couple years ago, Josh (Wilds Media) and I realized the trouble with demonstrating tight line tactics when the leader cannot be seen. Chameleon wouldn’t do.

Likewise, when I started guiding in 2018, many anglers came to me with plans to learn Mono Rig tactics. And I quickly realized that those who were new to the game were much more comfortable when they could see the full butt section.

Because if you’re coming from the experience of casting with a fly line, your eyes are searching for that visual reference in the cast. Furthermore, even for those accustomed to casting long leaders, watching loops of line helps tremendously when trying to correct a lob style of cast and return to the benefits of fly-line-style casting with a Mono Rig.

Again, for most situations, I prefer Chameleon, but when visibility is a benefit, I now choose Sufix Superior Neon Fire, because it has what I’m looking for.

What I Want

There are more colored lines available than ever. And for a leader junkie, buying the next brand and the latest color to come off the line is a pretty cheap hobby.

I’ll leave a list of the lines I’ve tried below. But first, it’s important to understand what I’m looking for.

The butt section of a Mono Rig is the driver. Most anglers recognize how different thicknesses of material affect the performance of the leader. We’ve previously walked through those differences, those advantages and disadvantages of Standard, Thin and Micro-thin Mono Rigs. While it’s easy to understand how much more punch and power a twenty-pound butt section has than a five-pound butt, the composition of material and its effect on performance is not so obvious.

Years ago, I published an article titled, Is a Soft Sighter Best? And much of what I argued about sighter material applies to the rest of the leader as well. In fact, it’s even more important.

READ: Troutbitten | Is a Soft Sighter Best? Not Always
PODCAST: Troutbitten | Different Mono Rigs and Euro Leaders — What Works When and Why

Stiff material carries more power. It transfers energy more efficiently. It holds the casting loop better. It casts more like a fly line. And for many of us, that ability to cast a Mono Rig with the performance of a fly line, helping push flies and the leader itself to a target is an enormous advantage. This is a very different approach than relying on the weight of the fly or split shot to bring the leader along behind it (like a spin or bait casting approach).

READ: Troutbitten | It’s Casting, Not Lobbing

So we look for monofilament that is stiff rather than soft. But, the trouble is, most stiff monofilament holds a coil. It has memory once it’s on the reel for a while, especially in the thicker diameters used for building standard leaders that cast well.

We stretch all leaders at the beginning of a session. But then some of that line gets wound back to the reel while fishing. The worst of the stiff monofilament coils easily and quickly, especially in colder temps, mostly below thirty degrees Fahrenheit.

But the best stiff line remains flat for many hours, if not the whole day, even in cold weather. Chameleon does this. And Sufix Superior Neon Fire is similar.

Some soft monofilaments actually stiffen up a good bit in colder weather, but soft lines become even softer in moderate and warm weather. The worst soft monofilament becomes almost gummy, but even the best of them has a tendency to twist and kink. Soft lines are not durable, and they lack significant power for building great casting loops — soft lines have no punch.

Opaque lines are the most visible, because they are not transparent. But any line that carries enough dye to be solid in color is also soft. There’s something in the dying process that changes the composition. And I have never found an exception to this.

I’ve tried so many lines through the years that I’ve seen these trends. Red and orange dye usually makes a line softer, while greens and yellows are usually stiffer.

These subtle differences in lines are really not so subtle once you hold them in your hands all day and spend time casting. Most dedicated anglers have developed strong preferences for their own leader builds.

For the way I cast, for what I describe and show so often with the Troutbitten Mono Rig, a stiffer leader is better. But it’s difficult to find a visible, stiff leader material that also handles well and doesn’t have much memory.

Sufix Superior Neon Fire is the best hi-vis line I’ve found, nearly matching the performance of Chameleon.

I use it in 20, 15, 12, 10, 8 and 6 pound to build butt sections and tapered transitions for Mono Rigs. I keep the same formulas for my leaders and substitute the hi-vis for Chameleon, when I want that visibility.

Here’s a link to all the Troutbitten Mono Rig formulas:

READ: Troutbitten | The Full Mono Rig System — All the Variations, with Formulas and Adjustments

And here’s a link to the Neon Fire Sufix Superior . . .

Buy Sufix Superior Neon Fire HERE, and Support Troutbitten

The Other Stuff

I told you I was a leader junkie. Here’s an incomplete list of other visible monofilaments I’ve used. For all of these, I’ll compare my experience with diameters suited for a Standard Mono Rig, with a butt section of around .017”.

Amnesia

Red, yellow, green, blue and orange — regardless of color, Amnesia is a good option. But it holds a coil in cold weather, and I don’t care for the feel of a flat (oval) line in my hands. Ironically, Amnesia can have quite a bit of memory coming off the reel. (Yes, even after it’s stretched.)

OPST Lazar Line

This is good stuff, and I wish it came in thinner diameters. The 30 lb is a little thinner than 20 lb Chameleon, so it builds a good Standard Mono Rig butt section. It does have memory in cold weather, and in warm weather it gets pretty soft. Not my favorite. But it is highly visible in both pink and green. Here's a link.

OPST Oval Line

Also highly visible. It coils and twists less than the Lazar Line. But I don’t love the feel of an oval line, and it’s not as powerful as many other lines of equal diameter. Here's a link.

Other Sufix

Sufix Siege, Elite and Advance all have hi-vis colors. I’ve been through many, and I’ve built sighters from them. However, full butt sections always have too much memory for me, especially in the green/yellow colors.

Stren

Gold and Blue Stren are another option for a visible leader. I find both to be too soft for how I like to cast.

Various Fluorocarbons

Fluoro is stiffer than nylon, so why not use fluorocarbon leader material for the butt sections? Fluoro sinks easier, so it’s not good for mending, when I choose to lay the leader on the water. Fluoro also holds too much coil coming off the spool.

Tenkara Lines

I was excited to try my first Tenkara line, many years ago, thinking that they just might be the answer. Again, no good. These lines are great until they’re spooled up on a reel. Not a problem for the Tenkara angler though . . .

Sighter Material

The colored mono sold as bi-color or tri-color is very soft. For me, it’s a poor choice for building full leaders. Ever notice that these lines are all the same consistency across brands? The colors vary a bit, and some of the dye bleeds in certain brands, but all of it is the same, very soft material, with no power and poor durability. Fine for building soft sighters. Bad for full leaders.

Pierre Sempe Indicator Nylon

This is the latest popular line in the competition scene. It’s light for the diameter, and it’s a unique material. The trade off seems to be durability. I find the Pierre Sempe to be very delicate compared to other monos of the same diameter. By this I don’t mean breaking strength. I mean it has low abrasion resistance and doesn’t hold up well to heavy use. Also, Pierre Sempe comes in sizes no larger than 2X, so sadly, a Standard Mono Rig is not an option. Here’s a link.

Generic Opaque Lines

Some fly fishing brands are now selling what seems to be the same opaque line under their own label. Spools of this line are cheaply available from China, and it has about the same properties as most sighter material, so it’s too soft to make a full butt section with the performance that I’m after. These lines are interesting, though. And I’m anxious to find a stiffer version.

READ: Troutbitten | Ask an Expert: For Tight Line and Euro Nymphing, What’s Your Butt Section?

All the Others

The lines above are the notable options. Some of them may be exactly what you’re looking for. I listed each of them, because I either used them as my go-to hi-vis line for a while, or because they are a popular line among other anglers.

I’ve also tied up and fished with a slew of lines that didn’t work out. Monos from Berkley and Ande, furled monos, braided lines and just about everything you can think of.

Truly, after all of that, Maxima Chameleon remains my favorite. But for a hi vis monofilament, Sufix Superior Neon Fire is my go-to line right now.

Fish hard, friends.

 

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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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28 Comments

  1. Ah, another leader material for me to try out! Thanks for the info (love maxima but would like more visibility in some scenarios). Question about Sempe: I’ve found 4x Sempe to be pretty strong, at least as strong as 4 or 5lb maxima. I find when using it that, as with other butt sections, my tippet is still the limiting factor for breaking off (I usually fish 6x fulling mill fluoro tippet). When you say delicate, what do you mean exactly (is it breaking before your 5x or 6x fluoro tippet?). Or do you mean that you have to change it out more often between fishing trips (ie its strength breaks down more easily than equivalently thin maxima)? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Oh, I’m not at all talking about strength. Glad you asked. I’ll add something in the article above too. I don’t have much of an opinion on the breaking strength of ANY of my leader materials, because like you said, the tippet should always break well before the leader, yes, even when using a micro leader. I think the only time I’ve ever seen my leaders break above the tippet is when there was some damage. So what I mean by delicate is just how all soft monofilaments don’t make it though heavy use. This is generally accepted and understood across the fishing world as the trade off for soft and extra flexible mono — it’s not very durable. And honestly, I find the Pierre Sempe to be one of the most delicate lines I’ve ever used. I also mentioned it’s probably the lightest per diameter that I’ve ever used too, which is cool. So again, a trade off. This delicate nature is most often seen in a short lifespan. It doesn’t take abrasion or damage well at all. And repeated use with a lot of stripping and even stretching against big trout or heavy snags (if you’re not on 6) tends to make it . . . squirrely.

      Make sense?

      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks for clarifying! That makes sense.

        Reply
  2. It’s super cheap – which probably not the deciding factor but it’s nice. Angler on a budget could go with this straight to some inviz-x for tippet and it would be a pretty decent rig.

    Reply
    • Dom-do you know the diameters of the different pound test of these lines? Thanks.

      Reply
  3. Having tried other stuff myself, I found your take on Maxima Chameleon and on InvizX spot on. So I trust your take on this Sufix, though I have not tried it, yet. And your research on lines and tippets alternatives seems exhaustive, so you have saved me a lot of money and time.

    THANK you!!

    Reply
  4. Hi Dom great article thank you. You have obviously spent a great deal of time and effort on this key aspect of “ tightlining”. Thanks again for sharing. If I may ask a question slightly off topic. At my fishing club the other day I was talking with a champion comp angler about sighter visibility and whether or not high vis sighters and leaders spook fish. Being a comp guy he tends to fish micro most of the time but he keeps visibly low except for a short length of sighter. In his opinion high vis equals too many spooked fish. Personally I haven’t noticed a difference one way or the other. Maybe I’m not that observant. Anyway I’m wondering what your thoughts might be ?

    Apologies for the long winded question

    Tight lines ATB, AJ

    Reply
    • I agree, AJ. I prefer NOT to use a full Hi-vis leader. In some water it can absolutely spook trout, but it seems that many anglers have forgotten this. Same with floating the sighter. I prefer Gold Stren specifically because it isn’t so bold as the opaque sighter material, and in a lot of cases where I’m floating the sighter, it could definitely spook trout. Anyway, yes, I agree that the hi vis butt sections can spook fish. I only use it for filming purposes, and for those times when I think it will help an angler’s comfort level.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Dom thank you for response always objective and helpful much appreciated AJ

        Reply
      • I was wondering about thoughts on using it for a dry fly leader build…. So I guess that is a No….

        Reply
        • Oh, I wouldn’t anyway. I do use a dry fly leader with a foot long piece of Gold Stren built in. I call the leader Harvey Gold. It’s a versatile leader for doing a bunch of things, and that gold piece gives me a great reference both on the water and off as a sighter. I don’t think it spooks fish . . . very much.

          Reply
  5. I’ve been watching it fly off the shelves on Amazon all day. 6lb went from many available to out of stock. 8lb getting is getting there… Kind of funny.

    Reply
  6. I have been a Sufix guy for a long while, and fully agree. I tell folks that Maxima is the greatest line my hands have ever touched. For both Chameleon and Ultragreen, for their properties respectively. Maxima Hi-Vis (green) is decent, but for me, not nearly as visible as Sufix. I use both the Superior and Siege in orange and love them, but the Siege doesnt have quite as much spine to me.

    I have gone to Maxima Hi-Vis for the butt section of my leader(at least for now..), because its still visible, but not as bright. But use the Superior and the old true red Amnesia for nearly all of my sighers, and I have every spinning rod I own for stripers down to crappie rigged with either the Superior or Siege. I like em.

    Reply
    • Sounds like you’re a leader junkie too! I use the Maxima Hi-Vis yellow for my transitions, but I don’t care for it as butt section. It gets too stiff for me in the cold weather.

      Very cool that you test all this stuff out.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  7. Hi Dom,

    Thanks for a brilliant article and for taking the time to test all of these lines. I live in NZ where sufix superior does not seem to be available. Sufix tritanium in neon orange is, however, available. Have you perhaps tried it?

    All the best
    Marc

    Reply
    • Hi Marc,

      Thank you. But no, I’ve not tried that line.

      Cheers.
      Dpom

      Reply
  8. Have you tried the Adams
    Euro nymph mono or Trabucco XPS Special Sea Hi-Vis? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    I have recently started trying the latter in 0.2mm, with paint markers to create a sighter. I have only used a French leader and Chameleon before, so early days in my experimentation with thinner diameters, but I’m quite impressed so far.

    Reply
    • What is “euro nymph mono?

      I’ve never used that version of Trubucco. But if it’s opaque white, I have a hard time believing it will be any different than Cortland White.

      Also, if you’re using 4X for a butt section, honestly the stiffness matters less and less as you go thinner and thinner. I just meant that the margin of difference you’ll notice for casting gets narrower, but it does matter. Differences are a lot more noticeable in thicker diameters though.

      Reply
    • richard i have and use the 0.18 and 0.16 xps line frequently (with a sakura paint marker for sighter). it is a wonderful, visible, extremely limp and strong microleader…also very budget friendly despite the overseas shipping. it performs very similarly to sempe in the same dianeter.

      Reply
  9. Thanks, Dom! There have certainly been times when the conditions made it hard for me to spot my line right after the cast. One point of clarification, please: when you state that you replace Maxima chameleon with Sufix, for the tight line leader formula do you just replace the first 24 feet of chameleon and keep the rest the same?

    24 feet — 20 lb Maxima Chameleon
    2 feet —12 lb Maxima HV
    12” — 12lb Red Amnesia or 12 lb Sufix Neon Fire
    12” — 10lb Gold Stren (Backing Barrel with tag, attached here)
    — Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm) —
    14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
    36″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet
    — Tag for upper nymph —
    20″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet

    Thanks for everything!

    Reply
    • Yes. You got it. I also have my favorite Thin and Micro Thin leader formulas. Same thing in those. The Neon Fire to directly replace the Chameleon.
      I’ll say again, though, these Hi Vis leaders are not my go-to choice. Only when I need the butt section to be visible, which is rare unless I’m filming.

      Reply
      • Super! I’ll rig one up and keep it handy for those dark, foggy mornings!

        Reply
  10. Hi Dom. You don’t mention the “Hi-Viz Yellow” version of Sufix Superior as an option. Would you consider it to fall in the category of yellow lines that are too stiff? Just wondering.

    Reply
    • No. I wouldn’t use it for a full butt section of 15lb or 20lb. Too stiff, in my experience.

      Dom

      Reply

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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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