The Ultimate Guide to Fishing Line

In our second Ultimate Series article, we explore all of the key features and types of fishing line. 

 There are so many types of line out there with over-the-top names but in the end, they are largely variations on a few key types of line monofilament, fluorocarbon and variations of braided line. 

When we were pulling this together we wanted to keep it simple and to the point because fishing line isn't rocket science and no amount of fancy marketing will change that. Below we've got the key factors and attributes to consider when buying line.

Attributes to Consider

    • Line strength (test)
      • Measured in pounds and indicates line strength. It relates to how many pounds it takes to break the line.
      • The amount of line that a reel can handled is typically noted in the manufacturer's specs. Keep in mind that the thicker the line, the less overall capacity your reel will have.
      • Many factors go into line strength including:
        • Knot types – some knots are stronger than others but all reduce strength of line.
        • Degradation – exposure to the elements, time and general usage reduces line strength.
      • Important to note that fish weighing more than the line strength can be landed and is determined by various things such as type of rod being used, drag settings and generally how you play the fish. The opposite can be true as well with smaller fish snapping heavier line.
      • It is important to follow the guidelines printed on your reel and rod for the min/max pound test your equipment can accommodate as too heavy a line can break the rod. (see below for strength relationships)
Rod Strength Test Line Gauge
Ultralight 1–4 lb test 1/64–1/16 oz
Light 4–8 lb test 1/16–1/4 oz
Medium Light 6–10 lb test 1/4–1/2 oz
Medium 8–12 lb test 1/2–1 oz
Medium Heavy 12–25 lb test 1–4 oz
Heavy 20–40 lb test 4–8 oz
Extra Heavy 25 lb test and above

8 oz and ab

  • Durability
    • Measures the line's ability to withstand conditions such as UV rays, thrashing, and scraping or abrasion from rocks and other structures.
    • In most cases, thicker lines can withstand more punishment
  • Functionality
    • Stretch
      • Lines with high stretch are great for casting but won't give good feedback on hook-set
      • Low stretch lines are the opposite and will give a more accurate feel for detecting taps and tugging on the line
    • Flexibility/Memory
      • Flexible lines have little memory meaning they do not curl as much which will reduce casting and spooling issues.
      • Flexible lines also cast well as stiffness can reduce distance and precision in casting.
    • Buoyancy
      • Matters for fishing lure being used.
      • Buoyant lines are better for topwater baits while lines that sink are better for deeper rigs.
fishing line buyers guide which type to buy


Types of Fishing Line

  • Monofilament
    • The Swiss Army knife of fishing line can do the job in most applications. However, the progress in technology has made other types of line better for certain applications. The price and broad uses makes mono a staple in most tackle boxes.
    • Pros:
      • Good all-around fishing line at affordable price.
      • Buoyancy makes it good for top water skimming
      • Low memory reduces coil
    • Cons:
      • Durability - Most monofilament line has a weaker threshold for abrasion which can be tricky in weedy areas or when navigating the nooks and crannies of various structure
      • Stretch – Higher stretch can reduce snap but it's a drawback because of the lag in hook-set that can be created
    • Fluorocarbon
      • Similar to monofilament but has some differences that make it superior in some fishing situations.
      • Pros:
        • Durability - Increased abrasion resistance and resistant to UV rays
        • almost no stretch which allows for better hook setting and keeps action of jerkbaits true
        • Nearly invisible so fish cannot see it, perfect for stealthy lure presentation
      • Cons:
        • Significantly more expensive than mono
        • Less flexibility (more memory) making it more susceptible to coiling
        • sinks, which makes it more difficult to fish top water baits but is better for deep water rigs/set ups.
      • Braided
        • Made of strains of fibers woven together.
        • Pros:
          • It is a line that does not stretch; Hook setting is smooth
          • Has superior line strength to diameter ratio
          • Durability is unmatched even in the most abrasive cover and works well for fishing heavy cover where you have to move through abrasive obstructions
        • Cons:
          • Highly visible even in stained waters no matter the diameter you are fishing with. Braided line can also fade from exposure.
          • Can be relatively expensive

Fishing Line Color

  • Clear/blue
    • Readily exposed in the sunlight, making it easier to see when casting, retrieving or trolling but remains clear under the water so it is a good fishing line color choice for fish that can be a little more reluctant.
  • Low-visibility clear
    • Ideal for clear streams or lakes. Monofilament or fluorocarbon lines in this color give your lures more natural action while remaining less visible to fish.
  • High-visibility yellow
    • Bright and designed for detecting strikes or to monitoring your line status during the troll. Great for low-light conditions such as dawn, dusk and night fishing.
  • High-visibility green
    • Works well in waters with heavy vegetation or algae. This color allows highly visible lines like braid to blend in better while fishing in deep cover or muddy, murky water conditions. 

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