One of the most important questions when setting up a fishing rod and and reel is what type of fishing line to use. The best fishing line is thin and light and capable of lifting incredible weight. Choosing the right fishing line will affect the action of your lure or bait and improve your chances of landing a trophy fish. There are many questions to consider when learning how to buy fishing line. Here are the answers.


Different Types of Fishing Line

Technologically advanced fishing lines are designed for specific types of fishing. Braided line is great for bottom fishing. Monofilament is best for big fish. Fluorocarbon makes the best leader material. And that’s just the beginning.

Untangling the different types of fishing line will answer the question: what is the best type of fishing line? Do you need sensitivity? Do you need stretch? Are you looking for a low-visibility line? In this section, you will find different types of fishing line explained.

green fishing line runs through the guides on a fishing rod
Choosing the right fishing line will improve your chances of landing a trophy fish. | Feature photo: Jay Erickson/Flickr


The first modern fishing line was monofilament. Looking for ways to use their new synthetic fiber nylon, engineers at DuPont extruded a thin and strong fishing line. But what is monofilament fishing line? Like the name says, monofilament is a single (mono) strand (filament) of nylon material.

Today, there are many brands and models of monofilament, but they all offer the same qualities. Unlike braided line, monofilament stretches to absorb impact. For this reason, anglers who troll for big fish like to use monofilament to take the shock of a hard strike. Mono is also great for topwater lures and jerkbaits, which also elicit a hard strike and hook set. Moreover, monofilament also has higher knot strength than fluorocarbon for more secure connections.

For many anglers, the most important feature of monofilament is cost. Mono fishing line is generally less expensive than fluoro or braided line. Some anglers fill their reel three-quarters full with mono then add a top shot of braid or fluorocarbon. Anglers also like monofilament because it is easier to untangle, making it a good choice when fishing with more than one rod.



After comparing the price of a spool of fluorocarbon and a spool of monofilament, you may ask what is the benefit of fluorocarbon fishing line? While fluoro and mono look the same, there are significant differences that make fluorocarbon worth the money. Like monofilament, fluorocarbon is a single polymer of material. However, unlike nylon monofilament, fluorocarbon is chemically designed to be stiffer, stronger and less visible under water.

So, is monofilament or fluorocarbon better? Because fluorocarbon is stiffer, more abrasion resistant and nearly invisible underwater, it is better for leader material added between the hook and the mainline. Since fluoro is more sensitive than mono, some anglers use flourocarbon as a mainline for finesse fishing jigs and other methods that require a light touch.

Fluoro used for leader material is stiffer and tougher than fluorocarbon lines used to fill a reel. Fluorocarbon is heavier than monofilament, so it sinks faster. Since the raw material has a similar light refraction to water, fluoro is more difficult for fish to see. When the water is clear and the fishing is tough, many times using fluorocarbon will be the only way to fool the fish.


a collection of rods and reels
Technologically advanced fishing lines are designed for specific types of fishing. | Photo: Thirdman/Pexels


The most recent advancement in fishing line combines different types of nylon to make a copolymer line. But what is copolymer fishing line? As you can probably guess, copolymer fishing line uses two different types of material in one fishing line. Usually, the line features a stiffer, abrasion resistant coating over a softer core material. This allows the line to cast well and take a beating.

Because copolymers are stronger than a single polymer, they can also be thinner than monofilament. At the same time, copolymers are softer than fluorocarbon with similar abrasion resistance. Copolymer lines are great for anglers looking for a line that doesn’t sink, is highly sensitive and strong. Also, copolymers have less line memory than mono, so copolymers don’t tangle as easily.



Braided fishing line is one of the greatest advancements in fishing technology. It doesn’t look or perform like monofilament or fluorocarbon, so anglers often wonder about the benefits of braided fishing line.

Unlike monofilament’s single strand of nylon, braided fishing line takes multiple strands of Dyneema or Spectra fiber and weaves them together. The result is a super strong, stiff and thin fishing line that has revolutionized fishing tackle and tactics. Because of braided fishing line, anglers are able to catch giant fish on vertical jigs, wrestle a trophy catch out of heavy vegetation and cast extra distance to skittish shallow-water phantoms. Due to braid’s qualities, tackle manufacturers have had to develop rods and reels that are tougher and more sensitive.

Braided line is thinner than monofilament or fluorocarbon. For example 20-pound braided line will have the same diameter as eight-pound monofilament. This allows braided line to pass through the water easier, making it possible to drop a lure or bait with less weight. Braid has no line memory and the thin diameter reduces wind resistance, allowing braided line to cast farther. Also, braid is more sensitive, so you can feel a light bite or changes in bottom structure.

Braided line comes in a variety of weave patterns using four or eight strands of fiber. Eight-carrier lines are softer and easier to cast while four-carrier lines are more abrasion resistant. Anglers love braided line when they need the ultimate sensitivity and strength with great deep-water performance.


Different Colors of Fishing Line

What Color Fishing Line is Best?

Fishing line comes in a rainbow of colors for a wide variety of uses, but does the color of your fishing line really matter? The answer: yes. Clear fishing line is best for sharp-eyed fish in clear water like king mackerel, tarpon or bass. High-visibility fishing lines are great for bait fishing and trolling where the angler has to keep an eye on the line to detect a bite and prevent tangles.

Braided fishing lines come in color-coded models that change color pattern every 30 feet so anglers can monitor he depth of their lure. If the fish are hanging 300 feet below the boat, the angler drops the jig and watches watch the line color change ten times to know his lure has reached the right depth. Camo fishing lines feature mottled color patterns to break up the profile of the line in stained or dirty water.

Why Use Yellow Fishing Line?

Yellow fishing line is great for trolling or bait fishing when you have multiple lines to manage. Yellow, orange, blue and bright green are easier to see in bright sunshine or at night. Many colored lines refract light to almost glow in the sun. It is often best to fill the reel with high-vis fishing line, then add a leader of clear monofilament or fluorocarbon between the mainline and the lure.

yellow fishing line on a black rod and reel
Yellow fishing line is great for trolling or bait fishing when you have multiple lines to manage. | Photo: Allen Beilschmidt Sr./Pexels

Fishing Line Color for Bass

Bass have good eyesight, so low-visibility or clear line is best. Braided line in dark green, brown or black is a good choice for fishing in heavy vegetation or using deep-diving lures. Fluorocarbon line has become popular with finesse anglers who are working a small lure super slowly. Clear monofilament is a popular choice for all-around fishing and it can be tied directly to the lure or hook.

Fishing Line Color for Trout

Trout have sharp eyes and live in clear water. Anglers targeting trout favor clear lines or fluorocarbon. Use the lightest line possible and the least amount of weight. It takes a light touch to fool a trout.

Type of Line for Different Fish

Type of Fishing Line for Trout

To fish for mountain trout, anglers use the lightest, clearest fishing line. Brook trout, rainbows and browns have incredible eyesight, and these species often live in clear water. Trout anglers are advised to use eight-pound test clear monofilament. Monofilament will allow the lure or bait to have the most action as it drifts in the current. Mono is also abrasion resistant to survive the rocks and deadfalls where trout run to hide.

Type of Fishing Line for Bass

The average tournament bass angler carries dozens of fishing rods on his boat. A kayak angler may only be able to use four or five rods in a day. Each rod will usually have a different type of line for a specific tactic or lure. Bass anglers use braided fishing line for fishing is heavy vegetation where the line can cut through grass or reeds. Fluorocarbon is best when using finesse lures to entice a bass. Since it floats, monofilament is popular for topwater lures. Many anglers use mono because it is easier to untangle and less expensive to replace.

Line to Use on Different Reels

Fishing Line to Use on a Baitcaster

Any type of fishing line will work on a baitcasting reel. Many anglers use monofilament because it is easier to cast and untangle. Monofilament has memory, meaning it retains its shape when bent. It is also stiffer than braided line, so it is possible to pick out a tangle caused by an overrun. Still, experienced anglers will use braided line on a baitcasting reel when they are looking for the best sensitivity and longest casting distance.

Fishing Line Weight Guide

Fishing line comes in weights from two-pound test to 500. Two-pound test is the diameter of a human hair and used for light lures and little fish. 500-pound test will stop a sea monster. While all manufacturers label their line with the breaking strength in “lb test” or pound-test, not all lines are created equal. There are variations in diameter and performance that can affect how the line breaks. To help pick the perfect weight line for your fishing, we’ve included the guide to fishing line weight.

orange line and braided leader on spinning reels
It is often best to fill the reel with high-vis fishing line, then add a leader of clear monofilament or fluorocarbon between the mainline and the lure. | Photo: Thirdman/Pexels

What Pound Test Fishing Line Do I Need?

To figure out what pound fishing line you need, the general rule is to use the lightest line that won’t break under the weight of the average fish you will target. Lighter line will cast farther and perform better than a heavier pound test, and many anglers consider it more sporting to battle a big fish on light line.

While two-pound test might be good for fishing tiny jigs for panfish, a hundred pound fish can be beat on 20-pound test. The trick to beating a big fish on light line is set the reel drag to one-third the breaking strength of the line and work the fish until it tires. Most fishing rods and reels are rated for line test, so use 20-pound line on a 20-pound combo.

Sometimes anglers will use heavier line in heavy structure, where they have to control the fish with heavy drag. And bass anglers like to use 50-pound braid so they can rip the fish out of the water and into the boat. So, choosing the right weight fishing line depends on the fish and the fishing conditions. For general fishing, 10-pound line and 15-pound leader will catch a variety of fish in freshwater and salt.

Fishing Line Weight for Bass

For most applications, anglers will want to use 10- to 15-pound line for bass. To fish a variety of lures, many anglers choose 10-pound braided line with a 12-inch leader of 20-pound fluorocarbon.

Some tactics require heavier line. For example, anglers fishing in heavy cover will use 50-pound braided line. Thin and strong, braided line cuts through vegetation like a knife. And, braid is more abrasion resistant for fishing in wood and rocks. Since 50-pound braided line has the same diameter as 10-pound monofilament, anglers don’t lose casting distance or lure performance with a heavier line.

The latest trend in fishing line is using new, better-performing fluorocarbon as a mainline for finesse fishing. In fact, fluorocarbon is more sensitive than monofilament and nearly invisible, making it perfect for fishing light lures with a light touch.

Fishing Line Strength Test

Fishing line strength is measured in pounds of pressure required to break the line. To test breaking strength, a special machine stretches the line until it breaks. The machine measures the pounds of pressure required to break the line.

The breaking strength is labeled pound test or lb on the package. For example, line that breaks with 20 pound of pressure are labeled 20-lb. Line is also measured in diameter. For the best casting performance and action, use the line with the thinnest diameter.

Fishing Line Brands

Making fishing line is a complex process requiring complicated chemistry and mechanics. The best fishing line maintains breaking strength evenly. It is also abrasion resistant and bends easily. Braided lines require a tight, even weave of the individual strands of fiber. The best braids are round, not flat. There is also variation in fluorocarbons. Look for line that is not milky or stiff for the best performance. Below are our favorite sources of monofilament, flourocarbon and braid.

Other Questions About Fishing Line

When Should I Replace Fishing Line?

Fishing line is your most important connection to the fish, so it should be cared for carefully. Over time, heavy use and the elements damage fishing line. Monofilament fishing line should be replaced each season. Fluorocarbon is affected by UV light, which reduces its invisibility and strength. Replace fluorocarbon leaders after each fishing trip.

Braided line is tougher than monofilament or fluorocarbon and will last for years. Monitor the braided line for abrasion and changes in color. A good protocol is to cut back a few feet of the mainline and replace leaders after each fishing trip.

Why Does My Fishing Line Keep Tangling?

Tangled fishing line is unavoidable, but you can prevent the worst with a few simple techniques. To start, if the line is not spooled on the reel correctly it will be more prone to tangle.

To keep the line from twisting, make sure the line is leaving the spool the same direction it is going on the reel. Tie the line to the reel spool and turn the handle to start winding line. After a few seconds, stop cranking. If the line twists into loops, flip the line spool and continue adding line. Stop adding line an eighth of an inch from the lip of the spool. If you overfill a spinning reel, the line will twist and cause a wind knot. Overfilling a baitcasting reel will cause an overrun and a backlash.

a receptacle for used fishing line
Many launch ramps, fishing piers and tackle shops have receptacles to drop off old fishing line. | Photo: Tom Sulcer/Wikimedia Commons

When your fishing line tangles, the first step is keep the line loose. Slowly and carefully start picking apart the tangle. Once the tangle is loose, start unweaving the line. For bad tangles, remove the fishing lures, terminal tackle and hooks.

Why is My Fishing Line Loose?

Loose fishing line is a primary cause of tangles. It is especially important to keep braided line tight on the reel. As you crank the line on the reel, pinch the line with your thumb and pointer finger to add tension. Loose fishing line will bunch up on the reel and dig into itself.

Why is My Fishing Line Curly?

Curls in the fishing line are caused by twisting the line. Eventually, these curls can cause a massive tangle. To avoid curly line, be sure the line is added to the reel correctly. If you are fishing with a spoon or another type of lure that twists, add a small swivel to the line to absorb the twists.

If your line gets twisted, paddle the kayak in a straight line while releasing the line from the reel. When 50 to 100 feet of line is trailing behind the boat, wind it back on the reel while applying pressure to the line with your fingers.

How Should I Dispose of Fishing Line?

Fishing line can be recycled into many products. Since line has to be periodically replaced, it is best to take used fishing line to a recycle center. Many launch ramps, fishing piers and tackle shops have receptacles to drop off old fishing line.

Choosing the right fishing line will improve your chances of landing a trophy fish. | Feature photo: Jay Erickson/Flickr



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