Best Fishing Line for Your Needs
What Type of Fishing Line Should I Use?
This is one of the most common questions in fishing, especially for those who don't go fishing that much. The general answer to this question is that it depends on what type of fishing you're doing, which includes the type and size of fish you're fishing, where you're fishing, and any personal preferences.
There's a problem though. That answer doesn't really provide any useful information. Therefore, our goal with this article is to highlight some of the best and most popular fishing line, outline the pros and cons of different types of fishing line, and hopefully this will allow you to gain a better sense of what you should have on your spool and ready to go in the tackle box. Check out our reviews of some of the best fishing line below, and detailed information about each type of fishing line can be found below that.
Best Fishing Line for the Money
- Simple, versatile
- Stretch can offer forgiveness
- Not as much memory as some other mono lines
- Many different strengths and lengths available
- Low sensitivity compared to other types of line
- Lowest tensile strength of all line types
This is your basic fishing line that is suitable in tons of different situations. Additionally, Berkley is a reputable fishing brand especially for line, and the Trilene line is well-respected among many anglers.
With lots of different strengths and lengths available, there really is something for everyone. The lower cost actually compliments this well, as you can make sure to have a few variations of the same line ready to go in your tackle box.
This is one of the better lines in terms of monofilament, so any major drawbacks are simply inherent with this type of line. For example, the fact that there is some stretch means the line won't be as sensitive to smaller bites, and there will be an added delay to the hookset, making it slightly less efficient in that regard.
Overall, we definitely recommend the Berkley Trilene monofilament fishing line due to the low cost and high versatility. Even if you prefer a braided line or switch up your fishing local often, it can always be useful to have a couple different strengths available in the tackle box, even as spares.
- High tensile strength
- High sensitivity
- Many different strengths/diameters and lengths available
- Low memory
- Good resistance to abrasion
- More expensive
- Doesn't hold knots as well as other types of lines
- Higher visibility in the water
Braided line is a great step up from monofilament line in many situations. The high tensile strength makes it great for fishing larger fish. This line doesn't stretch either, facilitating a high sensitivity, which allows you to feel the smallest nibbles. Additionally, the lack of stretch helps set the hook in fish that don't seem to be holding on to the bait as long (i.e. those that are simply "tasting" the bait).
Another nice characteristic of this line is it's resistance to abrasion. While it's not indestructible, it's certainly a better option when placing the bait in heavy cover, or if you're in an area where the fish is likely to put up a fight and drag your line into some vegetation.
The main drawbacks are the cost, visibility, and ability to hold knots. That being said, fishing line in general isn't the most expensive component, so you can likely carry at least one type of braided line in your tackle box. The visibility can be a problem at times when the fish seem particularly shy, and the higher incidence of knots failing can be an annoyance.
Overall, we feel that the advantages of a braided fishing line definitely outweigh the disadvantages. However, it's best to have a little bit of experience with mono line first, especially if you are on a budget or just learning the proper techniques.
- Almost completely invisible underwater
- Very high sensitivity
- High tensile strength
- Cheap when used only as a leader
- Expensive for a given length, but affordable as a leader
- Difficult to use, holds shape, stiff material
- Some knot issues
Fluorocarbon line is a really cool development in fishing technology, and the development continues. The primary advantage is that it's nearly invisible underwater, making it harder for the fish to detect.
Additionally, the high tensile strength and zero stretch makes it highly sensitive. Pair this with a lightweight sensitive rod and you've set yourself up to feel anything that hits that bait.
The main disadvantages to fluorocarbon fishing line are that it's really finicky and tends to hold its shape. This can create some annoying issues when it's coming off the spool, so it's often recommended to be used as a leader with braided line, especially since it's already quite expensive. Some higher-end fluorocarbon lines are available that can be better on the spool, but these advanced lines are much more expensive.
Overall, we think fluorocarbon line is a really cool addition to the different variations of fishing line. There are some clear strengths that can benefit anglers in many different situations, but the disadvantages are pronounced enough that it's still not ideal all the time. Therefore, when considering value and versatility, we usually recommend using fluorocarbon line as a leader to braided line.
Types of Fishing Line
To keep things simple, we will provide a brief overview on three different types of fishing line. These are the three most common types of fishing line, and therefore the most available as well. You can find subtle variations or subsets, but chances are if you're at that point then you already have a decent idea of what you're looking for. If you're looking for something for sub-zero temperatures, check out our article on ice fishing line.
Without wasting any more time, here is our breakdown of the three different types of fishing line:
Monofilament Fishing Line (Mono)
This is the most common type of fishing line (excluding ancient times). If you have been fishing before, there is a great chance that you used this type of fishing line. It's generally made from nylon, but there can be a blend of different types of nylon or different materials altogether.
In order to make it, manufacturers usually perform some type of process that involves taking liquid plastic and making it into a long strand - the fishing line. It's a fairly simple process by engineering standards, and the fact that it's cheap to manufacture allows it to be relatively cheap on the shelves as well, so you can often find great value in a monofilament line.
So what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a monofilament line? Check out our pros and cons of monofilament line below.
- Wraps to the spool easily
- Very castable
- Not very visible in water
- Holds knots well
- Stretchy *
- Weak for a given diameter compared to other types of line
- Not as sensitive as other lines
- Holds shape after time, so if the line is on the spool for a while you may end up with "curliness" in any slack on the line.
- Stretchy *
* Mono fishing line has some stretch to it, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your preferences. If we had to pick one, we would lean towards the stretch being a disadvantage, as it adds a little bit of time when attempting a proper hookset. If you want a crisp and immediate hookset, then you don't really want the line to take time in the stretching phase, as milliseconds can make the difference between reeling in the big one and losing it. Also, if you're one to relax a lot while fishing and find your reaction time isn't as fast as other anglers, then you may want to consider a line without any stretch.
So when does the stretch of a mono fishing line help? It may help to think of times when you've lost fish and why that happened. One instance that is fresh in my own memory is when I felt lots of "nibbles", but no solid bites, and I failed to set the hook properly a few times. Having a line that can stretch could be beneficial in this situation, as you could potentially allow the fish more time to latch on to the bait, and then once you're a little more confident that it will be a solid hookset, try it then. Of course, this is easier said than done, as it all happens within the span of a couple seconds.
One other reason that stretch in your fishing could help is when fighting the fish. If you have an old reel that sticks a lot, especially with the drag, it might be helpful to have some compliance, or "forgiveness", in the line, so you don't snap it, lose the fish, and have to knot another lure.
Overall, we really like monofilament fishing line because it's cheap, widely available, you can get lots of different kinds, and it offers all-around decent performance. I've used it lots when fishing bass and I've always found mono line to be good. However, if you're fishing for bigger fish and want to ensure the highest tensile strength in your line, we would hesitate to use monofilament line. Regardless, it's a tackle-box staple, and we always recommend having some on hand.
Braided Fishing Line
You may also see this type of fishing line referred to as "superline". The braided technique has been around for centuries, maybe even millenniums, but it wasn't until recently in the modern era that manufacturers began to implement high-tech materials and process into this fishing line. The result? An extremely strong and sensitive line.
The way these lines are created varies by manufacturer. Furthermore, certain companies, for example Berkley, have a few different types of braided lines that are all created differently. Some methods involve thermal bonding, others use a particular weaving process, and some even go as far as to establish molecular linkages to provide strength at the fundamental level of the line. At the end of the day, the main thing to know is braided line is strong, sensitive, reliable, but it's expensive. Here are some individual pros and cons of braided fishing line.
- Extremely high tensile strength
- Very sensitive
- Low "memory"
- Higher visibility
- Doesn't hold knots as well
As mentioned above, braided line is extremely strong and sensitive. The tensile strength for a given diameter is the strongest of any line, allowing it to be thinner than other lines. You can look at this two different ways. If you are comparing mono line and braided line, and if they are both the exact same diameter, the braided line will be way stronger. Or, if you're comparing mono line with braided line and they both have the same tensile strength, then the braided line will be thinner.
Are there any other reasons why a thin line could be better? There's a couple reasons. One is that the line will be able to dive deeper and faster, so if you are limited with lures, having different types of line could offer some nice flexibility. Really thin lines can also be helpful when fighting a fish that's residing in an area with vegetation. If the fish pulls your line through some weeds, there's a better chance that the line will slice through the vegetation rather than snapping. Finally, one of the more exciting benefits is that you can usually cast a thinner line further. Check out the video below by Chris Myers from Central Florida Sight Fishing Charters for his thoughts on braided fishing line as well as some tips on how to use it!
Aside from being more expensive, which is definitely the biggest drawback of braided fishing line, another key drawback is that braided line doesn't hold knots as well. Most manufacturers will provide knot recommendations, but it's one more issue that you may not want to deal with. Furthermore, many anglers like to use a mono backing on the spool, and sometimes even as a leader depending on the type of fishing, which adds even more connections. If you aren't overly experiences with these finer aspects of fishing, then you may find braided line a little troublesome.
Overall, braided line is fantastic if you need a higher pound-test, a crisp hookset, and higher sensitivity for detecting those light nibbles. However, many of these benefits are accompanied with some drawbacks that you may want to adjust for, and this requires a little more fishing knowledge, or at least a good idea of your personal preferences when casting and fighting fish.
At the end of the day, we would recommend braided fishing line for more experienced anglers, those that are fishing larger fish (e.g. more than 15-20 pounds, or lots of salt water fish), or those who simply want to see the difference for themselves and are willing to pay a bit more for that.
Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
This is a slightly lesser-known type of fishing line that originally marketed for having super low visibility in water, which it certainly does. Lots of anglers started using this line for very bait-shy fish and the result was pretty clear: more fish! However, like all other types of fishing line, it isn't perfect for every angler, as there are some drawbacks that accompany the strengths. Check out our pros and cons of fluorocarbon line below, as well as some more detailed explanations below that.
- Almost completely invisible underwater
- Very strong against abrasion *
- Very high sensitivity
- Crisp hooksets
- Really finicky
- A little more expensive
- Some knot issues
- Sinks really fast *
The fact that fluorocarbon line has nearly the same refractive index as water means it won't bend or scatter the light as it passes through. This makes it tremendously difficult for the fish to detect, so it's great for those skeptical bait-shy fish.
If you compare fluorcarbon line to mono line with the same diameter, flouro line is stronger, less visible, and way more stiff. Therefore, it's extremely sensitive and has high tensile strength, so there will be less stretch, less energy being absorbed by the line, all resulting in a crisp hookset.
* The reason we had abrasion resistance flagged is because fluorocarbon line is typically marketed as being able to withstand more punishment from underwater vegetation and other objects. While we aren't discounting this, we have also heard otherwise from anglers actually using it, so we aren't confident stating this for sure one way or the other. Personally, we haven't been in enough situations to have a great idea of exactly how it compares in that regard, but at the very least, we haven't noticed any problems with abrasion.
One of the main drawbacks of fluorocarbon line is the cost. However, if you need it, it's worth paying for. From a performance perspective though, the main drawback is it's really finicky to handle. It has the most memory out of all fishing line, meaning it can hold some of its shape coming off the spool, leading to more tangles and knot issues. This problem is currently being addressed by most manufacturers, so there are usually "premium" options available that are more manageable.
One tip if you want to save on cost but still receive some of the benefits of fluorocarbon line is to use it as a leader, so you don't need to worry about it how it interacts with the spool. You could take a few feet of it or a little more and use it as a leader with braided line. This could also allow you to use a slightly lower pound-test braided line than you usually do, allowing more to fit on the spool. Even further, combine this with a lightweight sensitive rod, and you have a setup that will allow you to feel the smallest of bites.
This could be a nice option when fishing for walleye or bass, but that situation gives you a bit of flexibility in general, so don't think you need to stick with only one type of line. If you do use fluorocarbon as a leader, we recommend connecting with a hangman's knot.
Overall, we recommend fluorocarbon line for experienced anglers who would like to receive some of the benefits, including lower visibility, extremely high sensitivity, and a deeper sinking line.