Choosing the right fishing line can be daunting to an uninformed angler. Everyone claims to provide the best line for you. The truth is how, and how much fishing you do determines what line is best for you. There are various types of lines to choose from and the wrong type will result in lost fish and wasted money. I will give a break down of the lines and where and how to use them so you can choose what fits your style of fishing best. This goes beyond what pound test strength you should use. A few terms you need to know.
Test Strength; the weight or pressure a line is designed to withstand before breaking. The majority of lines exceed the labeled test strength.
Memory; some fishing lines will retain the shape of the spool creating loops while casting or when slack, the result is not a good thing.
Sensitivity; how well the line transmits the bite or hitting of structure. Two things that are very important in a line.
Stretch; some lines will stretch under load. This is similar to a bungee cord effect. This can be desirable or not depending on how you fish.
Shock Strength; how well the line can handle a quick heavy load at hook set or when a fish thrashes.
Which Fishing Line for What Type of Fishing
There are anglers using a line because it is what everyone else uses. Similarly, what someone told them to use, regardless of knowing how they fish. Choosing the right fishing line depends on a few factors. Do you need a line with some stretch or no stretching, what abrasion resistance does the line need, and what type of fishing do you do, live bait or lures? Answering these questions will help you make the best choice in a line for yourself.
Choosing a Monofilament Fishing Line
This line is as the name implies a single strand line. The line is inexpensive and widely used by anglers. This line has near-zero buoyancy so it does not sink as other lines do in the water. The line has some stretch in it meaning it will not tear a hook out easily as braid or fluorocarbon that has no stretch or very little stretch. The monofilament line is good for shallow running lures for this reason. Topwater and lures made to run only 2-4 feet deep will work better with this line. Anglers also tend to see these fish strike and will set the hook too fast, mono’s stretch helps by allowing the lure to stay in place split second longer so the fish can get a better hold.
When setting a hook shock strength comes into play with the fishing line. Shock strength is not the same as a stretch or test strength, it helps to prevent the line from breaking on hard hooks sets, when fishes are thrashing about, or during hard strikes from fish. If you have had a line break at the shore or boat side while the fish is thrashing, this is the likely reason for the failure. Mono is very good at shock strength.
When not to Use Monofilament
The downside of the monofilament line is abrasion resistance since it is a nylon polymer or copolymer. These are softer plastics that can cut easier than other offerings in a fishing line. If you are fishing in heavy cover like brush, rock piles, and other snag prone areas it is likely not a good choice. When using mono, the line will need to have 2-3 feet cut off the end and your lure or rig tied on again to remove the damaged line. Check the line near the lure often for nicks, scrapes, and other damage. Mono is of larger diameter so take that into account. Achieving the test strength takes more diameter compared to other lines. Change the monofilament line regularly. this is due to deterioration, as a consequence of UV rays and use.
Choosing a Braided Fishing Line
In the days before plastic, this was the line people used. It was made out of cotton at that time, but today it is made out of synthetic materials. The main material in the braided line is blended polyesters, additionally, some having other materials added or used as coatings. Spectra is the common term for the material, along with dacron an older type of braid.
Braided line is thinner pound for pound than mono allowing more line to be spooled on a reel. It does not stretch, therefore, allowing anglers to detect lighter bites and is harder to break. This line is harder to cut than mono but does not have better abrasion resistance. Rubbing against rocks will weaken the line causing failure. The line comes in various amounts of braids 4, 6, 8, etc. with more braids better.
Using Braided Line
Braided line is a very good choice for the mainline on your reel. This line is becoming the general use line for many anglers instead of mono because of durability. Understand it will slip on a spool so a braid ready spool or mono line backing is required. The braided line is also likely visible to fish so it is highly suggested to use a fluoro, mono, or metal leader on the end of the line with sufficient length. Choose the leader based on abrasion, bait presentation and species of fish, some have teeth hence the metal leader option. In general, live bait rigs will use a mono leader, lures often use a fluoro leader, and musky, pike and other toothy fish require a steel or titanium leader. There are exceptions to this rule that will come with experience.
The braided line is used by bass, catfish, and musky anglers for its strength qualities. As a result, it withstands hard fighting fish, casts farther, more can be spooled on the reel, and lasts longer and has few downsides. It does cost more and will not be the best in a few situations, you will learn when it is not the best line through experience. If you are a less experienced angler mono may be better, but if you can cast effectively try braid instead. Choosing the right fishing line is your choice.
A word of caution about braided lines. Braided lines have small diameters and high breaking strengths, do not wrap around hands or fingers to try and break. The result will be getting cut by the line.
Choosing a Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Anglers swear by this line and a few swear at fluoro. The fluorocarbon line will cut through the knot leading to failure, consequently, you have to know how to tie a knot correctly. This is an unforgiving element of this line. Abrasion resistance, shock strength, and no stretch are the benefits, along with sensitivity and good casting in a quality fluorocarbon line. This sounds like a no brainer, why not use this line exclusively?
It has the ability to cut and damage itself when tangled or backlashes occur, and does cost significantly more. Using this line will likely require changing out the spool of line frequently, resulting in added cost. Therefore, I recommend experienced anglers with multiple rods have a use for this line in certain presentations. The fluoro line allows crankbaits to go deeper reaching those fish just out of reach.
If you are casting 10 feet or more of depth for bass, or walleye this can be a game-changer. Your depth finder shows fish at 15 feet and your lure only goes 12 with braid or mono, instead try fluorocarbon and reach those fish. This is a line for going deeper with lures and leader material, for this reason, buy what you need for that application. It is as simple as stated for the vast majority of anglers.
This is a basic guide to fishing line types and common uses. Angler’s needs generally fall within these rules for choosing a line. If not, likely you are doing specialized fishing resulting in the need of advice from an expert in that niche of fishing. Choosing the right fishing line is easier knowing its intended use.
Keeping fishing simple for tight lines and bragging rights