Fishing Line - Buyer's Guide

Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime

Fishing Line - Buyer's Guide

by Capt. Terry Rand

Fishing sure was a lot simpler when I was a kid. I had a rod, a reel, a two tray tackle box with some hooks and sinkers…and my dog. Oh yeah, my reel usually had a less than full spool of monofilament line on it. And I caught some nice fish, too. Now, I have around thirty rods and reels, all spooled with various types of fishing line. And, every one of those lines, just like the rods and reels that they’re spooled on, all serve a particular purpose.

In today’s tackle industry there are many different types of fishing line. When it comes to most mainstream fishing, including freshwater, saltwater and offshore, fishing line can be broken down into three main categories: monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided fishing lines. Each of these lines serves different purposes and each has their own unique characteristics.

Monofilament line is what most everyone has fished with for the past 40 years. Statistically, I’m sure it is still the number one selling type of line on the market. It is made from a single filament of extruded nylon and is very cheap, strong, and fairly pliable. It also has some stretch when under tension which can act as a shock absorber when battling hard fighting fish.

The drawback of mono line is that it has a tendency to retain “memory” after it has been wound on a spool for a while. This means that the line begins to spiral off the spool during the cast and the springy coils can often contribute to wind knots and other undesirable effects. The stretch in monofilament line is also a hindrance in certain situations such as pulling largemouths from heavy weeds or trying to keep a large striper from running in between the rocks.

This is where braided line comes into play. Braided fishing line is made of tiny synthetic fibers braided together. It retains very little line memory and is incredibly strong for its diameter. A thirty pound braided line will usually have a diameter of an 8 lb. monofilament line which now makes it possible to fill a small trout or bass sized reel spool with 20 or 30 lb. test. Some negatives include not being very abrasion resistant and it is also highly visible and should be fished using a non-visible leader of some kind.

It seems there is a solution to every problem. And, this time its fluorocarbon fishing line. Closely resembling monofilament, fluorocarbon is nearly invisible underwater. It works wonders in shallow water where fish are spooky and also in clear, deep water where light penetration is high. In addition, fluorocarbon is highly abrasion resistant and is also used in making leader material. Fluoro had received some bad press in the past because when it first hit the market it was a rather rigid line. This made spooling and casting the line difficult. But, technology has really perfected fluorocarbon over the past ten years, making it a very popular and reliable product.

Essentially, the various types of line out there on the market are all tools. They are tools for you to use to make your job easier. And, they all will help you catch more fish once you learn to use them properly. 

So, I guess fishing definitely was simpler when I was a kid but so was my overall knowledge and approach to fishing. I guess I could have continued to fish that way but my desire to learn and become a better angler had me hooked. As I fished and learned more and more about it, I became aware of the advantages of choosing the correct line, lure color, etc. Fishing may not be as simple as it used to be but I sure am happy that I now understand how to use these tools that are available. They have definitely helped me put more fish in my boat.


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