Fishing Line Buying Guide
There are a number of choices available to the modern angler. Choice of line may depend on the angler's application and is usually based on the kind of fishing they plan on doing. We put together some information about the three main types of line to help decide what makes sense for you.
Monofilament is by far the most affordable option. Of the three main types of line, it has the most stretch. As a result, monofilament provides good shock absorption, but it is less sensitive than braided and fluorocarbon lines. In some cases, the stretch can make getting a good hookset difficult. In addition, monofilament tends to float, often making it the best choice for top water applications. While a floating line is good for topwater, a line that floats will keep your lure from getting down deep. So if you are trying to get your lure down as deep as possible, you may be better off with a fluorocarbon line.
- Pros: Affordable, floating line for topwater applications, lots of stretch and good shock absorption, good for beginners
- Cons: Less abrasion resistant, poor sensitivity, higher visibility compared to fluorocarbon, stretchiness can make setting hooks harder, deteriorates over time with exposure to UV light
Fluorocarbon line has several advantages over monofilament line. First, it's more abrasion resistant making it a good choice when you are fishing around cover. Second, it has very little stretch which helps when you're setting the hook. Third, it's by far the most invisible type of line, so you're less likely to scare the fish. However, fluorocarbon line sinks, so it's not a good choice for topwater lures. If you are trying to walk or pop a bait on top of the water, a sinking line will defeat the action because your lure will get pulled below the surface.
- Pros: More abrasion resistant, invisible, good sensitivity, little stretch, allows for powerful hook sets
- Cons: expensive, fluorocarbon sinks, has the most memory out of the three types of line
Braided line is the heavy-duty line of the fishing world. It's very strong and has a smaller line diameter for the same weight rating. That means you can get more of a given weight line on the same spool. Like monofilament, braided line floats, so it is a popular choice for topwater lures. In addition, braided line has virtually no stretch making for excellent sensitivity and better hook sets. The downside is that it is not clear and transparent, so it is much more visible than fluorocarbon and monofilament.
Braided line in the 50-65 pound test range is the ideal type of line for anglers learning to use a baitcasting reel, because it tends to backlash the least. Additionally, if a backlash does occur, the strength of a braided line will not be compromised, unlike monofilament and fluorocarbon line, which get chaffed up quickly and lose their strength due to backlashes. It is important to choose the right knots to tie when using this type of line, because there are some knots that hold strong with monofilament and fluorocarbon line but will slip when tied with braided line. Still, braided line tends to be the most popular choice these days, mainly due to it being very long-lasting and having an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.
Braided lines may differ by the number of weaves they have, meaning the number of strands that are woven together to create the line, hence the name. At times, braided lines are the best option because their thinness and little stretch allow them to slice through weeds and vegetation in the water like a saw blade, keeping the anglers lure running true. Braided lines with fewer weaves have a rougher surface, making them cut through weeds better than smoother lines with more weaves. If you are planning to fish in places with a lot of vegetation in the water, you may want to choose a rougher feeling braided line that has fewer weaves. If not, you may prefer a braided line that has more weaves with a smoother feel. Braided lines are not transparent and are quite visible to fish, so they are usually tied to a leader.
- Pros: Strongest line, smallest diameter, better hook sets, very sensitive because there is no stretch, lasts a long time, little to no memory, tends to float, cuts through weeds in the water the best
- Cons: More visible, more expensive, more challenging to work with when tying knots
A leader is a piece of line that you attach between the end of your main line and your lure or bait. A leader is usually less visible to fish and is almost always more resistant to breaking than your main line. The two main purposes of a leader are to protect the main fishing line against damage, and to present your lure more naturally. When using a braided main line, leaders present your lure more naturally by making the line attached to your lure less visible to the fish, while causing your line to float and stretch (monofilament leader) or sink and add sensitivity (fluorocarbon leader). Leaders can be anywhere from 12” long to 20 ft. Leaders are most often monofilament or fluorocarbon and are usually attached to a braided mainline.
- Monofilament leaders: This type of leader is a good choice when you want some shock absorption and line invisibility is less important.
- Fluorocarbon leaders: A fluorocarbon leader tied to a braid mainline is the most common leader setup. This is because you get the strength and fishability of braid, along with the invisibility and sensitivity of fluorocarbon on the business end.
Wire leaders: These are used when targeting large toothy fish species like sharks, barracuda, and wahoo so that their teeth do not cut your line.