So, you want to learn everything about the various types of fishing lines? Well, stick around as we uncover the fishing line basics. Sometimes, when you’re learning how to fish, it may seem like everyone is speaking a new language. However, we have you covered, and after reading this tutorial, you’ll be able to talk the lingo in no time.

For instance, we’ll discuss the terminology related to fishing line. Then, we’ll give you tips on how to perform essential line maintenance. Lastly, we’ll review each type of fishing line and its purpose. Now, let’s get started.

Fishing Line Basics: Terminology

  • Arbor: This term refers to the center of the spool.
  • Backlashes: A backlash is when your line unspools and becomes tangled up.
  • Carrier: This term refers to a braided fishing line’s strand count.
  • Dropline: Fishing line attached to your main line that drops down vertically in the water.
  • Leader line: A shorter piece of line that attaches to the main line via a fishing swivel.
  • Main line: This is the line that’s attached directly to your spool on a casting or spinning reel.
  • Memory: Line memory is when a fishing line curls after unreeling it from the spool.
  • PIC count: Stands for “per inch crosses” and measures where the strands on braided lines intersect. For example, a lower PIC count means the weave is thicker, whereas a higher PIC count means a braid has a tighter weave.
  • Pound-test: This refers to the strength rating of the fishing line, measured in pounds.
  • Rod guides or eyes: Are the circular pieces attached to the blank of your rod that your primary line threads through.
  • Spool: A cylindrical device that you can wind material on with a rim on the top and bottom.
  • Trotline: A heavy fishing line stretches across a body of water with multiple droplines with baited hooks attached to it.

A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types of Fishing Line

There are many types of specialized lines anglers will use. Selecting the correct line for your needs depends on the type of species you’re fishing and the type of water. Now, let’s get down to the fishing line basics review the various types of lines and the purpose of each one.


    Stren High Impact Monofilament

A spool of Stren High Impact Monofilament fishing line against a white background.
    If you're looking for a strong monofilament line for big game fish, then we recommend this formula of Stren.

First, monofilament gets its name because it is made from a single strand of material, unlike its braided counterpart. However, don’t let its simple construction fool you because monofilament is one of the most versatile fishing line types. For instance, you can use this on fresh or saltwater, on a spinning or casting rod, and even while fly fishing.

Additionally, many anglers highly recommend using monofilament to others because it’s affordable and easy to use. More so, this type of line stretches well under pressure and can easily absorb the shock of a striking fish. Also, mono is very buoyant, making it the best candidate to use with topwater lures.


    Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon

Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon against a white background.
    Berkley's Trilene Fluorocarbon is both UV and abrasive-resistant, also it has less memory than other fluorocarbon lines.

Next, fluorocarbon is also a single strand; however, it’s made of a compound material known as PVDF. Some anglers don’t use fluorocarbon as their main line because it has high memory, which causes backlashes.

Despite this drawback, fluorocarbon still has many valuable purposes. Often, anglers choose to use a fluorocarbon leader because it’s sensitive and has low visibility in the water. Fluorocarbon is one of the best lines to use in clearwater since it is practically invisible underwater.  Also, it is more UV-resistant and sinks faster than a monofilament line, making it a good choice for deep-diving lures.

Braided Nylon Rope

    Ironclad Bank Line Tarred Nylon Braided Twine

Ironclad's tarred nylon braided twine against a white background.
    Ironclad's Braided Nylon Twine is perfect for those catfish anglers and crabbers running trotlines.

Then, another line option some anglers use is braided nylon rope. I do not recommend spooling your reel with this stuff; however, it is better suited for other purposes. For example, catfish anglers and crabbers often use braided nylon rope to run trotlines. Furthermore, people choose to use this material for trotlines because it is doesn’t float, and it has a higher pound-test.

Braided Fishing Line

    Spiderwire Dura-4 Braid

The Spiderwire Dura-4 Braid against a white background.
    If you're looking for a durable braid with a thin diameter, we recommend using this Spiderwire Dura-4 Braid.

Next, unlike monofilament, a braided line consists of multiple strands of material woven together. Typically, anglers like braided lines in waters with a lot of coverage. Braid performs well in these areas since it is less likely to break off when it gets hung up in tall weeds or fallen timber.

Additionally, other great features of braided line are it has no line memory, is UV-resistant, and has no stretch. Also, it has a smaller diameter than monofilament to spool a greater amount onto your reel.

Backing Line

    Rio Fly Fishing Dacron Backing Line

Rio 20-pound test dacron backing fly fishing line against a white background.
    Rio Product's 20 pound-test Dacron backing line is strong and thin, perfect for most fly fishing applications.

The backing line, usually made of Dacron, is tied directly to the arbor of a fly reel. The purpose of the backing line is it extends the length of your fly line. Also, it ultimately increases your spool diameter so that you can retrieve the line more efficiently. Typically, anglers will use a 20-pound or 30-pound backing, depending on the species they’re targeting.

Fly Fishing Line

    Rio Avid Series Trout Fly Fishing Line

Rio Products Avid Series Trout fly fishing line against a white background.
    If you need a high-quality, smooth casting fly fishing line the Rio Avid Series is a fantastic choice.

A fly fishing line is a weighted specialized line for fly reels. It attaches to the front end of your backing line. Additionally, it comes in various weights from 1 to 14. Generally, fly anglers select their line by matching its weight with the rod’s weight. Furthermore, there are four types of fly line anglers will come across:

  • Double taper: This is a fly line where both ends are tapered, which allows for a more delicate presentation.
  • Level fly line: This type has no taper throughout its length.
  • Shooting taper: Similar to a weight forward line, except the thickness of the front head extends to the first 20 yards. Often, fly anglers use this line in tournaments for long-distance casting.
  • Weight-forward: As the name implies, the front of the fly line is heavier and thicker for the first 10 yards than the rest.

If you would like to learn more, check out our article about the essentials of fly fishing.

Tapered Leader Line

    Orvis Tapered Leader

Orvis tapered leader line against a white background.
    Orvis' tapered leaders are reliable and strong, a great line option for fly anglers.

Then, a tapered leader line is a leader that narrows to a fine thin point on the front. Generally, you attach the butt section of your tapered leader to the front end of your fly line. The butt section is the heavier end of the leader.

Furthermore, fly anglers will generally select either a nine or a ten-foot leader, which works well for most applications.


    Rio Powerflex Tippet Line

Rio Powerflex tippet against a white background.
    The Rio Powerflex is a superb tippet line, it has the right amount of stretch, it's durable, and its abrasive resistant.

Next, the tippet is the thinnest point on a tapered leader that you attach to your flies. Typically, tippets are around 18-inches to 3-feet in length. However, if you end up breaking off bits of your tippet, add some thinner monofilament to the end of your leader.

Wire Leader

    AFW Tooth Proof Stainless Steel Leader Wire

AFW Tooth Proof stainless steel leader wire against a white background.
    American Fishing Wire's stainless steel wire leader line is a high-quality corrosive and abrasive resistant line.

Lastly, we have wire leaders; this type of leader line is most popular with saltwater anglers. The purpose of wire leaders is so you can land toothy fish easier. For example, fish with sharp teeth are longnose gar, mackerel, bluefish, barracuda, and shark. These types of fish would be able to cut through a non-wire leader line effortlessly. There are two main types of wire leader:

  • Single-strand: This type is more affordable and thinner than multi-strand wire.
  • Multi-strand: Multi-strand is more expensive and durable than single-strand. Plus, it is less likely to kink or corrode.

Additionally, you can find wire leaders made of various types of material like:

  • Steel
  • Titanium

Which of These Fishing Lines Is Your Favorite?

Wow, those are a lot of different types of fishing lines we discussed. As you can see, each line has its place and purpose, and ultimately you’ll decide which is best. Do you have a favorite kind of fishing line? Do you have any questions? Please, let us know in the comments below. Or, do you know someone who could use a refresher on the fishing line basics? Then, please hit that share button and send them over.