Using the wrong fishing line could lead to broken lines and losing fish. Learn how to select the correct fishing line in this in-depth tutorial. Here, you’ll learn the importance of the fishing line, the three main types, and choosing the best one for you. Regardless of if you’re targeting crappie or muskie, we’ll point you in the right direction, so you can successfully land fish.

What is Fishing Line?

First, a fishing line is a specialized material, either spooled onto a reel or used in a rig by anglers. The fishing line enables anglers to cast baits and lures and retrieve fish. There are three main types of line anglers will use in most applications:

  • Monofilament
  • Fluorocarbon
  • Braided

So, let’s examine each line type and weigh the benefits and disadvantages of each material.

Understanding Pound Test

The term “pound test” on the fishing line refers to its strength measured in pounds. This rating defines the recommended weight a line can withstand and hold without breaking.

3 Main Types of Fishing Line

Monofilament Fishing Line

    Stren Original Monofilament

Stren Original Monofilament fishing line against a white background.
    Stren's Original Monofilament fishing line is a must-have product for a trout angler's tackle box. This fishing line is inexpensive, easy to cast, and durable.

Monofilament is a single strand of material, often made out of nylon. The monofilament line is very beginner-friendly because it’s affordable, easy to handle, and will work in most fishing applications. Now, let’s weigh the pros and cons of using monofilament:

Pros: 

  • Stretches well under pressure
  • Absorbs shock well
  • Its larger diameter allows it to sink slower
  • It is buoyant
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Easy to tie knots on
  • Has low memory, so fewer kinks will form

Cons: 

  • Its larger diameter limits deep water fishing
  • Not suitable for fishing rigs on the bottom
  • Its stretchiness makes it less sensitive
  • The line will weaken when over-exposed to UV-light
  • Less abrasive-resistant than fluorocarbon and braid

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

    Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon Line

Berkley fluorocarbon fishing line against a white background.
    Berkley's Vanish Fluorocarbon fishing line is easy to cast and it's almost invisible underwater. This fluorocarbon is great for fishing in clear waters and on sunny days.

Fluorocarbon is a single strand made out of a dense compound fluoropolymer known as PVDF. The main attraction of fluorocarbon to anglers is its low visibility and sensitivity. Now, let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks of using fluorocarbon:

Pros: 

  • It’s nearly invisible underwater
  • More sensitive than monofilament and braid
  • Sinks faster than monofilament
  • Highly sensitive, making it easier to detect strikes
  • Its controlled stretch allows for a better hook set
  • Abrasive-resistant
  • Resistant to UV-light
  • An excellent choice for a leader material

Cons: 

  • Stiff and has more memory than monofilament
  • The high memory leads to bird nests in your spool
  • It doesn’t work well with topwater lures
  • It can be more expensive than monofilament and braid
  • Knots can fail if you don’t wet them after tying it

Braided Fishing Line

    Spiderwire Stealth-Braid Fishing Line

Spiderwire Stealth-Braid fishing line against a white background.
    Spiderwire is known for making high-quality fishing line, and this stealth-braid line will definitley exceed your expectations. This line is durable and has high castability.

A braided fishing line is multiple strands of fibers woven together to produce a durable material. Anglers often use a braided fishing line when targeting large fish species in saltwater or murky freshwater areas. In addition, it is also a spectacular line for bass anglers fishing in waters with high vegetation. Now, let’s go over the advantages and disadvantages of using a braided line:

Pros: 

  • No line memory allows for precise casting
  • Excellent for fishing in low-visibility waters
  • Resistant to UV-light
  • Tough fishing line for large species
  • It has virtually no stretch so that you can better present lures
  • Increases the strength of your knots

Cons: 

  • It’s difficult to cut
  • It can be more expensive to buy
  • Tying knots onto braided line can be trickier
  • Less abrasive-resistant than monofilament

Other Types of Line Anglers Use

Here are some other types of specialized fishing line anglers use for specific scenarios:

How To Select the Correct Fishing Line

Step One: Decide Which Fish Species You’re Targetting

First, knowing what species you’ll likely fish for is an excellent way to gauge what pound test to buy. When purchasing a spool of fishing line, it is best practice to match your pound test with the weight of the fish you’re targeting.

For example, if you’re fishing for average-sized trout, you may want to get a 4 to 6-pound test monofilament. Or, if you’re fishing for a larger species like catfish, you should opt-in for a 20 to 50-pound test braid.

Step Two: Think of What Waters You’ll Fish

Next, after you get an idea of what pound test you’ll need, you need to think of what waters you’ll likely fish. For example, will you be fishing in murky waters with high vegetation? Then, consider using a braided line. Or, are you going to be fishing in a clearwater trout stream? If so, I recommend going with monofilament or fluorocarbon.

Step Three: Weigh the Pros and Cons

Now you should have a clear picture of what your ideal fishing line is. However, often you may have a toss-up between using two materials. For example, say you’re putting together a fishing outfit for trout, but you can’t decide between monofilament and fluorocarbon. So, the best way to solve this dilemma is to weigh the pros and cons of the two materials.

For instance, monofilament is nice because it’s cheaper and easier to work with than fluorocarbon. Yet, fluorocarbon has more sensitivity and will be virtually invisible to trout.

Step Four: Purchase Your Fishing Line

A screenshot of the bait shop locator map on Hook and Bullet.

Image Credit: Hook and Bullet

Lastly, after you’ve weighed each material’s benefits and drawbacks, it is time to make a decision and purchase your line. If you need help finding a tackle shop near you, check out our shop locator here on Hook and Bullet. On our page, you’ll find the closest bait and tackle shop, as well as nearby fishing spots.

Which Fishing Line Is the Best?

To conclude, each fishing line material has its strengths and weaknesses. So, choosing which line is best depends solely on your individual fishing needs. However, if you’re searching for an all-around and affordable fishing line, you can’t go wrong with monofilament.

Are you new to fishing? Then, you might be interested in our ultimate beginner’s guide to fishing. Did this tutorial help you find the best fishing line for your application? If so, then please let us know in the comments below. Or, consider sharing this article with your friends via social media.

Tight lines, everyone!