What Fishing Line should I Use?
There are tons of fishing line products available in all different styles, tests, and yards with brand names out of a science fiction movie… Spydernanopolybraid? Don’t worry about all of that, the best fishing line for beginners is a classic monofilament.
I am not picky about brands but just be careful of the really inexpensive spools with a ton of line on them. Not going to name names but the 1000 yds spools for $8 should be avoided because they are going to hold lower quality mono with crazy memory issues. Memory is a concept I will cover further down in the Pro’s/Con’s.
Line Type: Monofilament
Mono is a good, basic starting point and will do everything you need. It is forgiving when you are reeling in fish, the line is easy to tie, and the product will not break your bank. The 6 Lb test strength is great for targeting multiple species. It’s light enough to pull in a pile of Panfish, and heavy enough to get your Largemouth Bass dockside. However, when you get more specialized a lighter test (2-4 Lb.) for Panfish and a heavier test (8-12 Lb.) for Bass is a good rule of thumb. Don’t worry, even 6lb Mono will work with all the classic, fundamental fishing tackle.
Line Color: Clear
I am giving you a Clear color recommendation because I don’t know what type of water you are fishing. Clear will suite you just fine regardless. There are plenty of other colors dyed into the line for specific water clarity but outside of technicalities Clear is a good catch-all.
Spool Size: 330 Yards
Most medium sized fishing reels in the 30-40 size range can hold 230-250 yds of line. You want to spool your reel with about 200 yds in both cases because spooling it to the recommended range will be over overkill. The excess line will pour off your reel uncontrollably on your first cast due to memory the line has picked up on its much larger retail spool (about 2-3x size difference).
Nearly all manufacturers spool 330 yds of line per spool. Since most reels take around 200 yds of line to spool, this leaves you with an extra 130 yds of line more or less. What can you really do with 70 yds of extra line before it expires? To solve this problem, we’re proud to have created high-quality and affordable clear monofilaments spooled with 400 yds of line instead of 330 yds.
What’s the Right Fishing Line Test?
So you’re not a first timer and want to get the details situated. The Lb. test rating is the most important factor when making a species specific decision. Still speaking in terms of Monofilament, you want to go ultra light for Panfish, light on Trout, veer into medium light for Walleye, and heavier for Bass. We recommend the following Mono Tests:
2-4 Lb. = Panfish
4-6 Lb. = Trout
6-8 Lb. = Walleye
8-10 Lb. = Bass
Braid (10-15 Lb.) + Wire Leader = Pike (25-35 Lb. Braid for Musky)
If you’re just getting started fishing, and not sure what you are targeting I recommend reading our How to Fish ultimate guide.
When to use Braided Fishing Line?
But what about Braid Fishing Line its all the rage? Totally agree, braided line is incredible. It has universal applications if your savvy enough, and is the best option for all levels in Saltwater and Baitcasting reels for Bass. I gave the above recommendations as a catch-all to beginners in Freshwater using a spinning combo.
Braid on Baitcasting Reels
For Baitcasting reels used to target Largemouth Bass braided line is the staple. Braided line doesn’t have memory issues like mono-filament. You can cast further and more accurately with braid because it is heavier. Spool about 150-200 yds of 10-12 Lb. Braided Line onto your typical baitcaster and you’re ready to hit the water. Adding a fluorocarbon leader is good for subtle approaches with soft plastics, but often times you can tie the braid directly to your lure for fast retrieves with aggressive Bass.
Braid for Surf Fishing
If you are a first timer fishing in-shore or the surf in Saltwater your learning curve is automatically stepped up… sorry. You’re going to want to use braided line paired with a leader.
15-25 Lb. Braid + 10-20 Lb. Fluorocarbon Leader @ In-shore, 30-60 Lb. braid + 25-50 Lb. Wire/Fluorocarbon Leader @ Surf.
For Inshore, you’re going to have to buy the Braid and Fluorocarbon spools separately and tie them together with a barrel swivel or a double uni knot. The leader should be about at least 2-3 Ft. Surf typically requires a Wire Leader (although fluorocarbon and mono are great for intermediate circumstances), these come pre-rigged like in our Surf Fishing Kit.
Recommendation for Braid and Fluorocarbon:
When to use Fluorocarbon Fishing Line?
If you have dived into fishing literature, you will notice a consistent praise for Fluorocarbon line. Fluoro is a fantastic tool for leaders attached to braid, as well as spooling a full reel if you have the budget and the experience. Fluoro is an amazing option because it is virtually invisible underwater and has a much smaller diameter than mono at the same Lb. test strength. That’s why it is essential to tie a Fluoro leader on your braided line when fishing In-Shore Saltwater. Species like Snook and Drum are awfully suspicious in Saltwater flats. Fluoro gives a divide between your bait and the noticeable braided line in your spool.
For the Beginner to Intermediate levels, we recommend a Fluorocarbon leader when paired with braided line. 6-12 Lb. Test Fluoro in Freshwater and 10-20 Lb. Test Fluoro for In-Shore Saltwater.
Caution on Fluorocarbon
The main issue with fluorocarbon—and why we do not recommend it to the beginner angler—is that it has no stretch. Unlike mono-filament, which expands when pressure is applied between the angler and the fish, fluorocarbon has no give. It is a direct line which means the angler who spools their whole reel with it needs to be a master of their drag system, and own a drag system which is high functioning enough to be tuned in with the fight. Otherwise, the tension between a locked-in reel, an angler retrieving, and a fish fighting will surpass the test rating and you just lost a fish.
Pros & Cons of Different Fishing Lines
The three main types discussed have pro’s and con’s. All three have functionality with any species in Freshwater and Saltwater. These purposes can range from catch-all’s like monofilament working fine in almost all scenarios, to specific techniques like a full spool of Flourocarbon for finesse Walleye jigging. Let’s give you a run down of the pro’s and con’s of each and you can narrow down to specifics as you progress.
Mono stretches and has a lot of give. This allows you second chances on a mismatched fight, or if you haven’t mastered your drag system, some give when the fish runs out on you. The consistency is clear, masking well in the water, it is abrasion resistant, and is easy to tie knots with.
The biggest con is memory, meaning that mono shapes itself to a spool and remembers the circular curves. When you spool your reel from the retail spool mono holds its original curves for a while causing your reel to spool out or tangle when the line tries to flex back to its original shape. This goes easier if you spool your reel while the retail spool is submerged underwater (in a pot at home) or you troll a lure behind the boat with the majority of your mono spooled out. Mono is also not as strong as braid at the same diameter, unlike fluorocarbon it reflects light underwater, and because it is nylon it breaks down over time from sunlight and corrosion.
Braided Line Pro’s
Braid is very strong at a smaller diameter, meaning you can spool a lot more of it on your reel and still have the same test as mono. Because its stronger at a smaller diameter, it is heavier so it sinks faster and casts farther. Braid is made up of woven fibers so it doesn’t have memory. It doesn’t break down easy but can lose its pigment in the sun. It doesn’t have stretch, the pro to that is you can feel light bites directly, but there are cons to that as well.
Braided Line Con’s
Because braid doesn’t have stretch you have to be great at your drag when a big fish puts on more pressure than your test strength. The more important con is that braid is very visible underwater, which is why it is often paired with a fluorocarbon leader. Braid also doesn’t knot well, and the fibers are difficult to cut so make sure you have a nail clippers or scissors, biting the line is not recommended. Lastly, it is pretty pricey.
Fluoro is virtually invisible underwater, so it is great for presentation especially on a finicky bite. It is also very abrasion resistant and can weather countless lost fish and sharp bottoms. It doesn’t have the same memory problems as mono and it sinks. So from a performance stand point, it is the best option for low visibility while also being abrasion resistant.
The main issue with Fluorocarbon is that it is expensive, especially in higher test ranges. It has minimal stretch like braid so it is not forgiving to mistakes and it is difficult to tie or use with slip rigs because of how smooth and slippery it is. Many elite anglers will recommend it as the be all end all, and we agree if you are advanced enough with your drag, your ties and your budget capabilities. However, it is not the best for all situations and shouldn’t be your main spool unless you have the experience to back it.
Choosing the Right Fishing Line
If you are just getting started, don’t get all tangled up . 6 Lb. Mono is the best fishing line for beginners. If you are committed to a specific species, then adjust the Lb. Test according to the recommendations provided earlier. For Baitcasting Bass, start with a braid in the 10-12 Lb. range, and for Saltwater In-Shore apply a 15-25 Lb. braid paired with a 10-20 Lb. Fluoro leader. Surf Casters bump up that braid to 25-50 Lb. Test and tie onto a mono/fluoro/wire leader with your rigs. There are tons of ways to approach this, keep it simple and keep learning.