The answer for what’s the best fishing line is always the same: it depends. However, if you’re savvy enough to try your first baitcaster, then we recommend to spool it with braided fishing line. We believe braid is the best line for a baitcaster. It’s uncommon and maybe even rare to find anything but braid on modern baitcasters—and for good reason: braid is simply going to maximize the advantages of your baitcaster, ultimately helping you to land more fish.
Check out our article on the best fishing line for beginners. It’ll work you through which line is right for you and which to avoid. For starters, spool about 150–200yds of 10–12lb braided line onto your typical freshwater baitcaster and you’re ready to hit the water. Adding a fluorocarbon leader is good for certain techniques such as worming and jigging with soft plastics, but often times you can tie the braid directly to your lure for fast retrieves for aggressive fish.
The Advantages of a Baitcaster
The advantages of a baitcaster are significantly different than those of a spinning reel. Baitcasters cast further more accurately and offer superior gears for both power and speed. It’s essentially a small winch made for fishing rods (this is where gear ratios come into play). While comfort and the right ergonomics comes down to personal preference, today’s baitcasters come in low-profile designs that are easy to handle and very versatile for their size. Nonetheless, if you want to maximize these advantages of power, speed, accuracy, and casting ability, then the fishing line you choose will make this happen. Again, we recommend braid for this.
Why Braid is the Best Line for Baitcaster
Baitcasting reels offer minimal line vacillation because of the way the line rolls off the spool instead of unraveling like on a spinning reel. This feature in itself significantly enhances accuracy and casting distance of a lure. To take advantage of this, use a line with the least amount of memory so that it doesn’t retain its shape. The choice for this is always braid.
Further Casts & Accuracy
If you take a moment to notice of the guides on baitcasting and spinning rods, you’ll notice the difference in sizes, especially between the first guides closest to the reel. The ones on spinning rods are much larger than the ones on baitcasting rods. When the line comes off a spinning reel, it comes off in large loops about the size and shape of the spool. As it leaves the spool, the line vacillates and wavers. The guides are sized specifically to control the line’s vacillation and virtually eliminate it by the time it reaches the final guide at the rod tip. Practically speaking, this vacillation significantly decreases casting distance and accuracy. Cast a lure using a spinning reel on a baitcasting rod, and it won’t go very far.
Small Diameter Means Less Friction
The small diameter of braided line is another factor that helps maximize the advantages of a baitcaster. One reason is a smaller diameter contributes to a significantly longer casting distance. This is due to the amount of friction. A smaller diameter line has less surface area making contact with the spool and the guides, creating less friction than a larger diameter fishing line. But it doesn’t stop there. As more line gets pulled into the air from your cast, a smaller diameter line creates less friction against the air, creating less drag. This concept may seem like something abstract and unobservable, but for many experienced fishermen—it’s very observable. Smaller diameters result in further casts.
Increased Strength & Line Capacity
The design and material of braided line creates a line that is much thinner, yet just as strong as its mono and fluoro size equivalent. This allows for more line to be spooled without sacrificing strength. For example, monofilament with a break strength of 8lbs has an average diameter around 0.25mm/0.010in. The braided equivalent with a diameter of 0.25mm/0.010in has a break strength of around 20lbs. This is significantly stronger than mono of the same size. If you want to get even more granular you can research the diameter of various lines.
Braid is the best line for baitcaster because it has virtually zero memory. Hold it up, and you‘ll notice that it’s very soft and malleable (so to speak) and doesn’t hold a particular shape. And if it does, you can reshape it fairly easily and quickly. Meanwhile monofilaments and fluorocarbons usually retain their shape (strong memory) which is usually in the shape of the spool they’re stored on. Unravel some monofilament or fluorocarbon and its natural state will be in a spiral because it took the shape of the circular spool. The benefit of braid on baitcasters is that it won’t retain this shape, which significantly minimizes line vacillation when it comes off the spool. Again, this is why the guides on baitcaster rods are all similar in size—they don’t need to control for large wavering in the line during the cast.
Tips for Fishing with Braid
1. Add a monofilament backing and spool with tension. This significantly reduces slippage and tangles. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to use a baitcaster for exactly how to do this (with a fishing hack included).
2. Be selective of your knots. Braid slips easily, so we recommend using a palomar knot for added security.
3. Braid can be seen by fish easier than monofilament and fluorocarbon. If you’re fishing for fish with good eyesight or fishing slowly, add a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. If you’re just starting out, then we recommend adding a leader. Since braid has zero stretch, it’s very easy to place too much pressure on the fish during a fight and lose your fish. Mono and fluorocarbon will give you some stretch that acts a buffer when a fish makes a hard run.
A “small wench” is nice to have in the boat with you for company, but a small *winch* would be more useful for reeling in fish.
Ha! Thanks for the correction, Chuck
I prefer braid on all my reels. I grew up using mono and it was more than adequate, but braid was a game changer. I am a professional guide and some of my customers bring their own rod & reel loaded with mono. I have no issues with mono I just think braid is such a better line for fishing in saltwater. And it has gotten better and better over the years.
Great comment, Alan. I think you’re spot on