Selecting the best fishing line for the job is crucial. As the only direct connection between angler and fish, a poor choice of line can be catastrophic news for your chances of success but great news for your quarry’s chances of escaping.
Go too heavy or too light, or pick the wrong type of line for the job, and you risk a big fat blank or avoidable fish losses due to breakage. And once you’ve put the effort into getting to the water, you want to be showing your friends that picture of the trophy fish and not be telling them a one–that–got–away story due to using the wrong line.
With this in mind, it’s also important to be smart when it comes to buying the best fishing line. Grabbing the first or cheapest brand you come across and hoping it’s up to the job isn’t ideal. You probably wouldn’t use that tactic if you were looking for a reliable new reel or rod, or tyres for your car, and you shouldn’t use it when to choose the best fishing line, either.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fishing Line
Finding the best fishing lines for your next fishing trip shouldn’t be difficult. However, there are several considerations to keep in mind while shopping for a fishing line to help ensure that you don’t lose your next big catch.
Fishing lines come in several different types with each having advantages and disadvantages that determine the situations to which they are best suited.
The pound-test or line test refers to the strength of the fishing line with the results being expressed as pounds. To determine the strength of the fishing line, manufacturers subject the material to increasing weights in controlled scenarios to find the weight at which the line will break. This information can usually be found on the product description, packaging, and the manufacturer’s website so you know whether you can haul in a 20-pound fish or if your line is only suitable for up to 10 pounds.
Alternatively, fly fishing lines use a number scale to determine the strength of the fishing line. Numbers 1 to 3 are great for lighter flies and precise fly placement. Numbers 4 to 7 are the most commonly used fly fishing line strengths and are used frequently for catching trout. Eight and above are best for large flies and big fish, like salmon and northern pike.
Fishing line is constantly in contact with surfaces that can wear it down if it’s not resistant to abrasion. These surfaces can include the rod, reel, boat, dock, weeds, hooks, and rocks among others, with each gradually wearing away at the line.
While all fishing lines wear out at some point, braided lines normally have the best abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon fishing lines are also resistant to abrasion, though they cannot match the durability of braided lines. Monofilament lines, by definition, are made of only a single thread, which makes them more susceptible to abrasion damage.
The color and width of the fishing line can make your line more or less visible, depending on the clarity of the water and the type of fish you are trying to catch. Sight hunter fish, like trout, will quickly pick up on a high-visibility color like red or yellow, but these colors may be suitable for fishing in murky conditions where a white or blue line would stand out.
Before choosing a color for your fishing line, take these factors into account to ensure you are not simply chasing fish away with your line. The width of the line can also be visible to fish, with the line getting thicker as the required strength increases.
The buoyancy of the line is a factor to take into account. The right level of buoyancy in your fishing line depends on the type of fish you want to catch, the lure you are using, and the way you are fishing. Fluorocarbon and braided lines have poor buoyancy because they tend to be heavier, preventing them from sitting on top of the water like monofilament lines.
Fly fishing lines can be separated into floating and sinking lines based on their buoyancy. Floating fly fishing lines are made to float on the surface after they’re cast, instead of sinking into the water where they may scare away the fish. Sinking fly fishing lines are intended to drop a few feet below the surface of the water to mimic water insects.
Where you will be fishing, the time of the year, and the current weather are all considerations you should take into account when choosing a fishing line. Fishing lines that have been designed for fishing in tropical climates cannot be used for ice fishing because they would quickly become too rigid to function appropriately. And using an ice fishing line in a warm climate would cause the line to become flexible, making it hard for you to feel the tug of a fish.
If you are fishing in windy conditions, you will need a heavy line that won’t be pulled out of the air when you are casting. The weight will also help it from being pushed out of position by the water. Direct sunlight should also be a factor, as exposure to UV rays can degrade monofilament lines over time.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for their quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best fishing lines for your next fishing trip.
One of the most respected brands of braided line of all time, PowerPro has been catching fish for years and has a deserved reputation as a reliable option. The high-quality Spectra fibres used in the eight-strand construction, which means it’s woven from eight separate fibres, ensure it’ll last for years and perform well in most conditions. This is the good stuff.
We love the lower breaking strains for general freshwater, surf and boat fishing; 8-15lb for small fish and light line-rated combos, 15-30lb for medium lure and bait fishing applications, 30-50lb for conventional reels, heavier surf and predator fishing and 50-100lb for small to medium-size sharks, big predators and huge catfish.
The Moss Green shade is very subtle and a wise option in 10-20lb for ponds and lakes where clear water makes the bite tricky. The High Vis Yellow has the opposite effect and that’s useful at night, in the ocean, in coloured water or when you need to see what your line is doing.
We’ve used PowerPro extensively and have caught large catfish on the heavier breaking-strains (65lb is a useful strain for use on a big spinning reel) and lots of smaller fish in freshwater and salt on the lower breaking strains with zero issues.
Overall, a classic eight-strand braided line with little to match it for all-round use on a medium budget.
Hailing from the home of many cutting–edge fishing products – Japan – it’s not surprising that Daiwa’s J-Braid is one of the highest quality and best-regarded braided fishing lines in the world.
Another eight-strand woven main line, J-Braid is a favorite amongst big fish anglers worldwide due to its formidable strength, derived from using extremely high quality fibres tightly woven together for minimum diameter and maximum pulling power. In higher breaking strains, this will land some big fish in freshwater and salt.
Usefully, J-Braid comes in a Multi-Colour option with different shades of braid every ten metres, which allows deep-water anglers to count the depth by noting colour changes in the line as it leaves the reel. This is a great option for anyone looking to accurately target fish at a certain depth – maybe you’re fishing on a boat and notice fish showing on the finder at 50m depth, for example. You can count out ten coloured sections of braid whilst lowering your rig and be at 50m.
The SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid fishing line earned top marks in our testing, boasting a perfect combo of feel, strength, and low visibility when cast in the water. The line that we tested was a 20-lb variation, but the diameter of the line was fine and felt like an 8-lb test mono line. The slender line helped us add way more line on the reel than a 20-lb mono line would allow for. And you know what else we like? This line simply cast better than others, repeatedly casting beyond the rest of the mono and braided lines with ease. The uncommon blue camo color camouflages while fishing in the streams and lakes we were on, which we attribute to allowing us to sneak up on quite a few fish. As for the line’s memory, you hardly notice it at all—which you know is a great asset if you have ever had to manage wind knots.
The only drawback we could really come up with was that the line almost has too much strength. If a lure or hook happens to get stuck, it’s likely that you will lose it or have to clip the line because it’s too difficult to break. The unique blue camo color might not work perfectly in all bodies of water, either, so you might want to consider what type of water you will be fishing in with this line. If you want the fishing line that is the number one all-around after weeks of testing with our experts, you’ll find it with the SpiderWire Stealth.
It’s difficult to land a trophy fish if you’ve spooked them all into hiding. That’s precisely where the Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon excels. When in the water, it was seemingly invisible, solidly living up to its name in our tests. Another nice feature is its impressive sensitivity. It allowed us to detect even the smallest bites and set the hook when a fish took the bait. It also features relatively low memory for a fluorocarbon line, which was a plus when casting, and it had the unique ability to sink faster than the other lines—something we appreciated when trying to drop a lure close to where a fish had just jumped.
The only real complaint we had about this line is its casting distance. While it beat out many of the monofilament lines we tested, it couldn’t keep up with the braided ones in our tests. Overall though, if you want a nearly invisible line with great sensitivity and strength, this line is for you.
When it came to feel, KastKing SuperPower Braided line was about as sensitive as any line we’ve ever used. It consistently let us know when a fish was biting and helped us quickly set the hook as soon as they took the bait. It also gave us impressive casting distance and was respectable when it came to abrasion resistance. And being that it’s a braided line, its diameter was far smaller than a similar mono line, meaning we could fit a lot of line on a small reel. This was especially beneficial when hiking out to a secret spot and wanting to bring the smallest and lightest gear possible.
The only downsides? For one, if you’ve ever tied a knot with braided line, you know how hard it can be. This line was no different and might even be more difficult than other braided lines. There was also the small issue of the die coming off on your hands when spooling it. Not a big deal, but not desirable, either. All in all, if you want a fishing line that will give you incredible feel, check out the KastKing SuperPower Braided.
Once primarily used as a leader for braided lines, many fishermen are now opting to fill their spools exclusively with fluorocarbon. It refracts light and is nearly invisible underwater, making it a superb choice for targeting pressured bass in clear water. The P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon is made from 100 percent pure premium Japanese fluorocarbon, which uses the latest raw materials and extrusion techniques to deliver exceptional strength and durability.
Although it is expensive, the line won Best of Show in the Line category at ICAST 2016, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. Its increased smoothness allows for longer casts, while a special formula makes it clearer and more abrasion resistant than most other fluorocarbons. It comes in a range of pound tests from 6 pounds to 20 pounds, all on a 200-yard spool. Its fast sink rate also makes it an excellent choice for pairing with sinking jigs and worms.
Those that can’t decide whether to go for monofilament or braid should consider compromising with KastKing’s Copolymer Fishing Line, which combines attributes of both. In comparison with traditional mono, copolymer offers better abrasion resistance and reduced line memory. The latter is an important advantage as it allows you to achieve longer, smoother casts with fewer tangles. The line also has more stretch than braid or fluorocarbon, making it better for situations in which you want the bass to hold on a little longer before striking. It’s also easier to tie secure knots in a copolymer line.
These properties make the line ideal for all kinds of bass fishing except for techniques that use topwater lures. This is because KastKing’s copolymer is designed to cut through the water for the fast presentation of sinking lures. It comes in four colors: copper, green, camo, and clear. The clear line can be used as an effective leader and is a cheaper alternative to fluorocarbon for this purpose. Whether you choose a 4-pound or 30-pound line, it comes on a 300-yard spool.
Expressly designed for bass fishing, the Orvis Hydros Warmwater is an expert at getting big flies into tight spaces. Ideal for heavy nymph rigs at short to medium distances, the compact head and short front taper allow you to direct flies between any heavy cover and into the shaded holes where big bass hang out without fouling up. Cast effortlessly into the wind thanks to the brand’s Integrated Slickness additive, which provides lubrication for maximum casting distance. It also helps the line to remain supple for longer.
Orvis’ printed Line ID lets you read the taper, weight, and functionality at a glance so that you can pick it out of your tackle box in a hurry. Attach your leader just as quickly using the line’s enhanced welded loop. It measures 90 feet and comes in 6-, 7-, 8- or 9-pound tests. The chartreuse/orange color is highly visible, allowing you to see strikes and line placement clearly.
Smackdown, the best braid fishing line is used in both fresh- and saltwater applications, and there is no discrepancy in wear and tear in either. When fished over rock piles and along jetties with barnacle-covered boulders, as well in waterways laden with timber, the abrasion resistance is noticeably top-notch.
This braid’s manufactured with eight ultra-thin micro-weave strands in a perfectly round shape, which has it coming off a reel’s spool smoothly. It was strikingly quieter than other braids as it slapped along a spinning reel spool’s lip during a cast, as well when running through guides on any rod. The tensile strength is outstanding for such a thin-diameter braid, with 10-pound test—the lightest offered for this brand—having the same diameter as 2-pound-test mono. It’s all the aforementioned that allows a lure to be placed with pinpoint accuracy with this braid.
Being one of the thinnest monos on the market means you can load up a reel with quite a few extra yards of Momoi line, which surf anglers or anglers wanting to use smaller fishing reels than the norm appreciate.
The abrasion resistance of Momoi is a plus when fishing off piers and jetties; fish can wrap around a bolder or pillar, and there’s still a good chance of landing it over other monos. The line’s tinsel strength is up to 200% more than mono lines of the same diameter. Besides the fact mono floats, Hi-Catch Diamond’s softness also makes it a good choice for top-water fishing in inshore areas.
Can Fish See Fishing Line?
When thinking about the color of fishing line, many anglers ask can fish actually see it? Logically, the answer is YES, fish can see the line. If that wasn’t the case, you would only have one color choice.
First of all, there are three main types of fishing line, and those are monofilament, braided and fluorocarbon. They all have certain advantages and disadvantages and a different purpose.
When it comes to visibility, fluorocarbon, mostly used as a leader line, is less visible. Braided lines, despite the fact they are thin, are more visible to fish. Monofilament ones are a bit less visible than braided ones.
Secondly, if the color is wrong, fish will see the line even better. Many fish species are very cautious and a simple thing like a visible line will easily turn them away. Keep in mind that fish do not perceive shapes and colors in the same way as humans do, and that different fish species have different vision.
Does Fishing Line Color Matter?
As already mentioned, fish can see the fishing line. So YES, the color really matters. You also have to consider how a certain color looks underwater, not on the ground. So, let’s start with almost invisible line type, the fluorocarbon.
Fluorocarbon, especially in clear water, is almost invisible. It has light reflection properties very similar to water light reflection properties. This type is excellent for fish that are easily scared and suspicious.
You can find red/pink fluorocarbon on the market and it can seem crazy, but with depth, as certain wavelengths of the sunlight can’t reach very deep, these colors are the first one to disappear. For fishing in deep waters, this is a good option.
For the same reason underwater filming is usually done with special camera lenses and although it may seem that red will be highly visible in the blue ocean, that is not the case. Besides fluorocarbon, you can frequently find red monofilament.
What is the best kind of fishing line?
The best kind of line depends on the style of fishing you do. Mono is the most versatile option and is likely the best choice for trolling. Fluorocarbon is similar to mono. It’s abrasion-resistant and invisible but can be difficult to handle. Braid is sensitive and strong but not stretchy. It is the best for fishing heavy cover.
How often should you replace your fishing line?
It depends on how often you use it, how much sun exposure it receives, and how much wear and tear it gets. A good rule of thumb is to replace your line at least once or twice a year. But if you see abrasion or weak points in the line, then you should replace it immediately.