How to Choose Fishing Line Size

How to Choose Fishing Line Size



What To Look For

Choosing a fishing line size is a simple process if you know the species and size of fish you will catch and the size of the lures or flies you will be using. Fishing line comes in many different forms, with fluorocarbon quickly gaining popularity among conventional fisherman and fly fisherman. Fishing line should be changed after making contact with water and being stored in a variable temperature climate. Old fishing line can become rotten and will break if used. Choose a heavy 15- to 20-pound test for catching large game fish and fishing in areas with heavy snags. It is beneficial to have a heavy line to prevent fish from wrapping your line around logs and obstacles. Small diameter 4- to 10-pound test lines can be used for flies and lures with small hook eyes. The lighter lines are preferred by some anglers because you can feel the weight of the fish and must use good technique for landing the fish.

Common Pitfalls

One of the most common problems with purchasing fishing line is the age of the line. Ask the salesclerk how long the line has been on the shelf and choose the newest line available. Old fishing line can lose strength while stored in the original box.

Where To Buy

Fishing line can be found at most sporting goods stores. Fly fisherman should look for a local fly shop but conventional fishing line and fly fishing leaders and tippet can be found at Cabela's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Scheel's, Sportsman's Warehouse and more. If you live in an area that does not have access to a sporting goods store, the Internet has multiple options for buying fishing lines.


The average fluorocarbon fishing line for conventional reels is $10 for 200 yards. Fly fisherman can spend as much as $35 dollars on a 60-yard spool of tippet. Some models of fishing line have a heavy price tag but the line will last longer and cast better than the cheaper lines. Buy the $10 line if you change lines frequently, but consider a higher value line for long-term use.

Comparison Shopping

Berkley, Maxima, PLine and Seaguar are the leaders in conventional fishing line and all have great fluorocarbon and mono-filament lines in different strengths and diameters. The Berkley Vanish Transition line is designed to be visible outside of the water and disappear while in the water. It is ideal for fishing in low-visibility lighting but a standard clear fluorocarbon line is often preferred by experienced anglers.


Along with the fishing line you will want swivels weights and leaders. Steel leaders are preferred for catching toothy fish and standard leaders allow you to control the line test attached to the lure without changing the entire line. Fly fisherman use tapered leaders to turn over weightless flies, but a section of even diameter tippet should be attached to the preserve the leader taper.

Insider Tips

The line size you choose will ultimately depend on the type of fishing you do and style of fishing you prefer. The use of a heavy line is ideal for landing large fish, but it is much easier to cast a lighter line at long distances.


Article Written By Zach Lazzari

Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.

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