How to Select a Fishing Line

How to Select a Fishing Line
Fishing line might all look the same when it's on store shelves, but where looks really matter is in the water. Fish aren't blind--they're always on the lookout for something suspicious when they're looking for food. If you don't use the proper fishing line, you could set off alarms underwater and drive away fish from your bait or lure. You also have to prepare yourself for the size of the fish and the fight you anticipate catching--the wrong line can snap as you reel in your fish, leaving you empty-handed.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Decide at what water depth you will be fishing. If you're expecting plenty of shallow-water fights with fish, monofilament is the best option. This line offers up to 30 percent stretch, allowing some give with the fish without causing a line snap. Fluorocarbon offers less stretch--usually around 10 percent--and is only good if your monofilament line isn't leading to many bites, or if the water is particularly clear. Braided line offers no stretch and is used more often for deep water fishing.
Step 2
Decide the kind of location you will be fishing. Murky waters, as well as locations dense with vegetation and other underwater obstacles, usually call for a strong monofilament or braided nylon line. These lines are thicker and stronger than fluorocarbon, but they're also more visible to the fish. Between the two, monofilament is the most commonly used line because of its low cost, but braided nylon lines are far more strong. In clear waters, fluorocarbon line is the preferred option--it has almost the same refractive index in water as the water itself, making it almost invisible.
Step 3
Select a line color. Many amateur anglers only use clear line, either because they think it's sufficient or because they don't want to spend the extra money on colored lines. But using colored line to watch the water can make or break a fishing outing. Brown line is great in murky water because it will mimic the water's refractive qualities. Some red-tinged lines are good if you will be fishing in waters with high metal mineral contents that turn the dirt red, such as the American southwest. Green line is great for fishing in heavily vegetated areas or locations rife with algae.
Step 4
Choose a line strength. This is the least reliable aspect of choosing fishing line because it comes down to trial and error. The line strength is affected by both the size and strength of the fish and the action--otherwise called the sensitivity--on your fishing rod and line. The stronger the line, the more likely you'll be to land a fish without it breaking. However, this will also make it harder for you to notice a nibble on your line. At this point, the type of line you are using dictates the strength--braided line can easily run between 30- and 60-pound test strength because it has no give to the line. A flurocarbon or monofilament, on the other hand, is almost always less than 20 pounds and many times has less than a 10-pound test. This reduced strength also makes the line thinner, increasing your odds of a strike.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.