What is the best fishing line for you?
When choosing a fishing line there is much to consider and getting it right will not only make catching that fish a bit easier, but will also make sure you get it safely into your net.
Essentially there are 4 types of line to choose from. Monofilament, Copolymer, Fluorocarbon and Braid.
Each have different characteristics, and pros and cons that come with them.
First, we’ll explore these characteristics that are constant across all 4 types, and how they all affect each other.
Understanding these will help you decide which is the best fishing line for you.
Fishing Line Characteristics
This is the amount of pressure the line will take until its snaps. Lines come in various breaking strains, from as low as 1lb to over 100lb.
When deciding the best fishing line, you should choose a breaking strain suited for the fish you’re targeting.
For powerful fish like carp, these would range from 10lb to 20lb (with variants either side) Simply put, a 10lb breaking strain (BS) line ‘should’ break when subject to pressures greater than 10lb. You’ll notice i said ‘should’.
Carp lines are typically underrated by the manufactures. So, if a line is quoted as being a 15lb bs, but 0.40mm in diameter, then it will probably break at a higher pressure, more like 18-20lb.
This is not to say that if you’re fishing for a 40lb fish, you need a 40lb bs line. The action in the rod takes a lot of the strain, as does the clutch on the reel.
As you look into lines more, and line manufacturers, its well documented that some lines are truer to their stated breaking strain than others.
What determines the bs of a line is not only the type of material, but also the thickness, or diameter as is more commonly known. Its better to judge the BS of a line by the diameter.
This is the thickness of the line. For monofilament, these can range from 0.25mm for a 10lb bs line, to 0.40mm for a 20lb bs (again, with variants either way).
Braided lines are thinner, so a 20lb BS braid could be as low as 0.20mm, over half the diameter of its mono equivalent.
Fluoros are consistent with monos in their BS to diameter ratios, although do tend to carry a lower BS than a similar diameter mono.
Line diameter also has a baring on how abrasion resistant it is. In addition to the powerful fish doing its best to break your line, you may also have to contend with underwater obstacles such as weed, sunken branches and gravel bars which can all damage the line.
The thicker and stronger the line, the more abuse it can take before its weakened.
Diameter is not just important in terms of BS, but also important when it comes to casting.
The thinner the line, the easier and further you can cast. It might seem a small difference, but in the right hands a 0.25mm line will cast a lot further than a 0.40mm.
We’re talking a lot further.
I once went on a casting tuition day, and cast two identical rod and reel set-ups, one with 12lb line on the reel and 18lb on the other, and I was able to cast the 12lb line over 50yards further.
On the subject of casting, the 3rd consideration comes into play…stretch.
Nylon lines like monofilament and fluorocarbon contain a certain degree of stretch when under tension, providing you with a bit of cushioning before the BS comes into play.
Braids, due to the material, contain little or zero stretch. Stretch plays a big part in how a line performs when casting.
When casting, you want all of the energy you are generating with the rod to be transferred to the lead, thus generating the maximum speed. (For more information on casting mechanics, see our beginners guide to rods Beginners guide to: Rods) .
Any stretch in the line will cause you to lose some of that energy, and therefore distance.
Generally, the less stretch in a line, the more energy you can get into your cast.
But, stretch isn’t always a bad thing. It does give you that little more cushioning, along with the rod tip, to absorb the twists, turns and lunges that a hooked fish can make.
This is where braids can become difficult, and for the beginner, having very little stretch in the line can be troublesome as you need patients and expertise to avoid hook pulls when playing the fish.
When lure fishing, you want a line with little or no stretch. This means you can transmit the actions you make with your rod tip direct to the lure without any loss of movement.
With no stretch, you also feel the bite instantly, which is why low stretch braids are the best fishing line for anglers using lures, or those fishing in very deep waters.
Also, when moving into feature finding using a marker rod, that zero stretch can be used to your advantage. When dragging a lead along the bottom of the lake bed using braid, every lump and bump is transferred down the line into the rod.
Its possible, with a bit of practice, to translate those signs to create a mental picture of the lake bed.
Fishing Line Types
Monofilament fishing line (mono for short) is, as the name suggests, is made from a single strand of nylon.
Being widely available and cheap to manufacture, monofilament fishing line is a popular choice for both fresh and salt water fishing.
Monofilament line has a degree of stretch, sometimes up to 25% which makes it more forgiving when playing fish.
Its available in a variety of colours with dyes being added during the mixing stage, where different grade polymers are melted and then extruded though tiny holes. The size of the hole determines the diameter of the line, and therefore the breaking strain.
During the mixing stage company’s do also add extras that can improve the suppleness or abrasion resistance of the line.
One down side of mono is memory. If the line isn’t changed regularly, it can develop coils from being laid tight on the reel spool. This can cause tangles on casting, or bird’s-nest as they are often know.
However, this aside, Monofilament line is a great all round like for most fishing situations.
Copolymer Fishing Line is a new version of Monofilament which is made of two or more different types of nylon combined during manufacture, with some even adding fluorocarbon into the mix.
More expensive than monofilament, but considered an upgrade by some.
With different materials comes different line characteristics. Copolymer fishing lines are often thinner than the equivalent breaking strain mono and offer less stretch.
Those with additional fluorocarbon will be less visible in water. Due to these difference, Copolymers are advertised as advanced fishing lines for those anglers looking for a strong thin line for casting greater distances.
Another benefit over mono is less memory, with copolymer less likely to coil over time on the spool. Plus, with extras like denser fluorocarbon, the lines are heavier and sink quicker, which can be an advantage when bait fishing. With the line sunk low to the lakebed, the fish is less likely to spook off the presence of line in the swim.
These little extras make give Copolymer lines the extra advantages that come with fluoro but with the easier handling characteristics of a monofilament line.
The process of making a fluorocarbon fishing line is the same as Monofilament and Copolymer, and its the materials used in the mix that sets it apart. Without getting too scientific, its made from a polymer called polvinylidene fluoride. The difference between this and the material used in Mono is that the molecules are more tightly packed, making it denser.
And its this that makes Fluorocarbon line heavier and stronger than mono. Compared to mono, fluoro will stink quicker and is stronger per diameter. However, it also has less stretch and has more line memory as a consequence.
This in itself can make Fluoros harder to work with that mono, which does put some anglers off.
The biggest plus point of Fluoro is how it’s almost invisible underwater.
Another science lesson here. Fluorocarbon fishing line has the same light refractive index as water, which means light behaves the same when passing through the line as it does water. This makes it very hard for wary fish to see under water. That plus the fact that it will sink to the bottom of the lake makes it very good for shy biting fish or in clear water conditions.
Another down side is the cost. compared to good old mono, fluorocarbon lines are more expensive. This in mind, and the fact it take time to get used to, many anglers prefer to use Fluoro as a leader material, rather than straight from the reel. However, with as modern lines are moving on, manufacturers are producing cheaper lines that are more supple and easier to fish with.
Braided Fishing Line (Braid for short) is made from weaving, or braiding, man-made fibres to produce a thin but strong fishing line. Common materials used in the production of braid are Dyneema and Dacron.
The first property of braid, and the reason many anglers use it, is that it has zero stretch. We discussed earlier the pros and cons of line stretch, so wont go into that again.
Another benefit of braid is its low diameter. When compared against monos with similar breaking strains, braid will often come out 1/3 of the diameter. Again, we have discussed this, so you know that lower diameters means better casting and less drag in moving water.
Abrasion resistance. Braid is extremely tough and can take a lot of abuse. Great for fishing in or around weed, Braid will cut through vegetation.
The flexibility and zero memory of braid also helps with casting.
So, why doesn’t every angler use braid? Braid does has some drawbacks.
Its more expensive than mono. And, being thinner, you need more to fill your reels (although you can backfill with cheaper mono)
Its visible under water. Compared to Mono, and especially Fluoro, braid sticks out like a sore thumb under water.
We have abrasion resistance as a pro, but it’s also a con. Anyone who has caught their finger when casting braid knows it stings. Always wear a glove or finger stall when using braid. It is also tough on the rod rings, so special braid friendly rings are needed, although most modern rods have these now days.
Being limp, its prone to wind knots. When casting into a cross wind, braid can sometime just turn into a massive ball of mess. Practise helps, keeping the cast smooth and wetting the line before casting. There are also coated braids out there that help with this.
Does Fishing Line colour make a difference? Well given you can buy all types of fishing line in a variety of colours, it safe to assume anglers do think it matters.
All 4 line types come in different colours. Even Fluorocarbon is produced with a purple tinge to it. Coloured lines have their uses. For sea anglers, Hi-Viz lines help with multiple lines off the back of the boat, or when shore fishing from a beach, the Hi-Viz line helping it stand out.
But, for fresh water anglers, they often want to hide the line to avoid spooking the fish. Browns and Green are available for coloured waters, then there are the Fluoros for total line concealment.
Going back to light refraction, which is how light travels through an object. As we get deeper into water, the way the light behaves changes. For example, numerous tests have shown that red line appears black from around 15ft deep in seawater.
Here is an excellent video on the subject.
Conclusion – What is the best fishing line for you?
Now you know a lot more about fishing line, we hope you’re in a better position to decide the best fishing line for you.
For a beginner bait fisherman you can’t go wrong with a monofilament mainline. They are cheap, readily available and can give you the best features of all 4 line types.
Pick a popular line and take it from there. If you’re struggling to cast out to your spot, consider switching to a lower breaking strain. If you’re fishing a weedy or snaggy water, consider going up a BS.
The same goes for the sea angling. A good mono will be ideal.
For a course angler targeting smaller species, then a thin mono or fluorocarbon line is well worth considering.
The deep sea or lure angler should always look at braid first.
Anglers who have been using mono but fancy something a little different, maybe something that sinks quicker or casts further, then copolymer lines or fluorocarbons are worth a look.
With so many lines on the market it can be over-whelming, but pick a good line, try it and see how you get on. What is a good line? Ask around. One thing anglers love as much as fishing is talking about fishing.
Anglers like to tinker, sometimes for the sake of it. One of the biggest tips we can give you is once you find a line that you’re happy with, then stick with it. Over time, and fish landed, you’ll build confidence in it.
Fishing is a confidence sport.
A line that you’re confident it, is the Best Fishing Line for you