Working at Bass Pro Shops the two most common asked questions are: “Where is the bathroom?” and “What kind of fishing line do you recommend?” Customers are constantly in search of the perfect fishing line – but is there such a thing? There is no easy answer to this question and it's why we carry 86 different lines in our store. Every fisherman has their favorite lines and lines they despise. I personally have tested many of the lines we carry at Bass Pro Shops, as well as many others on the market. I feel confident in assisting customers to find the perfect line for their needs but in order to do so I will always ask them a few questions.
- “What are you fishing for?”
- “What baits will you be using?”
- “What type of reel is the line going on?”
The first thing to uncover is how experienced the customer is as an angler. There is a big difference between a novice customer that will be using the line for all different types of fishing and lures and a more experienced customer that will be using the line for technique specific applications. Certain types of fishing line can be used for various types of fishing, but that does not mean it qualifies as the best option for certain techniques. Other lines cannot be used with certain lures or techniques and will hinder the performance of a bait, thus causing the customer to catch less fish, yet can be ideal for specific lures or techniques. I like to compare the rod, reel and line fishing combination to a set of golf clubs; you can play 18 holes with only a seven iron but you would do much better with a full set of clubs.
In addition to selecting the appropriate line for your fishing experience, maintenance is a mistake that many fishermen overlook. Leaving line on your reel for too long can negatively impact your ability to catch fish; re-spooling your line frequently ensures that it is fresh and strong. Depending on the type of line used, I recommend re-spooling every three months. If I am fishing frequently or in a tournament, I re-spool every other day.
Line is the link between you and a trophy fish. Oftentimes, I see fishermen not catching fish or losing fish because of the line they using, and yet both of these problems are easily avoidable.
In order to become more familiar with selecting your line, it is important to understand the three basic categories of fishing lines: Monofilament, Braid and Fluorocarbon.
Monofilament is your basic multiple use fishing line. Monofilament and Co-polymer lines are the most popular and best-selling lines. It is the most all around line but rarely the best option if you are looking to excel at a specific technique. Monofilaments come in many different blends all with different properties. Some are softer than others and have less memory, while others are stiff and abrasion resistant.
Positives: You can use monofilament for most types of fishing. If you only have one rod it should be spooled with a monofilament line. Mono floats, which for certain techniques is ideal. Monofilament has less memory than Fluorocarbon. This line is also the most affordable and is available in clear, clear blue, green, and various high visibility lines.
Negatives: Monofilament has the most amount of stretch, which can hinder hook sets. Since the line floats it can create a bow in the line, which also hinders hook sets on sinking baits. Low abrasion resistance.
Technique Specific: Top-water, trolling, kids, stream trout, all around setup
Personal Favorites: Trilene Sensation, Pline Premium, Trilene XL, Yo-Zuri
Tips: Mono absorbs water and sunlight, so over time it breaks down and looses strength. It is very important to re-spool your line every few months. Storing your extra line in a cool dark place ensures it will last longer.
Fluorocarbon line is relatively new to the fishing industry, but is definitely here to stay. Fluoro looks almost identical to monofilament but has incredibly different properties that make it a far more superior line. It is much less visible under water than monofilament line. Since its light refractive index is nearly the same as water when it is penetrated by sunlight fish cannot see it. While fishing in clear water and using finesse techniques, fluorocarbon will get you more bites. Another advantage in most cases is that fluorocarbon is a very dense line; which means it sinks, has very low stretch and is more abrasion resistant.
Positives: Because it sinks, Fluorocarbon is better than monofilament for most sub-surface baits. Less bow in your line and less stretch means you will have a better hook set. Fluorocarbon is the least visible to fish. The line density also makes Fluorocarbon very more sensitive than monofilament.
Negatives: The line is not ideal if you only have one rod because it can hurt the action of floating baits. If you use fluorocarbon for still fishing with live bait it will sink to the bottom and get stuck in rocks. Heavier pound tests are tough to cast on spinning gear. Fluorocarbon is also a lot more expensive than monofilament line.
Technique Specific: Drop Shot, Tubes, Jerkbaits, Crankbaits, Flipping and Pitching, Finesse, leader material.
Personal Favorites: Bass Pro Shops XPS, Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon
Tips: Fill up half your reel with cheaper monofilament line and tie a knot to your fluorocarbon, this way you are not wasting expensive line that you will never get down to on your reel. Use an aftermarket line conditioner to reduce line memory.
I'm grouping all “Superlines” into this category because they all have similar properties. Braided line is a made of multiple strands of fiber, Spectra or Dyneema, woven together. There are also a few thermally fused lines on the market, such as Fireline, that fall into this category. Braid is extremely thin for its strength. An 8 pound test monofilament line has the same diameter as a 30 pound test braided line. These superlines have almost no memory or stretch at all and float.
Positives: You can use very heavy pound test lines, 50 to 80 pound test lines are not uncommon, which allows you to rip though weeds with ease. No stretch in the line means instant hard hook sets. Braid lasts a long time on a reel so you do not need to replace it often.
Negatives: Braid is colored and is not invisible and sometimes this can spook fish. Superlines are hard to break if you get your lure hung up on the bottom or a tree. It is more expensive than monofilament.
Technique Specific: Flipping and Pitching, weeds, can be combined with a fluorocarbon leader and used for a wide variety of techniques.
Personal Favorites: Spiderwire Stealth, Suffix Performance Braid, Power Pro.
Tips: Always spool your reel with a small amount of mono first, and then tie in your braid. These lines are so thin and slick that it will spin on your spool if not tied to monofilament; you may think the drag on your reel is broken.
You can use your line twice. Once one end wears out, change it to a different reel. By starting with the used end you will get down to line you have never fished with before.
All Braided lines bleed and lose color over time. Buy a green Sharpie marker and cut a splice in the tip of the pen. Run your line through the pen a couple times to make it green again.
Don't spool up a baitcasting reel with braid less than 30 pound test. The diameter of the line is so thin that it digs into the spool and will cause a backlash.
The Latest Technology
This year two new lines have been introduced that have unique properties and I'm still not sure how to categorize them. They are Spiderwire Fluoro-Braid and Suffix 832. Both lines are braided, but they also sink. The idea here is to combine some of the best qualities or a superline and sinking properties of fluorocarbon. By doing this you eliminate the bow in your line while using sinking baits with braided line, thereby giving a better hook set. These lines are ideal for fisherman prefer to use braid for drop shot fishing with a fluorocarbon leader.
The fishing industry is constantly improving products each year. Berkley has already announced a new line coming out later this year called Nanofil, which uses the strength of nano fibers to make an even stronger and thinner line than ever. I can't wait to test this out!
As you can see there is a lot more to selecting the perfect fishing line than you might have originally thought. Each category of line has unique properties that make it a good and bad choice. Certain lines will help you catch more fish while others will hinder the action of the lure you are using. Fishing line is the most important part your rod and reel combo as it is the link between you, your bait and a trophy. Good luck and tight lines!
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