Does Choosing the Correct Fishing Line have You in Knots?

Fishing line is arguably the single most important piece of equipment used by all fishermen. It plays a key role:

• in lure presentation
• in hooking fish
• in landing the fish

Nevertheless, most anglers remain confused and uneducated on the distinctive types of line that are available, and the special properties each type of fishing line exhibits. My hope is over the next few paragraphs; I can help you understand the pros and cons of the different products, so in the future you will choose the precise line for the right situations. More than anything I want to help you catch more fish!

Monofilament - “High Stretch” line

In 1938, DuPont announced the discovery of nylon, a "group of new synthetic super polymers" that could be made into textile fibers stronger and more elastic than cotton, silk, wool, or rayon. The following year, DuPont began commercial production of nylon monofilament fishing line. This new line, primitive by today's standards, didn't catch on immediately; older fishing lines, particularly braided Dacron, remained popular for the next two decades.  In 1958, however, DuPont introduced Stren, a thinner line of more uniform quality that could be used for different types of reels, including newly introduced spinning and spincasting tackle. This line was quickly embraced by fishermen, and led to a boom in sportfishing popularity because it helped make fishing much easier.

Monofilament products to this day still remain popular, accounting for more than two-thirds of all fishing lines sold throughout the country. As the name suggests, this is a single-component product. It is formed through an extrusion process in which molten plastic is formed into a strand through a die. This process is relatively inexpensive, producing a less costly product. Cost is the number-one factor that monofilament line is so widely popular. Even so, it's important to remember that cheaper brands of monofilament usually don't receive the quality-control attention, additives and attention in the finishing process that premium-grade lines receive. As a result, they may not offer the tensile strength, limpness, abrasion resistance, and knot strength characteristic of more expensive monofilament fishing lines.  In other words, you get what you pay for! Cheap off-brand mono usually doesn't perform as well as  more expensive name brands, so "buyer beware." If you decide to use monofilament, test several name brands and stick with those you come to know and trust.

• What baits do you fish on monofilament

1. Deep Crankbaiting
2. Top water popping baits
3. Shakeyheads
4. Shallow-water crankbaits

• Branch’s purchasing suggestion:

Inexpensive: Bass Pro Shops Tourney Tough™ Monofilament Fishing Line
Moderate: Berkley® Trilene XL Smooth Casting™ Line
The Best: Seaguar SENSHI – World-Class Monofilament

Braided - “No Stretch” line

Before the discovery of nylon, braided Dacron was the most popular fishing  line. Dacron possessed poor knot strength, low abrasion resistance and little stretch. So it was used much less after the superior nylon monofilaments were introduced. Today braided line maintains only a very small-market interest, but it does have its usages.

 In the early 1990s, gel-spun and aramid fibers such as Spectra, Kevlar and Dyneema entered the fishing line market, creating a new category of braided lines often called "superlines" or "microfilaments." These synthetic fibers are thin and incredibly tough (more than 10 times stronger than steel). Individual fiber strands are joined through an intricate, time-consuming braiding process to produce ultrathin, super strong, sensitive, yet expensive lines. Anglers who experimented with early superlines were frustrated by low knot strength, backlashes, poor coloration and damaged equipment. To many of these disadvantages outweighed the benefits of strength, microdiameter, and ultra sensitivity considering the high cost of these products. Makers of superlines have made continual advances and improvements to the raw material fibers and the process that converts them into fishing line. Coloration, castability, and strength have all been improved, overcoming some early disadvantages.

Lures do dive to deeper depths and at a faster rate when connected to superlines. And because it's smaller in diameter, superline is less visible to fish than monofilament, and anglers can spool more line on their reels; this is a great advantage for the salt water fishing man. Superlines have little stretch, transmitting strikes instantly to the rod tip, thus providing more positive hook sets. Superlines also allow longer casts, making them ideal for shore-bound anglers. High break strength and low stretch permit better handling of big fish.

Saltwater anglers do use more of the braided superlines than fresh water fishermen. Sometimes, the line is used as a backing for mono, allowing anglers to utilize small reels while increasing line capacity. Many anglers prefer the softness of braid for vertical jigging and trolling. Superlines do require a Palomar knot for best results with a small drop of superglue on the actual knot.  Put mono backing on your reel before spooling these lines to prevent it from slipping on the spool. Using a Uni knot to connect the braid to the monofilament is recommended.
Do not overfill reels with braided line. Overfilling creates loose strands after a cast and which will cause more backlashes. Fill them up to one-eighth inch from the spool rim.

• What type of baits do you fish with braid on?
1. Flipping heavy cover
2. Top water baits
3. Drop shotting
4. Carolina Rigs
5. Spoons

• Branch’s purchasing suggestion:

Inexpensive: Spiderwire EZ Braid™ Line
Moderate: PowerPro Braided Spectra® Fiber Micro Filament Line
The Best: Seaguar Kanzen™ Braided Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon - “Low Stretch” line

Fluorocarbon is a polymer that's nearly invisible in water because it is a refractor to light. It is inert, so it resists deterioration by sunlight, gasoline, battery acid, or insect repellents. Fluor also doesn't absorb water.

Fluorocarbon fishing leaders originated in Japan, where anglers are very particular about their bait presentations. Japanese fisheries are heavy pressured; so lifelike bait presentations are extremely important. Most fluorocarbon lines are invisible under the water.

Lately, the popularity of the fluorocarbon line has landed in the U.S. with many anglers. Many of us started using fluorocarbon leaders, primarily in saltwater and fly fishing applications because of its low visibility. Sales currently have increased drastically because fishermen are catching more fish with it. The original fluorocarbon leaders were stiff and very expensive, but new technologies have produced more flexible fluorocarbon at more affordable prices.

Fluorocarbon certainly offers advantages in clear-water situations where fish are heavily pressured or slow to bite. Because  fluorocarbon does not absorb water, it won't weaken or increase in stretch like a monofilament fishing line. Added density makes fluorocarbon very abrasion-resistant, so it's ideal for rough conditions, and makes it sink quicker than other styles of fishing lines. Lures do dive deeper and faster. Fluorocarbon line stretches slower and less than nylon, particularly when compared to wet nylon, and it's more sensitive.

Fluorocarbon lines, like superlines, require special attention. The Trilene knot is the best to use for this type of line. Make all 5 wraps when tying the knot, and excessively wet the line before cinching the knot to prevent line weakening. Always test the knot before fishing, because the knot is the weakest place in your line.

Fluorocarbons are still stiffer than nylon, even when they are wet. This requires more attentiveness to the line when casting. Heavier fluorocarbon line is made to be used on heavy rods, strong reels and big lures. Baitcasting reels may require additional adjustment for the extra momentum created by the larger weight of fluorocarbon. Adjust the brakes on the reel to the weight of the line to maximize casting distance and minimize professional overruns.

• What baits work best with Fluorocarbon?
1. Deep water jig
2. Shallow running crankbaits
3. Worm fishing
4. Spinnerbait fishing

• Branch’s purchasing suggestion:

Inexpensive: Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon
Moderate: Bass Pro Shops XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon
The Best: Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon

Fishing line doesn’t last forever that is why you need to store it properly. Heat can have effects on fishing line, but studies have shown that light seems to do even more to break down fishing line. If at all possible, try to store all your fishing lines in a cool dark space. To me, the best place would be an interior closet in your house.  That will prolong the fishing line life and keep it fishing like new line every time you go fishing.

No single type of line is perfect for all fishing conditions. To choose the best line, anglers should consider the size and species of fish being targeted, water type and conditions, the type of tackle being used, and other factors. Nevertheless, today more than ever, with the many types of lines available, it's important to devote time to studying each line and its characteristics so you will have the best for each fishing situation. By doing so, you'll improve your catch rate. And catching more fish, after all, is what we all hope to do.
About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.

Choosing the Right Fishing Line

One of the most over looked aspects of fishing today is choosing the right line and taking proper care of the line on your reels.  When you think about it,   the line is the only thing connecting you to the fish,  so it would make sense to put as much consideration into choosing the right line as you would selecting a rod, reel or bait.

Buying line today is not as simple as it was even 5 years ago-  there have been many advances in technology that translate into higher performing and more technique specific lines.  Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular types:

Monofilament: Monofilament line is still the most widely produced and used type of line available. This single strand of extruded nylon dates back to the late 1940's and is what most anglers use today.  Berkley Trilene and Stren Original are a couple of the most recognized brands.  

Advantages:   Inexpensive,  available in tests from 1# to 40#,  usually comes in clear, fluorescent blue and lo vis green colors,  good knot strength,   has good stretch and shock absorption.

Disadvantages: Breaks down quickly in UV light (sunlight).  In larger diameter will have memory,  stretches,  some types is not very abrasion resistant.

Monofilament Summary:  Mono is a good line choice for recreational anglers who may only fish occasionally.  It is inexpensive,  readily available and is a good choice for closed face spincast reels.  Make sure to wet line before tightening knots.  Because mono breaks down in sunlight it is important to change this line regularly-  I recommend at least 2-3 times per year.  Because mono sinks and has a lot of stretch,  it is best suited for reaction type baits like crankbaits and spinners,  but works adequately for really any type of bait.

Fluorocarbon Line: Fluorocarbon looks and handles a lot like monofilament,  but is a different chemical make up and has many unique qualities that make it a good choice for more serious anglers and specific techniques.  Seaguar, XPS Fluorocarbon, and Berkley Vanish are among the most popular brands.

Advantages: Fluoro is more dense than monofilament,  so it sinks much faster.  This line also has less stretch which allows for greater sensitivity.  Fluorocarbon also has excellent abrasion resistance,  but beware that once the line begins to fray it will become very weak and you should retie often.  Will hold good knot strength,  just make sure the knot is wet. This type of line also refracts light very nearly the same way water does,  so it is practically invisible to the fish making for very natural bait presentations.

Disadvantages:  Fluorocarbon tends to have a lot of reel memory,   so use lighter tests up to 8 pound on spinning reels,  and heavier tests on your baitcasting rigs.  Like monofilament,  fluoro line breaks down quickly in sunlight or UV light so keep your reel covered or stowed away in a dark place when not in use. Fluorocarbon is also very expensive-  expect to pay $15 to $25 for a 200 yard spool,   however if you take good care of this line you may only need to spool once a year.

Summary:  Fluorocarbon is a great choice for anglers fishing baits like plastics, jigs, Carolina rigs,  deep crankbaits and spinnerbaits where getting a lure deep and feeling soft bites is important.  A great choice in 4, 6 or 8 pound on spinning reels for finesse baits.  Use a line spray like Real Magic or even better a water based silicone spray like KVD Line and Lure-  this will soften the memory of the line improving casting,  while preventing deterioration from sunlight.

Braided Line/Super Lines: Quickly becoming one of the most popular line types,  braided line is made of fibers called Dyneema that are braided or fused together under high heat and pressure to create a line that has a very high breaking strength with a very small diameter.  A new fiber type, called GORE,  was introduced this year in some brands which adds some new characteristics to braided line. Spiderwire, Berkley, Power Pro and Sufix 832 are popular brands.

Advantages: Today's superlines are very small diameter compared to their strength-  30 pound braid is the same diameter as 8 to 10 pound mono.  Braid and superlines also have near zero stretch,  so they are very sensitive and well suited for bottom contact presentations like jigs and plastics.  High abrasion resistance- this is a great choice for fishing heavy cover, rocks and timber.  Most braided lines float-  great for throwing frogs! 

Disadvantages:  Expensive-   a 125 yard spool can easily cost $15 to $25.  Doesn't anchor onto reels well-  putting a layer of monofilamant backing underneath your braid does 2 things-  it will anchor the braid to the reel for better performance,  and you won't need to use as much expensive braid to fill your reel.  Braided lines can be hard on rod guides-  make sure your rods have Fuji or Pac Bay guides made of a hard material that will withstand these lines. 

Summary:  Braided lines are great choices where you need extra strength and abrasion resistance for presentations like pitching and flipping, frog fishing and other techniques where a strong sensitive line is needed. Be careful on hooksets as the lack of stretch can result in hooks being torn out of fishes mouths. Not the best choice for baits with treble hooks likes cranks and jerkbaits for this reason.  In heavier tests this is a great catfish, carp or snagging line,  and is gaining popularity for northern anglers chasing walleye, pike and muskie.  Lines with the new GORE fiber like Sufix 832 will sink and behave more like monofilament. Palomar knots are a good choice with braid as some other knots do not hold well with this type of line. When spooling up,  keep in mind the diameter of the line-   30 pound braid will be the same on your reel as 10 pound mono in terms of casting and filling your spool.

Whatever your fishing situation,  there is a line right for you.

Good fishing and tight lines!

Chris Ulane- Fishing Manager

Choose the Right Fishing Line

By: Ty Butler

Choosing the right fishing line can be a daunting task. But by comparing the costs and benefits of each one, it should be easier to narrow down your choices to suit your needs.  There are four main types of fishing line: monofilament, fluorocarbon, nylon braid and super-braid.

Trilene XL
Monofilament line is the most familiar to the average angler. It is a semi-transparent line that has a good deal of stretch. This translates to shock absorbency, making it good for trolling or crankbait applications. Stretch, however, can cause missed hook sets when using floats or soft-plastic artificial baits. Trilene and Stren are the most popular brands. While the cheapest option, this line tends to develop line memory, a stiffness which causes the line to take the shape of the spool. Monofilament line should be changed out every few months to prevent this.

P-Line FloroclearFluorocarbon, to the naked eye, is similar to monofilament. It is a stiffer line that is so translucent that many brands claim they are "invisible" underwater. It also is more abrasion resistant, so it will not fray in oyster shells or heavy cover.

Fluorocarbon is denser than monofilament, so it sinks faster. The downside is that it is more expensive, quickly develops line memory and has to be replaced frequently. Some lines, such as P-Line, are co-polymers that combine the best aspects of monofilament and fluorocarbon.

Magibraid DacronNylon braid, known by the name Dacron, is the oldest type of fishing line, but many anglers still use it. Nylon braid is used in conjunction with wax floatant to give the line buoyancy when using floats or bobbers. These lines tend to flatten out over time, and must be waxed periodically to keep them buoyant.

Nylon braid has less stretch than single-strand lines but is similar in diameter.  It has its downsides, though, when fishing around structure.  When Dacron is stretched it becomes vulnerable to cutting by sharp edges and teeth. Because of this, Dacron is primarily used as a spool backing for other lines.

Power ProGel-spun super-braid is the newest type of line and is quickly becoming the most popular. It is a very high tensile strength, and a much lower diameter than other lines. A 30-pound test super-braid has the same diameter as 8 or 10 pound monofilament. This enables the angler to use more and heavier line on smaller reels. It also has almost no stretch, which allows for quick hook sets.

The lack of shock absorbency, though, means that offshore trolling with braid can lead to pulled hooks or broken lines. However, the thin diameter and high abrasion resistance make this line a good choice for heavy cover or around oyster beds. Super-braids, such as Power Pro, are suitable for most types of fishing, but they come at a cost higher than other types of fishing lines.

Just as a golf pro carries a variety of clubs with him, each type of fishing line has its own application for different situations.  Evaluate what your specific needs are and you will find there is a perfect type of line for each application. 

Fishing Line Buyer's Guide

By Tim Allard

Excel Braided Fishing Line
The minimal line-stretch of superline gives anglers an incredible feel, equating to increased sensitivity and the ability to detect hits.

There are so many terms and characteristics associated with fishing lines that picking a spool can be intimidating. When you get down to it, there are only a few different types of fishing lines available: superlines, fluorocarbon, monofilament and trolling line. This Guide should help you choose the right line for your fishing needs.

Superline is a category given to tough, minimal stretch, thin diameter lines. Superlines are created by either braiding several strands of fibers or by fusing layers of microfilaments together. Braiding and fusing both result in a single strand with maximum strength, minimal stretch and subtleness for casting.

The minimal line-stretch of superline gives anglers an incredible feel, equating to increased sensitivity and the ability to detect hits. No-stretch line also means improved hook sets.

For the most part, superlines also offer good to excellent knot strength, but make sure you follow the knots recommended on the line packaging as braid can slip out of certain knots. When in doubt, use a Palomar knot. Minimal spool memory is another great feature of superlines, lasting several seasons.
Superlines are available in a few colors with green, white and fluorescent green being the most common. Some prime superline examples include:

When to use Superlines

Superlines excel in heavy cover situations. If you're tossing a topwater frog in lily pads or slop with a baitcaster, superline is an excellent choice. Superlines also shine when fishing around wood cover.

No-stretch means sensitivity, so when I'm vertical jigging for walleye in deeper water I often use a 20-pound test superline and tie on a four foot fluorocarbon leader with a uni-knot. The superline gives me a great feel for even the lightest hits. While the fluorocarbon leader won't spook line-shy fish like braid can; it will also break off easier than braid should I get snagged.

It's important to be careful when snagged with braid. Don't use your hands to pull the line or you'll likely slice them open. Also avoid leaning back on your rod to try and pull free a snag; you might break your pole. The best bets are tightening your drag or immobilize the spool. Next, point the rod directly at the snag and slowly pull. Either the line will break or the hook will straighten out.

Superlines are a good choice for working baits that require twitching. It's my go-to line whenever I'm working jerkbaits, whether they're soft-plastic jerk shads for smallmouth bass or big, wooden stickbaits for muskies. In fact, the no-stretch feature of superline helps you get solid hooks sets into toothy fish with bony mouths such as pike and muskie.

You might encounter trouble when trolling with braid if you don't compensate your rod and reel set up appropriately. As braid won't stretch, trolling with too stiff of a rod or too tight a drag will likely pull baits away from fish. To compensate, loosen drags more than you would with conventional monofilament. It's also a good idea to use a rod with a light action tip that bends easily. This forgivingness will ensure fish get the bait when they hit it and the hooks will stick.

See all Superlines.

XPS Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Fluorocarbon is a lot tougher than monofilament, has minimal spool memory, and has great abrasion resistance.


Fluorocarbon is perhaps the line of choice these days for many anglers. This line is virtually invisible in water. If you don't believe it, buy a spool and give it an on-the-water test. I tried this recently in a gin-clear lake, comparing some fluorocarbon P-Line to some PowerPro. The results were impressive. The braid was quite visible while the fluorocarbon was extremely difficult to detect.

Minimal line stretch is another impressive fluorocarbon feature. Still not on par with most superlines, fluorocarbon beats monofilament when it comes to the stretch factor.

Yet there are other popular features for fluorocarbon. The line has a quick sink rate. It is also a lot tougher than monofilament, has minimal spool memory, and has great abrasion resistance.

Lastly, fluorocarbon will resist UV rays. This means it won't breakdown as quickly as monofilament, letting you store it for longer periods. For example, the 8-pound spool of Bass Pro Shops XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon Fishing Line I use for tying my walleye jigging leaders is going on its second season and is still in great condition.

Fluorocarbon line is available in a variety of colors from clear, high-visibility fluorescents, green, blue and grey. Some examples include:

When to Use Fluorocarbon

I have fished with some fluorocarbon fanatics who'll only use this line. The minimal stretch quality and the near invisibility trait of fluorocarbon is why many bass anglers opt for fluorocarbon when flipping and pitching. The fast sink rate teamed with excellent sensitivity makes it a good choice for finesse presentations using minimal weight, such as Senkos, soft-plastic jerkbaits or shaky-head jigging.

Fluorocarbon can also be used for trolling. Many anglers prefer fluorocarbon as it rests in between the no-stretch features of braid and the significant stretch of monofilament. Fluorocarbon provides good sensitivity to hits, but will also offer some give when a fish hits to make sure the hooks stick.

See all Fluorocarbon.

Monofilament is a very forgiving line. It's easy to learn to tie knots with and casts well.


Monofilament is still a mainstay for many anglers. Individuals who have been using the line for years are simply in tune with its strengths and weaknesses and know how to fish it properly.

Two of my occasional boat partners still rely on Berkley Trilene XT Extra Tough Line 17- or 20-pound test when flipping and pitching for largemouth bass. They're extremely confident in this line, and when it comes to fishing, having confidence in your gear and lures is a large part of catching fish.

Monofilament does have certain qualities that some anglers don't like. The line will stretch under strain more than braid or fluorocarbon. This stretch means the line will dampen or absorb light hits, and you might not always feel them.

A great feature of monofilament is it's easy to cut. This might not seem significant, but forget your scissors or a knife when fishing with a superline and retying can get tricky. Unfortunately, the downside to this trait is that monofilament is more abrasion prone than the other two lines, so you will need to be diligent to look for line wear and retie often when fishing around rocks and wood.

A fresh spool of monofilament casts extremely well. Although, mono has a tendency for spool memory over time, so refilling spools should be a regular occurrence.

Monofilament makers are still giving the other two line types a run for their money. Coatings and other adjustments to the manufacturing process are creating new lines that are more abrasion resistant, sensitive, thin and inexpensive.

Monofilament is also available in a variety of colors, which is where it has an advantage over braid. There seems to be an endless array of colors available in mono. Some examples of monofilament include:

When to Use Monofilament

Monofilament is the line I'd recommend for anglers starting out. That's not to say superlines or fluorocarbon won't do, but these two types of lines require a certain amount of fishing line know-how.

Monofilament is a forgiving line. It's easy to learn to tie knots with and casts well. It also has some give to it that will dampen over-exuberant beginner hook sets.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using 8-pound test mono for jigging for walleye, or a 17-pound line for flipping slop for largemouth. This line has served thousands of anglers well over the last couple of decades.

Magibraid Lead Core Trolling Line
Lead-core line is weighted and allows you to present baits at specific depths.

See all monofilament fishing lines.

Trolling Lines

Trolling line is the last category of fishing line worth noting and is specifically designed for trolling presentations. Trolling line features colored sections that help you gauge the amount of line you've let out (color changes every 10 yards). This way, you always know exactly how much line you have in the water at any given time. Trolling line may also feature a lead core center.

When to Use Trolling Lines

As trolling is a preferred tactic for many walleye anglers, lead-core line is weighted and allows you to present baits at specific depths. The uniformity of the weight also gives a smooth presentation with baits. It also tracks the movements of the boat extremely well. Use large capacity reels with a line counter when using trolling lines for a precise presentation. Bass Pro Shops Magibraid Lead Core Trolling Line is one example of a trolling line.

Fishing lines connect you with fish. They are one piece in a fishing system that must balance factors like strength, sensitivity and functionality. With so many lines on the market today, picking the right line might seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of knowledge of what traits you're looking for in a line, you should have no trouble sifting through the shelf.

Lastly, once you find a line you like, stick with it. An in-depth knowledge of the characteristics of your line will likely be more valuable to you than the latest marketing buzzword to describe the newest line. That said, I do recommend experimenting and trying a new line every year on at least one spool. This way you can keep up with the latest tackle trends and innovations, and you may even find a new favorite fishing line.

See all Trolling Lines.