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What Fishing Line to Use (and When)

With the different types of fishing line available, it can cause some uncertainty of what fishing line you should be used in specific situations.

What fishing line to use

While there is definitely no set rule for which type of fishing line you should be using, there are certainly some use cases where a specific type of line will be a better option. 

In this article, I will go through some of the more popular types of fishing line and the best situations for using each one.

Braid line – what it’s good for and how top anglers use it

Braided fishing line has become a very popular choice for a lot of anglers now as it carries a lot of benefits for you as the angler.

Professional anglers use it a lot due to the benefits it provides, but it is also an incredibly popular line to use now among recreational anglers.

Braid fishing line

One of the characteristics of braided line is that it has no stretch to it, unlike other types of line such as monofilament and fluorocarbon. It is a woven line, it has individual lines of fiber and every single strand is woven together which produces that tensile strength.

This woven construction transfers the energy from a bite, through the line and the rod, making it extremely sensitive and responsive. You will be able to feel even the lightest of knocks from a fish as they transmit through the line and onto your rod.

This makes braid ideal for finesse fishing situations, when you need to feel your lure or bait on the end of the line and any interest a fish shows in it you will be able to feel and react accordingly.

It also provides excellent knot strength, so when you tie on your fluorocarbon leader to the braid main line you can feel confident that it will hold, even under the pressure of the harder fighting fish.

If you need long casts, especially when using lighter lures, then braid is the ideal line for this. There are a couple of reasons for this that I will go through now…

Braided fishing line has no memory

First of all, braid does not hold any ‘memory’ in its form.

If you look at mono and fluoro lines when you peel them off the spool the line comes off in loops, and this loop shape is created by it sitting tightly wound on the spool and the nature of the materials used for both mono and fluoro means that it holds this shape.

When you cast with either mono or fluoro as your main line, the line peels off the spinning reel with these loops intact, and they, in turn, catch on the guides on the rod during the cast. This creates some resistance which will reduce your overall casting distance.

when to use braid fishing line

As braid carries zero memory, it will come off the spool straight and will produce minimal friction or resistance with the eyes on the rod. The end result of this is long and smooth casting each time.

With braided line having that extra casting distance, it allows you to fish further from your boat or spot on the shore than you could when using mono’ or fluoro’ line all the way through. 

It also means that if you hook into a fish at a distance, whether it be the distance horizontally from your fishing spot, or vertically in deep water situations, you will be able to set the hook much more effectively due to the lack of stretch in the line. It will certainly improve your hook-up rates in these situations.

When not to use braided fishing line

It is not advisable for beginner anglers to attempt to use braid. It requires some understanding of how and when to use it, and it can cause too many issues if not used correctly. The wind knots are enough to put a beginner off for life!

Braid does not have as much abrasion resistance as fluoro or mono line, and depending on your fishing situation it might not always be the best line to use.

If you are targeting a more toothy fish then braid is not the best line to use. A slight knick on the line while under pressure will cause the line to snap immediately. The same goes if the line rubs against sharp structures such as oysters and rocks.

Some anglers will not use braid if the water clarity is extremely high, even with a longer fluorocarbon leader, as the braid main line could still be visible in the water and enough to spook any fish in the surrounding area. 

When and how you should be using fluorocarbon fishing line

While fluoro has always been the popular line to use as a leader with braid as the main line, it is now becoming a more popular option to use as the main line itself. This is largely due to the advancements in the characteristics of the line and its performance capabilities.

Fluorocarbon is almost invisible underwater, so it carries some immediate benefits depending on the type of water you’re fishing in and your target species.

The reason for this is that the line carries a refractive index similar to water, so it doesn’t distort the light, as mono line does, as it passes through the line.

Better abrasion resistance

Fluorocarbon line is more abrasion resistant than regular monofilament line and braid. This is another big reason it is regularly used as a leader line when braid is being used as the main line.

Fluoro leader line is dense and has very little stretch to it. So it transmits and even the smallest of bites from a fish extremely well up through to the rod, so you will be able to react swiftly. The minimal stretch will also allow you to set the hook firmly.

Situations that may be considered for using fluorocarbon line all the way through usually when structure is involved. 

For example, if you are fishing around oyster beds or racks it may be risky to use braid line with a leader, as the braid will cut as soon as it is raked against a sharp oyster while under stress.

If you are using fluorocarbon main line in this situation then you are much more likely to have your line remain intact, even if it does have some contact with oysters.

Fluorocarbon leader line and fluorocarbon main line are not the same

If you want to add a fluro leader to your braid line, make sure that you use the specifically designed smaller spools of ‘leader’ fluoro. It is denser, harder, and slightly thicker than fluorocarbon line on larger spools made for use as main line.

Fluorocarbon line

This means that the fluoro leader line will be more abrasion resistant and will have less stretch, so it will transmit any bites back to you with greater sensitivity.

Other things to note about fluorocarbon fishing line

Fluorocarbon line is not as manageable as mono or braid line as it is harder and much stiffer and it carries a lot of memory too. 

Fluoro line is also more expensive than mono line, so it is not a great option for beginners, and should only be used as main line if you have a specific need for using it.

Monofilament, the great all-rounder.

Monofilament fishing line is extremely forgiving and is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades when you look at the different lines available. It can be used on all major types of fishing reels and all types of water fishing applications.

It is the ideal type of line for beginners to use as it is easy to manage and very easy to tie knots with. It is also fairly cheap to purchase when compared to either braid or fluoro line, plus it is readily available in most tackle stores.

Monofilament Line

Momo line floats, so it is a good option to use if you want to use any kind of topwater lures, even if just used as the leader with a braid main line. 

It is also quite resistant to abrasion, with this single-stranded line holding up well to any scrapes against rougher objects under the water, so it can be used when fishing amongst a lot of structure. 

It is also perfect to use as a backing line when you want to spool your reel with braid, due to its low cost.

Disadvantages of using monofilament line

Mono line is incredibly stretchy, and there’s no real style of fishing where this suits.

If you have a lot of line out and you get a bite and want to set the hook, you will not get a solid hook set because of the stretch in the line, so the chances of losing a fish are higher.

It also means that the line is not as sensitive as either fluro or braid, so you may miss some bites if they 

Monofilament does not have the same invisible-like qualities as fluro line under the water, as it distorts the light as it passes through the line. This makes it much easier for fish to see when the water clarity is good.

When to use monofilament line

While monofilament line can be used in most fishing situations, it is best used if you are topwater fishing because the line floats.

It is also suitable to use if you are fishing in really snaggy areas as it can take quite a bit of abrasion.

What fishing line should I use if I want the line to float?

If you want a fishing line that floats, then monofilament is the best type of line for this. It will stay buoyant and allow you to keep your bait or lure on the surface when top water fishing. 

What is the best fishing line to use for leaders?

The best, and most commonly used line for leaders is fluorocarbon line. This is due to its almost invisible-like quality underwater which makes it perfect to use for more line-shy fish, also its shock strength, and abrasion resistance.

fluoro leader line
Fluorocarbon leader line

It also has less stretch than mono line so it transmits any bites back through to the rod much more effectively.

If you are targeting species that have sharp teeth that could easily cut through fluro, mono, or braided line then it is sensible to use a wire leader that will provide some resistance against their sharp bite.

What line is best to use for surf fishing?

The best line to use for surf fishing is braid. This is because it is the strongest type of line and its thinner diameter when compared to either fluoro or mono will allow you to cast further distances to get your bait or lure out beyond the breakers.

I should also mention that one of the biggest mistakes that people make when surf fishing is to use a line class that is much too heavy for their requirements, which will greatly reduce their casting ability.

Unless you are specifically targeting large species in the surf, then you should never really need to use more than 20lb braid or 15lb mono line.

You can still catch heavier fish when using this class line, and you will be able to cast further than if you were using much thicker line.

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