One of the biggest mistakes novice fishermen make is underestimating the importance of the fishing line. The line is your lifeline between you and the fish, but just how important is your fishing line selection?
The type of fishing line you use matters a lot. Depending on how you are fishing, a braided nylon or monofilament line will be used. These line types have practical applications; however, the best line on the market today is braided line.
In the following sections of this article, we will review the key differences between braided line and monofilament and when to use each. Additionally, I will cover when to use different line colors, along with my line recommendations and maintenance tips.
Which is better? Braided or Monofilament line?
Using either monofilament or braided line will catch fish. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to using either line type.
Braided line has many advantages over using a monofilament line. In most applications, braided fishing line is a better choice than monofilament line.
Let’s take an in-depth dive into the comparison of braided nylon versus monofilament line.
Advantages of Braided Fishing Line
As mentioned above, braided fishing line has quite a few advantages. They are:
- Thinner: Braided line has the same breakage strength in a thinner diameter. This allows you to spool greater amounts of line onto the reel versus bulkier monofilament. More line capacity makes re-spooling the line more infrequent and ensures you have plenty of line for large fish making far runs.
- Does not coil: Nylon has no memory and does not coil as a monofilament line will. Leaving monofilament on a reel for too long will make it difficult to cast due to the coiled line.
- Faster sink rate: The thinner diameter gives the braided line less buoyancy allowing it to sink to the bottom faster. This is important when fishing a deep bottom in a heavy current. An example would be bottom-fishing an offshore wreck.
- Does not stretch: This is both good and bad. When fishing in shallow saltwater or freshwater, a good hook set is necessary. The limited amount of stretch allows you to get a good hook set on species such as bass or redfish.
- Casts further: The lack of memory and thin diameter makes casting lures or baits much easier and at greater distances than monofilament.
- Various color options: Braided line is available in a variety of different colors. There is a color for multiple applications and water colors, from basic white to a high visibility neon green.
Are there disadvantages to using braided lines?
As with most choices in life, there are trade-offs to consider. Although braid is a superior line, it does have some flaws that you should be aware of.
- Little abrasion resistance: Braided line has very little resistance to nicks and cuts. Structures such as oysters or barnacles will cut braided line far quicker than monofilament. The use of leader material is critical when fishing with braided line to help reduce abrasive cut-offs.
- Wind Knots: Braided line tends to twist and knot when cast. These knots are referred to as wind knots. Although not always caused by the wind, the lighter line moving through the air makes it susceptible to more tangles.
- Visible in water: Monofilament is translucent by nature, allowing it to disappear easier in the water. Braided line will stand out more in the water and, if fishing in clear water, will be visible to the fish. We combat this by using a leader line tied directly to the end of the braided line.
- Does not stretch: Although this can also be an advantage when fishing deep water, the stretch of the line is more forgiving when pulling on large fish. It allows for more give in the line when the fish is making a hard run. Additionally, the lack of stretch allows hard strikes to snap the line easier.
- It is expensive: Braided lines are roughly 3x the cost of a spool of monofilament, making the initial purchase and re-spooling of line more costly.
When should I use a monofilament line?
Monofilament gets a bad wrap as an outdated application, but in reality, there are times when it is superior to using a braided line.
When fishing deep bottom or trolling, monofilament is the best line to use. Monofilament provides greater stretch when pulling large species from the bottom and is more shock-resistant to hard trolling strikes. Additionally, monofilament has greater abrasion resistance to nicks caused by structure.
Many offshore fishermen will add long monofilament sections to their braid when trolling or bottom fishing. This is referred to as a “top shot” and helps absorb the pressure of big fish. The added length of the monofilament line also helps the line disappear in the water column. This can be the difference between a weary fish committing to eating your bait or swimming off.
Monofilament is a good choice anytime you are fishing on the bottom where casting out is not that important. Since monofilament maintains memory, casting it at long distances is a challenge. An example of this is sheepshead fishing around dock pilings, where the line is dropped straight down along the piling. A monofilament line is a perfect option for fishing this species as heavy structure is present, and we are dropping straight down.
What size line should I use?
Selecting the correct line size for your reel can be a challenge. If the line is too heavy, then the spool will hold less line. If the line is too small, then it may not be adequate for landing larger species.
The spool of the reel will indicate the proper line size to use. Each reel will provide line size recommendations and capacity for both braided and monofilament lines. Using a line size in the middle of the recommended range is advised.
The amount of line on the spool is naturally lost over time due to re-rigging baits and breaking off when snagged. Choosing a line size between the recommended line range gives you more line capacity on the reel and helps avoid frequent re-spooling. Plenty of fish are caught on light line, so don’t feel that you need the heaviest line available to catch big fish.
For an in-depth review of pairing fishing lines to reels, check out Can Fishing Line Be Too Heavy? Tips For Choosing the Right Size.
Does the color of the fishing line matter?
The color of the line is not just for looks. Line colors are intentional and used for different applications.
The color of the fishing line serves an essential purpose. Line color can help you identify where the line is or blend in with the natural color of the water in your area. Different colors of line will disappear quicker in the water column to provide a stealthier presentation.
Below we will discuss when it makes sense to use bright colored lines versus ones that disappear in the water.
What color line disappears the most?
When it comes to invisibility in the water, you have a few color options. Pink fluorocarbon is by far the most invisible fishing line, with clear coming in a close second. However, since the cost of fluorocarbon is so expensive, it is not practical to spool your reel with fluorocarbon.
A pink monofilament fishing line will become invisible in the water as it loses its color within the water column. The color pink will appear completely translucent as it blends with the water’s natural color, making it difficult for fish and humans to see the line.
Another great option for stealth is a clear line. If you are fishing a braided nylon line, tying a piece of clear or pink fluorocarbon to the end of your line will make your presentation look more natural. Since braided line is not available in clear, a leader line becomes necessary to provide stealth. For an in-depth guide to selecting leader size, refer to my article: What Size Leader For Saltwater Fly-fishing? Tips From A Captain.
Is red fishing line good or bad?
It was once believed that the color red was the first in the color spectrum to disappear in the water. This proved to be incorrect by divers observing the line in the water.
Red fishing line is helpful when needing to have some invisibility in the water while maintaining visibility for the angler. The redness of the line will disappear in the water; however, it will resemble a black shadow under the water.
When fishing for aggressive feeding fish, a red line allows you to maintain sight of the bait to see the strike while not being completely visible to the fish. Using a clear line or a long leader is a much better option if fishing for wary species.
Why use neon yellow, blue, or green line?
The use of bright color lines usually has specific intended uses.
Bright color lines such as neon green, blue or yellow are useful when trolling where line visibility is imperative. The highly visible line allows you to set baits at certain distances and see if multiple lines are at risk of becoming tangled.
Other applications of highly visible lines include sight fishing, where the line helps you identify where the bait is in relation to the fish.
When should I replace my fishing line?
Unfortunately, fishing line will not last forever. Over time, the line will retain too much memory from lack of use and can even dry rot.
A good rule of thumb is to replace monofilament line at least once a year or when the spool amount has been reduced by a third. Braided nylon will have a longer life span and can last two years before needing to be changed.
Does fishing line deteriorate over time?
Fishing line will naturally deteriorate over time and should be checked frequently. This is especially true if the line has been sitting unused for long periods. Frequently used line will retain less memory and last longer than the line that has been neglected.
Since braided line is made of nylon, it will far outlast monofilament line. Signs of deterioration in braid can be challenging to spot. So if you are aware that the line is old, it is best to change it. No one wants to lose a good fish to a faulty line.
How to Tell Monofilament Fishing Line is Bad
There are a couple of ways to tell if your line is compromised and in need of replacement.
Monofilament line will become a discolored yellow or brown shade when it has gone bad. The line will become brittle and easy to break. A quick pull test of the line to see if it breaks is a good indication of a bad line.
Old monofilament will also retain coils the size of the spool. When making a cast, it is best to change out the line if the line is coiled throughout.
Does braided fishing line go bad as well?
Although a braided line lasts longer than monofilament, it will still deteriorate over time. The signs of old braided lines are slightly more difficult to identify.
Braided nylon line has gone bad when the line has become dull or faded in color. Other indications of a bad line are frayed or unraveling strands. Testing the braided line for breakage will also indicate if the line is old.
Replace your line if you are in doubt of whether or not your line is too old. It never hurts to have a fresh, full spool of line on your reel!
Over the decades of fishing, I have tried numerous different lines. I often try the latest and greatest lines on the market, but in the end, I go back to my tried and true. The following lines are what I personally use and recommend for both fresh and saltwater applications.
There are hundreds of braided lines on the market these days, but the true original and absolute best is Power Pro Spectra Fiber Braided Fishing Line. Unlike newer braid options, the spectra line series reduces the number of wind knots when cast. The line is highly durable and is available in a variety of different colors. I recommend the moss green color for bass fishing and most saltwater fisheries.
Power Pro Spectra Fiber Braided Fishing Line is available in single-use spools of 150 yards up to 1500 yard spools in size 5lb to 250lb test.
There is a reason more offshore captains use Ande Premium Pink Monofilament than any other monofilament on the market. The line is virtually invisible, easy to tie, and easy on the wallet.
When offshore fishing or using monofilament for inshore applications, there is no better monofilament. The line features a good amount of stretch and is highly abrasion-resistant. Ande Premium Pink Monofilament is available from 15lb to 400lb test. Purchasing a large spool of this line is inexpensive and can spool multiple reels while being easy on the wallet.
Selecting a line can be an overwhelming process. If you are unsure of what line to use, it is always a good idea to seek advice from a local tackle shop. Here’s my TLDR reminder list:
- When purchasing a line, try to match the line to the intended use of the reel.
- For casting lures and maximizing spool capacity, using braided line is recommended.
- When selecting a color for your line, determine whether you need to see the line or if it is more important to be invisible in the water.
- Make sure to maintain your equipment regularly, including changing out old fishing lines or re-spooling when necessary.
- The size of the line should fall within the range of the recommended line size on the reel.
Although monofilament has an intended purpose, the most common line used today is braid. Except in a few rare applications, I fish braid on all of my rods.