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Types of Fishing Line

A fishing line is a long thread of nylon, wire, silk, or other material that is used in combination with a fishing rod to catch and reel in fish. It is cast from the rod, flies up in the air, and lands in the water. You get to buy it spooled on a reel. The right kind of line could help you in landing you the catch of your choice. Here we present the details of the major types of fishing lines that could help you to decide on the one that best suits your needs.

Features of a Fishing Line

  1. Memory – You can determine if your line has memory by checking if it hangs straight or curls up when you take it off the spool. Lines with high memory tend to retain the shape of the spool even after unwinding, making them prone to tangles and kinks as you reel them in. They also make it difficult to cast far and mess up the line presentation. Those with low memory are free of such problems.
  2. Stretch – If a fishing line is stretchy, it maintains tension in the line even when you are dealing with big fish or species that can put up a big fight. It buffers the shock from violent head shakes as well. However, more stretch means less sensitivity to fish strikes and difficulty in setting the hook.
  3. Shock Strength – A line with a good stretch is less likely to break under sudden pressure. This is known as shock or impact strength that prevents hard-hitting fish from snapping your line.
  4. Abrasion Resistance – This is the quality of a fishing line that prevents it from getting cut or roughened by rocks or other objects that it might encounter. Though most of the modern lines are pretty resistant to abrasion, high-end materials in your fishing line tend to handle scratches better.
  5. Buoyancy – There are some lines that float while others sink in water. Both can prove to be useful in different situations. Floating or buoyant lines are great for topwater fishing. On the other hand, since sinking lines stay firmly in water, they can give you more precision at depths.
  6. Visibility – If fish can see your line underwater, they can be on their alert and refrain from biting. To prevent such cases, it would be wise to use a low visibility line in clear water. You can also use lines that have a color that matches the shade of the water at the depth you will be fishing.

Different Types of Fishing Line

1. Monofilament Fishing Line

This is essentially a single strand line that enjoys massive popularity with anglers all over the world. This standard nylon-based fishing line is cheap, simple to use and tie knots with. If you are using spinning or plug tackle, you could expect an especially good casting with it.

Monofilament Fishing Line


The main advantage of this line is its pocket-friendliness and ease of use. With this one, you can expect smooth casts and better knot holding abilities than most of the other fishing line types. It has low memory and is easy to pick out if the line backlashes. Even if you have to cut the line for untangling, don’t fret. A big plus point of this line is that it’s recyclable.

Scoring high on the stretch meter, it boasts of excellent shock strength. So you can think of catching bigger fish with this line. Its highly buoyant properties make it ideal for surface lures. So you would find famous anglers using it when fishing topwater lures, especially poppers, for bass. Monofilament also comes in a range of colors that help with visibility. It can be cut neatly with clippers that facilitates smooth connections.


The main downside of mono is that it is weaker than other types of fishing lines of similar diameter. It also doesn’t last long. It is because nylon breaks down with prolonged exposure to sunlight. So you need to re-spool with a fresh line every year. It also breaks down when submerged in water for more than 24 hours as the material absorbs water.

Being super stretchy comes with its own set of drawbacks. It makes the line less sensitive to light strikes and warrants solid hook sets to drive barbs deep into the fish, especially hard-mouthed species like muskies. It is abrasion-resistant to some extent, but fluorocarbon is better in that front. High buoyancy makes it underperform with bottom baits.

Line twists are common in mono, causing a multitude of casting and retrieving issues. If you are using trolling lures, then their inherent wiggle and wobble make mono line twists all the more troublesome. You can place swivels near baits and lures to minimize line twist, but that would affect the line visibility.

When to use it

The line can be used when fishing in freshwater, near the shore, inshore or from a pier using a baitcaster or spinning rod and reel. Monofilament is a line of choice for large and small native fish species like salmon, trout, flathead, kingfish, tuna and snapper. The beginner-friendly line should, however, not be used when deep water fishing or targeting tough-mouthed species. Fishermen have found success with it while pan fishing.

Mono is the preference of most anglers in lighter tests, under around 10 pounds, since it easily casts light lures with spinning gear and performs well while rigging hooks, snaps, swivels and sinkers. The high abrasion resistance and stretch have earned favor among bass anglers for bottom bumping lures like jigs and plastic worms. Top anglers like to use it while fishing with any surface lure as it doesn’t sink like fluoro or form a darker silhouette like braid.

2. Braided Fishing Line

This fishing line is made up of several fibers that are braided together, although it has a circular cross-section. The material can be nylon, Spectra, Dyneema or Dacron. They made an entry into the fishing scene in the 1900’s replacing horsehair lines. In those days, they were made of natural fibers like cotton, silk and linen that has been largely replaced by synthetic plastic fibers in recent times.

Braided Fishing Line


This line is made of 4-16 strands. Fewer strands make it more abrasion resistant while more strands make the line thinner, allowing you to pack more line on your spool. Either way, it is made to last and is far stronger than mono and fluoro. So you can think of this type if it is big fish you are after. Having no memory, it flows freely without kinking.

Non-stretchable properties make it sensitive to the slightest fish hits and promote lure movement. Since it doesn’t break down under sun exposure, you can keep it in a spool for years. It trolls deeper, casts farther, and sinks faster than mono. Though most anglers use the line on spinning reels, it can be used on any reel, provided it is of decent quality. Unlike mono and fluoro, this line doesn’t twist.


No stretch makes it suffer from low shock strength. It can also lead to loss of fish due to the straightening of hooks when anglers overplay fish. In contrast to mono, knot tying is difficult and knots don’t hold well due to its slippery nature. The high strength of the line makes it difficult to cut. So, if you are using braid, don’t forget to carry very sharp scissors with you and be warned that it can get cut by sharp-toothed fish. High visibility allows it to be seen by wary fish. You can lower the visibility by using a mono or fluoro leader between the braid and the terminal end. This technique also prevents tangles in swivels, snaps and hook split rings.

This type of line is less abrasion resistant and more expensive than the others. Its thinness and strength make it cut into the spool and damage cheaper equipment. When it backlashes, it makes a mean mess and most of the time, you are left with no other option than to cut it. That it is non-recyclable makes things worse.

When to Use It

Braided fishing lines are excellent for saltwater game fishing, deep water fishing, offshore trolling of large tuna, sharks, big kingfisher and marlin. Avoid using the line when some line stretch is desired, such as trolling for soft-mouthed fish like salmon. The fineness of the line makes it ideal for catching swordfish. Choose this if you are fishing in muddy or dirty water, as you can easily see it and detect fish bites. It is also ideal for fishing around heavy cover as it can cut right through the weeds and vegetation without getting caught in them. Precision jigging and deep dropping are other common uses.

The line excels in higher pound tests of 20, 40, 80 pounds or more, but in lighter tests, in the range of 10 pounds or more, you might find it extremely difficult to handle and cast due to its extremely small diameter. Beginners would not be comfortable with this line as they need extra stretch like mono or fluoro to compensate for mistakes that they are likely to commit while playing fish.

Experienced anglers find the line to shoot faster than any other while dock shooting. Some of them also feel that 80-120 pound lines are perfect for flipping bass as it doesn’t stretch and can quickly take out lunkers from heavy covers. Others back the line for its ability to make very long casts and set hooks by instilling movement in lures for fish like muskies and pike that can hold on tightly to the lures. Some feel that it is perfect for crankbait trolling of walleye as the lure can be cleared of moss or weeds without having to reel it back to the boat.

 3. Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Though this is made of a single strand like a monofilament line, the molecules of the fluorocarbon material are more closely packed, making it denser and heavier. Fluorocarbon refers to a wide range of compounds, including organic compounds of carbon, fluorine and chlorine, as well as synthetic hydrocarbons.

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line


The main advantage of mono is that it is transparent, practically invisible underwater to fish. This also facilitates its use in heavier pound tests than other more visible lines. It’s a little stronger than mono but its abrasion resistance is far better than the latter. As it doesn’t absorb water, it is more durable than the other line types.

It boasts of moderate stretching capabilities that is less than monofilament but more than braid. This gives it high shock strength without compromising the precision. The line is very sensitive – even the lightest bites or the lure hitting bottom can be felt. This is especially helpful in winters when you have your gloves on impeding your feel of lure and fish. This one is a perfect leader material as it resists fray due to the fish’s bite. It enables you to deal with backlashes better than braid. In fact, it usually doesn’t backlash as much with spinning reels as braid.


Lesser flexibility than mono or braid makes it difficult to tie knots in this line and spooling it on reels. High line memory and a higher price tag than mono are other flip sides. Also, you cannot use it for surface lures as it sinks pretty fast.

When to Use It

Since it sinks easily, you can use it for bottom tactics like bottom bouncing or jigging. A little bit of stretch, but not too much, makes it ideal for trolling. According to experienced anglers, 6-pound tests are ideal for crappie trolling, while a 10 lb test is suitable for trolling other species. The line is better suited to baitcasters than spinning reels. Its transparency makes it the preferred line for fishing in very clear waters. So this would be your go-to line if you are after big game fish where you can use it in higher pound tests of 14 or 17 pounds.

Other Types of Fishing Lines That Are Less Common

4. Wire Fishing Line (Copper or Stainless Steel Fishing Lines)

This kind of fishing line that is mainly made of copper or steel holds up well against toothy fish like tuna and mackerel. It is also the preferred choice for specific types of trolling where reaching a good depth is important. You can find the line in single-strand and braided varieties that come in special hard spools.

Copper Fishing Line
Steel Fishing Line

5. Copolymer Fishing Line

This is an improved version of monofilament that uses two or more forms of nylon instead of only one. Manufacturers tailor the ingredients of the line to customize it to specific needs. It has similar shock strength as mono with lesser stretch. It is also stronger and more resistant to abrasion. Being more expensive while remaining as vulnerable to the sun are its flip sides. You can use it while deep water jigging and in suspension rigs.

Copolymer Fishing Line

6. Lead Core Fishing Line

This type of line sinks well and is mainly used as a heavy trolling main line where it is usually followed by a fishing swivel that connects it to a fluorocarbon line near the bait or lure.

Lead Core Fishing Line

7. Dacron Fishing Line

This material was created in the 1950s, around 20 years after nylon was invented. Dacron is a long chain polyester that scores over nylon with its improved strength and flexibility. It also boasts of a lower stretch. It is mainly used as a backing, filler or wind-on line.

Dacron Fishing Line

8. Spectra Fishing Line

Spectra is a super powerful polyethylene fiber that is stronger than steel and more durable than polyester but comes at a much higher price. However, it is worth the extra bucks as it reduces the weight of your tackle while making it possible to fit more line on the spool. Other plus points are, increased sensitivity, knot strength and abrasion resistance, low stretch and almost nil ‘line memory’.

Spectra Fishing Line

9. Nanofil Fishing Line

It is made of gel-spun polyethylene that enables it to have a very small diameter but exceptionally high strength. The non-stretch line boasts of longer casts, both saltwater and freshwater usability and is best suited for spinning reels.

Nanofil Fishing Line

The choice of a fishing line depends a lot on personal preferences. There are experienced anglers out there who have continued with the kind of line that they first started out with due to the comfort level. If you want to begin using a type of fishing line that is new to you, you need to try it out first to check if it clicks with your fishing style.


What type of line for bass fishing?

Monofilament line is the best type of fishing line for bass.

Which is the strongest type of fishing line?

The braided line is the strongest type of fishing line.

What is the best type of fishing line for catfish?

The monofilament line is perfect for catfish.

What type of fishing line floats?

The monofilament line can float in water.

What type of line for walleye fishing?

Since walleye are more suspicious of movements underwater and take time to bite, the invisible fluorocarbon line is a safe bet for them.

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