Does Fishing Line Color Matter? Absolutely, Here’s Why! (Choosing Fishing Line Color)


You might have thought that buying the right fishing line was a simple affair. If you’ve been to your local tackle shop recently, you’ll probably have found as many lines as there are lures! There’s so much choice… And color?

Does fishing line color matter? Actually, yes, it does, and you are about to find out why.

Today I’m going to explain the real difference your choice of fishing line can make. I’ll also explain to you what the best fishing line color is for many given situations.

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Does Fishing Line Color Matter?

The quick answer?

Yes, it must do. These fishing companies don’t spend fortunes producing products for no reason. If there is a market for it, then different colored fishing lines must work.

So, can you use any color of fishing line?

No, that would not be true. The truth is that that you have to pick the best fishing line color for the task at hand.

Let me ask you this…

You don’t catch all fish in the same way, do you? Why not?

Because you have to change your tactics depending on several factors. Well, prepare to add another weapon to your arsenal. Provided you choose the right color of fishing line, you might find that your catch rate improves significantly.

How do you choose a fishing line color? Easy! Just follow my guide below.

two fishing reels with red fishing line

Choosing Fishing Line Color – How-to Guide

Ok, so you’ve been met with plenty of fishing line color choices. But which is the right one for you?

Take a look at the following criteria before making your choice.

Conditions

First, consider the conditions in the place that you normally fish. Do you like fishing in secluded freshwater pools? Or perhaps you prefer going after catfish in wide and fast-moving rivers.

Why does this make a difference?

Well, the conditions will heavily influence the characteristics of the water on a given day.

Take the above as an example. Freshwater tends to be pretty clear, especially when the weather is nice. As a result, visibility will be greatly increased. Conversely, suppose you are fishing in water churned up, either by current, tide or heavy rain. In that case, it will probably be fairly murky. This all has a bearing on which fishing line color you should pick.

Water Type

While you may not realize, the type of water you are fishing in will directly impact your choice of fishing line color. Seawater actually has different properties than freshwater. And it isn’t just about visibility either.

So, what is it about?

Diffraction! The way light is filtered as you descend through the water column changes depending on the water type.

Here’s a quick video explaining what it is all about.

Time of Day

The time of day at which you fish should feature heavily when choosing a color of fishing line. And for more reasons than you might think…

If you fish during the day, you should ideally pick a color that isn’t going to be spotted by the fish.

If you fish at night, then you might think line color doesn’t matter so much. But you’d be wrong.

Why?

Whereas you might not want the fish to see the line, you may need to see it easily. A clear line might not be the best choice, even if you’d use it in the same venue during the day!

Species

When you are targeting specific species, choosing the correct line color is important.

Some fish, such as bass and trout, are primarily sight hunters. If you are fishing in a place that has heavy angling pressure, the fish soon learn that any straight lines leading to bait spell trouble, so you’ll need something that is super low visibility.

If you are sea fishing or fishing in cloudy water, the line visibility isn’t all that important. Species such as catfish (and sometimes carp) rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate their food and, as such, are not sight-driven, so you might get away with something sub-optimal.

fishing rod with baitcasting fishing reel

What Color Fishing Line Should I Use?

The real answer is it depends on a combination of the above factors. All that said, here is a quick guide to the different options available to you and when you might want to consider using them:

Fluorocarbon

Clear

Pure fluorocarbon fishing line doesn’t actually have a color.

But, Bob… We can still see it?

Just wait, my friends, you are about to learn something.

Fluorocarbon has a high refractive index. This means that when it is submerged, it turns invisible!

Invisible? You’re kidding me?

Nope, you can see it here in this video. Just watch!

Why wouldn’t you use it all the time? Well, first off, it sinks, which might not be how you want to fish. Second, it is really springy and dense, making it difficult to work with.

Deploy this method any time that you are looking to catch sight feeders. It is the best fishing line to use in clear and bright conditions, particularly in freshwater.

Pink Fluorocarbon

How is pink any better?

Well, as you descend in the water, the red wavelengths of light are filtered out. As a result, it too becomes invisible.

Aside from the slight pink tinge, pink fluorocarbon performs exactly the same as regular clear fluorocarbon.

It’s the dealer’s choice. Don’t be put off by the pink tinge. As with the above, it is best used in clear and bright conditions when hunting for fish with good eyesight, such as Bass or trout.

If you want to know more about fluorocarbon lines, be sure to swing by my dedicated article right here.

Monofilament

Mono is the world’s most popular line choice, so you know it works.

You’ll tend to find that monofilament comes in drab colors. However, unlike fluoro, you need to remember that it doesn’t turn invisible under the water!

This means that you are going to have to pick your color wisely.

Here are the options and when to use them:

Yellow Fishing Line

Yellow mono is bold, bright, and really obvious. It can be easily spotted by fish.

So, when would I use it?

There are a few times when you could get away with using a yellow line. If the water is particularly dirty, then it is a solid option. It could also be deployed when sea fishing, as the fish, are generally less wary.

Why would you want to use yellow line?

Yellow mono is great if you want to see the line yourself. If you are fishing with multiple rods, then it makes it easy to differentiate between them too.

Red Fishing Line

Is the red fishing line not just the same as yellow?

Nope!

In fact, you get nearly all the advantages of the yellow line but with fewer downsides.

Here’s why…

If you remember above, we said that red colors are filtered out by the water. This is the case with red line, especially if you are fishing deep down. The plus side is that up above the surface, you’ll still be able to easily spot your line!

This could be an option if you are fishing for sight-oriented fish. While I’d personally avoid using red-colored mono line in really clear conditions, it would be a good choice in mildly colored or deep water.

Green Fishing Line

When we say ‘green fishing line,’ we don’t mean anything neon. You’ll find a lot of mono fishing lines have a green tinge. It’s nearly always dark. Just like camouflage, green is a great color to use if you are fishing anywhere with surface weeds, mud, or grass on the bottom.

It blends in really well and is by far one of the most popular choices for anglers looking to catch any species.

I love talking about fishing line! Want proof? Why not read a little more on the best monofilament fishing lines right here!

Colored Braid

Braid is a bit of a law unto itself.

Why?

Because it is really visible. If you’ve read my article on the different types of fishing lines, you’ll already know that it has loads of great features that we as anglers love…

If only it wasn’t so darned visible.

There are ways around it, though. Due to how it is constructed, braid can be made into practically any color. As to which is the best, I’ve always had the most success with drab ones. That said, based on our conversation about red lines before, you could give this a go.

Braid can be woven into several alternating colors too! This is great as it breaks up the straight ‘line’ formed in the water, making the fish less wary.

Colored braid is best utilized in murky water or when saltwater fishing.

Still, got questions on the different colors of fishing lines? Here’s what I get asked all the time:

man catching fish in the evening with lure

What is the Best Saltwater Fishing Line Color?

Saltwater fish are generally less wary as they tend not to be released once caught (and the sea is a big place). As a result, you can afford to be a little less choosy when picking a line color.

That said…

If you like to leave nothing to chance, go for either a clear line, such as mono, or a red braid. Both will give you excellent results.

What is the Best Color Fishing Line for Freshwater? (Murky)

For freshwater, I generally tend to steer clear of braid. There is a greater chance that the fish are cautious, so you won’t want to spook them.

In cloudy or murky freshwater, your best bet is to opt for a dark green line. If you are fishing at night, you could consider using red or yellow to aid your visibility.

What is the Best Fishing Line for Clear Water

There is only one answer if you are fishing in gin clear water…

The answer is Fluorocarbon. Either pink or clear will work equally well. Because it has a low refractive index, you can rest safe knowing that it won’t be seen by the fish.

Why?

Because it is invisible in the water.

Going for a specific species? Check out my line color guide below…

fishing spinning reel and rod

What Are the Best Fishing Line Colors for…

Bass

Bass are sight predators, and if they can see your lure, then there is a good chance they can see your line. You definitely don’t want to use braid direct to your hook.

The best possible choice you could make is clear fluorocarbon. At a push, you could also use a dark-colored monofilament.

Trout

Like bass, trout are sight feeders. Because they eat from the surface, they can see everything in silhouette. Strongly colored lines just aren’t going to cut it. Again fluorocarbon is a good choice. If there is any color in the water, then a dark-colored mono is worthwhile.

Carp

Carp are a little tricky. While they hunt via smell, they have long memories, and if they are caught, they keep a good lookout for line leading to the bait.

The good news is that carp prefer murky conditions, so you can try a few different colors. I’ve had success with dark mono, but one of my favorite lines is a two-tone braid. When it sinks and rests on the bottom, it blends in really well.

For all, you need to know about the best lines for carp fishing, check out my guide.

Catfish

Like carp, catfish locate food using scent. With catfish, you can afford to get away with most colors as they don’t have very good eyesight. My favorite colors are either red mono or braid. That way, I can see the line while not taking any chances with visibility.

Catfishing lines are a really in-depth subject. Why not take a look at my dedicated catfishing line guide? It’s just here.

Crappie

Crappie is another sight feeder, so fluorocarbon is the obvious choice. If you want the best of both worlds, you could consider using any line of your choosing but making the final 5 or so feet out of a clear fluorocarbon leader.

Conclusion

Choosing the best fishing line color isn’t as easy as it might first seem. You have to consider the water clarity, species, and of course, your own personal preference.

If in doubt, go for a clear or dark-colored line selected base on the properties you like and for your chosen style of fishing.

Which fishing line color do you think is best? Let me know in the comments.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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