The Different Types of Fishing Lines Explained – Pros, Cons & Their Uses (Must-See Guide)


How important is it to choose the right type of fishing line? In short. Very.

Your line is literally your only link between you and the fish of your dreams. If it breaks, you’ve literally lost the catch of a lifetime.

But don’t worry, guys, I’ve got all the answers right here. I’m going to go through the different line types you could try, explain the properties of each, and give you some great guidance on when and where to use them.

Let’s get straight to it.

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What Type of Fishing Line is Best?

If you want a short answer or are really not sure, then here is the answer. One word.

Monofilament.

Monofilament is a great all-around line that can be used in practically any situation. It is relatively cheap, has a bit of stretch, is pretty low visibility, and has a low-profile diameter.

But, it does have its pitfalls. I’ll talk about them a little later…

As to a general overview of what fishing line is ‘best’, the longer answer is, it depends on what you will use it for. You’ll need to consider some of the following areas:

fisherman fishing with spinning rod in pond

Your Style of Fishing

How do you like to fish?

Are you the kind of angler who loves to pop a lure on the surface? If so, a great line that floats could be a good choice.

Or…

Are you someone who fishes hard on the bottom in murky conditions? Lines for catfish need a few different properties. If you’ve ever looked for good carp fishing lines, you’ll already know that you want something that sinks and is practically invisible.

So it may not be as easy as your first thought.

The Species You are Looking to Catch

It should come as no surprise that different fish fight in different ways. Bass is full of violence and aggression, making rapid pulls and darts. On the other hand, carp are more of a deadweight, where it is literally a battle of the strongest.

So…

As a result of the above, the line you choose could be based on the species. It’s not good hooking into a fish, only to find that your line breaks quickly or doesn’t give you the pulling power required to get it into the net!

The Area in Which You Fish

Anyone with a great fish finder will tell you that all sorts of things are under the surface.

We have a general name for this in fishing…

It’s called “structure”.

You could be fishing among:

  • Weeds
  • Rocks
  • Underwater branches
  • Pier’s legs
  • Reefs
  • Sand
  • Mud
  • Wrecks
  • And much, much more…

The type of line you use will dictate how effectively you can fish without breakages and how many fish you catch.

Other Aspects of Your Tackle

Generally, there are three core aspects to a ‘balanced’ fishing setup. They all interact and work together to make for a pleasant fishing experience.

  • Your fishing rod
  • The reel
  • And finally… the line

If any of these elements are sub-optimal, it will reduce the overall effectiveness of your setup. Picking the best line for the job is relatively cheap and ensures that you get the most out of your tackle.

two fishing reels with red fishing line

How Do I Know What Fishing Line to Use? 7 Key Features to Look For

That is a very good question!

To know what fishing line to use, it is well worth looking at the above criteria and what each fishing line offers.

Your aim?

To most closely match the fishing line’s features with the required qualities needed on the water.

Here’s what I look for when choosing types of fishing lines:

Visibility

This one is paramount.

You could have the best fishing line in the world, but if fish run a mile when they see it, it will not be good.

This depends on the species you are seeking and the type of water you fish in. In clear water, you should really be looking to use a low visibility line.

There are a few ways in which this is achieved.

Some guys opt for something clear. But you might also spot colored lines.

Colored? I thought it was supposed to be invisible?

I actually said ‘low visibility’.

Some colored lines don’t look the same down deep as they do on the surface. Deep water filters out certain wavelengths of light, meaning that a red line on the surface is invisible when submerged on the bottom.

Here’s a quick video demonstrating exactly that…

Don’t discount colored lines as being a really effective way to keep your line ‘invisible’.

Stretch

Stretch is important for a few reasons. You can opt for a super stretchy line (sometimes by as much as 15%).

Or.

You could choose a fishing line that has practically no stretch whatsoever (like braid). Or a good fluorocarbon line that is something in between.

The reason why?

Well, first, you might need a line that offers some suspension and forgiveness, particularly with hard-fighting species.

But, there’s more to it…

You might want a line that offers excellent feedback and keeps you in perfect contact with your hook. Lure fishing with braid is a great example. You gain superior control by fishing with a line that instantly transmits everything straight back to your fingertips.

Memory

Where was I?

I forget…

Joking aside, ‘memory’ is the term given to how a line behaves when it is at rest. If it maintains its last shape when off the spool, it has high ‘memory’.

And here’s the thing…

Lots of memory is never a good thing. Coils of line ruin your bait presentation and mean that you aren’t in contact with your hook.

The end result?

Lost fish!

You generally want to look for line that has relatively little memory.

Abrasion Resistance

Remember when we talked about fishing over “structure”?

The line you pick has a direct relationship to how likely it is to break. If you are fishing over any kind of structure, you will want your fishing line to have excellent abrasion resistance.

This is a measure of how easily the line ‘slides’ over underwater features. The more it slides, the less likely it is to be damaged or break.

Buoyancy

This is a measure of a fishing line’s natural inclination to float or sink. You may want your line to float, or you may want it to sink, depending on the type of fishing you are doing.

Get it the wrong way around, and you aren’t going to have a good time. There is nothing worse than knowing there are fish up in the water column, but your bait keeps sinking. Likewise, when you want to be on the bottom, and your line is holding your bait up, well, that will reduce your catch rate.

Knot Holding

Knots are always the ‘weak link’ in your rigs. Some lines hold a knot better than others…

And there’s more.

Fishing lines, such as braid, don’t work with your conventional fishing knots. You’ll have to relearn a whole series of knots to do even simple things, like tying on hooks and joining line to line. If this doesn’t appeal to you, you will probably want something a little more conventional.

To see what knots in braid are all about, here’s a really quick video:

Cost

Look guys, let’s be honest.

Nobody wants to be blowing a fortune on fishing line. It breaks, degrades, and snaps.

While good line isn’t expensive, you want to consider your budget.

I’m going to be upfront.

Higher-priced lines do tend to be better. But how much ‘better’ isn’t a linear relationship. I’ve caught monster fish on a cheap line and expensive line. Was there that much difference?

Not really.

Check out the table below for some more guidance based on the attribute you are looking for and which line might be a good choice.

Key Line Quality Required Best Type of Fishing Line
Low visibility Fluorocarbon
Low Stretch Braid
High Stretch Mono
Abrasion Resistance Fluorocarbon
Small Diameter Braid
Cheapest Type of Fishing Line Mono
Knot Strength Mono

The Different Types of Fishing Lines Explained

OK, I’m guessing you are here because you want to know all about fishing line types?

Well, here’s the good news.

I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about different types of fishing lines.

Below you’ll find a detailed description of the main types of line you’ll come across, along with what’s good and not so good, about them.

Here’s a list of the types you are probably considering.

Check them out.

fishing from boat in lake with spinning reel

Monofilament Fishing Line

This used to be the only type of man-made fishing line available. Subsequently, it has got a good reputation and has been around for years.

Ever seen a spider make a web?

This is exactly how monofilament line is made. Essentially it is a plastic polymer. This polymer is melted and then pushed through a tiny hole. The bigger the hole, the thicker and stronger the line!

With regards to diameter, when compared to other lines, monofilament has quite a thick diameter. It is really stretchy and pretty hard-wearing, with good abrasion resistance.

Here’s the thing.

If you are looking for a good all-rounder, then monofilament is well worth looking at. You can catch most species using it, and it offers plenty of good features that anglers love.

Here’s a list of pros and cons about monofilament fishing line:

Monofilament Pros

  • Really stretchy.
  • Holds knots well.
  • Fairly supple.
  • Great for beginners.
  • It has a relatively low visibility.
  • It’s cheap.

Monofilament Cons

  • Cheap versions do have memory.
  • It can be too stretchy, not good for bite detection.
  • It can be visible in clear water.
  • It sinks slowly.

Can I Fish with Mono?

If you are a beginner or looking for a relatively low-maintenance line, then mono could be for you. There isn’t too much to dislike about it, which is why it has been a popular choice for ages.

But…

Ever heard the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’? Mono is OK at just about everything, but it doesn’t shine in any one area. For that, you are going to need something special.

You could consider using…

fishing spinning reel and rod

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon is sort of like mono’s more sophisticated younger brother. It still has lots of the great features you’ll find in a monofilament fishing line but offers certain key qualities that are better.

Such as?

For a start, fluorocarbon has what is known as a low refractive index.

In non-fancy terms?

It is invisible in water.

It is also pretty dense. This is great for two reasons. First, it sinks really quickly, meaning you can get down to the bottom without delay.

Secondly, because it is so dense, you’ll find that you’ll have a higher breaking strain for a given diameter. You could either choose to go thinner on your spool without losing any of the pulling power or keep the diameter the same and have an ultra-strong line compared with the mono equivalent.

Here are things to love (and hate) about fluoro fishing line…

Fluorocarbon Pros

  • Really low visibility.
  • Medium stretch.
  • Thin diameter.
  • Fast sinking.
  • Great abrasion resistance.

Fluorocarbon Cons

  • Not as cheap as mono.
  • Very springy, so it is hard to handle.
  • Not good for floating applications.
  • Average knot strength.
  • Normally high memory with cheap lines.

Who is Fluorocarbon Fishing Line for?

Any angler who is concerned about visibility should use fluoro. Also, those who want a low-diameter fishing line with plenty of strength should give it a go. It isn’t for beginners as you’ll lose more than you gain.

man casting fishing rod with spinning reel on river

Copolymer Fishing Line

Imagine combining the best of mono with the best of fluoro. Well, this is exactly what Copolymer is!

How?

Manufacturers make a ‘core’ of mono before coating it with fluorocarbon. The end result is a strong fishing line that offers a good amount of stretch. Still, it has all of the abrasion resistance and visibility of fluorocarbon!

This is an excellent choice for those who just can’t decide. You get the best of both worlds!

Copolymer Pros

  • Great stretch.
  • Good visibility.
  • Excellent abrasion resistance.

Copolymer Cons

  • It is often more expensive than mono.
  • It isn’t quite as invisible as pure fluoro.
  • It can be a little thicker than fluoro, reduced spool capacity.

Why Use Copolymer?

The real question you need to ask is ‘why not’? Suppose you are unsure about switching from mono to fluoro. In that case, this offers an excellent ‘halfway house’ where you get all the nice qualities of both!

Braid Fishing Line

If we are talking braid, then we are looking at something I’d definitely consider a ‘specialized’ line. Braid, in certain circumstances, can be really great. It has zero stretch. This means that you get instant responses and feedback. It is absolutely fabulous for lure fishing.

And there’s more.

It also comes into its own when distance casting.

Why?

Two reasons. It has a super-thin diameter, so you’ll get much more on a single spool. And, because it is so thin, it really cuts through the wind!

Any downsides?

Of course.

Braid has quite frankly woeful abrasion resistance. Being a fibrous line, it gets shredded and frayed very easily. Not only this, you haven’t had a proper tangle until you’ve dealt with bread. It is impossible to get knots out of.

Braid Pros

  • Really low diameter.
  • Super strong.
  • No stretch, excellent feedback.
  • Increased casting distance.

Braid Cons

  • It is normally expensive.
  • It tangles easily.
  • Terrible abrasion resistance.
  • Hard to tie knots in, requiring specialist knowledge.
  • Very unforgiving.

Fly Lines

Fly lines are really a separate sub-category all on their own. They are only suited for casting when fly fishing and nothing else.

They are normally really thick. They form the body of the mainline when fly fishing and are designed to act as the weight used to cast a very lightweight fly a considerable distance.

Fly fishing lines aren’t cheap, so it is important to choose the right one. They come in two types, either floating or sinking fly lines.

fly reel with orange fishing line

Here’s what fly fishing line is all about:

Fly Fishing Line Pros

  • High quality and lasts a long time.
  • It’s practically unbreakable.
  • The only choice for fly fishing.
  • Good casting distance, even for tiny flies.

Fly Line Cons

  • It can only be used for fly fishing.
  • It is very expensive.

Conclusion

There are lots of choices when it comes to types of fishing lines. You have to strike a good balance between the different line types’ qualities and what you need to succeed.

No fishing line is perfect, but you should be able to find something which comes pretty close.

What type of line do you find is best for your style of fishing?

Let me know in the comments. It is always great to hear from you guys!

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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