Different Types of Fishing Line – Which Should I Choose?

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Types of fishing line

As you read through this guide to types of fishing line, you’ll find there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. There are conditions that will dictate which line is best, just as there are certain fish that will react best to a type of line. It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of bait types that can be matched with various types of line as well.

If you’re going to put a new fan belt on your car or truck, you wouldn’t use a sledgehammer (unless you became really, really angry during the installation). The point is, it’s important to choose the right tools for every job.

If you’re interested in catching a specific type of fish, in a setting you’ve chosen for its excellent conditions, you must select the right tools as well. The list includes the type of rod, the type of reel and the fishing line that will work best in this situation.

While some less-informed anglers might head out on the water with the line they have, giving little thought to how it will affect results, the veterans of this pastime will choose the best line for the species of fish, the size of the fish, the type of water and water conditions, and the tackle that will handle the line.

It’s simple, really.

No single fishing line type is right for all conditions.

Four Types of Fishing Line

In the world of fishing, people recognize four basic categories or types: monofilament, fluorocarbon, braid and copolymer. You can buy these different types in various test weights and lengths.

If you see “mono” in a fishing guide or equipment review, the writer is referring to monofilament fishing line, perhaps the one type of line most anglers are familiar with. Mono has a good amount of stretch and is usually average in diameter compared to test strength. However, it doesn’t respond to lighter bites as well as the second-most common line – fluorocarbon.

Monofilament does resist abrasion rather well and delivers good strength when you tie knots. It has fair visibility and floats under most conditions. Copolymer has many of the same characteristics as mono line, though it’s usually thicker and stands up to abrasion better.

Fluorocarbon line will be a bit more difficult to keep “clean” because it tends to have a tendency to spring when wound or worked with tightly. Fluorocarbon line is almost invisible, which makes it a great choice in many situations. It won’t stretch as much as mono line, and reacts to light biting and bottom contact very well. It won’t float as monofilament line does and stands up to abrasion quite well.

Braid line will usually have a very small diameter but delivers better breaking strength. It won’t stretch and will hang limp, though it can tend to knot and cause a backlash when you cast. It’s a visible line that floats well, so you’ll have to be selective in its use. Braid line resists abrasion very well.

A Starting Point

One veteran says he only uses fluorocarbon line when he fishes with his kayak in calm waters, for bass that are hanging about under overhanging trees. His reasoning? This is a nearly invisible line that will allow you to get close to the fish in calm, often shallow waters. That’s just one example, but it does give you some idea how important the right type of line can be.

You must also consider such factors as breaking strength, resistance to abrasion, stretch, knot strength, durability etc. There are dozens of different types of line available today, with different features and characteristics. Of course, you could spend hours studying each one and still not be able to choose. In fact, you may be more confused at the end of the process if you try to learn about every line.

So, you’d be better off focusing on some of the brands and types recommended by those who have extensive experience in the sport. Your catch-rate will get better when you select the right line for the task. Look at a few of the great options, along with the baits they work best with.

First Decision

One of the first, and most important, decisions you’ll have to make when selecting the type of fishing line you need is: fluorocarbon or monofilament? These are the two most commonly used. You’ll also see braid line recommended in a few specific situations.

You’ve already read a bit about why one pro uses fluorocarbon line in a specific situation. But is it best for all types of fishing? Probably not. Here are a few key elements to consider with each type:

  • For spinnerbaits, mono line is used because its buoyant. You can keep this type of bait close to the surface.
  • Fluorocarbon is used with spinnerbaits because of sensitivity and invisibility. It doesn’t stretch quite as much as monofilament.

In more general terms, if you’re fishing with spinnerbait, you should use line that has test weights of 17 lb. to 25 lb.

Taking things to the other extreme, if you’re fishing with a deep-diving crankbait, you’ll probably be most successful with fluorocarbon line of lighter weight – 10 lb. to 15 lb. With the right rod (medium action?) you can use this type of bait and line, even with the low stretch of fluorocarbon. This material is nearly invisible and will sink better for deep-working baits (you know, those with the big spoonbill).

Crank Bait

Crank Bait

When using crank baits design for success in shallow settings, most veterans will choose fluorocarbon with test weights of 15 lb. to 20 lb. Of course, you can use mono line as well, but there are a couple of specific reasons fluorocarbon is preferred with this type of bait. The first is its ability to resist abrasion, but it also delivers with less stretch and is less visible (as mentioned in the bass example above).

Crankbaits are generally used in areas where the fish hang out in heavy cover so you should consider the abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon over monofilament. You’ll probably feel fluorocarbon better because it stretches less, though some fishermen prefer mono line because it does stretch and they can get the lure out of a mess more easily. Heavier line is better in heavy conditions.

Those deep-divers mentioned earlier are often used with fluorocarbon line primarily because it sinks well. But you may also have success with fluorocarbon from 10 lb. to 17 lb. when you’re fishing with lipless crankbaits. You can use braid with this type of bait because of the heavier vegetation you may encounter.

But fluorocarbon is also great in this situation because it doesn’t stretch as much as mono, which allows you to rip it from the weeds. The pros use a heavier line when fishing in shallow water and select a lighter line for deep conditions, but there’s always some experimentation when you are trying various types of line.

For Something Quite Different

Taking this discussion to another level, you might want to look closely at light fluorocarbon if fishing with drop-shot baits. In fact, your best bet might be in the 6 lb. to 8 lb. range. You might have to do a bit of shopping to find fluoro in this weight range but Sunline does make it. It doesn’t dampen the action as much as heavier line, so this could be a great choice.

There’s another bait category that seems to work best with one type of line. According to most veteran anglers, you’ll have the best chance with 40 lb. to 65 lb. braid line when using toad and frog baits. This will give you the weight and control for long casts, but the line is still a small-diameter product so it’s not too heavy.

If you’re using swimbaits, it’s important to match the line with the type of swimbaits and the general conditions. Softer bait with a tail action that “paddles” will work best with fluorocarbon in the 17 lb. range, though you’ll need to go a bit heavier (20 lb.) for mono line. This last type is better when working the surface because monofilament will float better. Heavier swimbaits need a 20 lb. or 25 lb. fluoro line or even a 50 lb. braid. But use this last type with caution because of hang-up and lack of stretch.


By way of wrapping things up, when you start reading on this subject or talking to your store professionals, you’ll find there is a lot more information on line types and best conditions. You can match line with other bait types such as heavier swim baits, worm baits, buzz baits and jerk baits, with fluorocarbon recommended for most categories.

However, when you’re using buzz baits or a top-water bait with a hard body, you should probably go with monofilament. Keep in mind that, with these two baits specifically, you’re looking for buoyancy.

There will always be exceptions to these rules, as most veterans develop their own rigs and match baits to line for their specific fishing conditions. Again, consider the size and species of the fish you’re after, along with water type and weather conditions. Be selective but don’t spend too much time worrying about this. After all, you need to be out there fishing.

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Louis McCarthy

With over 40 years of fishing experience, I am a true veteran of the sport with a passion for reeling in the big ones. From coast to coast, I have lived in some of the best fishing spots the US has to offer. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and love for the sport, one catch at a time. Join me as I explore the great outdoors and share my expertise in the art of fishing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Different Types of Fishing Line – Which Should I Choose?”

  1. Hi Sammy,

    You have got a great informative article. I love fishing and I personally use braid line. But they are too expensive, so sometimes I use monofilament line as they are cheap and gets the work done.

    Copolymer is new to me. Have not yet tried copolymer yet. I hope it does a great job.

  2. Really helpful information, i really like it . any recommendation where i can buy Crank Bait in New York City will be appreciate.


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