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Published Sep. 14, 2021

Having the best fishing line is often the most overlooked piece of the fishing-paraphernalia puzzle, yet, it’s definitely the most important item in any angler’s arsenal. After all, it’s the only connection between you and your catch.

While there’s no one type or brand to fit all scenarios, there are certain criteria to consider before spooling up. Maximum softness and stretch with monofilament (mono), little stretch of fluorocarbon (fluoro), or the nearly no stretch of braid are all crucial considerations. Soft and subtle verses being abrasion-resistant are other opinions to ponder.   

Every fish species is diverse, coming in all shapes, sizes, and behaviors; thus, the characteristics of fishing lines are also varied. From being able to hall a hefty fish from dense structure, to using light line so sensitive you can feel a fish swipe and miss your bait. Then there are the times it’s best going into stealth mode, finessing fish with line that’s nearly invisible to a fish’s eyes. On the other hand, brightly-colored fishing lines are important, too, aiding anglers in seeing subtle strikes by a mere twitch of the line. Other times, however, it’s best to use a fishing line that’s as camouflaged as can be.

Best Mono Fishing Line: Berkley Trilene XL

Key Features

  • Pound Test Ratings: 2-, 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 17-, 20-, 25-, 30-pounds
  • Capacity: 110-, 250-, 270-, 300-, 330-, 1000-, 2300-, 2600-, 3000-yards
  • Colors: Clear, Fluorescent Clear/Blue, Low-Vis Green

Why It Made the Cut

Berkley Trilene XL is the best mono fishing line on the market and also the most forgiving. Originally introduced in 1972, it has stood the test of time.

Pros

  • Rarely kinks
  • Excellent knot strength
  • Great for novice and avid anglers alike

Cons

  • Knicks and scuffs easily
  • Less sensitive

This is the oldest fishing line brand tested. The “XL” on this Trilene label stands for “Extra Limp”, which means it’s super soft for smooth casting, no matter what style of reel. The modern-day formula’s made this line even more subtle, yet, stronger than the original. It’s also improved its knot strength by 20 percent, and has 50 percent greater strength when wet.

To boot, being 20 percent more flexible nowadays makes this line a great choice when teaching kids to cast, as it takes a lot of wear and tear before it kinks. While a good line for all reel styles, it’s manageability on spinning reels is most noticeable.

Best Braid Fishing Line: Seaguar Smackdown

Key Features

  • Pound Test Ratings: 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 65-pound
  • Capacity: 150-yards
  • Colors: Gray, Flash Green

Why It Made the Cut

This silky-smooth line is great for making pinpoint-accurate casts. Its slippery nature and fine diameter allow Seaguar Smackdown to cut through vegetation with ease.

Pros

  • Seldom catches within a spool when casting
  • Slices through weeds with ease
  • Rarely needs replacing

Cons

  • Takes a lot to fill a spool
  • Expensive

Smackdown, the best braid fishing line is used in both fresh- and saltwater applications, and there is no discrepancy in wear and tear in either. When fished over rock piles and along jetties with barnacle-covered boulders, as well in waterways laden with timber, the abrasion resistance is noticeably top-notch.

This braid’s manufactured with eight ultra-thin micro-weave strands in a perfectly round shape, which has it coming off a reel’s spool smoothly. It was strikingly quieter than other braids as it slapped along a spinning reel spool’s lip during a cast, as well when running through guides on any rod. The tensile strength is outstanding for such a thin-diameter braid, with 10-pound test—the lightest offered for this brand—having the same diameter as 2-pound-test mono. It’s all the aforementioned that allows a lure to be placed with pinpoint accuracy with this braid.  

Best Fishing Line for Saltwater: Momoi Hi-Catch Diamond

Key Features

  • Pound Test Ratings: 12-, 16-, 20-, 25-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-, 80-, 100-, 130-, 200-pound
  • Capacity: 1000-yd, 3000-yd, 4-, 5- and 10-lb spools
  • Colors: High-Vis Yellow, Brilliant Blue, Diamond Super Clear, Orange Crush

Why It Made the Cut

Momoi Hi-Catch Diamond, the best fishing line for saltwater is the most multipurpose line available for nearly all saltwater applications. It offers excellent strength to diameter ratio, with exceptional abrasion resistance.

Pros

  • Inexpensive compared to braid or fluoro
  • Outstanding abrasion resistance
  • Strongest mono with the same diameter as others

Cons

  • Replace more often due to sunlight/UV damage
  • Difficult hooksets in deep water

Being one of the thinnest monos on the market means you can load up a reel with quite a few extra yards of Momoi line, which surf anglers or anglers wanting to use smaller fishing reels than the norm appreciate.

The abrasion resistance of Momoi is a plus when fishing off piers and jetties; fish can wrap around a bolder or pillar, and there’s still a good chance of landing it over other monos. The line’s tinsel strength is up to 200% more than mono lines of the same diameter. Besides the fact mono floats, Hi-Catch Diamond’s softness also makes it a good choice for top-water fishing in inshore areas.

Best Fishing Line for Bass: PowerPro

Key Features

  • Pound-Test Ratings: 3-, 4- , 5- , 8- , 10- , 15- , 20- , 30- , 40- , 50- , 65- , 80- , 100- , 150- , 200- , 250-pound
  • Capacity: 100-, 150-, 300-, 500-,1500-, 3000-yards
  • Colors: Moss Green, Hi-Vis Yellow, Vermilion Red, White

Why it made the cut

PowerPro’s ability to pull big fish from the heaviest cover while using some of bass fishing’s most popular ploys, like pitching jigs and frogging, makes it the best fishing line for bass.

Pros

  • Near zero stretch
  • Extreme abrasion resistance
  • Value priced braid

Cons

  • Difficult to untangle backlashes
  • Problematic to break when snagged

Unlike other brands that have an oval shape—which causes friction on the spool and rod guides—PowerPro’s braided Spectra Fiber, treated with their Enhanced Body Technology, gives this braid a super-round shape and smooth texture. This makes it easier to cast further into heavy cover a boat can’t reach.

With the drag cranked down, a fish can be turned and pulled out of thick cover that would certainly be a snaggy mess with mono or fluoro. The sensitivity of PowerPro makes it a great line for pitching up against standing timber as it’s easy to tell when a jig catches a limb, let alone telegraphing when a bass engulfs your bait. And when fishing lily pads and the like, baits are easily ripped free from the vegetation when caught up.

Best Fishing Line for Crappie: Seaguar INVIZX 100% Fluorocarbon

Key Features

  • Pound Test Ratings: 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-,12-, 15-, 17-, 20-, 25-pound
  • Capacity: 200-, 600-, 1000-yards
  • Colors: Clear

Why it made the cut

Seaguar sets the standard for fluorocarbon lines. INVIZX is the best fishing line for crappie and the easiest casting fluorocarbon main line on the market.

Pros

  • Low stretch
  • Nearly invisible
  • Good knot strength

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Hard for vision-challenged anglers to tie knots in lighter tests

Seaguar invented fluorocarbon—bringing it to market in 1971—and they are the only brand that makes fluorocarbon lines and leaders from beginning to end, without any outside companies involved. This level of control over the manufacturing process translates to high quality in the finished product.  

INVIZX 100% Fluorocarbon is impervious to UV rays, so it doesn’t have to be changed out as often as mono. Fluorocarbon’s inherent properties make it versatile. It sits perfectly vertical under a bobber due to its density, and its softness makes it a great line for casting tiny jigs and trolling small crankbaits. And with a refractive index similar to water, it all but disappears.  

Best Fishing Line for Trout: Sufix Siege

Key Features

  • Pound Test Rating: 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 17-, 20-pound
  • Capacity: 250-, 330-, 3000-yards
  • Colors: Clear, Smoke Green, Neon Tangerine, Camo

Why it made the cut

Suffix Siege, the best fishing line for trout stays nearly nick-free when fishing the rock- and log-infested waters trout live, so you can cover water with confidence.  

Pros

  • Offered in camouflage for concealment
  • Very little line twist
  • Economically priced

Cons

  • Harder to set the hook with larger lures due to stretch

Slightly stiffer than some brands due to its outer coating for abrasion resistance—which is up to 15 times more than others in this category—Siege is very sensitive for mono. This makes it a great choice for feeling a hit when dabbling live bait and casting hardware in rivers and streams with heavy cover.

Right after spooling up with new line, it’s noticeable there’s very little memory due to the manufacturer’s exclusive G² Precision Winding, where the line is level-wound onto the manufacturer’s spool. This nearly eliminates line coiling off a spinning reel’s spool when opening the bail. The G² Precision Winding also eradicates flat spots, as well rolling and chaffs that can occur when spooled otherwise.

Its high tensile strength stands up to the tug of a trout when being pulled out from a log jam or undercut bank, and there’s a good chance you’ll get your lure back if you happen to snag a tree branch.

Best Fishing Line for Walleye: Sufix 832 Advanced Superline

Key Features

  • Pound Test Rating: 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 17-, 20-pounds
  • Capacity: 250-, 330-, 3000-yards
  • Colors: Clear, Smoke, Green, Neon Tangerine, Camo

Why It Made the Cut

The tight weave of Sufix’s 832 Advanced Superline makes it easy to achieve long casts with the lightest of lures.

Pros

  • Offered in light-pound tests
  • Many color options
  • Retains its color

Cons

  • Specific knots for braid needed

832 Advanced Superline has one of the tightest weaves on the market, at 32 (pics) per inch, including seven HMPE fibers and one additional GORE Performance Fiber. This makes it easier to cast lightweight baits like jigs and crankbaits a long way to areas where fickle walleyes roam without spooking them. The tight weave also steps up its abrasion resistance.

The advantage of the Gore strand within this braid helps it absorb less water (hydrophobic water-repellent protection) than other brands. This lets you cast the same distance on the last cast of the day as you did on the first. And unlike some other brands, TPG Technology enhances color retention, nipping dye fading in the bud.

Methodology

As a fishing guide and outdoor writer that has fished from the Arctic Circle to Central Mexico and all points in-between, the amount of fishing line I have spooled and unspooled in my life would be a staggering number. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand and type that I haven’t tried. I’ve also been blessed to fish alongside an amazing list of professional anglers, hearing their reasons for the fishing line they prefer for different situations.

Here are some of the factors I used to make my selections:

  • Durability: Nobody wants a fishing line that’s a one-and-done deal. Toughness, tensile strength, consistency, and longevity were all considered for the fishing lines that made the grade.
  • Handling Characteristics: How stiff a line is directly affects its handling characteristics. I chose supple lines to minimize memory for excellent casting performance, but didn’t sacrifice durability to do so.
  • Brand: It wasn’t just how long a company has been in business, but if they are innovators. There’s an overwhelming amount of fishing lines on the market today; some manufactures, however, have truly changed the face of sportfishing. I selected lines from reputable manufacturers that have proven themselves on the water for a long time.
  • Price: Do you always get what you pay for? When it comes to fishing line, that tends to be the case. Some lines are surprisingly inexpensive, however, for a high-quality product, you pay a little more. I chose lines that offered value, but not at the expense of quality.

Things to Consider Before Buying Fishing Line

Where and what you’re fishing for have a big effect on the type of line you choose. Take a look at the following factors to help you decide which line is right for you.

Type of Fish

You wouldn’t use the same line for marlin that you do for crappie. Generally speaking, the bigger a fish is, the more power it has. Select lower pound tests for panfish, and heavier lines for larger predators. The type of cover that you’ll find a species of fish in also plays into this, as you’ll want the added strength to pull fish out of stump fields or rockpiles before they can break you off. In these instances, you may want the lower-stretch qualities of a braided line. But note that braid is usually not as abrasion-resistant as fluorocarbon or monofilament.

Water Clarity

Determine what type of water you’ll be fishing in most. While most fishing lines can be used in both fresh and saltwater, the water’s turbidity should be contemplated beforehand. Is the water clear enough that fish use their eyesight to see and attack your offering? Then the invisibility of lighter-pound-test clear fluoro or camo mono might be your best bet. Perhaps the water’s so stained they have to rely on their lateral line to dial in? Then you can probably get away with a heavier, brightly-colored braid.      

Techniques

Next, decide what techniques you’ll use most. Fishing off a dock or on shore with live bait, perhaps with kids? Then line that’s subtle and casts easily is a must. If you’re into casting and retrieving large artificial baits, on the other hand, fishing line that can handle the shock of a swift swimming fish attacking your lure should be considered. 

FAQs

Q: How Much Does Fishing Line Really Cost?

Overall, the larger a bulk spool you buy, the less you’ll be paying per yard. Just make sure to keep unused line, no matter what kind, in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Another deliberation is the type of line you use. While mono costs less upfront, it needs to be changed out more often because it breaks down from sunlight exposure, as well as contact with chemicals such as Deet found in bug repellent. Fluorocarbon is more expensive, but is unaffected by sunlight. Thus it needs to be changed less often. And while braid can give you sticker shock at the checkout counter, it can last ten times longer than mono.

Q: What color fishing line is best?

The list of colors to choose from is long, but there are a couple general rules of thumb to contemplate, and that’s water clarity and how fast your presentation is. If you’re fishing stained water or ripping big baits through an area, you can get away with the brighter, easier-to-see lines. For techniques that require a slow presentation, the more invisible your line’s appearance, the more bites you’ll get. 

Q: What is the best all-around fishing line?

Each type of line has its own set of attributes, so it’s difficult to pin down the “best” one. Generally, braided lines excel in instances where you want very little stretch, such as bottom fishing in extreme depths. Fluorocarbon lines disappear even in very clear water and offer excellent abrasion resistance. Monofilament lines are typically easy to handle, and provide a bit of stretch that can serve as a shock absorber to keep fish attached during a surging run.

Final Thoughts

You may have the lightest, most sensitive, high-quality rod and reel known to the fishing world. But if you’re spooling it all up with cheesy line, you’d be better off giving up and heading for the fish market. After all, it’s the only link between you and a fish. Use the guide above to select the best fishing line for you and catch them up!

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