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Choosing the Right Type of Fishing Line

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Too Many Choices

Depending on the size of the outdoors shop you frequent, or the inventory of the online shop you've been browsing, you may be presented with an intimidatingly vast variety of fishing lines. In a sense, they all do the same thing, however, chances are there are a few best choices for a given fishing quarry.

What initially was intended to be an article to outline the characteristics of each line, quickly got out of hand, so this will be a VERY brief rundown of line choices and selection criteria. For more in-depth analysis, possibly more depth than you ever cared, check out my other articles.

We'll first take a look at more specialized lines, and then wrap up with monofilament, as that will be used in most non-specialized settings.



Low to zero stretch, very sensitive, very high strength to diameter ratio, expensive, opaque (visible underwater), abrasive to rod and reel components

When to use

  • When high sensitivity is required: jigging for example
  • When fishing deep water
  • When high strength test line is required (~40 lb and up)
  • When a large amount of line is needed on the spool


Lower stretch, abrasion resistant, clearest line available, expensive, notoriously stiff (but getting better with newer strands)

When to use

  • When line clarity is of utmost importance: finicky fish, gin clear water
  • Mildly abrasive situations

Fluorocarbon line is not often used at main line due to high cost and stiff nature, however it makes a great leader material.


Steel Wire

Best abrasion resistance, low stretch, high strength to diameter ratio, heavy (sinks), extremely stiff, expensive, metallic (reflective), can not cast, can not tie knots

When to use

  • Highly abrasive situations
  • Bite protection from toothy fish: Pike, Musky, Barracuda, Shark etc
  • Deep water trolling

Lead Core

Heavy (sinks fast), stiff, low strength to weight ratio, opaque

When to use

  • Trolling without needing additional weight


Inexpensive, easy to find, forgiving, the workhorse of the fishing line world.

When to use it

  • Most any situation not already listed above
  • Default fishing line: if you aren't sure what type of line you need, just stick with monofilament

But what kind of monofilament you ask? Check this out for everything monofilament!

And many more...

There are of course numerous other types of lines that are even more specialized than these, like fluorocarbon coated monofilament or unbraided dynema fiber line. There also exists situations when a specialized line may be beneficial that have not been mentioned here, but I tried to hit the big ones. If you have any questions about your specific fishing situation, just ask, I will gladly give the best advice I can.

Proven Winners

Just some of the names to look for. There is likely no best choice from brand to brand, but some are definitely superior.

Braid: PowerPro, Tuf Line, Fireline, Spider Wire

Fluorocarbon: Sea Guard, Maxima, P-Line

Lead Core: Mason, Suffix

Monofilament: Trilene, P-Line, Suffix


Glenn Gray on September 07, 2017:

I'm in Denver Colorado I Fully agree with your lures for best five. For Fly fishing always use spinning rod with clear bubble, but use leader as long as pole six feet six inches. I tie my own fly's The best dry fly's are royal wulff with red or orange floss,any color woolly bugger,brown hackle peacock,and a renegade with extra hackle. Wet fly's are the same with less hackle and montana,red,yellow,,brown,black stone fly's and orange shrimp with silver tinsel. Size 16.14'12 on all. Line 6lb. stren or zebco ommniflex. I always start fishing with a gold or silver with orange strip crocodile lure. I hope this helps everybody, good luck.

FishFanatic from Albany, New York on July 01, 2012:

I'm glad you choose to put PowerPro front-and-center in representing braids, the stuff is absolutely incredible, and can last forever. Sure, the color may fade a little, but that doesn't decrease the castability or strength of this stuff at all!