Pack up your fishing gear and load the cooler, because with the right fishing line, some skill, and a little luck you can land a fish that will attract impressed—and, perhaps, even jealous—glances from your friends. Fishing lines come in several different types, colors, and strengths, so you will need to know what type of fish you are looking to catch and what line works best to reel them in.
To determine the best fishing line for your next trip, you will need to take into account the physical features of the line, such as line strength, flexibility, buoyancy, and abrasion resistance. You should also consider where you will be fishing and if it will be in freshwater or saltwater. To get an idea of the best fishing lines available, take a look at the top products listed below.
- BEST OVERALL: RUNCL PowerMono Fishing Line, Monofilament
- BEST SALTWATER: KastKing SuperPower Braided Fishing Line
- BEST FLUOROCARBON: KastKing Kovert Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
- BEST BRAID: Mounchain 100% PE 4 & 8 Strands Braided Fishing Line
- BEST COPOLYMER: RUNCL PowerFluoro Fishing Line, Fluorocarbon Coated
- BEST FLOATING FLY: Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Line with Welded Loop
- BEST SINKING FLY: SF Full Sinking Fly Fishing Line Weight Forward Taper
- BEST BACKING LINE: Piscifun Braided Fly Line Backing
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fishing Line
Finding the best fishing lines for your next fishing trip shouldn’t be difficult. However, there are several considerations to keep in mind while shopping for a fishing line to help ensure that you don’t lose your next big catch.
Fishing lines come in several different types with each having advantages and disadvantages that determine the situations to which they are best suited.
- Monofilament fishing line has a large diameter and high stretch capabilities. It is relatively easy to work with and typically has an average weight that makes it easy to cast. Monofilament fishing line is also inexpensive but is weaker than fluorocarbon or braided fishing line.
- Fluorocarbon fishing line sinks quickly and is the least visible fishing line type, making it a great option for jig and worm fishing. This fishing line is also abrasion resistant and doesn’t absorb water while in use.
- Braided fishing line is ideal for saltwater fishing because it’s designed for strength and sensitivity, allowing you to reel in large catches without issue. It is also resistant to the high salt content and to UV rays.
- Fly fishing lines are typically used to mimic the movement and appearance of flies and other bugs that are normal prey for many different types of fish. They can be either floating or sinking lines, based on their buoyancy, and are used regularly with braided or fluorocarbon backing lines. Fly fishing also uses backing lines, spooled on the reel first, to act as a base on the reel, preventing the fly fishing line from becoming crimped or knotted while also providing extra line if necessary.
The pound-test or line test refers to the strength of the fishing line with the results being expressed as pounds. To determine the strength of the fishing line, manufacturers subject the material to increasing weights in controlled scenarios to find the weight at which the line will break. This information can usually be found on the product description, packaging, and the manufacturer’s website so you know whether you can haul in a 20-pound fish or if your line is only suitable for up to 10 pounds.
Alternatively, fly fishing lines use a number scale to determine the strength of the fishing line. Numbers 1 to 3 are great for lighter flies and precise fly placement. Numbers 4 to 7 are the most commonly used fly fishing line strengths and are used frequently for catching trout. Eight and above are best for large flies and big fish, like salmon and northern pike.
Fishing line is constantly in contact with surfaces that can wear it down if it’s not resistant to abrasion. These surfaces can include the rod, reel, boat, dock, weeds, hooks, and rocks among others, with each gradually wearing away at the line.
While all fishing lines wear out at some point, braided lines normally have the best abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon fishing lines are also resistant to abrasion, though they cannot match the durability of braided lines. Monofilament lines, by definition, are made of only a single thread, which makes them more susceptible to abrasion damage.
The color and width of the fishing line can make your line more or less visible, depending on the clarity of the water and the type of fish you are trying to catch. Sight hunter fish, like trout, will quickly pick up on a high-visibility color like red or yellow, but these colors may be suitable for fishing in murky conditions where a white or blue line would stand out.
Before choosing a color for your fishing line, take these factors into account to ensure you are not simply chasing fish away with your line. The width of the line can also be visible to fish, with the line getting thicker as the required strength increases.
The buoyancy of the line is a factor to take into account. The right level of buoyancy in your fishing line depends on the type of fish you want to catch, the lure you are using, and the way you are fishing. Fluorocarbon and braided lines have poor buoyancy because they tend to be heavier, preventing them from sitting on top of the water like monofilament lines.
Fly fishing lines can be separated into floating and sinking lines based on their buoyancy. Floating fly fishing lines are made to float on the surface after they’re cast, instead of sinking into the water where they may scare away the fish. Sinking fly fishing lines are intended to drop a few feet below the surface of the water to mimic water insects.
Where you will be fishing, the time of the year, and the current weather are all considerations you should take into account when choosing a fishing line. Fishing lines that have been designed for fishing in tropical climates cannot be used for ice fishing because they would quickly become too rigid to function appropriately. And using an ice fishing line in a warm climate would cause the line to become flexible, making it hard for you to feel the tug of a fish.
If you are fishing in windy conditions, you will need a heavy line that won’t be pulled out of the air when you are casting. The weight will also help it from being pushed out of position by the water. Direct sunlight should also be a factor, as exposure to UV rays can degrade monofilament lines over time.
Freshwater vs. Saltwater
The type of line you need will depend on whether you fish in freshwater or saltwater, as the two environments have different challenges.
- Freshwater fishing lines are less expensive because they don’t need to be as durable or strong as saltwater lines. However, when you are looking for a freshwater line, you should consider the clarity and depth of the water since visibility conditions can range widely in freshwater environments.
- Saltwater fishing lines are strong and durable, enabling them to withstand the weight, pull, and powerful jaws and teeth of saltwater fish. Their durability also helps to protect the line from the corrosive properties of saltwater. However, this gear does cost more than freshwater fishing lines.
Inshore vs. Offshore Fishing
Inshore fishing refers to fishing in an area about nine miles from the shoreline, or roughly 100 feet deep, while offshore fishing is any fishing in waters beyond this point.
- Inshore fishing requires a shorter line that is capable of dealing with the weeds, rocks, and other objects that could impact the movement of your lure. Abrasion-resistant fluorocarbon fishing line is a good option, though the monofilament line is also suitable for shallower locations.
- Offshore fishing typically requires a robust set of gear that is able to handle large fish and sharks, with a length of at least 300 yards. In these circumstances, you will usually use a braided line in favor of strength over stealth. Braided line is also more resistant to the cutting teeth of the predators that live in these waters.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for their quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best fishing lines for your next fishing trip.
Get out onto the lake or river with this monofilament fishing line that comes in clear, green, gold, orange, brown, or yellow for a range of fishing situations. The line is made with stretching capabilities to help absorb the initial impact of the fish striking the bait while ensuring that the hook remains in place. It has an abrasion-resistant exterior that will help keep your lures safe around weeks, sticks, and rocks.
This monofilament line is easy to tie, knot, thread, and otherwise manipulate, allowing you to quickly prepare your gear and begin fishing. The line comes in three different lengths including 300 yards, 500 yards, and 1,000 yards, and it has a range of pound-tested strength from 4 pounds to 35 pounds. Its neutral buoyancy, which keeps it suspended in water, makes it a great option for topwater baits and buoyant treble hook lures.
When you want to head out onto the open ocean to fish, you need a line that is able to handle the corrosive saltwater and the powerful jaws of saltwater fish. The KastKing SuperPower Braided Fishing Line comes in several varieties, with a maximum pound-tested strength of 150 pounds. This braided line has low reel memory, so you won’t be dealing with many kinks or knots, and the abrasion-resistant exterior has a waxy coating that slides easily through the guides on your rod.
You can choose between five color options. The braided line also has three different length options including 327 yards, 547 yards, or 1,097 yards with almost zero stretch, allowing you to sense the pull of the line from hundreds of yards away. Use this line to great effect to enjoy offshore, inshore, freshwater, saltwater, or ice fishing.
If you are looking to go jig and worm fishing, then having a good fluorocarbon line that is essentially invisible underwater is a necessary addition to your fishing gear. This fishing line has a clear color that shares a similar refractive index rating as water, allowing it to seamlessly blend into the background as your lure draws the fish in to strike.
This fluorocarbon fishing line comes in a short length of 50 yards or a longer length of 200 yards, and you can choose the line strength from as low as 4 pounds to as high as 50 pounds. This fishing line also has a shock-resistant design that allows it to absorb the impact from a strong bite, and it’s nonabsorbent to water so you won’t lose sensitivity in the line even after hours of fishing.
Braided fishing lines are designed for durability and strength, typically having a smaller diameter than either monofilament or fluorocarbon lines of the same strength. This smaller diameter allows you to spool more fishing line onto your reel, so you can easily go after fish at depths that exceed 1,000 yards. This braided fishing line comes in a braid of four strands or eight strands, with the eight-strand option being more resistant to abrasion and heavy strikes.
Choose between a length of 328 yards, 547 yards, or 1,094 yards depending on where you are planning to fish and the capacity of your reel. The strength options of this polyethylene braided fishing line include 10, 20, 30, or 40 pounds, making it ideal for a range of fish, like bass, trout, walleye, and muskie. The durability of the line also gives you the option to fish near man-made structures that could damage a monofilament line.
Copolymer lines, like the RUNCL PowerFluoro Fishing Line, combine elements from multiple materials to give you several benefits. This line has a fluorocarbon coating with a copolymer core instead of a full fluorocarbon line. This gives the fishing line the abrasion resistance, UV resistance, and refractive quality of fluorocarbon with the flexibility, reduced reel memory, and knot strength of the copolymer.
The fishing line has a clear color that goes unnoticed in the water and is designed with shock absorption qualities, which allow it to withstand the sudden impact of a fish taking the hook instead of transmitting the force down the line where it could impact the weakest points, like your knots. The length options for the fishing line include 300, 500, or 1,000 yards, and you can also choose a range of line strengths from 5 pounds to 32 pounds.
Add this floating fly fishing line to your reel and get the durable strength and weight of the braided core so that you can cast your lightweight flies a long distance or even cast through the wind. The line comes with welded loops that make it simple to connect your leader so you don’t have to rely on your knot-tying skills to haul in your next big catch.
The fishing line comes in a range of strengths, colors, and lengths, with a choice between 90 feet or 100 feet. The six color choices are mostly high visibility, but one or two could be used in highly weedy areas. After you cast, the line will remain floating on top of the water instead of sinking and startling the fish. It has a low reel memory so you can cast freely and easily, and its spool is degradable to help keep lakes, rivers, and oceans free of garbage.
Full-sinking fly fishing lines, like this SF product, are intended for dropping your fly or lure just a few feet under the surface of the water to attract the attention of clusters of fish that may be too far down to respond to a floating fly. This line comes in several different fly line strengths, ranging from 4 to 7, and it measures 90 feet in length, allowing you to comfortably add it to your reel on top of a fly line backing.
The fishing line has a PVC coating around the braided core and a thin diameter that is great for slicing through the wind. It is black in color, which makes it ideal for nighttime fishing, allowing the line to sink into the dark depths beneath the waves without detection by nearby fish. This line also has welded loops, making it easier to connect your leader so you won’t be struggling to prepare the line before you can start fishing.
Whenever you want to enjoy a day of fly fishing, you will want to have a fly fishing line backing like this Piscifun Braided Fly Line Backing that comes in several highly visible colors, including orange, white, and fluorescent yellow, enabling you to see where your line is when you have a fish on the hook. The bright color is especially useful for nighttime fishing, when it can be difficult to avoid branches, rocks, and other obstacles.
The braided backing comes in 100-yard and 300-yard lengths with a choice between maximum strength of 20 pounds or 30 pounds. The fishing line is abrasion resistant, so you can rely on it to withstand friction and snags. And with very little stretch, it is highly sensitive to the movement of the fish, making it easier to successfully reel in your next catch.
FAQs About Fishing Lines
Before investing in a new fishing line, take a look at these frequently asked questions and their answers below.
Q. What is the most sensitive fishing line?
The rigidity and density of fluorocarbon fishing line make it the most sensitive type of fishing line. Fluorocarbon fishing line has a higher density that causes it to be stiffer than the other fishing lines. This low-stretch feature was initially a problem because the line was more difficult to spool onto a reel, but manufacturers later made it more pliable, so you can enjoy the benefit of the sensitive fluorocarbon line without fighting with your reel to properly spool the line.
Q. How much fishing line is needed on a spinning reel?
The length of line necessary on a spinning reel depends on your reel and on the fish you want to catch. Larger fish will tend to put up more of a fight and will take your line out further. On average, you should spool a minimum of between 100 yards to 150 of the fishing line on your spinning reel. Just keep in mind that you still need a rod and reel that are capable of handling the same weight as the fishing line.
Q. Can you use fluorocarbon on a spinning reel?
You can put fluorocarbon on a spinning reel if the strength of the line is under 8 pounds, because this would indicate the line has a small enough diameter to work on a spinning reel without jumping off the spool when you cast. However, lines that exceed this threshold should not be used on spinning reels.
Q. How much weight can a fishing line hold?
It depends on the fishing line you use and the age of the line. Typically the manufacturer indicates the appropriate weight the line should be used to catch, with some ranging well beyond 30 pounds.
Q. Can fish see your fishing line?
Fishing lines can be visible to fish, though this depends on a number of factors, including the color of the fishing line, the clarity of the water, and the size of the fishing line. For best results, avoid using red or yellow fishing line.
Q. Should you soak a new fishing line?
You can soak your fishing line in warm water to help increase the flexibility of the line before loading it onto your reel, but this isn’t necessary.