Choosing Fishing Line

A Gudes Life

There are so many fishing line choices out there that choosing one can be downright confusing. One walk down the line isle at your local fishing retailer is enough to make your head spin. While guiding clients it’s not uncommon for me to switch out a spool full of braided line for one with mono or copolymer. My clients almost always ask why I chose to switch lines. For most anglers, fishing with monofilament line is more than adequate. It does the job in most applications and has been doing so for a long time, but some anglers (me included) will use any advantage they can get.The most common lines used are monofilament, copolymer, fluorocarbon, and braid. Monofilament line is a single strand of nylon which is extruded into specific diameters. It is undoubtedly the most common line used and is a great all-purpose line due to its strength, flexibility, and abrasion resistance. Monofilament line absorbs water and actually becomes slightly softer and stronger as you use it. One disadvantage of monofilament however, is how much it stretches. Increased stretch means decreased sensitivity and hook sets, especially when fishing in deep water.IMG_6250

Copolymer line is monofilament with another material (usually fluorocarbon) fused to it. It is more abrasion resistant, has less stretch, better knot strength, and is usually thinner than monofilament. Copolymer also sinks making it a great line to use if you are jigging around rocks or when using deep diving crank baits, but not so good for fishing top water lures because it will pull your lure under the water making it less effective.

Fluorocarbon almost completely disappears under water since it has almost the same refractive index as water. This makes it a great line to use when fish are line-shy or when fishing in very clear water. One drawback to fluorocarbon is its durability; if it gets nicked it is almost guaranteed to break at the nick, making it a poor choice when fishing around rocks or other hard structure.

Braided line is my preferred line in almost every situation. Braided line is much thinner, but much stronger than nylon line. Its thin diameter increases castability. Braid also has no stretch, which increases sensitivity and hook sets. You can also add a section of whatever type of leader best fits the type of fishing you are doing that day. Braid is susceptible to wind knots. If you don’t pay attention when casting lures a loop can form in the spool causing terrible knotting that is almost impossible to get out.

Choosing specific lines for specific types of fishing is just one piece of the puzzle, but it just might be the most important one. Knowing what your line is made of and how it will perform in the water will make your choice much easier, and make you more productive while fishing. Remember that fishing line is extremely hazardous to wildlife. It can cause serious injury or even death to waterfowl, turtles, and other wildlife and fish, so make sure you clean up any used fishing line that you see.

Tim Moore is a nationally-recognized professional angler and fishing guide. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit for more information.