The best fishing line
If you're new to fishing, you might think choosing your line was one of the easier decisions, but as well as breaking strain, you also need to choose the right material. The type of fishing you do, and where you do it can both make a difference.
We've put together a short but comprehensive guide to explain the advantages of each type, and we've made some recommendations. Our favorite, KastKing Braided Fishing Line, offers the versatility and strength of the premium brands, but without the high price. It's a great choice for any angler.
Considerations when choosing fishing line
There are three types of fishing line generally available -- braided, monofilament (usually just called mono), and fluorocarbon:
Braided fishing line is made of polyester strands woven together. It's arguably the most popular choice because it's comparatively thin for its strength, it provides high sensitivity, it has no "memory" (so it stays straight), and it's unaffected by ultraviolet (UV) light, so it's long-lasting. The downsides are that it's very hard -- you need scissors or a knife to cut it -- and low friction means it can be challenging to knot and can bind on the spool.
Monofilament fishing line is made from a single extruded strand of nylon, so it's cheaper than braided. It's also considerably thicker and heavier, which can impact your casting distance. Although it's sometimes considered "old-fashioned," it has some advantages. It's easier to work with and has high abrasion resistance, so it's particularly good if there are obstacles such as rocks and other debris in the water.
It also has a degree of stretch. Some anglers like this, because it absorbs some of the initial impact of a strike, so it's not all hit or miss. Other anglers don't like it for exactly the same reason. The two worst aspects of mono are that it has a "memory" -- it remembers it was wound around a reel and likes to keep the shape rather than running straight -- and it's degraded by sunlight's UV rays. It's recommended that you replace it every year, whereas braided will last four years or more.
Fluorocarbon fishing line is similar to mono, but it's made of polyvinylidene fluoride, which has high durability like braided. It's UV-resistant and has little memory. Unfortunately, it's comparatively stiff and difficult to knot successfully. It's also quite expensive. The one big advantage is that it's invisible in water, making it a good choice in heavily fished areas where fish get "line shy." Despite that, it's the least-popular line.
So, which line is best?
There isn't a "best" fishing line, it's about choosing the right line for a particular type of fishing. Many keen anglers have more than one spool, so they can change quickly as circumstances dictate. Fishing line is relatively low cost, so if you're new to the sport, it's worth trying each type so you gain personal experience.
Mono and braided fishing lines are frequently dyed. Some anglers prefer a line that they can see more clearly as a bite indicator. For others, it's a question of hiding the line in different water conditions. Unlike many mammals, fish have color vision. Whether it works depends on so many variables, so we'll leave it to you to experiment.
Fishing line prices
Our buying guides typically offer general guidance for prices, but so much depends on poundage and length that it's almost impossible with fishing line. You'll pay less than $10 for 1,000 yards of eight-pound mono, and more than $200 for 1,500 yards of 150-pound braided. Mono is usually cheapest, followed by fluorocarbon, then braided, but in most cases the price differences within any of the categories are small enough that you can focus on the type of line rather than on the cost. In other words, you're likely not going to land a monster largemouth bass with eight-pound mono, nor should you spring for 150-pound braided to catch brook trout, so don't bother comparing the two in terms of value.
Q. What do people mean when they talk about backing line?
A. Braided line is thin, particularly lighter breaking strains, so it can take a lot to fill your spool all the way up. Unless you constantly fish at great distances, half that line may never get used. You can save money by half filling your spool with mono -- called backing line or backer -- then fill the rest with braided.
Q. Are there any tips for loading my reel properly?
A. The main thing is to make sure it's not too loose, which will cause it to tangle or bind. You can buy a line spooler that will apply tension in the new spool as you load it, or make your own following plans you can find on the internet.
Fishing line we recommend
Best of the best: KastKing SuperPower Braided Fishing Line
Our take: High-quality colored line at an affordable price, fresh or saltwater use.
What we like: Zero stretch for instant hook set. Very durable, with good sensitivity. Excellent for casting, once some initial stiffness wears off.
What we dislike: Dye can stain hands initially. Heavier lines are a bit noisy.
Best bang for the buck: Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament
Our take: Traditional tough fishing line for those who prefer the feel it gives.
What we like: Easy to knot. Manageable elasticity. Excellent abrasion resistance. Huge choice from eight to 130 pounds. Great value.
What we dislike: Line memory can be frustrating. Careful loading essential to minimize snags and tangles.
Choice 3: SpiderWire Stealth Braided Fishing Line
Our take: Popular medium-priced line for a wide range of fishing styles.
What we like: Typical braid benefits of strength with minimal tangles. Teflon-treated for smoother casting and less noise.
What we dislike: A few users reported unexpected breaks. Not particularly colorfast.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.