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Types of Fishing Line and How to Choose the Right One

As a diehard fisherman, you’ve likely put some thought into your angler’s setup. Nonetheless, we often forget that there are several types of fishing line.

different types of fishing line

To be more precise, there are four different types, each with its strengths and weaknesses.

Whether you’re bass fishing locally or sinking your line for some offshore tuna, you need the right line to bring it in.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at every type of fishing line, whats its made from, its pros and cons, and the ideal conditions in which to use each one. Let’s get started!

What to Look for in a Fishing Line

There are several characteristics to be aware of when considering what type of fishing line to use.

person tying a hook onto their fishing line

The following will help you to understand what you’re looking for and why certain fishing lines might be better in particular fishing environments. The basic terms below define the qualities of each type of fishing line.


A buoyant or floating line can be helpful when topwater fishing. However, it’s not the best for fishing at depth. If your fishing line is too buoyant, it won’t sink correctly and may not correctly handle your lures.

braided line for fishing

A less buoyant fishing line will sink and remain taught in the water, offering greater precision for catching deep-water fish.

The buoyant line also tends to tangle and knot more easily and may not have the strength to handle larger or tough-mouthed species.


Some fish will stay away from fishing lines that they can see. Depending on the fish and environment, a low-visibility line is crucial for certain fishing types, such as in clear water where fish are more likely to be spooked.

You may also consider the water shade at the depth you intend to fish and match it with colored lines. Most fish have only limited eyesight and will be unable to see lines close to the same color as the water.


Fishing line with a lot of memory can be challenging to work with. It is a line that curls and kinks easily. It can also knot as you reel it in.

fishing line spool

A cheap line with a lot of memory may not be a big deal for beginners, but for the seasoned fisherman, it’s often best to consider low-memory material.

To test a line’s memory, pull it off the spool and see if it hangs straight or curls. If it hangs straight, it has low memory. In this way, you can see the quality of the line before you buy it.

Abrasion Resistance

Abrasion resistance is about strength. If you’ve ever had your line break or cut by sharp rocks and other environmental materials, it likely had very little abrasion resistance.

surf fishing line

Fortunately, most modern lines are fairly abrasion-resistant. Nevertheless, low-quality lines of any kind may not handle cuts and scratches as well as high-end materials.

Abrasion resistance is a factor with all types of fishing line, so it can be worth paying more for a better product.


Some fishing lines will stretch more easily, while others maintain their structure. A line that stretches can be useful for keeping the tension as you reel in fish. It can also dampen big head shakes, enabling you to fight your catch better.

devils lake fishing guides

Nevertheless, too much stretch makes setting the hook much harder. It also provides you with less feedback, making it difficult to use in precision situations. Stretchy lines need to be replaced quite frequently.

Shock Strength

Shock strength measures how much tension your line can take, especially from sudden pulls and head shakes. Hard-hitting fish can sometimes break the line when they bite, swimming away with your bate and your lure.

reel for bass fishing

Stretchy lines tend to have greater shock or impact strength. It is much less likely to snap when fighting fish and can handle sudden pressure. Shock strength is a critical factor catching large fish, such as in a deep river or offshore situation.

Different Types of Fishing Line

With the above characteristics in mind, let’s look at the different types of fishing lines. Monofilament is the most common type, but there’s also fluorocarbon, braid, and copolymer. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

fishing line on a rod


Monofilament fishing line has been around since the 1930s. It’s usually made of durable nylon plastic. It’s reliable, cheap, and effective. It’s nothing fancy, but it can be used in almost every type of fishing situation. That said, it’s not always the best choice.

Monofilament means “single thread,” which is what it is, a plastic thread stretched on a spool. Its most significant selling point is that it’s cheap and easy to use. It’s perfect for beginners because it casts smoothly and it holds knots well.


  • Monofilament fishing line is inexpensive and easy to use.
  • It has low memory, so it’s easy to pick up and prevent “bird nesting.”
  • It has a lot of stretch, making it durable and practical for reeling in fish.
  • Mono is buoyant, so it’s perfect for surface lures.
  • It comes in various colors, making it easy to find a match for any type of water.
  • It’s recyclable.


  • Monofilament has a lot of stretch, giving it high shock impact but not a lot of precision.
  • Its buoyancy makes it a terrible choice for bottom baits.
  • Mono is weaker than other lines.
  • It doesn’t last very long.

When to Use Monofilament

If you’re just starting out or don’t fish frequently, monofilament is a safe bet. It doesn’t cost a lot and works with almost any reel. It maintains tension on the line when fighting fish, which makes reeling easier. Plus, it smoothes out heavy head shakes.

All in all, monofilament is excellent for beginners. However, if you’re fishing at depth, you’ll want to try a different line. You’ll also want to switch to something else if you’re after touch-mouthed species that can more easily cut your line.


For the experienced fisherman, fluorocarbon should be a consideration. It’s long-lasting and invisible in even the most transparent waters. It’s great for precision fishing and is a fast-sinking line. Although it first became available in the 1970s, it was very stiff back then and has since evolved into a fishing line that many pro-fishers use.

Fluorocarbon is made of a dense polymer related to freon (the gas that keeps your freezer cold) and Teflon (the non-stick coating on your pans). It’s usually thinner than monofilament but just as strong and has a lot of abrasion resistance.


  • Fluorocarbon line is long-lasting and abrasion-resistant.
  • It’s invisible underwater.
  • It has a high shock strength without losing precision.
  • It’s sensitive and provides plenty of feedback.
  • Fluoro has a less stretch, giving strength and more feeling when fish bite.


  • It has a high memory, kinks easily, and has a tendency to tangle.
  • Knots tied with fluorocarbon line will fail if not done correctly.
  • It’s expensive.

When to Use Fluorocarbon

Basically, fluorocarbon fishing line is high end and high performance, but you have to know what you’re doing to use it correctly. It’s best employed for bottom tactics and precise deep water fishing. Fluorocarbon is primarily used for fishing in clear water.

Some people use fluorocarbon as a leader and another type of fishing line for the rest of their setup. In this way, it hides the line from sight-based predators like pike. You can use it on a spinning reel, but it’s better on bait casters. It’s ideal for drop shots, jigs, and other precision tactics.


Braided fishing line is the most robust line available. It’s very thin and made from a completely different material than monofilament and fluorocarbon. It’s built to last with no memory, so it flows without stretching, tangling, or kinking.

Braid fishing line is made by weaving several strands of polyethylenes together. This process produces an ultra-thin diameter line with enough shock strength to handle even large ocean species. You can get braided line ranging from four to 16 strands. Fever strands provide more abrasion resistance, while the more strands you have, the thinner the line.


Braid is the strongest line pound per pound.
It has no memory or stretch, so it performs to precision.
It has an ultra-thin diameter.
It’s abrasion-resistant.


Braid is visible underwater, so it will spook some species, particularly predatory ones.
It’s hard to tie knots with braid fishing line.
It has a lower shock strength and can be cut by toothy fish.
It’s the most expensive fishing line you can get.

When to Use Braid

Braid fishing line is normally used on a good quality spinning reel for fishing in low-visibility waters. It’s a great choice if you need a lot of line as it will hold up under pressure. It can also be used to work heavy vegetation, as it will slice right through rather than becoming tangled like most other types of fishing line.

If you are planning on deep dropping or precision jigging, then braid is a good choice. Nevertheless, be careful that you have a decent quality reel as it’s so tough it can get caught in cheap equipment and cause damage.


Copolymer is an improved version of monofilament. Instead of using a single material, it melds two different ones for increased abrasion resistance and shock strength. There are many different copolymer lines out there, as each manufacturer has its own recipe, generally involving two various forms of nylon used together.

Remember everything we said about monofilament? Well, copolymer can do everything monofilament can, but better. The only real drawback is that it’s more expensive, but if you’re willing to pay a little extra, you’ll find it performs better.


  • Copolymer does not have a lot of stretch.
  • It has a high shock strength.
  • Copoly is stronger than monofilament and more abrasion-resistant.
  • It has low memory and is easy to knot.
  • It provides the same smooth casting as monofilament.


  • Copolymer is more expensive than monofilament.
  • It’s made of nylon, so it can be damaged by heat and the sun.
  • Most copoly lines don’t float, although some recipes do.

When to Use Copolymer

Copolymer fishing line is ideal for all types of fishing. It’s a solid all-around choice that you can use in a lot of different fishing environments. In other words, if you’re not sure what type of fishing line is best for the kind of fishing you are planning, then you can’t go wrong with copolymer.

That said, it works best with deep water fishing. So, if you’re planning on using tactics like suspension rigs or jigging, copolymer will do the job. For surface fishing, look for copoly that’s specifically designed to float. Otherwise, you can expect the line to sink.

How to Choose the Right Kind of Fishing Line

The truth is, your fishing line is one of the most critical parts of your setup. You can have the best reel, anglers, and lures money can buy, but they won’t perform properly without the right fishing line. It plays a crucial role in lure presentation, hooking fish, and landing them. Let’s talk a little about how to choose the right kind of fishing line with that in mind.

For starters, it’s critical to assess the environment where you plan to fish. Are the waters shallow or deep? What species of fish are there? Is the terrain rocky or has a lot of vegetation? Factors such as these will give you an idea of what kind of fishing line is best.

If the price is a factor, and you’re in open and shallow waters, monofilament may be just fine. On the other hand, if you’re not concerned by paying more for a copolymer line, then go for that as it’s generally an upgrade.

Braided fishing line is for areas with heavy vegetation and low-visibility water. It’s also very strong and suitable for long casting. However, if you are an experienced fisherman, you might consider fluorocarbon, as it is high quality and ideal for precision anglers. Fluorocarbon is also suitable for bait casters and catching sight-based fish as it is nearly impossible to see even in clear water.

1 comment

  • Ive been doing fresh and salt water fishing for a long time and did not fully understand the factors in picking the right line given your targeted fish, water conditions and tackle. I learned there are some situations where I shouldn’t be using braided line Great article Thanks