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An anglers bass fishing line is the most critical link between them and the bass. So it stands to reason the more you know about fishing line, the more prepared you will be to address the conditions you face when finding and catching bass.

There are three basic types of fishing line as it relates to bass fishing. They include monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided fishing line. Each has qualities and properties that make them useful for different situations. But each also has potential drawbacks that can impact their effectiveness in certain situations.

Beyond that understanding line diameter, pound test, stretch and abrasion resistance will help you understand which line to choose and why.

       Line Recommendations by BassTechnique

  • Pitching to sparse cover:     15 to 20-pound fluoro
  • Pitching to heavy cover:     20-fluoro / 65- braid
  • Frogs over matted grass:   65-pound braid
  • Cold water jerk baits:          8 to 10-pound fluoro / mono
  • Deep diving crankbait:        8 to 15-pound mono
  • Shallow crankbaits:              10 to 17 pound mono
  • Lipless crankbaits:                12 to 20-pound fluoro / mono
  • Topwaters:                              15- mono / 30- braid
  • Spinnerbaits:                          15 to 20-pound mono
  • Big Swimbaits:                       15 to 25- fluoro / 65- braid
  • Small Swimbaits:                  10 to 15-pound fluoro
  • Umbrella Rigs:                       65 to 80-pound braid
  • Senkos:                                      10 to 20-pound fluoro
  • Big Flutter Spoons:              15 to 25-pound fluoro
  • Offshore football jigs:         15 to 20-pound fluoro
  • Big plastic worms:                 15 to 20-pound fluoro
  • Jigging spoons:                       10 to 15-pound fluoro
  • Drop shots:                              4-10 fluoro / 10-20 braid
  • Shaky heads:                           6-12 fluoro / 10-20 braid
  • Casting a Jig:                           8- to 12-pound fluoro
  • Spybaiting:                               6-8-pound fluoro
  • Skipping jigs:                           15-20-pound-fluoro
  • Swimming a jig:                      30-65-pound braid

Three Types of Fishing Line

Monofilament

Monofilament was the most common line for fishing for many years. It may still be, but it’s declined in popularity because of the innovation behind the other two. Monofilament is a single fiber of nylon that is spun individually or with other polymers (co-polymer line) then extruded to form a nylon line that is then wound onto a spool for use on fishing reels.

Monofilament can be extruded to different tensile strengths, also known as pound tests, which essentially determine at what amount of pressure the line will break. They can mix in various polymers to give the line color and refractive properties like fluorescent for being seen under a black light for night fishing.

The 3 critical aspects of monofilament fishing line include pound test, diameter and stretch. The pound test coincides with diameter.

The heavier the pound test the larger the diameter of the line. The smaller pound test, the smaller the diameter of the line. So 8-pound test line will have a smaller diameter than 20-pound test monofilament.

What this means to the angler is 8-pound line will be smaller and more manageable on a fishing reel than 20-pound line. It also means 8-pound mono will stretch more than 20 pound mono. So when you’re fighting a heavier fish, you will have more control over that fish with 20-pound line than you will with 8-pound line. With lighter mono, you’ll have to play the fish down more before trying to land it. With 20-pound mono you can put more pressure on the fish without fear of the line breaking.

The diameter of fishing line affects how quickly a lure will sink or how deep it will run and also how well it will cast. Generally speaking, a lighter line is a lot easier to cast a lure farther. A lighter line will also sink faster and cut through the water faster so a lure like a crankbait will run much deeper on 8-pound line than it will on 20-pound line.

You can set the hook harder on 20-pound line because the shock can be handled by the  higher tensile strength. While setting the hook on 8-pound line, the line will stretch some on a direct pull but on a hard shocking hookset it will break easily under 8-pounds or more of force. This is when drag on a reel becomes critical.

Most anglers will stick with 4 to 10-pound mono on spinning reels and 10 to 25-pound mono on baitcasting reels.

Fluorocarbon

Fluorocarbon, Polyvinylidene fluoride, is similar to monofliament but the main property that separates the two would be in light reflection and refraction. Fluorocarbon is less optically dense so it is much harder to see in water as a result. It also has better abrasion resistance than monofilament as it doesn’t absorb water like monofilament will over time. And fluorocarbon is a little more rigid so it doesn’t stretch like monofilament does.

So you end up with a line that is harder for the fish to see than mono, has better abrasion resistance for fighting fish out of heavy cover and it is more sensitive because it is less forgiving than monofilament. This gives anglers somewhat of an advantage on tempting bass to bite artificial lures.

However it does have a few drawbacks. For starters, because fluorocarbon is a bit more rigid than monofilament, it is a bit less manageable. It will coil more and not stay as limp as monofilament on retrieves. It becomes more notiecable on the larger diameter and pound test lines.

It is also worth noting that fluorocarbon sinks whereas mono is more neutrally buoyant. This sinking property makes fluorocarbon less desirable for floating lures like topwaters because the sinking line will continually pull the lure’s nose down under the water.

But many anglers have migrated from monofilament to fluorocarbon because of the invisibility, sensitivity and abrasion resistance, albeit at an added expense.

Backing

Because fluorocarbon is more expensive than monofilament, anglers are always seeking to make their fluorocarbon last longer or use less for each reel. Many anglers, myself included, will use “backing” or simply cheaper line to fill up a spool except for the last 60-100 yards which will be the fluorocarbon. This practice allows you to use less fluorocarbon line, respool more often and make a filler spool of line last longer for the same amount of money.

Generally speaking, if you fill up a reel with line. You’re only going to use the last 60 yards or so of it. So it makes sense to use backing. Check out these thoughts on a variation of backing line from Aaron Martens.

sufix performance braid in a snell knot

Braided Fishing Line

The final category of line is braid. Braid is essentially, as its name implies, woven strands of material that form a small diameter, no stretch, extremely strong line. The original and most common braids floated. They were often made of materials like cotton or linen. Now braided lines are made of more scientifically crafted materials like Dacron, Spectra and Dyneema.

These more carefully engineered fibers yield strands of woven fibers that do not stretch, have incredible tensile strength and abrasion resistance and very small diameters relative to their pound test. It makes them a great line for fishing for bass around heavy cover where you really have to be able to fight a bass out of or through a lot of dense vegetation or wood.

However using braid is not all roses either. For one braid is much more visible than fluorocarbon or even monofilament. Braid can dig into itself more when you wrench down on a hookset or horsing a fish in heavy cover. And it can be more susceptible to wind knots, or tangles that catch your guides, in smaller diameters.

But braided fishing lines have become staples for fishing around grass, fishing topwater lures, and fishing finesse gear on spinning tackle with fluorocarbon leaders. Braid resists line twists much better on spinning gear than either fluorocarbon or monofilament. Braid can be wound tighter on a spool to reduce “digging” and braid definitely gives a lure more casting distance in comparable line diameters.

Most anglers like a heavier braid like 65-80 pound sizes for fishing heavy cover with hollow bodied or soft plastic frogs or punching through matted vegetation with big weights and soft plastic craws, creatures and beavers.

While 10 to 20-pound sizes are more suited for spinning gear and drop shot and shaky head presentations. We like a 30-40 pound braid for swim jigs, topwaters and even swimbaits.

To read about specific brand lines, check out our fishing line review section. You might want to also read our piece on How to Spool Line on a Reel. To learn more about bass fishing, read our How to Bass Fish guide and if you want to know how to tie great knots with any of these fishing lines, check out the 15 Knots Every Bass Angler should Know.

8 thoughts on “How to Choose Bass Fishing Line

  1. When I first started bass fishing as a kid, there was on word…..Stren. This was back in the late 70′s. I lived in Mississippi at the time and we used to fish like mad dogs. Carrying a jon boat 2 miles down the road on foot was not a detourent.. I moved to Ohio in 1984 and started fishing tournaments shortly after I graduated high school and we were still fishing mono and copolymer. Now, we have all of these choices and clearly they are for the better. I use all three line choices mentioned and they make fishing so much more productive. However, to fill up my 14 baitcasters and 7 spinning reels that I use, it takes about 200 dollars to get through the 3 seasons of open water fishing in Ohio. And that’s by buying bulk spools of mono and fluoro. I also buy most of the line for my 4 children and their setups. They are not so young anymore…yikes!!!! But, I could see some young kid that spends all of his money on a few decent rods and reels not have the money to spool up with some of this stuff. Its all awesome……if you got the funds. Anyway, great article as always. Its a life saver to visit Wired 2 Fish when its cold and snowy here while the rest of the world is fishing.

  2. Maybe you guys can address this issue but I have stayed away from heavier lines on my baitcasters for fear of backlashes and tangles. Is there a point though where line that is too thin becomes a problem on baitcasters? I fish Lews reels and have typically been spooling them with 10 lb mono or fluorocarbon. I like the light line but seem more prone to getting backlashes that are almost impossible to dig out.

    • Brian,
      the lighter the line, the smaller the diameter, thus the reason for more backlashes. Depending on what technique you are fishing, you will want to use 14-17lb mono/flouro for baitcasters, 20-25 if you are going bigger lure wise, or flipping heavier cover (25Lb flouro, 65+ braid). But only thing I would be using 10-12lb mono or flouro for on a baitcaster is cranks/jerkbaits, otherwise use spinning gear for lighter line. Again, there are so many different techniques and applications and personal preferences.. but I wouldn’t be throwing texas rigs, swim-jigs, jigs, or too many plastics at all on baitcasters without 14-17 lb flouro. I only use Mono for topwater and crankin. I use 20lb mono for topwater, but may look at around 15-17lb. For Crankbaits to get them down deeper then yes 10-12lb may make more sense.
      Hope this helps a little, sorry for such a long answer.
      -go get em.

  3. I fish a lot of worms like the zoom trick worm yum dinger producto tournament worm (paddle tail style worm) and producto buzz tail shad (swimbait) and a occasional frog or lipless crankbait or original rapala I’m currently fishing it on a 20 lb braid and gonna buy line for my other rod any advice on what kind line I should buy when it comes to lakes or ponds in fishing it’s from the shore and a lot of open water with occasional lily pads and prolly some grass in some of em

  4. I always thought when fishing crankbaits fluorocarbon was a better choice because it sinks & has better sensitivity than mono? Seems like it varies from one angler to another, otherwise great info.

    • It does vary. If you want the crankbait to hit cover and bounce back and float up a bit, you probably want mono. If you want to just grind the bottom and have a little increased sensitivity and a little less stretch on the hook set, you might want to stick with fluorocarbon. That’s at least my thoughts. If I’m fishing my crank around a lot of cover, I like mono. Otherwise, fluoro.

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