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What are the Different Types of Fishing Lines?

By Ken Black
Updated May 23, 2024
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Fishing lines, it may be said, are the most important thing between the angler and the fish. While the hooks, rods and reels all have their own unique role, the lines keep everything together. However, choosing the right fishing line can sometimes be difficult, depending on the situation. Many anglers fail to take this into consideration as they head out to the water and some may lose fish because of that failure to do so.

There are three basic types of fishing lines: monofilament, braided and fluorocarbon lines. All have their place. When choosing a line, it is also good to look at more than just the composition of the line but also how thick it is and what it is rated for. In the end, when choosing a line, cost should not be the only factor. While all lines make look the same, there are subtleties that make some slightly better than others. This can mean the difference between a successful day on the water and coming home empty handed.

By far, monofilament line is the most popular type. It was invented by the DuPont company in the 1930s and basically is a plastic line, usually made of nylon. It is made by pouring melted plastic into a tube, which shapes the line.

Before monofilament became the product of choice, braided fishing line was the preferred line for many anglers. Usually made from Dacron, this type of line may have been the best choice for the time, but it had a number of problems. It did not hold a knot very well and was susceptible to abrasions. Some new forms of braided lines have since come on the market, looking to overcome some of the shortcomings of the original versions. However, total market share still lags substantially behind monofilament. These newer versions are often called microfilament.

The fluorocarbon line was first developed in Japan and has since gained in popularity in other parts of the globe, including the United States, primarily as a salt water fishing line and a fly fishing line. Its advantages are its near invisibility in water. Also, due to the fact fluorocarbon lines do not absorb water, it will not stretch out or weaken like many monofilament lines do over time. When fishing in areas with rocks, submerged logs and other such impediments, fluorocarbon fishing lines are a good choice because they resist abrasion very well.

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Discussion Comments
By jmc88 — On May 14, 2012

@matthewc23 and @jcraig - Braided line is mostly used in saltwater from my experience. I have only gone saltwater fishing a couple of times and have just used fluorocarbon, so I can't speak on the effectiveness of it. I don't know why you couldn't use it in freshwater, though. I just prefer monofilament because it is easy to find and pretty inexpensive.

As far as knots go, I think that is kind of a personal preference. It is based off a lot of factors such as what knots you actually know, how effective you are at tying them, and what lure you are using.

The go-to knot for most people is the clinch knot, which is easy to make and resists breaking. A lot of other people I've met use something called an arbor knot. I would just suggest looking around online and carrying a knot guide in your tacklebox. The one knot you don't want to use, though, is the basic overhand knot. They don't hold well and break easily.

By matthewc23 — On May 14, 2012

I have just gotten into fishing and am looking for some more information about what fishing lines to use. I'd like to learn a little bit more before I spend a lot of money on something I don't need.

Luckily for me, I live in an area where I have access to both freshwater and saltwater. The article says that monofilament line is the most popular. Is it just good for freshwater fishing, or can you use it for saltwater, too, or should I get fluorocarbon line?

The other thing I was wondering is when, exactly, should you use braided line? I have never heard of this until now. Any good information about fishing line knots would also be helpful.

By jcraig — On May 13, 2012

@cardsfan27 - I completely agree. When I first started fishing, I did what you mentioned and just bought heavy line so that it wouldn't break. Once a friend explained the benefits of using lighter line, I started using it, and the results were immediately noticeable. I was catching more fish and better able to control my lures.

I have often thought about giving braided line a try. Does anyone have any experience with using it? What is the best braided fishing line to use? The article mentioned that it can be difficult to knot braided line. Does anyone have any good knots for braided fishing line that hold well? I am assuming that the typical clinch knot doesn't work very well for braided line.

By cardsfan27 — On May 13, 2012

Besides just choosing the wrong type of line for their activity, I've also found a lot of people who don't properly consider the weight of their line. That has a lot to do with how successful a person will be at catching fish.

Obviously, you will want to get a strength that is rated for whatever you expect your biggest catch to be, but then you want to go a little over that. As you're fighting the fish, you will be putting extra tension on the line, and you definitely don't want it breaking.

I see a lot of people buy heavy line just because they don't want the line breaking. Having the lightest recommended line, though, will help you better sense bites as well as being less visible in the water.

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