What Weight Fishing Line Should I Use?

When it comes to fishing, and your set-up, one of the main questions everyone asks is what weight fishing line they should use, so it doesn’t break when they land a whopper. Fishing line is very important when it comes to your rig, and getting the right weight can be a big difference in the way the rod casts, the line is reeled in, and even drag. There are thousand different types of lines out there for you to decide from, but what really counts when a fish bites is knowing that your line isn’t going to just snap at the first surge a fish does. Most out of the box reels, or combo sets might have line that comes on them, which could be fine, but you never know how long that line has been on there, or sometimes what weight it is, so its good to change it out after you buy it. You might even have a couple of the same type of rods with completely different weighted lines on them because of the type of fish you want to catch. It is really important to understand the test of a line and some of the different types that you can buy to make the most of out your set-up. The actual strength of fishing line is called Test, and is measured in pounds.

When selecting what fishing line you want get, there are two important things to remember. The first is what type of rod you have, because you don’t want to go putting 30 pound test on an ultralight rod and reel combo. The second is what type of fish you are going to go after. If you put to small of test on your rod, the fish is going to snap your line as soon as it surges, but too heavy of a line, and you will never know a fish is biting. The recommended Line weight goes like this, 2 – 4 pound test is good for things like trout, panfish and crappie and should be used on an ultralight or light rod. 6 – 12 pound test should be used for bigger fish like bass, salmon, walleye, and catfish, and should be used with a medium to medium heavy rod combo. for larger fish like sea bass, and sea trout, you can use 8 – 14 pound test. For the larger sea fish, you are going to want to use a ocean rod with 16 to 25 pound test on it so it can handle the surges of striper’s and the bigger stuff. Keep in mind that you will also want to look at weather conditions, surf conditions, and where you are going to be fishing so you can really narrow down the strength you need, but you should be perfectly fine with the targets above.

Types of Line

When selecting fishing line, you are going to get hit with a bunch of different options to choose from. You are going to see some that are monofilament, or braided line, fluorocarbon, to thermal filament. Monofilament line is a single continuous untwisted line that is the norm for almost all anglers. Its usually clear and can offer a lot of stretch which is good when a fish surges or shakes, so it wont just snap. You can get monofilament in different colors like green or blue for better visibility above water while keeping it clear under the surface. Thermal filament is fishing line that has been bonded by small fibers to make up the continuous string, and usually has a smaller diameter than than monofilament does. Fluorocarbon line is made with tightly packed molecules, and is more dense than monofilament line, and makes it almost invisible under water. It is also water proof, so unlike monofilament line, it will never absorb any water, but does need to get wet before tying a knot, or its going to fail. Braided line is my go to line for bass fishing and I really do love it because it is extremely strong and not too heavy. This line is thicker and woven together with other strands almost like “braiding” your hair, or rope together, which gives it more strength per test pound. I would really not recommend this for smaller fish like trout, but you can find some smaller test in braided line now, so you might be okay if you really want to use it.

Sink Or Swim

I always wondered if fishing line sank if you didn’t put anything on it and threw it out in the water, but if it did, why would we need sinkers? The truth about all fishing line is, yes it does sink, but almost all different types of lines sink at different rates. Monofilament line is the lightest of the standard fishing line out, and has a very slow sink rate so if you are going for top water lures, this might be your go to line, or at least leader for braided line. Fluorocarbon line is more dense than monofilament, so it is going to have a faster sink rate than mono, but don’t expect it to drop right to the bottom because even though its more dense, the line is still extremely light and its going to hit the bottom slowly. Braided line will fall a little faster than the other two, but is still not going to get you to the bottom without a weight in the time you want. Even though it looks like line sits on the top of the water, it will eventually sink answering the age old question of does fishing line sink or swim.

Is One Better Than The Other?

If I have asked, or someone asks me one thing about fishing line, its always which one is the best, or are any of them better than the other, and the responses I have always given, or gotten is, NO, not really. When you look at picking out a fishing line, it really does come down to personal preference and what you want to fish for. They all have some advantage or disadvantage, but they all do the same thing; If you want a really strong line that is not really going to snap, braided might be the choice for you, but if you want an almost invisible line for clear lakes, then maybe fluorocarbon line is going to work best. In my opinion, they are all going to work how you want them to, and they are all going to perform similar to each other. In my own set-ups, I use monofilament line for my trout rods and ultralight rigs, and for my bass set-up, I use braided line with a 20 yard mono leader on it. I like the strength of braided just because I want to make sure if I hit an 8 to 10 pound bass, my line is going to hold up no matter what, but I never use braided just by itself unless I am out fishing and my leader snaps.

Keep Your Eye Out

One important thing to remember is to look at your line every time you go out, or if you are catching a bunch of fish. Fishing line does not last forever, and will need to be replaced every so often depending on use. You also don’t want to use line that has been sitting in your garage for years because it does get brittle and will break at the wrong time. Check you line for bite marks from fish, or gouges missing from being beaten on rocks and sticks on the bottom. I try to replace my leader line on my bass rods every couple months depending on how many fish I have caught, and try to replace the braided line once a year, or when there is a ton of fraying on it. Always keep a watchful eye on your line, and it will ensure you don’t have any fish get away from worn out line.


When it comes to picking the right line for your set-up, try to target what fish you want to go after, what type of rod you have, and have a good idea of the conditions you might want to fish in on a regular basis. If you know that you are going to fish for trout in a lake you like, stick with mono 2-4 pound test and you will be fine. If you are going only after bass in lakes or ponds, try out a braided line for that extra strength on a bigger fish like I do. Don’t get sucked in to all the hype about one fishing line being better than another because they all have strengths and weaknesses. If you put on a line and it continuously snaps, you may want to go to the next pound test. Fishing line is rather inexpensive and if you have to try out a couple until you find the one you like best, it shouldn’t break the bank, or empty your pocket book.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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