Does Fishing Line Go Bad?

If you are like me, and don’t usually fish during the winter because its too cold, and rainy, then you usually put your rods up in your garage, hopefully somewhere safe, and wait for spring time to hit. The one thing we often overlook, until its too late is what our line looks like when we take it out of the garage and blow off the dust. We get out there and throw our line in the water, and bang, fish on! Only to have that fish snap your line the first time it surges. We shake it off and tie another bait to our line and it happens again! But why?

Contrary to popular belief, fishing line needs to be used on a continual basis for your fishing experience to be its best, and over time it can get brittle and start to break down. When this happens it’s time to replace it, but how often should we replace it? I recently did a post on the different types of fishing line, so I thought I would follow it up with one about when to change your line and what to look for. Some fishing line is relatively cheap while others like braided line can be on the more expensive scale, so checking for signs of wear and tear will save money in the long run.

Yes, fishing line does go bad, but how long it takes will completely depend on how much you use your rod, and how many fish you catch each time you use it. As a ball park figure, I like to change my line out at the very least, once a season, if not more.

In my case, I put my rods up around October or November, and don’t use them again until around March or April depending on rain and snow, so a couple weeks before I know I want to go, I will pull my rods down and take a look at them and really see how much wear and tear the line has on it.

If you are using braided line with a mono leader, after every few fish, I will cut a foot or so off and tie a new knot for the hook in case a fish was sawing on it with their teeth, or stretching it out during surges or breaking the water. Braided line will last quite a bit longer than your typical monofilament, or fluorocarbon line because it is woven together, and has more strength to it and is less brittle. Since monofilament is the cheapest of the different lines, you may end up switching it out multiple times in a season.

Things To Look For

When you are trying to figure out if your line needs to be replaced, there are a few things you can look for depending on what type of line you have currently. Keep in mind that even if you have extra line hanging around in your garage, and not on a reel, it can still go bad and you will end up having buy some new stuff to replenish your stock. When looking at monofilament line, you want to look for anywhere that stretching has occurred.

Because it does have a “memory” so to speak, if you have left it sitting on a reel, you will see loops when you let line out, that is another thing to look for. Finally, if you leave the fishing line out in the sun at all, it will break down faster, so try to pull on the line a little and see if it snaps.

fishing line

For fluorocarbon line, since it is much denser than monofilament line you are not going to see stretching or fraying as much, so you will want to keep your eye on the “memory” of it and look for loops as they come off the reel. Finally, braided line is arguably the strongest of the fishing lines, and since its woven together, you really want to look for any discolouration of it, or fraying like you would a rope. Braided line should last the longest with a runner up being the fluorocarbon line.

How Often Should Line Be Replaced

Each of the three main types of line have different strengths and weaknesses, but one thing they all have in common is that they break down over time. For monofilament line, depending on how much you fish and how many fish you catch, you will want to replace it at least once, if not twice a season if you don’t see any major signs of wear. When it comes to fluorocarbon line, you may get two seasons out of it if you take care in the storage of your rod, and are not fishing on a daily basis all year round.

Braided line can last for at least two seasons without noticing any discoloration or fraying on it, and I have had rods that I have let go for three seasons if I don’t use them a lot. Using that time line and consistently checking on your line, you should have no problems with it snapping and losing a catch. As you can see, depending on what line you use while directly impact how often you need to change it out, and over time you will get to know the signs of wear and tear, and will just know by instinct when it needs to be redone.

What Can I Do With My Old Line

So you have a few rods, and just replaced all the line on them, what should I do with all the old left over line I have? Well, depending on if you just pulled the line out into a pile, or spooled it up nicely, you can do quite a few things with it. First and foremost fishing line can be recycled, so you can always go that route if you don’t want to just throw it in the garbage, and save the earth.

You should be able to just directly deposit your line into your recycle bin at home, or there is a special address you can send your line to at Berkley. If you like to do projects at home, you can easily use old fishing line for arts and crafts with your kids and family. You can make things like beaded bracelets or necklaces with yourself and/or kids, but you can also make things like wind chimes with them.

fishing line

Since fishing line does break down, it won’t last forever, but you can have some fun with it while it does last. One last thing you can do with it is practice tying knots with it. This way you don’t use the new stuff you have if you want to try different knots out on lures and hooks. Save some money where you can and practice knots at home instead of just on fish.


Replacing your fishing line is something that is very important to do because it can mean the difference between landing a fish, or having your line snap and seeing a fish get away. It is also hard on the fish because they cannot just go to their buddy and have them pull a broken off hook out of their mouth. Snapping line off on the shore also means that people can leave it just lying around on the ground for other animals to get caught on, or other people to trip over.

Keep an eye out on your line for stretching, being brittle, and any fraying on braided line, and you should be good to go. Keep that old fishing line around for arts and crafts projects with the family, or recycle it so it just doesn’t go to a landfill waiting to decompose over time. Doing all of this is going to keep your fishing trips fun, and save the world a little bit.

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