Fishing - Gear/Equipment

Fishing Line Basics for Beginners

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For anglers, both professional and amateur, “fishing” is a way of life. The link between the angler and the catch, which makes fishing an exhilarating experience, is the fishing line. The importance of a fishing line can be translated from the representations seen in the Egyptian carvings of 2000 B.C. The Chinese used silk for fishing lines in the fourth century.

As angling gained popularity among the Europeans, starting in England in the 15th century, horsehair was braided and used as lines. Silk line, being longer and stronger, replaced the horsehair in 1908. The disadvantage of using a silk line was that it had to be rinsed and dried on open spools and could be damaged by direct sun rays. Thus, appeared linen lines, but they too were unsuitable for strenuous and rugged use.

Fishing Line Basics for Beginners

The first synthetic fishing line was made of polyester (known as Dacron) in the 1950s. It is still known for its strength and durability. Du Pont in 1954 invented braided nylon lines, which were later improved into a monofilament, still in use today.

As you walk through the aisle of a tackle store with selected rod and reel (already discussed in our previous blog) in your cart, you will encounter different choices of fishing lines.

Fishing line Properties

There are 3 key things to know about in any fishing line:

Tensile Strength

Popularly called ‘ Test ’ (after the process of tensile testing) – this is measured in pounds and can be seen as 1lb Test to 200lb+ Test on the cover of the line spool. This basically means that this line has been tested for its tensile strength breaking point i.e. the amount of force at which the line will break.

So, a 20lb Test line will break if the force applied to it exceeds 20lb. Lower test strength means weaker line and heavier test strength means stronger line. Rule of thumb is line Test should be roughly equal to the weight of the fish in pounds. So small fish require thinner and more sensitive line and therefore should be low Test and vice versa.

Fishing line specifications


Shown as 0.1mm to .9mm+. This basically states the thickness of the line which can vary as the Test strength increases. Thicker the line more its visibility in water.


This will be shown as yards – 100/150/300/500/1000 yards+. The choice of length depends on the reel spool size you want to load your line on. Smaller reels can contain lesser lines and vica-versa. Here again, depending on the fish being targeted, the reel will change and hence the line.

There are three major types of fishing lines; each one has its own properties and benefits. Read on to know our take on each one of them.

Major Fishing Lines

Monofilament – “Stretch” Line

Monofilaments, as discussed earlier, are the oldest and most popular fishing lines. These are light weight as they consist of a single strand of line. They are made of mixed polymers, which are heated and then extruded through tiny holes to form strands of line. These strands are then cooled quickly and wound onto spools.

The chemicals used in the mixture can control qualities — limp, strength, toughness, stretch and color of the line. These lines absorb water so their properties differ in dry and wet states.

Monofilament Line

Monofilament dominates the market in the line category. It is the line type with which most of the anglers learn to fish. It is easy to use and compatible with all types of reels. Anglers prefer monofilament to fish species which prefer shallow depths.

Monofilament is a good choice for beginners looking for an all-rounder inexpensive fishing line. For best results, replace your monofilament line yearly.


  1. A single thread adds to the buoyancy, keeping the line from sinking fast.
  2. Excellent knot strength makes it easy to tie and stay tight even after strenuous use.
  3. It can stretch under heavy loads without breaking.
  4. It is economical.
  5. It is flexible; therefore, it casts easily.
  6. It is translucent, so less likely to be detected by fish.


  1. It can be difficult to feel small bites from smaller fish.
  2. Ultraviolet light deteriorates the line.
  3. Stretch makes it hard to get a good hookset under some conditions.
  4. Monofilament tends to retain the shape of its spool; this is known as memory. Less memory means better line.

Fluorocarbon – “Low Stretch” Line

Relatively a newcomer in the fishing line category, the fluorocarbon fishing line is gaining prominence among anglers. It is a polymer which is nearly invisible in water and cannot be spotted even by an observant fish.

Fluorocarbon Fishing line

The original fluorocarbon was stiffer and expensive but owing to its increased popularity, global companies are manufacturing more flexible and affordable lines. Dense material and resistances to deterioration by sunlight, gasoline, insect repellents or battery acid are its major advantages. Also, it does not absorb water.

The sales of fluorocarbon have increased drastically over the years. When you are casting into deeper waters, a fluorocarbon on your side can increase your success rate. The lures dive deeper and faster, even in rough conditions. The best baits for fluorocarbon are deep water jig, shallow running crank baits, worm fishing and spinner bait. Since fluorocarbon is a heavier line, it is not the best choice for light rod and reels.


  1. Nearly invisible underwater, making it difficult for fish to detect it.
  2. High Abrasion resistant – so will not break easily when rubbing against rocks and rough surfaces while fighting the fish.
  3. Denser than water and does not absorb water, so it will not weaken or stretch.
  4. A heavier line so sinks quicker than other lines – good for targeting fish at depths.
  5. Has less memory than monofilament.


  1. Sinking quality is not helpful in all the angling situations.
  2. Weaker knot strength than monofilament.
  3. Thicker diameter means less line can be spooled in a given reel.

Braided – “No Stretch” Line

Like monofilament, braided is an old form of a fishing line. As the name suggests, several lines are braided together to form this line, making it superior in terms of strength when compared to other lines.

The lines wounded through a time-consuming braiding process are ultrathin, strong, and sensitive all the same time making it a high tech line, commonly known as “superline.

Braided fishing line

It has shown an increase in demand in the past two decades due to a variety of advantages it offers like zero stretch properties, not absorbing water, so properties do not change from dry to wet state.

The key advantage of braid is that it has a thinner diameter than a mono or fluro line of the same test strength. This means more braid line can be spooled in a reel than monofilament. This is a big advantage when going after big fish which tend to have long runs in the open water and you don’t want to be in a situation where you have no line left.

Their disadvantages of coloration and castability have improved over the years. The lures dive at deeper and faster rate as compared to other lines. Due to its no stretch property, it provides positive hook sets.

However, zero stretch also means that when the line is taut with the fish at the other end then it can break when running against a rock or rough surface under the water.

Therefore, to resist sustained abrasion, braid has to be paired with 2 to 6 feet of Florocarbon leader, on which the terminal tackle and lure is attached. This combination ensures the abrasion resistance, invisibility of Fluro with all the benefits of Braid.

Another important property of Braid line is that it allows longer casts so are ideal for shore-bound anglers. Overall it is perfect for saltwater angling, though many anglers use them in freshwater situations as well. Though expensive upfront, braided lines deliver more value over a long-term period for its specific applications


  1. Incredibly strong due to muti-thread structure.
  2. Zero stretch feature, leads to better hoooksets.
  3. Does not have memory, so doesn’t twist and tangle
  4. Resistant to UV deterioration.
  5. 65% to 75% thinnerthan the same Test rating of other lines
  6. Greater casting distance advantage.


  1. Expensive than monofilament.
  2. Highvisibility under water
  3. The color of the line fades over time.
  4. Less abrasion resistant and needs to be paired with a Fluro carbon leader requiring advanced knot knowledge.
  5. Wind Knots can be a problem leading to frustrating un-tangling sessions.

A quick guide

Fishing line guide

A single type of fishing line cannot be an ideal choice for all angling situations. To choose the best line, one has to consider the target species, water type and type of tackle used. Devote a good deal of time to choose the right line as it will improve your catch rate. After all, the main aim of angling is a good catch.

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