One of the most important parts of an angler’s fishing equipment is also one of the most overlooked. Fishing line is what connects you the angler to hopefully a hooked fish on the other end which is just what angling is at its most basic concept. Quite often however, sport anglers direct too much of their attention and resources at the hook, lure, and bait end of the equation without giving much thought to the all-important line that they will tie all of these well pored over offerings to. I have also repeatedly observed the serious anglers who are willing to invest in more expensive rods and reels at the opposite end only to spool on incorrect or old line which can more or less negate any advantages to having bought upgraded equipment. The following is a brief primer on what options are out there at the tackle shops and things to consider when deciding what to spool up on your reels.
The most cost friendly and not coincidentally most popular option available is Monofilament line. Generally made of a single nylon strand, this type of line has advantages and disadvantages. One characteristic is that mono stretches. Any angler that has had their lure slingshot back at them after a snag or lost fish can attest to this. What you gain in shock absorption and forgiveness from the stretch, you also lose in ‘feel and finesse’. Mono is easy to handle and tie knots with so it is usually the best option for beginners or young anglers. A product that I used almost exclusively when I was younger was Trilene XT in Low-vis Green colour. I liked that it was designed to withstand abrasion from rocks and snags better as I did most of my fishing from rocky shorelines back in the day.
Considerably more expensive depending on the brand is braided line. The first choice of most serious anglers, braid is infinitely stronger in relation to diameter size compared to mono and has zero stretch. This results in a very strong line with maximum feel and sensitivity. All of my reels are spooled nowadays with a line called Sufix 832. It is smooth casting and limp which I prefer as other braided lines can be too stiff and abrasive on the rod eyes. Braided lines are not immune to being cut clean by sharp rocks or a fish’s mouth however. Another consideration is that the line itself can be very sharp when mishandled and can be prone to wind knots or bad tangles.
Other options in the fishing line aisle of the shop are fluorocarbon and unifilament. Fluoro is mostly used as a leader material by anglers due to its invisibility characteristic underwater. It is very stiff however and has memory so quite often is bothersome to use as the main line on your spool. Unifilament lines like Berkeley Nanofil are relatively new and can best be described as having braided type qualities but only single strand. These can be an alright option as they generally are priced a little cheaper than the braid.
Choosing the right line starts with reading the little numbers on the side of your reel spool. Most reels will list the optimal line sizes or test weights for that piece of gear. For example, spooling 25lb test mono on a smaller 2000 series reel will greatly hamper your casting ability, limit the amount of line you can put on in total, and negatively affect your presentation in the water just to name a few. That reel would most likely list 6lb to 10lb test line as ideal. Some good advice for anyone starting out is that if the new reel you bought has line already spooled on it in the package, that line more often than not won’t be very good. Meaning it may not perform when you need it to when that big fish bites.
Remember getting a fish to bite is only half the battle. The rest of the work after that depends a great deal on what line you chose to trust that job to. Take the time to change out old line, retie your knots as needed, and choose a line that best fits your needs and situations.