Fishing Lines 101: Different Types Of Fishing Line (2022 Complete Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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The world of fishing lines can be a complicated one, especially if you are new to fishing.

But don’t worry, as a fishing line can be broken down logically depending on your fishing situation.

Target species, habitat, fishing style, lures, baits, and your skill as an angler all have to do with choosing the best fishing line type.

And it is only through a bit of reading that you’ll come to understand how you can choose the best fishing line type for your fishing application.

Below you’ll find every type of fishing line explained so you can always pick the best fishing line for every occasion…

What are the different types of fishing line?

Fishing Line Rolls
Fishing Line Rolls

There are 4 types of fishing line and chances you have fished with at least one or maybe two of them

Monofilament Line

Monofilament fishing line or mono line as it’s commonly referred to is the most common of the fishing line types. If you have ever bought a fishing reel that comes ready spooled, it would have come with a monofilament fishing line on it.

NOTE

Mono line is made from a single strand of nylon, a long chain polyester, that is stretched out into a thin fishing line. It comes in various pound test and color options.

Copolymer Line

Copolymer fishing line is an upgraded version of monofilament line. It’s made in the same way as a monofilament line but instead of just using one type of nylon to make a single strand, manufacturers use two.

This allows them to create a specific blend and form a line that has better characteristicsthan your normal mono, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon fishing line is a high-tech fishing line that is almost invisible underwater. It’s made in the same way as monofilament line but instead of nylon, polyvinylidene difluoride is used.

Fluorocarbon lines are relatively new and only arrived on the fishing scene in the 70s and since then they have come a long way from being ultra stiff to quite supple. We’ll discuss more of that in the next section too.

Braid Line

Braided fishing line is completely different from all the other fishing lines above in both its material and how it’s made.

Braided fishing line is made from multiple strands of ultra-strong polyethylene fiber that are spun (braided) together to form a super-strong but very thin fishing line. We’ll discuss more about braided line and its characteristics later.

But for those who are already considering switching to braided lines, here is my review of the top braided fishing lines.

Does it matter what fishing line you use?

Now that we know about the different kinds of fishing out there, a question most anglers ask is, does it actually matter which one I use? The answer is yes.

Each of these lines has its own set of characteristics and these translate into times when they excel at catching fish or are sub-par.

By being able to choose the right lines for the right situations, you’ll see a noticeable increase in everything from your casting to your catch rate.

So, what are these characteristics you ask? I have compared them all below for you across each fishing line type.

What is the difference between types of fishing lines?

Fishing Line Rig Held in Hand
Fishing Line Rig Held in Hand

Price

Price is an important consideration when it comes to choosing which type of main line you want on your reel spool. Some reels hold upwards of 800 yards of line and some anglers have 10 reels to spool, so by picking one or another, you can spend a lot more or a lot less.

Here are the different lines listed in price from lowest to highest:

  • Monofilament line
  • Copolymer line
  • Fluorocarbon line
  • Braided line

As you can see mono is the cheapest line out there while copoly and fluorocarbon fishing line are a tad more expensive, and this is because they perform better.

If you’re thinking about braid vs mono there many factors to consider, especially regarding strength and durability

NOTE

The most expensive by far are braided lines but braid lasts up to 5 years before it needs changing whereas the other lines need changing after 2 years. Thus, braided fishing line is a bigger upfront investment but you have to think about future costs too.

Diameter vs Line Strength (Pound Test)

When you’re adding line to say a spinning reel, you can only fit so much line on there of a certain diameter or pound test (or breaking strain).

It’s always good to have more line on your spinning reels or other reels so when you hook that trophy fish you have enough line to fight it with.

TIP

This means a line with a smaller diameter but the same breaking strength is very handy as you can load up a lot more of it onto your spool.

Here are kinds of fishing line from the largest diameter to breaking strain ratio to the smallest:

  • Monofilament line
  • Copolymer line
  • Fluorocarbon line
  • Braided line

The difference in diameter between your average mono, copoly, and fluoro of the same breaking strain is pretty negligible.

However, braided line is much thinner than all of them at the same breaking strain and you can add upwards of 25% more 15lb braided line to a reel than mono for example.

Visibility

Visibility is one of the most important characteristics to consider when it comes to choosing the best line for the job.

If a fish can see your fishing line then they are less likely to eat your lure and keeping fish in the dark so to say, so they eat your bait is key to your fishing success.

Just like when fishing for crappie, as you know, crappies are line-shy fish, so you might want to use a low-vis line like the ones in this review of the best fishing lines for crappie.

Here’s a quick video on testing the visibility of different types of fishing lines.

Line Visibility Test Underwater

Here are the kinds of fishing line in order of visibility from the least visible to the most visible.

  • Fluorocarbon line
  • Monofilament & Copolymer line
  • Braided line

NOTE

Fluorocarbon has almost the same refractive index as water meaning when submerged, it disappears so that fish can not see it.

A clear line made of mono or copoly is also quite invisible underwater but nowhere near that of fluoro. Braid is opaque and very easy for fish to see underwater.

Buoyancy

Buoyancy is another thing to think about when it comes to choosing the right line for the job. If you’re topwater fishing, a more buoyant line will make pulling surface lures like the best buzzbaits a lot easier, and vice versa.

Here are the kinds of fishing line in order of buoyancy from most to least.

  • Mono, copoly, braid
  • Fluorocarbon

Mono, copoly, and braided line floats as they all have the same density or are less dense than water. That’s not to say they always float, as if you add a bare hook to any of them, they then sink.

NOTE

Fluoro is the only line that sinks making it great to use when fishing subsurface with tiny lures or baits.

Abrasion Resistance

Picking a line with good abrasion resistance is key when you’re fishing in areas with rocks or oyster beds as the last thing you want is for your line to break while fighting a fish. The same goes when targeting toothy fish like barracuda as they can bite through a line easily.

Here are the kinds of line listed from the most abrasion-resistant to the least.

  • Fluoro
  • Copoly
  • Mono
  • Braid

As you can see, fluro line is the most abrasion-resistant of them all followed by copoly, then mono, and way down at the bottom is braid.

TIP

This means you want to be fishing abrasion-resistant fluoro in and around areas with sharp bottoms and fish with sharp teeth.

Shock Strength

Man Reeling in a Fish
Man Reeling in a Fish

When a marlin eats a bait you have 1000lbs of muscle crashing into a bait at up to 70 miles per hour.

Just imaging the shock impact on your fishing line, it’s out of this world and the same goes when trolling lures for tuna and other pelagics.

So when you’re fishing larger species such as big game species like marlin, shock strength is an important thing to think about when choosing your line and you want the line that has the most amount of shock strength as your main line.

Here are our fishing lines listed in order of shock strength from highest to lowest.

  • Mono & copoly
  • Fluoro
  • Braid

Mono has the highest shock strength of them all and that is why it’s on all saltwater game fishing reels. It can handle more impact shock than all the others. Fluoro isn’t too bad as it does take some shock whereas braid can barely handle any shock at all.

Line Stretch

Line stretch and shock go arm in arm and a stretchy line is useful when dealing with large game fish like marlin as it absorbs a lot of head shaking and allows you to keep tension on a fish without too much winding.

High Stretch

High stretch lines are also perfect for fishing for soft-mouthed fish as when you try to hook the fish you don’t rip through the fish’s mouth.

Low Stretch

But low stretch lines are also useful when more sensitivity to fish strikes is required and this is the case when bottom fishing for the pot or deep dropping for swordfish.

The less stretch line has, the more sensitive line is.

Less stretchy lines are also great for making longer and more accurate casts as less casting energy is lost in the stretch of the line.

Here are the kinds of lines in order from most stretchy to least.

  • Mono
  • Copoly
  • Fluoro
  • Braid

Braid is the least stretchy and is thus used regularly as the main line for deep water fishing. It’s also used in times when casting distance and accuracy are important like when fishing for largemouth bass.

Some of the best bass fishing lines are made from braid.

NOTE

Fluoro has a lot less stretch than mono but it still has some solid shock-absorbing properties and is the best of both worlds.

Line Memory

Baitcast Reel Line Closeup
Baitcast Reel Line Closeup

Line memory describes how easily a line remembers how it’s stored.

For example, a line that comes off a spool and coils has a high memory as it retains the coils created in it.

Lines with low memory stay straight when you pull them off a spool.

Tangles

The more memory a line has the more likely it is to create tangles, especially when used on baitcasting or spinning reels as it will uncoil when you’re casting and loop around anything close by – which gets very annoying.

Here are the lines in order of memory from most to least.

  • Fluoro
  • Mono
  • Copoly
  • Braid

Fluoro has a huge amount of memory and it’s quite frankly a hassle to use as a main line as tangles will often happen.

In comparison, mono and copoly have a lot less memory and braid has none at all.

Flexibility

Flexibility is a bit of a weird one when it comes to lines as it’s all about how easy it is to tie knots.

If a line is too flexible or not at all, tying knots becomes very hard and they are likely to slip or break if not tied correctly.

The ideal is a semi-flexible line as it makes tying and seating knots a lot easier.

Here are the lines in order of flexibility from the most flexible to the least.

  • Braid
  • Mono
  • Copoly
  • Fluoro

The hardest line for tying secure knots is braid as it’s so bendy, followed by fluoro as it’s so stiff. Mono and copoly are great for knot tying as they are easily manipulated and secure well once tied.

How do I know what fishing line to use?

With so many fishing line characteristics to think about across all the different options, you are probably asking, how the hell do I know which one to use when? It’s very overwhelming when you first read about it all.

Think about your fishing situation and the line that best fits it. Are you bottom fishing? If so, less stretch and high bite sensitivity are needed and braid is the best option. Casting into gin clear water?

Then a line fish can’t see like fluoro is your best option. Here is when to use what line in more detail.

When to use the different types of fishing line

Man Fixing Rod Line
Man Fixing Rod Line

Fluoro

Fluoro is the easiest one to know when to use and the answer is to always use it as your leader material. Fluro is invisible, abrasion-resistant, sensitive to bites, and it handles shock pretty well too meaning it’s the line that will up your chances of fooling, hooking, and landing a fish.

If you’re looking for the top fluoro line, check out this review of the best fluorocarbon fishing line.

RECOMMENDATION

Always add a few feet of fluoro between your lure and main line as a leader, even when light line fishing. But never use it as your main line as then high memory and high price make it unsuitable for this purpose.

Mono & Copoly

Mono and copoly share all the same characteristics except copoly is a little better at some of them but it does cost a bit more. If you can afford it, use copoly over mono.

Mono and copoly are perfect for use as a main line when targeting big fish like marlin that require a lot of shock absorbance and stretch.

They are also great for filling big reels like offshore reels with a lot of line as they are affordable. You can also use them as a leader when fishing surface lures as they float.

RECOMMENDATION

You shouldn’t use mono when fishing deep as its high stretch means low sensitivity and thus you won’t feel all the bites you would with other materials and its buoyancy will make it harder to put your bait into the strike zone.

Braid

Braid is great to use when you want more line on your reel as it has a thinner diameter, which is particularly useful when fishing with light lines and can’t put much pressure on fish to stop them. 

Braid’s low stretch and thus high bite sensitivity makes it ideal for fishing deep. It’s also good for when you need to push a hook into a hard-mouthed fish since the lack of stretch really drives it in there.

RECOMMENDATION

It’s excellent castability makes it perfect for or when you’re doing a more active style of fishing such as casting lures for bass all day long as you can send you’re much further and make it land exactly where you want it to.

The Line Twist – Using Combinations

You don’t have to just use one type of line as your main line, you can combine them. Often anglers add a base of mono to their spinning reel and then some braid as this reduces the amount of braid needed to fill a reel, saving them money.

Offshore boats will use braid as a backing line on their reels, filling half of each reel with braid and then topping it off with mono. This gives them the best of both worlds as they have the stretch of mono when fighting a big fish like a marlin, but also a smaller diameter of braid, giving them more line on the reel to handle the long runs of huge fish.

Lining Out

Thanks for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it and now know everything you need to know about the different kinds of fishing line and when to use them. Fishing line is a very important part of your fishing gear and using the right one at the right time will make the world of difference.

Please share the article around with your fishing buddies and check out some of my other articles as I cover everything from the best reels to the best rods for your fishing adventures.

Have fun and tight lines!

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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