There are three basic types of fishing line as it relates to bass fishing. They include monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided fishing line. Each has qualities and properties that make them useful for different situations. But each also has potential drawbacks that can impact their effectiveness in certain situations.
Beyond that understanding line diameter, pound test, stretch and abrasion resistance will help you understand which line to choose and why.
Line Recommendations by BassTechnique
- Pitching to sparse cover: 15 to 20-pound fluoro
- Pitching to heavy cover: 20-fluoro / 65- braid
- Frogs over matted grass: 65-pound braid
- Cold water jerk baits: 8 to 10-pound fluoro / mono
- Deep diving crankbait: 8 to 15-pound mono
- Shallow crankbaits: 10 to 17 pound mono
- Lipless crankbaits: 12 to 20-pound fluoro / mono
- Topwaters: 15- mono / 30- braid
- Spinnerbaits: 15 to 20-pound mono
- Big Swimbaits: 15 to 25- fluoro / 65- braid
- Small Swimbaits: 10 to 15-pound fluoro
- Umbrella Rigs: 65 to 80-pound braid
- Senkos: 10 to 20-pound fluoro
- Big Flutter Spoons: 15 to 25-pound fluoro
- Offshore football jigs: 15 to 20-pound fluoro
- Big plastic worms: 15 to 20-pound fluoro
- Jigging spoons: 10 to 15-pound fluoro
- Drop shots: 4-10 fluoro / 10-20 braid
- Shaky heads: 6-12 fluoro / 10-20 braid
- Casting a Jig: 8- to 12-pound fluoro
- Spybaiting: 6-8-pound fluoro
- Skipping jigs: 15-20-pound-fluoro
- Swimming a jig: 30-65-pound braid
Three Types of Fishing Line
Monofilament was the most common line for fishing for many years. It may still be, but it’s declined in popularity because of the innovation behind the other two. Monofilament is a single fiber of nylon that is spun individually or with other polymers (co-polymer line) then extruded to form a nylon line that is then wound onto a spool for use on fishing reels.
Monofilament can be extruded to different tensile strengths, also known as pound tests, which essentially determine at what amount of pressure the line will break. They can mix in various polymers to give the line color and refractive properties like fluorescent for being seen under a black light for night fishing.
The 3 critical aspects of monofilament fishing line include pound test, diameter and stretch. The pound test coincides with diameter.
The heavier the pound test the larger the diameter of the line. The smaller pound test, the smaller the diameter of the line. So 8-pound test line will have a smaller diameter than 20-pound test monofilament.
What this means to the angler is 8-pound line will be smaller and more manageable on a fishing reel than 20-pound line. It also means 8-pound mono will stretch more than 20 pound mono. So when you’re fighting a heavier fish, you will have more control over that fish with 20-pound line than you will with 8-pound line. With lighter mono, you’ll have to play the fish down more before trying to land it. With 20-pound mono you can put more pressure on the fish without fear of the line breaking.
The diameter of fishing line affects how quickly a lure will sink or how deep it will run and also how well it will cast. Generally speaking, a lighter line is a lot easier to cast a lure farther. A lighter line will also sink faster and cut through the water faster so a lure like a crankbait will run much deeper on 8-pound line than it will on 20-pound line.
You can set the hook harder on 20-pound line because the shock can be handled by the higher tensile strength. While setting the hook on 8-pound line, the line will stretch some on a direct pull but on a hard shocking hookset it will break easily under 8-pounds or more of force. This is when drag on a reel becomes critical.
Most anglers will stick with 4 to 10-pound mono on spinning reels and 10 to 25-pound mono on baitcasting reels.
Fluorocarbon, Polyvinylidene fluoride, is similar to monofliament but the main property that separates the two would be in light reflection and refraction. Fluorocarbon is less optically dense so it is much harder to see in water as a result. It also has better abrasion resistance than monofilament as it doesn’t absorb water like monofilament will over time. And fluorocarbon is a little more rigid so it doesn’t stretch like monofilament does.
So you end up with a line that is harder for the fish to see than mono, has better abrasion resistance for fighting fish out of heavy cover and it is more sensitive because it is less forgiving than monofilament. This gives anglers somewhat of an advantage on tempting bass to bite artificial lures.
However it does have a few drawbacks. For starters, because fluorocarbon is a bit more rigid than monofilament, it is a bit less manageable. It will coil more and not stay as limp as monofilament on retrieves. It becomes more notiecable on the larger diameter and pound test lines.
It is also worth noting that fluorocarbon sinks whereas mono is more neutrally buoyant. This sinking property makes fluorocarbon less desirable for floating lures like topwaters because the sinking line will continually pull the lure's nose down under the water.
But many anglers have migrated from monofilament to fluorocarbon because of the invisibility, sensitivity and abrasion resistance, albeit at an added expense.
Because fluorocarbon is more expensive than monofilament, anglers are always seeking to make their fluorocarbon last longer or use less for each reel. Many anglers, myself included, will use “backing” or simply cheaper line to fill up a spool except for the last 60-100 yards which will be the fluorocarbon. This practice allows you to use less fluorocarbon line, respool more often and make a filler spool of line last longer for the same amount of money.
Generally speaking, if you fill up a reel with line. You’re only going to use the last 60 yards or so of it. So it makes sense to use backing. Check out these thoughts on a variation of backing line from Aaron Martens.
Braided Fishing Line
The final category of line is braid. Braid is essentially, as its name implies, woven strands of material that form a small diameter, no stretch, extremely strong line. The original and most common braids floated. They were often made of materials like cotton or linen. Now braided lines are made of more scientifically crafted materials like Dacron, Spectra and Dyneema.
These more carefully engineered fibers yield strands of woven fibers that do not stretch, have incredible tensile strength and abrasion resistance and very small diameters relative to their pound test. It makes them a great line for fishing for bass around heavy cover where you really have to be able to fight a bass out of or through a lot of dense vegetation or wood.
However using braid is not all roses either. For one braid is much more visible than fluorocarbon or even monofilament. Braid can dig into itself more when you wrench down on a hookset or horsing a fish in heavy cover. And it can be more susceptible to wind knots, or tangles that catch your guides, in smaller diameters.
But braided fishing lines have become staples for fishing around grass, fishing topwater lures, and fishing finesse gear on spinning tackle with fluorocarbon leaders. Braid resists line twists much better on spinning gear than either fluorocarbon or monofilament. Braid can be wound tighter on a spool to reduce “digging” and braid definitely gives a lure more casting distance in comparable line diameters.
Most anglers like a heavier braid like 65-80 pound sizes for fishing heavy cover with hollow bodied or soft plastic frogs or punching through matted vegetation with big weights and soft plastic craws, creatures and beavers.
While 10 to 20-pound sizes are more suited for spinning gear and drop shot and shaky head presentations. We like a 30-40 pound braid for swim jigs, topwaters and even swimbaits.
To read about specific brand lines, check out our fishing line review section. You might want to also read our piece on How to Spool Line on a Reel. To learn more about bass fishing, read our How to Bass Fish guide and if you want to know how to tie great knots with any of these fishing lines, check out the 15 Knots Every Bass Angler should Know.