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Knowing what size and type line to use for different baits is critical
Author: Ganis Angling   Posted: 22 April 2012

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Fishing Line TestTo be the best fisherman you can be, you have to know which tools are right for the job. The Line Guide sets out to provide you with the most effective fishing line choices for various lures and techniques. In this guide, we consider monofilaments, braids, and the latest generation of fishing lines, fluorocarbons. All three line types are distinctly different and have their own unique pro’s and con’s. If chosen properly for your presentation, you will see noticeable gains in your success on the water.

While you will see various line choices for each lure or presentation, this Line Guide is meant to be very specific so you can purchase and spool your reels with the most effective line for the baits you wish to fish. This guide is also very handy for those anglers who have few rods, as you can easily see the possible combinations of line that you can spool up that will give you the greatest versatility for the presentations you foresee yourself fishing the most often in your bodies of water. While versatility is important, The Line Guide was created to convey the importance of getting line selection right and the big impact proper line choice can have in putting more fish in the boat. It makes a BIG difference.

How To Use The Line Guide:

Fishing Line

For each lure or rig, you will see the suggested line options for the most effective presentation. Some baits have very specific recommendations, while others have many options that are acceptable under various conditions. We do our best to explain the differences in line options for such lures. You will find any helpful notes or frequently asked questions in the box underneath the line recommendations. Use this Guide before you spool up your reels or when you are purchasing your line to help you make the best decisions.

 

Spinnerbait Fishing Line

Should I Go With Fluorocarbon or Mono?

There is currently a debate as to which of the two lines is better for spinnerbaits. Some anglers, like Kevin Van Dam, favour monofilament because of its buoyancy. Because mono floats, you can keep the spinnerbait closer to the surface more easily, especially on long casts. It is often important to keep a spinnerbait near the surface so fish can’t get a good look at the lure, and mono allows you to do this easily.

Other anglers, like Skeet Reese, prefer fluorocarbon over mono when fishing spinnerbaits because of its enhanced sensitivity, lower stretch and greater invisibility. The common drawback of fishing spinnerbaits on fluorocarbon is you are often required to use a “high tip” to keep the spinnerbait close to the surface. A “high tip” is not the ideal rod position for setting the hook, and thus why many anglers favour monofilament.

 

Shallow Crankbait Fishing Line

Why Is Fluorocarbon Preferred Here?

The three big advantages fluorocarbon has for shallow cranking is greater abrasion-resistance, lower-stretch and it is much less visible to fish. Because shallow crankbaits are generally fished through heavier cover, fluorocarbon will resist abrasion much more than mono. Because it is low-stretch, you’ll feel more bites and feel the crankbait coming through cover better. A portion of anglers, including some top pro’s, prefer monofilament for various reasons when shallow cranking. One of these reasons is mono’s high-stretch, which will allow you to “pop” or “bowstring” your lure out of snags more often. Besides this reason, there isn’t much else that should sway you away from using fluorocarbon.

Why such heavy lines?

Shallow cranking is mostly done in heavy cover or snaggy environments. You’ll be pulling your crankbait through brush, stumps, and so on. Your line needs to stand up to the abuse and give you the strength to get fish in amongst heavy cover.

 

Medium-Diving Crankbait Fishing Line

I thought mono was better because it stretched?

Monofilament was long used for crankbaits because it stretched and helped not pull the trebles out of the fish’s mouth on hooksets and fish fighting. While this was certainly a benefit, most anglers these days know that using a medium-action rod (or composite cranking rod) with a soft tip will give the fish the play it needs to not pull the hooks out. With the proper rod, you can get away with the low-stretch that Fluorocarbon exhibits.

The “sink” factor:

Besides the “invisibility” factor, fluorocarbon sinks and will make your crankbaits run 1-3+ feet deeper than with monofilament. This is a massive benefit. Fluorocarbon is some of the most abrasion-resistant line on the market as well, so working baits around rocks, etc. is good with this line.

 

Deep-Diving Crankbait Fishing Line

I thought mono was better because it stretched?

Monofilament was long used for crankbaits because it stretched and helped not pull the trebles out of the fish’s mouth on hooksets and fish fighting. While this was certainly a benefit, most anglers these days know that using a medium-action rod (or composite cranking rod) with a soft tip will give the fish the play it needs to not pull the hooks out. With the proper rod, you can get away with the low-stretch that Fluorocarbon exhibits.

The “sink” factor:

Besides the “invisibility” factor, fluorocarbon sinks and will make your crankbaits run 1-3+ feet deeper than with monofilament. This is a massive benefit. Fluorocarbon is some of the most abrasion-resistant line on the market as well, so working baits around rocks, etc. is good with this line.

 

Frogs Fishing Line

Should I go with 40 or 65? Or somewhere in between?

We strongly suggest focusing your frog and toad fishing at 50 lb test. We like 40 lb test for when you need to make super long casts to cover relatively sparse weedbeds that don’t pose much threat to losing fish. The smaller diameter will add a couple extra feet to your casts which will let you cover a lot more water. Use 65 when fishing closer wood or docks. 50 lb test is the ultimate in-between size that will work just about everywhere and in any situation.

 

Soft Paddletail Swimbait Fishing Line

When Fluorocarbon is the best choice:

Fluorocarbon should be your starting point for most bodies of water and presentations. It’s invisibility and low-stretch gives you the edge you need over mono.

So when should I use mono?

Mono is very buoyant and thus is great for when you want to work the swimbait right up near the surface. Mono also has a lot of stretch, which can be put to your advantage if the fish are being finicky and not slamming the lure when they bite. Often times bass will push the bait or be slow to fully engulf these large swimbaits, and monofilament gives you the extra time you need to let the fish get it in it’s mouth before you set the hook. You need to give them a second before setting the hook, and mono ensures you don’t pull it from them too quickly.

 

Heavy Hard Swimbaits Fishing Line

Why we like fluorocarbon better than braid:

Besides its low-visibility, fluorocarbon does have some stretch to it and will prevent you from snapping your line when casting these very heavy baits. Oftentimes when casting these heavy lures with braid, the spool will suddenly stop in mid-cast because the line coming off the reel snags the level-wind, is dug into itself at a certain point, doesn’t “jump” a high spot on the line quick enough, and so forth, causing the line to snap instantly and your expensive swimbait to fly off into the trees or water. It snaps because there is no stretch and 50 lb test line is no match for that sudden shock.

Fluorocarbon on the other hand won’t do this nearly as often, because it has some give to it. So if your line does come to a screeching halt in mid-cast, usually the bait will come to a halt with it and not fly off to never be fished again.

 

Not-So-Heavy Swimbaits Fishing Line

The Type of Line To Use Depends On Stuff…

Fluorocarbon is without a doubt the most versatile of the line types for the “Not So Heavy” hard and soft swimbaits and should be used in most circumstances except one, floating swimbaits! Since fluorocarbon sinks, it is often not a good choice for floating swimbaits. In this case, monofilament (which is buoyant) is a better choice. And with the right rod (softer tip), you can get away with braid even for those floating baits. We should note that there are a couple floating swimbaits on the market that actually perform better with fluorocarbon, but these are the exception, not the norm.

 

Not-So-Heavy Swimbaits Fishing Line

So Do I Choose Fluorocarbon or Mono?

For most applications, line-through swimbaits should be fished on fluorocarbon line. The reason you may want to use monofilament is two-fold. The first reason to use mono is lure depth. Since mono is buoyant, it can help keep a heavy swimbait near the surface. You can slow the swimbait down even more without having it sink deeper. Another possible advantage to mono is when fishing for smallmouth. Oftentimes, smallmouth will strike a lure with their mouths closed to kill it first before engulfing it whole. With mono, your reaction time to setting the hook is slightly delayed because of the stretch and thus you can sometimes have a better hook-up ratio with smallmouth bass by using mono in this circumstance. Other than these reasons, fluorocarbon is preferred and you should control your depth via insert weights, line size and/or retrieve speed.

 

Small Swimbait Fishing Line

Don’t some pro’s use mono for these?

Some swimbait aficionados prefer monofilament with these smaller swimbaits because of the stretch and claimed “better handling”. A few say monofilament gives these baits better action because it’s more limp. Also, many swimbait sink rates are metered to monofilament, so take that into consideration when using a different type line with different sink characteristics. We feel 12 lb. fluorocarbon is the most versatile choice for these smaller-sized swimbaits. Fluorocarbon offers low-visibility and greater abrasion-resistance.

When Would I Use Braid?

You want to use braid for your floating baits in this category of swimbaits. Since they are smaller baits and most of your 30 lb test line is out of the water, you can get away with braid in nearly any water clarity. Fluorocarbon gets the nod for any non-floating swimbaits of these sizes (hard and soft).

 

Drop Shot Fishing Line

Whoa!?! 7 lb. test fluorocarbon?? Who makes that?

Sunline makes a couple of fluorocarbon lines offering the currently rare 7lb test. Check out their Shooter and FC Sniper Fluorocarbon lines. Drop Shot aficionado Aaron Martens really likes the Sunline 7lb lines for drop shotting because it’s not as weak as 6lb test, but doesn’t dampen the action of the bait as much as 8 lb. It’s a good “in-between”.

Don’t Be Afraid of Even Heavier Line

If the water is a bit stained or you’re dealing with heavy cover, bedding bass, etc, don’t be afraid to try 10, 12 or even 15 lb test. You do sacrifice some lure action with the heavier line, but there are sometimes circumstances that require heavier lines, and in those cases, don’t be afraid to go heavy.

 

Lipless Crankbait Fishing Line

Don’t I need braid for ripping it free of grass?

In thick enough grass, you can get away with using braid and it will work well, however in most cases, fluorocarbon is the better choice because it still has low enough stretch to rip it free of weeds, but still some give if a big fish makes a run at the boat. Again, it’s invisibility is a big plus as well.

Big Range of Sizes There.. Which Do I Choose?

The size line you choose should depend on the depth at which you wish to fish. If you’re fishing shallow (say 5 feet), then lean towards a heavier line. If you are fishing deep (15+ feet), then lean towards lighter line, which will let you keep the bait down in the water column easier.

 

Wacky Worm Fishing Line

Should I assume 6 lb. is the “all-purpose” choice here?

Definitely. The wacky worm is a finesse technique that’s often used when bass are being finicky or when fishing pressure is at its highest. In light cover, 4 lb can really get a lot of bites. Go with 8 lb. if you’re in thick cover. But absolutely, 6 lb is your all-purpose line size for wacky worming.

 

Hard-Bodied Topwaters Fishing Line

Never use fluorocarbon!

Fluorocarbon sinks and will cause the action of the your baits to suffer tremendously. It’s extremely difficult to twitch a line that is completely underwater.

Why such heavy line?

Because hardly any line is underwater during the presentation, you can get away with much heavier lines with topwaters. Also, the heavy line helps keep the line floating and the baits riding higher in the water column. Mono is the no-brainer line for hard bodied topwaters. Feel free to use braid too if you are using a soft-action rod (like a composite rod). Many pro’s are switching to braid with composite/fiberglass rods for topwaters.

 

Carolina Rig Fishing Line

Can I use braid as the main line?

Absolutely, and it’s quite popular to use braid as your main line. Braid has no stretch and will give you better feel of the bottom… A BIG PLUS when fishing a carolina rig. But you can certainly use fluorocarbon as your main line too. A few pro’s don’t like using braid as their main line because they think it can snap their fluorocarbon leaders, but most pro’s it seems, don’t have a problem with braid main lines.

But doesn’t fluorocarbon sink? My bait won’t float!

You’re absolutely right. You’re bait won’t float that great when using fluorocarbon as your leader. But most baits don’t float anyway even with mono as the leader. You’re generally dragging your baits on the bottom either way, so might as well go with line that is less visible and more abrasion-resistant.