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How To Buy Freshwater/Saltwater Fishing Line

Your fishing line often spells the difference between the satisfaction of landing that lunker or the disappointment of seeing it swim away when your line breaks. Of course, the line is only as good as the knot you tie, but selecting the most appropriate line may improve your chances and enjoyment on the water.

Choosing the right line

  • Manufacturers have invested heavily in improving fishing line by designing various characteristics to meet the demands of both the fish you are trying to catch and the conditions of the water
  • Lines also take into account your tackle--rod and reel--and your casting techniques
  • Limper lines may offer a little more sensitivity, a big plus when trying to catch smaller fish. But on the downside, they may have too much stretch, they pull too easy when a fish strikes, which may cause the line to break.
  • Today's line tries to combine a balance of sensitivity--to allow the user to feel the fish on his/her line, shock strength--to absorb the initial strike of a fish, controlled stretch-- to keep the fish on your line without it breaking easily, and the proper stiffness--to improve casting and retrieving

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Line characteristics

Diameter

  • This determines the line's test strength
  • Diameter also improves a line's durability
  • This number simply means the line's strength or pound-test is designed to hold the indicated weight before it breaks. For example, two-pound test has been rated to hold a two-pound fish before it breaks.
  • Novice anglers should buy the line that meets the size of the fish they want to catch. Choose a heavier line if you are unsure.
  • More advanced anglers may choose to use the lightest line possible to increase the challenge of landing a fish
  • Some of the new premium lines use thinner diameters with incredible strength and durability
  • This is because the thinner the line, the more sensitive the line. Sensitivity helps you feel the fish nibbling on your bait or lure.
  • Diameter can also play a role in the type of reel that you are using
    • Smaller diameter lines and lower pound test lines are better suited for spincasting --or spinning--reels
    • Baitcasting reels work better with 10-pound test lines and heavier for saltwater fishing
  • Most manufacturers rate their line for fishing conditions, such as "ultra-light" for small fish such as perch and "big game" for larger fish like muskie or tuna
  • There are even specialized lines for cold weather and ice fishing

Abrasion resistance

  • Fishing lines are subjected to harsh conditions--rocks, tree stumps and the weather. That's why fishing lines are made to be abrasion-resistant.
  • Look for line that can withstand scuffing, nicks and the normal wear-and-tear from repeated casting
  • Most premium lines offer good abrasion resistance. Even monofilaments now come in special designs to improve abrasion resistance in extreme fishing conditions.

Color

Sometimes you need to see your line; other times you don't want the fish to see the line. Consequently, you can buy line that accomplishes one of these objectives.

  • Clear/blue fluorescent
    • Sunlight illuminates the line above the surface so it's easier to see when casting, retrieving or trolling
    • Under the surface, the line stays clear so it's nearly invisible to a fish
  • Low-visibility
    • This blends into most underwater environments so it's good in situations where the fishing is tougher either because they don't seem to want to bite or heavy fishing has made the fish a little smarter
  • Low-visibility clear
    • In clear streams or even in some lakes, the water runs clear. This color works well in ultra-clear water or when you know the fishing hole you have selected tends to have fish that seem unwilling to bite.
  • High-visibility gold
    • This bright color makes it easier to see when a fish strikes or to watch your line position when you troll several lines or go fishing in a current
    • You may also prefer this color for low-light conditions such as dawn, dusk and night
  • Coffee
    • If you are going fishing in muddy, stained waters, this color blends in with the water conditions
  • Moss green
    • This color works well in waters with heavy vegetation or algae

Stiffness or limpness

  • Typically, the stronger lines are also stiffer lines
  • Many of the limper lines are designed for certain types of reels to make casting easier and for open waters where few structures such as trees and rocks are a problem
  • Generally, the larger the diameter, the stiffer the line. Stiffness also normally adds strength to a line.

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Types of materials

You can buy fishing lines in different materials and manufacturing processes that have been refined or added to give you better lines to get the job done.

Monofilament/Cofilament

  • Monofilament lines are the most popular, primarily because of their lower price tag
  • They use nylon to form the line in single sheath so they are more prone to abrasion
  • Cofilament line adds more resistance while still providing sensitivity and stretch
  • This basically uses an inner and outer sheath of nylon to improve the line's ability to withstand wear and tear

Braided

  • These small diameter lines improve strength and still maintain sensitivity
  • For example, a 15-pound test braided line still has the same diameter of a 6 pound test monofilament fishing line
  • The nylon is woven in a braided line to add strength while still keeping the line thin. Many manufacturers add a coating to hold the braid together, increasing its durability and strength.
  • Three problems exist with braided lines but these can be easily overcome
    • One, you must use the type of knot recommended by the manufacturer to keep your line on the hook
    • Two, many of these are limp so they can be tougher to cast, especially on spinning reels
    • A third area but one that's shared by all lines is watching for nicks. Braided lines, in particular though, become much weaker so you need to watch for broken braid strands.

Fusion

  • A variant of braided lines is a new fusion process
  • Micro-fiber nylon is fused together to maintain sensitivity, strength and a small line diameter while keeping the line limp for easier casting and distance
  • Some experts caution that the new super braided and fusion lines have limited stretch, a big plus in setting the hook

Fluorocarbons

The latest advance in fishing lines is fluorocarbons--made from a polymer of fluorine boned to carbon. This super-premium line offers several advantages.

  • Invisibility
    • This is a very big benefit, especially in clear water or finesse fishing
    • Fluorocarbon line comes closest to the refractive index of water, so it becomes virtually invisible under water but is visible above the surface
  • Durability
    • The sun's ultraviolet rays don't affect the line so it last longer
  • Strength
    • Fluorocarbon line doesn't absorb water so it keeps its strength. Some manufacturers say monofilament lines lose between 10-20 percent of their strength because of water absorption.
  • Stiffness
    • This line also has low stretch to help with sensitivity in hooking fish
    • Its stiffness also means the line doesn't float, so it allows lures to go down deeper and jigs to fall faster

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