Updated Aug 19, 2022 4:10 AM The best fishing line for bass is often overlooked, but one of the most critic
Updated Aug 19, 2022 4:10 AM
The best fishing line for bass is often overlooked, but one of the most critical pieces of gear to catch lunkers. Many anglers will spend hours debating over lures, or which rods and reels are their favorite. Yet, they give almost no thought to what fishing line is best for their specific goals and style of fishing. With so many lines available today, trying to choose the best fishing line for bass can be overwhelming. Follow these tips and recommendations the next time you go to spool your reel and you’ll be on your way to catching more bass.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Fishing Line for Bass
Just like rods, reels, and lures, no single line can do everything. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. These strengths and weaknesses, which I’ll detail here, will directly impact catch rates. If you only have a single rod and reel setup, or even a couple, you will have to make some decisions about your priorities. Decide what is most important for you, and choose a line with characteristics that match it.
Classifications of Bass Fishing Lines
- Monofilament: “mono” is created from a nylon material that is extruded into a single, untwisted piece of line. It is the most common fishing line.
- Copolymer: “copoly” lines are similar to mono (nylon based) but are made with multiple materials. Typically, there is an outer layer designed for abrasion resistance and knot strength, while the inner core will be harder with less stretch.
- Fluorocarbon: “fluoro” is made up of a material (polyvinylidene difluoride) that refracts light in such a manner that makes it “invisible” underwater. Fluoro lines look and behave similar to mono in other regards, but fluoro sinks while mono floats.
- Braided: “braid” is a complex line that is woven from thinner strands of material to make a very thin, but strong, line. Most braided lines are either low-strand (4- to 5-strands) or high-strands (8- to 10-strands), which have different characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Fly lines: these lines are specifically made to be used with a fly rod. They are heavy so they can propel the fly during casting. These are not suited for conventional fishing (spinning or baitcasting).
Monofilament (mono) is usually the cheapest line, followed closely by copolymer (copoly), and then distantly by fluorocarbon (fluoro) and braided lines. However, I will note that a good braided line is the least expensive in the long run, as it holds up against the elements better than the other line. Other types of lines like mono, fluoro, and copoly will break down due to the environmental factors (primarily UV sun rays and heat) and stress from casting and fighting fish.
Stretch and Sensitivity
Stretch can be important in preventing pulled or straightened hooks. However, the more stretch a line has the weaker the hooksets will be. Braid stretches the least which makes it best for driving home a solid hookset. Although, it has virtually no shock absorption. The exact opposite is true of mono, which can feel numb, and require a very hard hookset. Fluoro and copoly lines fall somewhere in between these two, though they are typically closer to mono than braid. It is also important to note that lines with more stretch will also have more memory—the coiling and twisting associated with being on a reel.
Mono, copoly, and braided lines all float, while fluoro sinks. Mono and copoly are the most buoyant, which makes them great for top-water applications. Fluoro’s sink rate helps deliver lures to the bottom faster than other lines. While braid has a thin diameter that cuts through the water and decreases drag. Depending on where and how you plan to target bass, line selection will impact how well you can present your lure.
Visibility, or rather invisibility, is where fluoro really shines. Fluoro is almost invisible in the water due to the materials it is constructed from—which refract light in such a way that the fish can’t see it. On the flip side, braid is the most visible by a substantial margin, particularly in higher-test ratings. Mono and copoly lines fall somewhere in between. Many anglers claim copoly is less visible than mono, and some companies coat the outside of their copoly lines with fluoro to decrease visibility. If I’m looking for the least visible line possible, I’m going to reach for pure fluoro.
Braid is the least abrasion-resistant line. It is very sensitive to being cut under any kind of strain. Fluoro is generally touted as the most abrasion-resistant, but this varies substantially with brand and model. Copoly lines are specifically made to provide better abrasion resistance than monofilaments without the stiffness and hardness that is often (but not always) associated with fluoro.
Monofilament, fluoro, and copoly are very easy to “handle.” Meaning they won’t cut your fingers or hands while fishing. These lines are easy on guides and have a lower chance of tangling and knotting. The same can’t be said for braid. For starters, it is difficult to use on a baitcaster compared to the other lines, and without experience, backlashes are likely to happen. Braid also requires different knots than the other lines. However, it takes much less effort to cast further distances and cuts through vegetation very well.
Strength is one of the most confusing factors in determining the best fishing line for bass. Let me cut to the chase—no line construction is stronger than any other. That is, braid is not stronger than mono, or fluoro, or copoly. Instead, line ratings determine strength. The rating on the box will tell you how strong the line is. If the box says 12-pound test, then it will break under a steady strain of 12-pounds. It doesn’t matter if it is mono, fluoro, copoly, or braid.
This isn’t to say some poor-quality, cheaply made lines aren’t weaker than high-quality lines, or that all lines rated to 12-pounds break at the exact same point. Instead, my point is that the material (mono, fluoro, braid, or copoly) doesn’t make a line strong—but rather diameter, quality control, craftsmanship, and design are what determine line strength.
It is true that some line construction is stronger than others per a given line diameter. Diameter is simply how thick the line is. Braid, for example, is extremely thin. At the same thickness, braid will be much stronger than mono, fluoro, or copoly lines. A 0.23mm braided line will be about 20-pound test, while mono would only be 6-pound test (and often much less). It’s important to note that diameter dramatically impacts abrasion resistance—a thicker line can take deeper nicks and more rash before it breaks. Also, mono, fluoro, and copoly lines can take some hits and still keep on working. Braid, however, tends to be all-or-none; it doesn’t nick or rash, it snaps.
The fly line is probably the most critical piece of gear in fly fishing for bass. The line is what propels the fly, and having adequate weight to turn over heavy streamers and poppers makes casting more manageable and less tiring. There are quite a few bass-specific lines available today. They are generally floating lines, have aggressive front tapers, low-friction coatings, and are a half- or whole-line weight heavy to load up the rod quickly. If you’re looking to try out fly fishing for bass, purchasing one of these species-specific lines will ensure you have the very best setup.
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Best Budget Monofilament
Why It Made the Cut: The Trilene Big Game has a long and well-known reputation as being a quality line that performs very well for virtually any angler who prefers monofilament.
- Materials and Construction: Nylon monofilament
- Pound Test Available: 8-60
- Colors Available: Solar collector, green, clear
- Excellent value
- Handles well and soft enough to tie excellent knots
- Good availability
- Suffers from memory, which reduces casting distance
- Doesn’t last as long as higher-quality lines
Simply stated, the Trilene Big Game is a legendary monofilament line. It is used by anglers of all types, for a huge variety of species, all across the world. Anglers primarily buy it because it’s inexpensive, yet retains 90% of the characteristics of more pricey lines. I have personally been using Big Game for decades, for everything from brown trout and largemouth bass to redfish and sharks. For the bass angler looking to fish a basic, reliable, and consistent line—who isn’t faced with 100-pound fish, or 150-yard casts—you can’t go wrong with Big Game.
Best Premium Monofilament: Sufix Elite
Best Premium Monofilament
Why It Made the Cut: The Sufix Elite is one of the best casting, lowest memory, moderate-stretch monofilaments on the market.
- Construction and Build: Nylon Monofilament
- Pound Test Available: 4-30
- Colors Available: Camo, clear, neon tangerine, smoke green
- Extremely consistent build
- Limp characteristics with excellent knot strength
- Low memory and superior casting characteristics
- Great value
- More expensive than many other monofilament lines
Sufix continues to be my choice for the monofilament line because it is a perfect blend of limpness, stretch, castability, and price. Certainly, there are more affordable lines, but they don’t last nearly as long and aren’t as good. Sufix has much better durability than low-quality mono, so you won’t be replacing it as much. I love how little memory the Elite line has. Under my normal use, it continues to come off the spool very limp, without coiling or kinking, for almost an entire season. I generally only cut back and replace it when I get into heavy cover or structure. It offers average abrasion resistance; but if you’re looking for more, Sufix Siege is a good alternative for monofilament.
Berkley Professional Grade Fluorocarbon Berkley
Why It Made the Cut: This is an excellent casting fluorocarbon for the angler that wants an invisible line without having to sacrifice handling, knot strength, or diameter.
- Materials and Construction: Fluorocarbon
- Pound Test Available: 4-25
- Colors Available: Clear
- Limp and handles easy
- Completely invisible in the water
- Abrasion-resistant while retaining excellent knot strength
- Lower cost than other fluorocarbon lines
- Thin diameter means weakens abrasion resistance
When I received the Berkley Professional Fluorocarbon for testing, I was skeptical. It’s extremely thin, and I thought for sure it was not going to hold up very well—especially for the bump in price compared to budget lines. I was wrong. From the moment I fished it I knew this was a winning line. It’s incredibly easy to work with, and erased much of what I don’t like (and often judge) about fluorocarbon. It’s soft, casts well, and has just the right amount of stretch (great sensitivity). In fact, I have used it to build my homemade leaders and tippet for fly fishing, on top of using it for conventional fishing. One thing is for sure: it certainly doesn’t seem to be visible to fish—whatsoever. The other major upside to this line is its low cost: for the quality and characteristics of the line, there is simply nothing as affordable. While more expensive lines might edge it out in some regards, I simply think Berkley Professional Grade Fluorocarbon is the best buy for the vast majority of anglers.
The downside to this line is its abrasion resistance. If it catches something hard and sharp, it peels and nicks relatively easily. Therefore, if you’re fishing heavy cover you have to make a choice, either try a different, harder line (like Seagur Red) or simply go up in pound-test a bit. For example, when using Berkley Professional as a leader with my braided line, I will up the pound test quite a bit, choosing 15- or even 20-pound test instead of the 12-pound I would normally use. But if you’re generally fishing open water, or not around much structure, then I wouldn’t even consider another fluorocarbon running line. At this price, there is nothing to compare it to.
Best Braided Fishing Line: Sufix 832
Best Braided Fishing Line
Why It Made the Cut: The Sufix 832 is one of the smoothest handling, farthest casting, and toughest high-strand braided lines available.
- Materials and Construction: 8-strand Dyneema and GORE braid
- Pound Test Available: 6-80
- Colors Available: Low-vis green, hi-vis yellow, neon lime, ghost, coastal camo
- Excellent quality and consistent build
- Long-casting and smooth handling
- Durable, small diameter that will last for years
- Available in a wide range of breaking strains (6-80)
- Sufix 832, an 8-strand braid, isn’t as tough as some other braids
I use Sufix 832 on almost all of my reels that have braid, which is just about all of them. Sufix 832 is very consistent off the spool. I’ve loaded up thousands of yards of it on my reels and have yet to experience any weak points or variability in diameter. I also find that 832 is a durable line that doesn’t suffer from “fuzziness” or falling apart over time. For most fishermen, it’ll last many years even with regular, five-days-a-week use. It also casts extremely far, and the very thin diameter cuts through the water well. The sensitivity is excellent, but this is typical for most braided lines and not exceptional. The price of 832 is about comparable to most other high-level braids; if anything it’s actually on the slightly more affordable side. Further, I like that 832 is available all the way down to 6-pound test.
The Sufix 832 does have some downsides including weak cutting power and low abrasion resistance. Compared to other braids, it is very smooth, but this means you won’t be sawing through vegetation with it. The Sufix 832 is also pricy, and if you aren’t worried about casting distance or handling, but instead just need sensitivity and hook-setting power, the Spiderwire Stealth is a great option.
Best Copolymer Line: P-line CX
Best Copolymer Line
Why It Made the Cut: The P-Line CX has great knot strength and abrasion resistance, moderate stretch, and good castability.
- Materials and Construction: Two-component build with fluorocarbon coating
- Pound Test Available: 2-30
- Colors Available: Clear fluorescent, moss green, fluorescent green
- Provides attributes of both fluoro and mono in a single line
- High abrasion-resistance
- Good life-span and relatively low memory, particularly in lower-pound ratings
- Affordable price
- Does a lot very well, but nothing absolutely the best
The P-line CX is almost always going to come up in any conversation about copolymer lines. It’s renowned for its “best of all worlds” characteristics. It’s relatively easy handling compared to other copoly lines and has a reputation as being more rugged when compared to most monofilament options. It’s certainly less stretchy than mono, and you can feel that in real-world settings. For a more advanced line, the price isn’t much more than mono. This allows anglers to have multiple options without breaking the bank. P-line is also a relatively low diameter line, and definitely out-competes lower-priced lines in this category.
CX is a line of compromises, which is both its strength and weakness. It does everything pretty well, but nothing, in particular, the very best. It’s not the most rugged line, and if you’re looking for the best abrasion resistance possible you should check out P-Line CXX. Other lines like Gamma Polyflex and the very popular Yozuri Crystal Hybrid have better handling than CX (and much better than CXX) as they are limper and softer. These both have a reputation for not being quite as tough as CX and not lasting as long. It’s all about trade-offs, but if I was going to choose just one line that wasn’t braid, I would strongly consider P-line CX as my do-it-all choice.
Best Fly Fishing Line
Why It Made the Cut: A high-quality, very affordable line specifically designed for bass, the Rio Mainstream series is a phenomenal choice for most fly anglers.
- Line Weight: 6, 7, 8, 9
- Feel: Slightly heavy line with a shorter head for easeier casting
- Colors Available: Yellow
- Specifically designed with bass fly anglers in mind
- Rio makes some of the highest quality lines for all species
- Easy to cast, particularly excellent for novice to intermediate anglers
- Very affordable
- Not the most technologically advanced line
- Not very rugged
While there is no real need to buy a species-specific fly line for bass, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Specifically, it really helps to cast heavier, larger flies. The taper and weight of Rio Mainstream Bass will help you load up your rod with less effort, particularly in the first 30- to 50-feet of your cast. The half-size increase in weight helps with this dramatically, especially if you’re using a modern, fast-action rod. Rios Mainstream lines are all about value, and therefore they’re not the longest-lasting, most technologically advanced lines. However, they have performed for me very well with everything from largemouth bass in my local pond, to catching bonefish in the Florida Keys. While they may be marketed to the novice and intermediate anglers, I think they cast great; especially when you consider they cost half or even a third of the price of other lines.
My choice in bass fishing lines is based on nearly 30-years of angling experience, which includes thousands of hours of bass fishing from shore, kayak, canoe, and boat. I am meticulous and very calculated when it comes to choosing my fishing gear, no matter what angling style I’m engaged in. I think that line, hooks, and terminal tackle (swivels, split rings, etc.) are often overlooked by many anglers. Frankly, I would argue they are more important than the rod, reel, or even the lures you’re using. If your choice of line has always been based simply on whatever was least expensive, or what you see someone using on T.V., then you are limiting yourself.
I broke down the line choices based on specific attributes and my own experience. I have also tapped into my contacts of industry professionals, top-tier tackle suppliers and retailers, and some of the very best citizen anglers alive today. These resources and my own experience have informed all my choices here. I have carefully weighed the top factors I believe are most important to the diverse needs of bass anglers all over the country (and the world) to come up with my picks. I evaluated each line based on the following criteria:
- Stretch and Sensitivity: How much stretch does the line have, and is this a positive or a negative atribute?
- Abrasion Resistance and Durability: How does the line hold up to being rubbed against rocks and structure, or how will it handle vegetated areas? How long does it last after being subjected to water, sand and dirt, UV rays, and hours of casting?
- Handling and Memory: Often overlooked, how limp and soft a line is has a dramatic impact on casting distance and lure action. The harder and stiffer a line is, generally, the worse it will perform.
- Quality and Craftsmanship: Is the line consistent and reliable from spool to spool?
- Price: Does the line offer good value for its stated purpose?
Q: Is 10-pound braid stronger than 10-pound mono?
No. This is a common misconception. In fact, 10-pound mono can be stronger than 10-pound braid in many situations. The factor that confuses a lot of anglers is that braid is much thinner at the same test rating as mono—10-pound braid is as thin or thinner than 4-pound test mono. Therefore, if you’re asking if braid is stronger than mono at the same thickness the answer is yes, braid is much stronger. However, that doesn’t mean it’s stronger if we’re comparing 10-pound braid to 10-pound mono—they’re simply the same. If the box says 10-pounds, the line is rated to 10-pounds: It doesn’t matter if it’s braid, mono, copoly, fluoro, wire, or lead-core.
Q: What color line is best?
For the most part, color should be the very last consideration on your list of factors for choosing line. It simply does not matter that much. In fact, I’d look around for colors that could potentially get you a better price on a line. Sometimes, certain colors get discontinued or aren’t as popular, and can be purchased for less money. However, if I had to choose a color for copoly, fluoro, or mono, I would simply want clear. It’s the most popular option and your best bet. As far as braid colors, I wouldn’t worry about it too much either. The line is already visible under the water, and whether you get blue, neon yellow, white, or red won’t matter too much. Personally, I like to try and get a white line, as I think it might blend in better with a bright sky, while not standing out too much underwater.
Q: What is the best fishing line for bass?
There is no such thing as one line that is the very best for bass. It really comes down to your techniques, style, and preferences. Personally, I prefer braid for my style of fishing, and it’s almost all I use. While you run the risk of not having the shock resistance of mono or copoly lines, and it’s visible underwater, I simply am obsessed with the sensitivity and hook-setting power of braid. I particularly love it on my ultra-light setups, as the line is so thin I can cast any lure I want shockingly far distances. That being said, it does make sense to have options, particularly if you’re really taking your bass fishing to the next level. Therefore, if I had to choose a second line, I’d go with a copoly for its “jack of all trades, master of none” characteristics.
Final Thoughts on the Best Fishing Line for Bass
With so many options out there, it can get confusing and overwhelming when you’re trying to pick the best fishing line for bass. Remember to decide on what you are looking for in a line first; whether that be durability, abrasion resistance, sensitivity, buoyancy, or another factor. Then, decide what lines fit your requirements best.