Whether you are just getting into bass fishing or are an experienced angler, you might often wonder “what fishing line should I be using with this lure?”
Some people only pick a fishing line for its strength, after all you don’t want to lose any bass breaking off because your line is weak. But fishing line has much more impact than just being strong enough to not break off. The line you use can affect how a lure works, how far you cast, if bass can see it, and much more.
Because fishing line is much more complicated than some people expect, there is no one best fishing line for all applications. That’s why many professional fisherman have rod arsenals all outfitted with different types and strengths (represented by pound test) of fishing line.
But how should you pick what line to use? Well read on where I will describe the 4 major types (monofilament, fluorocarbon, braid, and copolymer) of fishing line and where they shine. Then, we will briefly discuss how to pick the right pound test every time. Finally, I’ll discuss every common bass fishing technique and lure and tell you what type of line you should use with each.
Monofilament fishing line for bass
If someone says “fishing line”, monofilament is likely the first thing that pops into your head. It can be sold in various colors but is usually clear. It is made from plastic and semi-transparent.
The main reason monofilament is the most popular fishing line is that it is versatile and cheap. This means that it isn’t usually the best fishing line that you can use, though it shines with certain techniques. But it almost always isn’t the worst. And you can buy it for a third of the price of braided or fluorocarbon lines.
This is the reason that I promote monofilament line, specifically Trilene XL In 8 pound test, as the best fishing line for beginner fisherman. No matter what technique you pick, it will work to some degree of success. And if you do lose some, get knots, etc. as you’re learning you can replace it without breaking the bank.
When you don't want to use monofilament
But as you increase your abilities, you’ll probably find yourself going away from monofilament in favor of fluorocarbon or braided lines in a lot of applications. The biggest reason fluorocarbon and braid are better is because they have little to no stretch. Monofilament line on the other hand has a very high stretch.
So when you set the hook on a fish, the line is stretching before the hook ever pierces a fish’s mouth. Or when you’re working a lure or casting, there is stretch generated in the line as well. This makes is slightly less sensitive and just creates time for a fish to spit out a lure. It also doesn’t give you as much power when fighting a bass.
While monofilament is mostly invisible, it isn’t as clear or close to invisible as fluorocarbon is. So when you consider mono beside fluoro, you’ll find fluoro is the better option in a majority of situations. And if you don’t care about the fishing line being seen, then braid is stronger, easier to cast, and has no stretch.
When you do want to use monofilament
So why use monofilament at all? Well, it is cheap as mentioned before and that alone is a pretty good reason. There are also sometimes where you want stretch in line and it can actually help you fight a fish in by keeping tension easier. Finally, monofilament doesn’t sink as quickly as fluorocarbon so is a great choice for topwater lures where you don’t want the line seen. Because fluorocarbon will sink while the lure floats.
Pros for Monofilament Line
- Low Memory
- Mostly clear and available in multiple colors
- Doesn’t sink quickly
- Widely available
Cons for Monofilament Line
- Not as clear as fluorocarbon
- Has stretch
- Not as sensitive
- Won’t cast as far as braid
Fluorocarbon fishing line for bass
Speaking of fluorocarbon, lets discuss it next since it is most similar to monofilament. Looking at them side by side, you might not notice much of a difference at first. Both are plastic, clear, and have very similar thicknesses.
Why to use fluorocarbon line for bass fishing
Get a little closer though and you’ll notice one major difference – fluorocarbon is much less visible than monofilament. This is what makes it 3 times the price at least, and what makes it one of the most popular choices for professional bass fisherman. There is very little chance that a bass will ever not bite because they can see fluorocarbon line even if you get a heavy pound test like 15 or 20.
Additionally, fluorocarbon doesn’t have stretch which makes it ideal for any application where you want constant contact with your lure. You get much higher sensitivity and know what when you set the hook, there is no stretch between you and the fish to get in the way of a solid hookset.
Another underrated reason fluorocarbon is so good is because it is highly abrasion resistant. Every time you throw in a tree, rub against rocks on the bottom, or even just cast your line you are creating little nicks and dents in your fishing line. A line like braid or monofilament will need to be changed out quite regularly to avoid these building up and causing easy breakages. Fluorocarbon can last much longer because it is highly abrasion resistant and tough.
Why not to use fluorocarbon line for bass fishing
Still, for all it’s benefits, it’s hard to outfit every rod with fluorocarbon line for the price alone. There is a great difference between low end and high end fluorocarbon lines so you always want to go with a name brand fluorocarbon. For my money, you should only ever purchase Seaguar or Sunline, both of which come in at around $30 for a spool which might outfit two rods.
If you’re a beginner or use spinning reels, you’ll also notice that fluorocarbon has another major downside which is it has high memory. This means that when it loops around your reel it is very likely to keep in those loops instead of going straight when you cast it. This makes it difficult to use with light lures or in general if you aren’t used to managing it. A stiff fluorocarbon on a small spinning reel is almost impossible to keep loops and knots out of.
Pros for Fluorocarbon Line
- The clearest line you can use
- Little to no stretch
- Very abrasion resistant
- What the professionals use mostly
Cons for Fluorocarbon Line
- Very expensive
- High memory
- Doesn’t cast as far as braid
- Like really expensive
Braided Fishing Line for Bass
So maybe you’re looking for a line that has the strength and low stretch of fluorocarbon with the low memory of monofilament. Well then braided line may be right for you!
Why use braided line for bass fishing
Braided fishing line shines for several reasons. Chief among them is the low memory that makes casting it a dream. It almost never loops and creates knots in even the smallest of spinning reels.
In addition, braided line can be much stronger at smaller thicknesses. If you look at 4 or 6 pound braided line at your bait shop you’ll be amazed it looks like the tiniest of thread. This is great because the smaller the line, the further it casts. Braided line can go 10 to 20 feet further on average than it’s mono or flouro counterparts at the same pound test.
The low memory and small thickness make casting braided line a breeze, but you’ll be happy with it’s sensitivity as well. It has even less stretch than fluorocarbon which means you can feel everything your lure bounces into or the smallest of bites.
Plus, it’s also usually a good bit cheaper than fluorocarbon even if it isn’t quite as cheap as monofilament. So you won’t break the bank completely to outfit all of your rods with braided line. And because it doesn’t have memory, it can sit for a long time without being changed out and still work perfectly. I’ve outfitted several rods with Power Pro and find it a great bang for the buck option that lasts a good time.
Why not to use braided line for bass fishing
Unfortunately, braided line has one huge downside which is it is very easily visible to bass. Because braided line is actually made of fiber instead of plastic, it is not at all clear. Instead you’ll find braided lines are sold in a variety of color, with moss green being the closest to invisible underwater.
Even then, you seldom will want to put your lure straight to braid because a bass that gets a good look will absolutely see it and not bite. So using braided line often requires you to to tie a leader line. This is just a separate type of line (mono or most commonly, fluorocarbon) which comes out for several feet from the end of your braided line. You tie the lure onto that line so that it’s clear near where the bass would actually see it.
It’s a great solution that lets you have all the benefits of braid with the invisibility of other plastic-based lines but is complicated and requires you to make a line-to-line knot that are never easy to tie. And are always prone to breaking every time you fight a fish.
Additionally, braided line is not abrasion resistant and does fray easily when rubbed against cover. So while it is often the strongest line from force alone – it breaks down easily.
Pros for Braided Line
- Casts long and easy
- Strongest line type
- No memory
- Cheaper than fluorocarbon
- Lasts a long time
- No stretch
Cons of Braided Line
- Bass can see it in even semi-clear conditions
- Frays easily
- More expensive than mono
- Can feel weird on your finger if used to plastic lines
Copolymer Fishing Line for Bass
Perhaps the most underrated fishing line you can use for bass is copolymer fishing line. Simply put, copolymer lines are a mixture of monofilament and fluorocarbon. Meaning you get the benefits of the clearness that comes with fluorocarbon with the lower memory and affordability of monofilament.
The problem with copolymer is you get the worst of both worlds as well. You still have some stretch, it’s still not completely clear, and all of the other detriments that monofilament will give you. Then on top of that, it also has more of a high memory like fluorocarbon, which means you can make loops and knots if you aren’t careful. And it isn’t as cheap as monofilament usually is either.
But in my opinion, the benefits outweigh the cons here. It’s higher memory but not unusable at all. In fact I have a few spinning reels that I outfit with P-line’s Floroclear which is a great copolymer option. It’s affordable even if not as cheap as mono, it’s usually only a few dollars more expensive. If you buy in bulk as well you’ll find the savings.
I do notice that it is also much clearer than a normal monofilament option and I feel a higher sensitivity too when fishing lures that require a feel for the bottom. So for my money, copolymer is a great all around option if you don’t want to break the bank on every rod. Especially if, like me, you like to avoid braid to leader line fishing because of the additional knot and chance for breakage.
Pros for Copolymer
- Clearer than monofilament
- Low memory
- Cheaper than fluorocarbon
- Doesn’t sink quickly
Cons for Copolymer
- Still not as clear as fluorocarbon
- Has some stretch
- More expensive than mono
How to pick the right pound test fishing line for bass
Before we get technique specific, let’s just talk for a minute about what pound test you want for bass fishing. Chances are, you aren’t going to catch many bass over 10 pounds in an entire lifetime. So 20 pound fishing pound might seem like overkill. And in most cases it is, but not always.
The general rule of thumb for choosing a pound test for fishing line is you want to fish the lightest line you possibly can while being confident that it will never break. Seems simple and universal enough, but think about all the different types of fishing you might be doing that will impact that.
If you’re fishing light crankbaits in a crystal clear lake, then you can just fish 8 or 10 pound test and feel pretty comfortable it can handle any bass you’ll catch. But what if you’re fishing in thick brush, grass, or lily pads? If a bass gets hooked and turns into those, even a 2 pound bass can get above 10 pounds of force on the line quite easily.
This is why saying one pound test fishing line for bass fishing is best is impossible. It’s highly dependent on the lures and techniques your fishing as well as the conditions in your fishery. Instead, an easy guide is that you seldom want to go lighter than 8 pound test. Normally this is light enough to be nearly invisible in the water and allow you to cast even the lightest of lures.
But you might want to go up to as much as 30 pound test if you’re fishing really thick weeds, grass, or moss and know you’ll be pulling in a lot of junk with your fish. Just keep in mind that as pound test goes up so does line thickness. So opting for braided line in really high pound tests is ideal – since as we mentioned earlier – it’s much thinner than other types of line. Just remember to use a leader line!
Other consequences from the pound test line you choose
The pound test fishing line you use has a lot of side-effects other than just it’s breaking point. The higher pound test you go with any fishing line, the thicker the line becomes. This leads to two significant factors to consider.
One is that the heavier pound test line you use, the shorter you will be able to cast it. You can fling 4 pound test line a mile, but 40 pound test doesn’t go very far at all. So while going heavier to make sure you don’t break might sound great – it won’t when you can get out to the bass in the middle of the lake or pond.
But even more importantly, the thicker the line the higher the chance is a bass can see it and decide not to bite your lure. Generally anything under 10 pound test (especially fluorocarbon) is almost invisible to bass under water. But start going higher than that and it’s a chance you’re taking that the bass will notice the line.
When using crankbaits or any lure that dives, a heavier line also causes the crankbait to run slightly shallower in the water. It usually isn’t very noticeable, but a light line will make a crankbait slightly deeper than a heavy line. So it’s just something to consider and remember.
Now lets get into the best fishing line for every bait or technique you can use to catch bass
If you’ve read through the above, you really have all the knowledge you need to understand what fishing line is best for every lure or bass fishing application. But I’ll run through the most popular lures and techniques below for a recap and to give you the guidelines.
Best Fishing Line for Texas Rig
20 pound Braid to 12 pound flourocarbon leader or straight flourocarbon 12 pound.
This is highly dependent on if you are fishing light or heavy brush with your texas rig. If you’re pitching into dense heavy brush you probably want to go for heavier pound test, up to 20 pounds for the fluorocarbon leader or main.
The low stretch of braid and fluorocarbon are ideal here because it creates higher sensitivity to detect bites and cover. The fluorocarbon leader will help with abrasion resistance as your cast into cover, making sure you don’t create nicks that cause line breakage over many casts. Finally, the low stretch helps hook fish quickly and pull them out before they can wrap up in cover.
Best Fishing Line for Dropshot
20 pound braid to 8 pound fluorocarbon leader or straight 8 pound monofilament or copolymer.
If you’re fishing a dropshot, you will be doing so on a spinning reel. And just straight fluorocarbon on a spinning reel means lots of loops and knots. So if you’re going with just a straight line, try an 8 or even 6 pound copolymer to keep it as invisible as possible but allow you flexibility in casting and line management.
The best case is a 20 pound braid to 8 pound fluorocarbon leader as you get the casting and workability of braid in your main reel with the invisibility of fluorocarbon on the lure end. But, it does require a long leader line which you may or may not want to use. I personally don’t.
Best Fishing Line for Ned Rig
6 or 8 pound fluocarbon
If you are using a ned rig, chances are the bite is really tough. So you need to go with a nice clear line that a bass can’t see even upon close inspection. So going with a very light fluorocarbon line is your best bet. The only disadvantage is that you will be using a spinning reel with fluorocarbon so be cautious of loops. you can always do a braid backing if necessary.
If the water is murky to muddy, you can also get away with copolymer or monofilament here as well. Just keep the line as light as possible.
Best Fishing Line for Carolina Rig
20 pound braid to 12 pound fluorocarbon leader
The carolina rig is a great option for a braid to fluorocarbon leader whether you are using a baitcaster or spinning reel. The braid allows for strength, castability, and great distances which are required for fishing carolina rigs successfully. Meanwhile the fluorocarbon gives the invisibility needed for a slower fishing presentation. They also pair for no stretch which is necessary to set the hook on long casts with a lot of line to pull up.
Best Fishing Line for Crankbaits
12 pound monofilament or copolymer
Many people may go fluorocarbon with crankbaits to make sure bass can’t see the line and allow for tight hooksets, but I prefer a monofilament or copolymer line. They cast easier and the stretch is actually good for open hooks allowing me to keep a good tension throughout. No reason to go for the expensive stuff here in my opinion, crankbaits move quickly enough a bass won’t look for line.
Best Fishing Line for Deep Diving Crankbait
15 pound test fluorocarbon
I do prefer fluorocarbon for deep diving crankbaits for two main reasons. First, fluorocarbon sinks faster which also helps to getting the crankbaits to depth and keeping them deeper, which is the point of a deep diving crankbait. Secondly, because deep diving crankbaits are generally casted good distances I like having no stretch to get better hooksets.
Best Fishing Line for Spinnerbait
12 pound fluorocarbon for ½ oz. and under, 15 pound for ½ oz. and over
Unlike crankbaits, spinnerbait hooks are more concealed and require a good hookset to make sure you get the bass in. I also fish spinnerbaits around different types of cover like wood, docks, and brush piles. So the abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon is a great addition to make sure your line doesn’t fray or break unexpectedly.
Best Fishing Line for Chatterbait
12 pound fluorocarbon for ½ oz. and under, 15 pound for ½ oz. and over
This gets the same line as spinnerbaits for all of the same reasons as they are similar baits in many ways. It also helps that I use the same rod for both, so I never have to worry about changing out the line and know I always have the correct line on no matter which I want to fish. More on that below!
Best Fishing Line for Whopper Plopper
15 pound test copolymer or monofilament
I put copolymer or monofilament on almost all of my topwater rods which is why the whopper plopper gets it as well. Using fluorocarbon which sinks more quickly can mess with the lure’s action and is completely unnecessary considering the fish will never have a chance to see the line. Having line stretch can also help with fighting the fish and I’ve never had issues hooking up with the many open treble hooks.
Best Fishing Line for Poppers
12 pound copolymer or monofilament
As mentioned above, monofilament or copolymer is great for topwater lures because it doesn’t sink as quickly as fluorocarbon which can mess with their action. You don’t need to go as heavy with poppers as you hardly ever fish them around cover. So the lighter line will give you greater casting distance.
Best Fishing Line for Spooks (walking baits)
12 pound copolymer or monofilament
Topwater means mono, but for spooks in particular having a high stretch line is great to assist with ease of working the lure. The stretch allows for a better walking motion whereas fluorocarbon being so tight makes a more jerky, unrealistic movement in my opinion.
Best Fishing Line for Frogs
40 pound braid
Topwater frogs are the only topwater bait that I will not use monofilament for, though they will work and walk a little easier with it. But generally I fish frogs in very thick cover and grass which means I want a nice heavy line that doesn’t stretch that allows me to horse out the bass quickly before they get caught up in the weeds. Braid is perfect for that.
Best Fishing Line for Jigs
20 pound braid to 15 pound test fluorocarbon or straight 15 pound test fluoro
This is one of the techniques that really requires fluorocarbon. Jigs can be fished anywhere in many different types of cover, so the abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon is a must. It also requires quick hard hooksets, so the stretch of monofilament is too much and will lose you fish. Bass also have a good long while to look at the jig, so getting the invisibility of fluorocarbon is beneficial too.
Best Fishing Line for Wacky Rigs (Senkos)
8 pound copolymer or monofilament
Because wacky rigs are generally very light, they work best on spinning rods. So you could do a braid to fluoro leader for extra invisibility but it’s not really necessary. Just a nice light copolymer or monofilament will be invisible enough unless you’re fishing crystal clear water and allow for better castability on the spinning setup.
Best Fishing Line for Jerkbaits
12 pound copolymer or monofilament
This is another lure that works better with copolymer or monofilament in my opinion because the stretch helps with working the lure. As you tap the rod repeatedly to dart it side to side, the stretch will keep the lure working correctly without darting uncontrollably. Plus the three sets of open hooks makes hooksets no worry.
Best Fishing Line for Swimbaits
15 pound fluorocarbon
Swimbaits can vary widely in size, so if you use swimbaits an ounce or higher you probably want to upsize to at least 20 pound test. But the low visibility of fluorocarbon line is really ideal with swimbaits that have muted action. Plus, most have a single hook making a strong hookset necessary, great with no stretch of flouro.
Putting similar lures on the same rod
Some of you might look at the list and think you’ll be restringing your poles non-stop just to use the optimal line with every lure you might want to use. But that isn’t really the case.
Look more closely and you’ll notice a lot of similarities. For example, crankbaits, poppers, and jerkbaits all use the same line. So you can have one pole with just that line and use it exclusively for those lures. Same with large swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits. Or even ned rigs, dropshots, and wacky rigs.
Ideally, a fishing rod, reel, line, and lure should all match up. And while this may not always be perfect, you should be able to get close with just a handful of rods. So this is how I keep just four fishing rods and am able to cover most types of lures –
- Medium light spinning rod, 3000 size spinning reel, 8 pound copolymer – for all finesse techniques like dropshot and wacky rig (my two favorite)
- Medium casting rod, 7:1:1 baitcasting reel, 12 pound copolymer – for crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater (aside from frogs or whopper ploppers)
- Medium heavy casting rod, 5:6:1 baitcasting reel, 15 pound fluorocarbon – for spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, whopper plopper, and occasionally texas or carolina rigs
- Heavy casting rod, 8:0:1 baitcasting reel, 30 pound test braid with occasional 20 pound fluorocarbon leader – for frogs, texas rigs, and jigs.
So now you know absoultely everything you need to know to outfit your poles with the correct fishing line to make sure you’re getting the most out of every bass fishing trip. Did you know how complicated and nuanced just picking fishing line could be?
If you learned something from the article, please comment below. Or if you disagree and have better success with other fishing lines let me know too. I have switched lines several times after learning different information – so I’m happy to keep learning together!
But as always – get outside and go fishing! Or, go out and get some fishign line to string up your poles !