How to Choose the Right Fishing Line Weight

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Every angler has a “one that got away” story from their fishing experiences. Often the one that got away was due in part to having your fishing line break. Good fishing line choices comprise a number of factors but one that is near the top is choosing the right pound test.

Understanding Fishing Line Strength

Fishing line strength is call ‘test’ and is measured in pounds (lbs.). Each spool of line has a label identifying what pound test line it is, which is usually similar to something like 8-lb. test. Pound test is a measurement of how much (in pounds) stress can be put on fishing line before it breaks. Depending on the what, where and how of your fishing plans, there are a few considerations when choosing the right fishing line.

Choosing the Correct Fishing Line Weight

Fishing line weight should be matched to the species you are fishing for, the areas you are fishing and how you plan to fish. Complement line weight with the general fish size you expect to catch. For instance, bass anglers might be using 8- to 12-pound test fishing line but could drop down to 6-pound test line based on the size of bass you are expecting to catch. As another example, anglers who target big game fish like pike and musky should have higher pound test line to account for fish ranging in size anywhere from 15- to 40-pounds and more. Consider these factors when deciding what weight fishing line to use.
  • Determine the target species – What are you fishing for? It is the first question to ask when deciding which pound test line to go with. Fishing line for saltwater species like redfish requires completely different line strength characteristics than the line you would use for casting to panfish.
  • Where are you fishing? – Fishing for bass in heavy cover versus fishing on an open small pond requires different fishing line pound test. Increase pound test in abrasive cover (and potentially consider a different fishing line type) while use lower pound test in open water to improve castability.
  • Weather conditions – Related to where you are fishing, weather can change the properties of different fishing lines. Understand how different water temps impact line can help in deciding on what pound test to fish with.
  • Fishing within your gear – Rods and reels have recommended line weights on them. Stay within those guidelines while considering the species and areas you are fishing. Spooling up 25-pound test monofilament fishing line on a tiny trout reel will be ineffective and cause headaches all day long on the water.

Typical Pound Test Fishing Line Choices 

As discussed, your choice of line weight depends on a number of factors when choosing the right fishing line. Line types vary and those like braided fishing line can provide more pound test at lower line diameters. Fluorocarbon fishing line also can be fished at a higher pound test without compromising visibility. These are all factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting a line to fish with. Below are general recommendations of what weight fishing line to use for several of the more common angling species, both fresh and saltwater.
 
Type of Fishing Test Target Species
Freshwater Fishing 2-4 lb Panfish, Trout
6-12 lb Bass, Catfish, Walleye, Salmon
14-20+ lb Catfish, Stripers, Pike/Musky
Saltwater Fishing 8-14 lb Sea Trout, Flounder, Sea Bass
16-25 lb Redfish, Stripers, Blues, Sea Trout
30+ lb Tuna, Marlin, Shark

 

Take time to understand fishing line so that you can make better decisions on what fishing line to use and choose the pound test that will give you the best fishing experience.