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Best Saltwater Fishing Line

The best saltwater fishing line today is strong and subtle, capable of casting a long distance, transmitting the slightest tap, resisting abrasion and stopping a big fish. Learn how to choose the best saltwater fishing line for your needs.

BEST SALTWATER FISHING LINE TYPES

There are different types of fishing line that you can use when saltwater fishing. These are the things to consider when seeking the best saltwater fishing line:

  • Fishing line is classified by "pound-test," or the pounds of pressure it takes to break the line. The pound-test of the line you use is determined more by the amount of drag pressure you apply than it is by the size of the fish you might catch.
  • The best saltwater fishing line for catching huge fish are light lines by anglers using little drag and a lot of patience. Lighter line will cast farther and sink faster, while heavier line is stronger and stiffer.
  • Look closely at line color. While high-visibility saltwater line is easier for the angler to see, camouflaged or clear line is generally considered the best saltwater fishing line as it is virtually invisible to the fish. Once you’ve settled on the pound test and color of the line, the next step is to choose monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid.

MONOFILAMENT SALTWATER FISHING LINE

Monofilament, or mono, is not only the best saltwater fishing line for most applications, it’s also the most popular. Mono is thin, strong and subtle, water resistant and has good knot strength. Monofilament line is also more abrasion-resistant than braided line, has greater width-to-pound test and stretches more than saltwater braided line. The best mono will have a thin diameter and low memory, which means it doesn’t retain loops when it comes off the spool. Look for line with the lowest diameter-to-pound test ratio for the best performance. Monofilament will break down when exposed to direct sunlight and should be changed every six months to a year depending on how often it is used.

BRAIDED SALTWATER FISHING LINE

Unlike mono, braided lines are made by fusing several strands of fibers together. Braided lines are stronger per diameter than monofilament — you can often get 60 pounds of breaking strength in braided line that has the same diameter as 30-pound test monofilament. For this reason, the best braided fishing line for saltwater will cast farther and cut through the water faster than mono. Another advantage braided line has over mono is that it won’t break down in the sun and salt so it lasts longer. Braid also has very low stretch and is very sensitive, making it the best saltwater fishing line for bottom fishing. On the other hand, low-stretch line does not work particularly well for trolling and requires a lighter drag setting and softer hand (less aggressive technique) when fighting fish.

FLUOROCARBON SALTWATER FISHING LINE

Fluorocarbon is a new type of fishing line. The major advantage of fluorocarbon line over mono and braid is that it has very low light refraction, making it the best saltwater fishing line when in need of a line not only stiffer and more abrasion resistant than mono, but also virtually invisible underwater. Fluorocarbon is also denser, which means it sinks faster. However, there are some disadvantages to using fluorocarbon line. First, the extra stiffness makes it more difficult to tie knots. It also tends to break down in sunlight, losing its strength and invisibility. For the most part, fluorocarbon line is used for tying leaders to saltwater fishing lines.

WIRE

Wire is an effective leader material when facing toothy fish. You can also use wire or lead-core line to troll a bait deep in the water. Wire comes in two varieties: braided and single strand. Single strand is thinner and stronger than braided wire, but it doesn’t bend well. Braided wire is easy to work with and bends easily enough to be tied in knots and used as main line. Situations that require you to troll at a specific depth require lead-core line.

SPOOLING FISHING LINE

Spooling fishing line is more difficult than it may seem. For the best results, take your reels to a pro shop to have them filled. For do-it-yourselfers, the key is to keep the line from twisting. To spool a saltwater spinning reel, lay the spool on the floor, run the line through the guides on the rod, and use an arbor knot to attach the line to the reel spool. Before tying braided fishing line to the spool, wrap a short piece of electrical tape around the arbor of the reel to prevent the line from slipping. Pinch the line between your fingers in front of the reel and turn the reel handle to put a dozen wraps on the spool.

To test if the fishing line is going on correctly, drop your saltwater fishing rod tip to put slack in the line. If the fishing line starts to twist and spin into loops, then it is twisting. Flip the feeder spool over and continue to fill the reel. To fill a conventional saltwater fishing reel, place a pencil through the center of the feeder spool and hold it so the line comes off the top of the spool. Always wind the fishing line under pressure and fill the reel to one-eighth of an inch below the top of the spool. Be sure to recycle your old monofilament and dispose of braided line so that it doesn’t get into the water.

SETTING THE DRAG

Drag is the amount of pressure that the reel applies to the line when a fish is pulling on it and should be set at one-third the pound-test of the line. For example, 30-pound line can handle 10 pounds of drag. To set the drag, put the rod in a holder and pull on the line with a hand scale. Tighten the drag until the scale indicates the desired amount of pressure.

To learn about different types of saltwater hooks visit our next section.