Fishing Line Strength Chart: Choosing the Right Pound Test

For those wondering about the breaking strength of particular diameter fishing lines, we have all the answers. These fishing line strength charts provide the actual breaking strain of a common …

For those wondering about the breaking strength of particular diameter fishing lines, we have all the answers.

These fishing line strength charts provide the actual breaking strain of a common line brains for a given thickness. The charts include monofilament lines, fluorocarbon fishing lines, and braided fishing lines.

Or put the other way round, they tell you how thick a line needs to be to achieve the necessary breaking strain.

We’ve also tabulated the recommended fishing line strength, or pound test, for a range of species including crappie, smallmouth bass, carp, salmon, catfish, sea bass, snook, and other large sea fish.

Fishing Lines Strength Chart by Type of Line

Stock image of spools of fishing line braid monofilament

Fishing Line Strength Chart: Monofilament Lines

We’ve used one our of favorite monofilament lines, Berkely Trilene, as the basis for this chart. Most other brands of mono line will be relatively similar.

Breaking Strain (lb)Diameter (inches)Diameter (mm)
Berkley Trilene XL
Berkley Trilene XL
Berkley Trilene XL
Our Score

Berkley Trilene XL has been the pinnacle and standard for many anglers, and most of us grew up with this line on our rods as kids, and virtually every avid angler is familiar with it.

Trilene is great when it comes to long-distance casting with a spinning reel and the casts are incredibly smooth. It’s pretty strong in terms of tensile strength when compared to other monofilaments on the market, it’s an incredibly versatile line for spinning reels, and you don’t have to worry about getting kinks or knotting in your line. 

  • Long casting fishing line for spinning
  • Supple and easy to work with
  • An all-around great monofilament line

Fishing Line Strength Chart: Braided Line

We used one of our favorite braided fishing line brands, PowerPro, to generate the figures for this chart.

Breaking Strain (lb)Breaking Strain (kg)Diameter (mm)Comparable Diameter Mono
PowerPro Braided Spectra
PowerPro Braided Spectra
PowerPro Braided Spectra
Our Score

Many anglers’ first choice braid, Power Pro is a smooth, round four-strand braid. Like other four-strand braids, it is very thin for its strength rating, but the way it is made ensures it is smoother than most and arguably fishes more like an 8 strand braid. 

Key features:

  • Enhanced Body Technology
  • Provides a rounder, smoother, slicker, and structurally superior braid

Fishing Line Strength Chart: Fluorocarbon

We’ve chosen Berkley Vanish, one our favorite brands of fluorocarbon line, to generate this diameter chart providing the thickness of Berkley Vanish for all the common breaking strains.

Breaking Strain (lb)Diameter (inches)Diameter (mm)
Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon
Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon
Sunline FC Sniper Fluorocarbon
Our Score

Sunline Super FC Sniper is a high-performance fluorocarbon line that can be used in a wide variety of Trout fishing situations.

It features triple resin coatings giving anglers greater ease of use, as well as giving it extra flexibility and limpness, these attributes make it closer to monofilament and overall has lower memory and better casting properties when compared to other fluorocarbon lines on the market.

The coatings also help by making the line abrasion resistant, giving the angler more confidence when fishing places with brush or timber.

This line is almost comparable to monofilament lines, giving the angler the best of both worlds, this is definitely a line to try for trout fishing.

Fishing Line Strength Chart by Species: Bass, Trout, Catfish, Salmon, Panfish, and More

Breaking StrengthFish
3-6lbCrappie, bluegill, trout, smallmouth bass
6-10lbWalleye, Largemouth Bass, Salmon, Sea Trout
10-20lbCatfish, Carp, Sea Bass, Pike, Musky, Salmon, Steelhead
20lb plusRedfish, Striped Bass, Mackarel, Tuna, Sharks, Cobia

How to Maximize Line Strength: Knots

The actual real-life breaking strain of your line when you are fishing is as much about knots as the line itself.

With a well-tied knot, your line will retain 99% of its rated breaking strain. But with a sloppy knot that’s not tied correctly, or not lubricated before it is tightened, you can lose a large percentage of the breaking strain. In short, it will break the minute a bit of pressure is applied.

To help you ensure your knots are good, please check out our piece on the seven most important knots in fishing and how to tie them. These knots are chosen for both their simplicity and their knot strength.

Or see here for individual knots:

How to Fight Fish to Maximize Line Strength

Rick Wallace fights a large brown in Tasmania’s Western Lakes. Note the high rod position. Credit: Greg French

The other key component in making sure you don’t lose a fish to line breakage is to use your fishing rod to cushion the runs. That way you can land even very large fish on a relatively light line. It’s how fly fishermen can land a 5lb trout on a 3lb line. Used correctly, the long rod acts as a big shock absorber, along with a correctly set drag.

So when are fighting fish be sure to keep you fishing rod tip high. This increases its ability to absorb shocks, especially compared to a stance where rod is at 45 degrees or worse still pointing towards the fish.

With the rod near vertical you can also drop it down to 45% on a particular hard run if you think the line will break – this is a quick way of momentarily taking pressure off and preventing a bust off.

Fishing Line Strength FAQs

What Is Drag on a Fishing Reel?

The drag on a fishing reel is a device or setting that determines at what level of strain the reel spool will spin and release line. Set very light, the drag will allow the spool to spin and release line with light pressure. Screw it up tighter and it won’t release until there is fair bit of pressure being applied by the fish.

You should think about the fishing conditions when you set your drag. First, consider the strength of the fish – for species that can really pull you need to set the drag so they can rip off some line without the line breaking. This is particularly true for fish that fight in bursts.

But you also want to be conscious of the hazards in the area. If you are fishing near a dock with pylons or on a flat near a reef, you know where the fish is going to head when it’s hooked. You’ll need to crank up the drag or the fish will do you on the pylons or reef.

What Fish Is 6lb Line Good For?

Six-pound test line, whether it is braided line, mono, or fluoro, is a good choice of breaking strain for fishing for trout, walleye, smallmouth bass, and other similar-sized species. It is relatively thin, as can be seen in the chart above, for fish that are can be leader shy but it is strong enough to withstand powerful runs. It’s probably overkill for crappie and panfish (although you could easily get away with it) and not quite strong enough for largemouth bass, steelhead, salmon, and other more powerful fish.

What Fish Is 10lb Line Good For?

A 10-pound test is a good line weight for largemouth bass, walleye, and smaller salmon and sea trout species along with smaller saltwater fish such as flounder. 10-pound test braided line is easy to cast and 10lb mono and fluoro line remain relatively thin and flexible.

What’s a Good All-Around Fishing Line Strength?

Probably a 6lb to 8-pound test is a good all-around fishing line strength for freshwater fishing and a 12 to 15-pound fishing line for saltwater fishing. This gives a good balance of castability and feel and strength to avoid losing fish.

What Is the Strongest Type of Fishing Line?

The answer to this is “it depends”. The strongest line in terms of pounds per unit of line diameter is braided fishing line. A braided fishing line of a particular diameter has a much higher breaking strain than a mono or fluorocarbon line of the same line diameter.

But if your definition of strength is more about how robust a line is (how resistant to scratching and abrasion it is), the answer is probably a fluorocarbon line. It’s tough and abrasion resistant and good for fishing around structures with sharp edges such as docks, rocks, and reefs. Braided lines aren’t great around jagged structures such as this.

Fluoro lines are often used as leader material. Fluorocarbon leader is strong, relatively thin, and almost invisible underwater.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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