What Pound Fishing Line to Use: Expert Guide

What Pound Fishing Line To Use Feature Image

When it comes to fishing lines, choosing the right type and size can be a daunting task for any angler. With so many varieties on the market, ranging from monofilament to braided, it can be difficult to determine which one is best for your fishing needs. 

Different types of fishing lines offer different benefits, such as strength, flexibility, and visibility, and it is important to understand the pros and cons of each type before making your decision. 

This guide will provide an overview of the various types of fishing lines for a wide variety of popular sport fish, as well as tips on how to select the best line for your next fishing trip.

What Fishing Line Size to Use

How is Fishing Line Made Feature Image
Each type of fishing line has different benefits, such as strength, flexibility, and visibility, and it is essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each before making a choice.

Below you will find a table with some of the most common sport fish, as well as what size and type of line works best. This table makes it easy to determine which line can get the job done at a quick glance.

SpeciesPound Test RangeLine Type
Panfish2 – 4 lbMonofilament or fluorocarbon
Trout8 – 12 lbMonofilament
Smallmouth Bass6 – 10 lbMonofilament or fluorocarbon
Largemouth Bass10 – 20 lbFluorocarbon
Walleye8 – 12 lbFluorocarbon fishing line
Salmon10 – 20 lbMonofilament
Pike30 – 40 lbBraided
Striped Bass35 – 50 lbBraided
Muskie65 – 80 lbBraided
Catfish20 – 50 lbBraided
Saltwater inshore10 – 15 lbMonofilament
Saltwater offshore20 – 30 lbMonofilament

What Pound Test to Use by Fish Species

Ultralight rods are great for perch and panfish
To catch panfish, it’s best to use light fishing lines with a 2 or 4-pound test as they have delicate mouths and can be scared away easily by thicker lines.

What Pound Test Line for Panfish

The best fishing line for panfish is typically a light line, such as a 2 or 4-pound test. This is because smaller panfish have more delicate mouths and can be spooked easily by thicker lines. 

Thinner lines also allow for better casting and presentation of smaller baits, making them ideal for targeting panfish.

What Pound Test for Trout

Monofilament line in the 8 – 12 lb test range is generally considered the best for Trout fishing. This fishing line is thin enough to be nearly invisible in the water, while still being strong enough to handle Trout of various sizes. It also provides good casting capabilities and is relatively durable.

Smallmouth Bass Caught Fly Fishing
The ideal fishing line for Smallmouth Bass is monofilament or fluorocarbon with 6-10 pound test, which is strong enough to handle most sizes of fish while providing a good bait presentation and greater sensitivity for detecting their bites.

What Pound Test for Smallmouth Bass

The best fishing line for Smallmouth Bass is 6-10 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon. This line is strong enough to handle most sizes of Smallmouth Bass, while still being light enough to give a good presentation of your baits to the fish. Additionally, the lighter line allows for a better feel and increased sensitivity, making it easier to detect their more delicate bites.

What Pound Test for Largemouth Bass Fishing

The Fluorocarbon line in the 10-20 pound test line range is generally the best option for Largemouth Bass, especially when fishing in heavy cover areas. Fluorocarbon is a great choice for bass fishing because it is both durable and flexible. It also has less stretch and better sensitivity than other fishing lines, making it easier for bass anglers to feel when a bass takes the bait.

How to hold fish walleye
The recommended fishing line for Walleye is 8-12 pound fluorocarbon, which is strong, abrasion-resistant, and has a thin diameter to reduce visibility in the water.

What Pound Test for Walleye

The best fishing line for Walleye is an 8-12 pound fluorocarbon. This line is strong and abrasion-resistant, making it ideal for fishing in rough conditions or with heavy cover. Its thin diameter also helps to minimize visibility in the water, allowing Walleye to feel more comfortable when they take the bait. 

What Pound Test for Salmon

The monofilament line in the 10-20 pound test range is considered the best for Salmon fishing because it is strong enough to handle this fish’s hard runs and provides enough flexibility to absorb the shock of a Salmon’s sudden strike. The improved abrasion resistance is also useful to help protect the line from rocks and other debris in the shallow water where Salmon is commonly found.

Northern pike fishing 4
A 30-40 pound test braided line is the ideal fishing line for Pike, as it is strong enough to handle their size and fighting ability, and thick enough to prevent breakage during the fight.

What Pound Test for Pike

The best fishing line for Pike is a 30-40 pound test braided line. This heavier line has enough strength to handle the large size and strong fighting ability of Pike and is thick enough to ensure that these highly aggressive and energetic fish won’t break the line as you fight to haul them in. With a braided line, of course, you need a mono or fluorocarbon leader, and in the case of pike a steel or mono bite tippet

What Pound Test for Striped Bass

A strong line is important for striped bass anglers. Braided line in the 35-50 pound line size is the best option for Striped Bass fishing. This fishing line is much stronger and more abrasion-resistant than other types of fishing lines, so it can stand up to the strength of these large and powerful fish, as well as any structure they may encounter.

Night fishing for muskie feature image
To handle the strength and power of a large Muskie, it is recommended to use a braided fishing line with a rating of 65-80 pounds, which provides flexibility to absorb hard strikes and is less likely to snap if the fish jumps out of the water.

What Pound Test for Muskie

A braided fishing line with a rating of 65-80 pounds is the best option for Muskie. This line is strong enough to handle the power of a large Muskie and provides enough flexibility to absorb the force of a hard strike. It is also less likely to snap if the Muskie jumps out of the water, which they are very prone to do during the fight. Again, you’ll need a fluorocarbon leader or mono leader.

What Pound Test for Catfish

A 20-50 pound test braided line is typically the best option for catfish since it is both strong and abrasion resistant. The more abrasion resistance the line has, the more likely you are to land a big catfish. The braided line also has less stretch than other lines, which helps you detect subtle bites from these bottom-dwelling monsters.

What Pound Test for Saltwater inshore

The best type of fishing line for inshore saltwater is a mono line in the 10-15 lb test range. This line is strong, durable, and highly resistant to abrasion which is useful when fishing around rocks or coral beds. It also has good knot strength and flexibility, which is important for inshore saltwater fishing because of the variety of conditions that can be encountered. 

What Pound Test for Saltwater offshore

A monofilament line in the 20-30 pound test range is the best option for offshore saltwater fishing. This line is more resistant to abrasion and stretching than other types of fishing lines, making it ideal for the rough conditions of offshore fishing. Monofilament also has good knot strength and can be used in a variety of conditions and with different techniques.

How to Choose the Right Fishing Line

Line Strength

The strength of the fishing line you use will depend on the type of fish you’re targeting and the type of fishing you’re doing. Generally, the heavier the fish, the heavier the line. If you’re fishing for smaller fish, you can use a lighter and more delicate line, whereas if you’re fishing for larger fish, you should use a more durable and strong line. 

Additionally, if you’re fishing in rougher waters, you should use a stronger line that can handle the extra pull from currents or waves. If you’re fishing in calmer waters such as a pond, lake, or reservoir, you can switch to a lighter fishing line with no issues.

Line Type

There are many types of fishing lines available, and choosing the right one will depend on what kind of fishing you are doing as well as the type of fish you are trying to catch. 

A braided fishing line is the most durable and abrasion-resistant type of line, so it’s great for saltwater and big game fishing. 

The Monofilament line is usually the best choice for freshwater fishing, as it is easy to handle and has good knot strength. 

Fluorocarbon lines are increasingly popular as they are nearly invisible underwater and have low stretch, making them well-suited for finesse fishing. 

Water Clarity

The clarity of the water can have an effect on the visibility of the fishing line, as well as its ability to catch fish. Fishing line is more visible in clearer water and can potentially scare away timid fish, so anglers will often adjust their line size and color to match the clarity of the water they are fishing in.

Type of Structure and Hazards

Both braided and monofilament fishing lines are great for areas with sunken debris, heavy brush, or structure pylons because they are resistant to abrasion. If you get a fish on the line, you won’t have to worry as much about that fish snapping the line simply by dragging it against a rock or pylon.

Bait and Lure Size

The type of bait you use will determine the type of fishing line you should use. 

If you are using a light bait, such as a small jig, you may want to use an equally light line such as a 4-6 pound test fluorocarbon line. 

If you are using heavier bait, such as a spinnerbait or crankbait, you may want to use something a little more robust such as a 10-14 pound test monofilament or braided line.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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