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Is there a best fishing line for bass? For some anglers, yes, it’s definitive. For others, it’s circumstantial.
For another group of anglers, they could care less about the fishing line they’re using so long as it catches fish.
We need to ask ourselves, what defines the best fishing line anyway? I’ve had the “scientific discussion” with countless anglers.
The conversation gets bogged down in breaking strains, castability, forgiveness, stretch, abrasion resistance, sinking versus floating, and feedback.
In my opinion, best, in scientific terms, can only be assessed based on outcomes. Does using any specific line type result in more fish, and better fish, more often?
I fished half my life before braid was a thing – it was mono only. I recall catching just as many fish then as I do now – and now I use braid, mono, and fluoro. Why?
My position is that the unique properties of specific line types can assist in particular conditions.
In this feature, we’ll go through line types and the pursuit of bass and discuss why you might choose one over the other.
Before we get into it, I’ll touch on the intangible and very personal aspect of fishing which is “feel.”
Why This Line and Not the Other?
Recently, I was fishing the surf with one of my regular fishing buddies, Patrick. He had braid spooled onto his Daiwa Thunnus. I asked him, “Why braid?”. He said, “I like it.”
He didn’t elaborate, nor did I push it because I believed he nailed the whole issue of line selection – “I like it!”
I have 4 or 5 outfits (rod n reel) that are perfect for bass, covering many conditions and fish. There’s plenty of crossover between the lot.
So why do I choose one over the others for a particular session? The answer is feel.
Yes, the choice is made in consideration of meeting the fishing demands, but ultimately it’s based on what I ‘feel’ like.
Many anglers love the feel of braid, use it most of the time, and have fishing success. The same occurs for mono and fluoro.
It feels good to us; hence we use it most often and therefore catch most of our fish on that particular line.
The only way we could test which line was better is to fish identical techniques and conditions using the same outfit with different lines.
And even then, there are variables that are impossible to measure. By and large, we fish a line type mostly because “we like it.”
But it is nuanced, and there are specific reasons I’ll choose one line over the other, including the consideration of technique, conditions, and environment.
Will a particular line help me catch more fish? Maybe.
But what I do know is that the right line selection can make fishing a little easier, and higher performance, in certain conditions.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Line for Bass
Firstly, I will always recommend an angler select the fishing line they are most comfortable using. For example, It’s often advised you use braid when fishing lures.
This may be the case, but if you’re used to casting, tying, and battling fish using mono, then there’s no good reason not to use it.
Fishing is also about confidence, ease, and convenience. Use the line that works best for you. Having said that, make sure you always try new things.
Let’s look at different line properties to try and determine which aspects of line performance are better in what circumstances.
Best Line Properties for Bass Fishing
All fishing lines stretch. Yes, even braids. The difference is the force that is required to make it stretch.
Braid stretches so little it’s indiscernible in normal circumstances. Mono will stretch to a third of its length, so it is quite stretchy.
Believe it or not, fluoro will stretch more than mono; it just takes more force to make it stretch.
So if you’re chasing bass, is it better to have more or less stretch? For the average weekend angler, I’d argue it’s not a big deal for the average weekend angler.
Good fishing techniques will get results regardless of stretch.
However, for the discerning, performance-driven angler, it will depend on your baits, technique, and to some extent, the environment you’re fishing.
If you’ve fished braid, you’ll be aware of the incredible feedback you get from whatever is happening with your lure under the water.
The extreme lack of stretch in braid allows you to feel everything. There’s a sensitivity that transfers the vibrations of all movement to the angler’s hand.
You can feel the slightest touch of interest from a fish, as well as the contours of the river bed, the submerged structure, and the current. You can also feel the action/performance of your lure.
Importantly, the lack of stretch allows the lure to swim at peak action; nothing of the angler’s input is lost to stretch.
Better still, when you strike after a fish attack, none of your strike power is lost to stretch.
When you lift the tip of your rod, that energy goes directly to the hook set. Again. Little or nothing is lost to stretch.
But there is a downside to hook setting with braid that hurts the less experienced angler.
It’s easy to strike too aggressively and too early, pulling the hooks from the mouth of the fish. This issue can be compounded by the fast action of all-carbon fishing rods.
It’s the lack of stretch in braid that makes it a little unforgiving. It takes some practice to master strike techniques, but it’s not difficult.
Casting lures with braid for the first time is often a revelation for anglers. The feel, provided owing to the lack of stretch, is amazing.
But there are those who, for whatever reason, don’t like using braids. Can mono or fluoro provide any similarities in performance afforded by braid’s lack of stretch?
Even though I’ve fished braid for years, I still get annoyed by tying braid knots and fixing braids to leaders. And I’m not alone.
Fluoro Provides a Solution Here
While fluoro stretches, it requires a lot more force to stretch it.
Fluoro provides excellent feedback and sensitivity while maintaining ease and forgiveness closer to that of mono.
I’m a fluoro mainline convert. I really like it at 6 to 8 pounds for lighter work around gnarly snags. It has some properties aside from reduced stretch that I’ll discuss later.
I’ll use fluoro for flesh baits, live baits, and lures. Depending on the brand, it has a happy balance of forgiveness and sensitivity and is easy to use.
If you’re using braid, you’re probably using fluoro anyway as a leader. Little, if anything, is lost to the stretch of fluoro.
While there is a discernible difference between braid and fluoro in terms of feel and feedback, fluoro still delivers excellent bait presentation, great feel, and excellent support for the strike.
Mono has the most stretch of all. While many brands advertise reduced stretch, it still has a highly discernible difference in feel relative to braid.
Obviously, you don’t get the same level of feedback from your bait when using mono. But I would argue that this won’t make any real difference to your catch rate.
It’s simply an adjustment in technique on the strike, and you’ll land just as many fish as the braid anglers.
In some respects, novice and occasional anglers often catch more using mono, as the more forgiving line helps them avoid pulling hooks on poorly timed and overly aggressive strikes..
In some cases, the stretch of mono can be an aid when avoiding snags. Having said that, it’s a little contentious, as some will argue less stretch is better for avoiding hooking the structure.
For me, natural bait presentation is everything. And I would argue less stretch provides the best possible bait presentation, especially for lures.
In terms of securing the strike and hooking up, I think it depends on the angler. For some, the lack of stretch is deadly; for others, the lack of stretch is a little bit of a hindrance.
It’s important to note, however, that this is more about technique than the stretch properties of the fishing line.
When it comes to bass fishing, I use braid and fluoro when casting lures – I love the feedback.
If I’m fishing live or flesh baits, it’s fluoro or mono, as I prefer the forgiveness and shock resistance the stretch affords.
However, it’s important to note that my decision involves more parameters than line stretch.
Fishing Line Color
I use clear mono and fluoro and tend to stick to darker green colors when fishing braids for bass.
In my experience, color is only an issue in heavily fished locations where fish may be line-shy (line savvy) and quiet windless locations where the water is crystal clear and glassy, where unnatural intrusions might spook fish.
There’s no shortage of line color options at your tackle shop. And you won’t have to look too hard to find a line color that blends nicely with the water color you intend to fish in.
Stealth is always a good idea. You don’t want to broadcast anything artificial to wily fish. Matching the color of the water seems logical.
But the last thing I want to do is re-spool every time the water color changes, or I move to a new location.
This is why I go for low-vis clear lines by default. That goes for my leaders as well. Usually, I’ll use braid. However, if it’s super clear and glassy, I’ll select mono or fluoro.
I’m still unsure as to how much line color plays into things. I’ve had days when the bass are so hungry and aggressive I could have thrown unbaited steel cable at them, and they would have attacked it.
I’ve had other days when the conditions were perfect, yet the bite seemed very tentative – even cautious. I’ve no doubt you’ve had this experience as well.
Did line color matter? I couldn’t be certain. Even when changing lines (braid to fluoro) I couldn’t rule out any other factors influencing the bite to pinpoint color as the main issue.
For bass fishing, go stealth by default.
The only exception is when you want to see the fishing line. There are times when the angler needs to see their fishing line, making clear and water color matched lines impractical.
In these cases, I go for blues when fishing for bass.
It will usually contrast nicely with the water, and you still occasionally get some stealth properties, as the blue will blend into the sky color – depending on the weather.
Line Class or Breaking Strain
Fish as light as you dare is my rule of thumb. The lighter the line you fish, the better the casting distance, the better the bait presentation, and the less visual intrusion on the fish.
Better still, the lighter you fish, the more the sport. When your fish outweighs the line you’re using, you have a real test of your angling abilities.
I fish bass with line-breaking strains between 4 and 15 pounds. My decision depends on conditions, location, and a sense of the fish size I’m likely to encounter or deliberately target.
With glassy waters, no wind, and limited structure, I’ll always fish light unless I’m using a larger class of lure to go after trophy fish.
The more impactful the weather and the more gnarly the structure, the heavier line is usually selected. By and large, it’s a common sense approach.
I want to balance the best bait presentation with the ease of getting the bait where I want it. Most of all, I need to be able to cast the bait accurately.
Heavy lines and light baits are a poor combination that results in poor casting performance and poor presentation.
Match the line class to the weight of the bait while considering the fighting power of your target, and you’ll reach a sensible line class.
I always recommend that novice and occasional angler fish a heavier line class. Even a small bass will give you plenty of excitement with a 9 to 12-pound line.
If it’s a snaggy area, they can push it to 15 pounds, providing a little more leeway for retrieving rigs from snags.
These days, I find myself fishing heavier as a default setting. Studies have shown that the longer you extend a fish fight, the more damage is done to a fish.
The lighter the line you use, the longer you will have to play out a fish to land it. If you intend to release the fish, its chances of survival are significantly reduced.
Consider upping your line class, reducing the fight time, and returning a greener fish to the water to live to fight another day – and breed.
I know I mentioned the brilliance of the sport when fishing light lines. However, there is a happy medium where you get plenty of sport yet contribute to conservation.
So, what are the advantages of each line type with breaking strain?
Nothing competes with braid in the strength-to-diameter ratio. Relative to line diameters, braid is by far the strongest line.
There are benefits to thin lines with bait presentation, stealth, and most importantly, casting performance and spool capacity. You can fit far more braid of a higher breaking strain on a spool.
Having said that, this isn’t a huge consideration for me. Bass fishing is mostly close quarters, and I have no problem with spool capacities using mono and fluoro.
But I do like the casting performance of thin lines. So if I want lighter lures/baits, but a little more line power, braid is a no-brainer choice for me. A 15-pound braid is a lot thinner than 8-pound mono.
Which Fishing Line Type for Bass Fishing
Let’s quickly break down the pros and cons of each line choice for bass fishing. Remember that each line type is great for all types of anglers and angling skills.
Braid is the first choice for the majority of lure anglers. The feedback is exceptional. It’s a brilliant fishing line for chasing bass with lures of all types.
- Low stretch
- Exceptional feedback
- Exceptional hook setting
- Outstanding bait and lure presentation
- Strength-to-diameter ratio
- A brilliant line for lure fishing
- Can result in missed hook-ups with poorly timed aggressive strikes
- Knots require greater skills
- Less stealthy than mono and fluoro
- Poor color retention
Fluoro. Is Fluorocarbon Good for Bass Fishing?
Mainline fluoro has improved in leaps and bounds over the past decade and is ideal for most applications – I love it for bass with both natural baits and lures.
- Good stretch resistance
- Excellent abrasion resistance
- Excellent stealth properties
- Improved knot strength and easy knot tying
- Supple and less memory in better brands
- Excellent leader material
- Excellent general-purpose mainline
- Prone to kinks that will cause the line to snap under pressure
- Can be a little hard, particularly in heavier breaking strains
- Hard brands require more careful knot tying
- Some brands and models have a little more memory than others
- Expensive, particularly the more supple brands
- Quite thick diameters diminishing spool capacities
Mono. Is Mono Good for Bass Fishing?
Good mono brands deliver excellent performance for all styles of bass fishing. It’s a brilliant choice for all anglers, from beginners to novices to experienced professionals.
- Most versatile fishing line available
- Easy to use
- Best line choice for beginners and novices
- Outstanding knot strength
- Excellent abrasion resistance
- Affordable quality at mid-price points
- Excellent variety of lines with specific performance features
- Good brands are very supple with reduced memory
- Cheap brands often deliver poor performance
- Line memory can become an issue
- Thicker lines reduce spool capacities. However, thin diameters are available
- Top shelf lines are quite expensive
- Stretch can become an issue in some applications
- Lacks the sensitivity of braid
Best Lines for Bass Fishing
The following fishing lines are great for bass fishing. It would be wrong of me to say they are the best.
What I can say is that these lines have worked beautifully for me, and I’ve no doubt they’ll perform for you too.
1. Berkley Trilene XL – Best Mono
It might be a boring choice, but it works. I like the low memory, and I also like its accessible price point. Great casting, strength, and longevity on the spool. It’s hard to go past.
2. Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon – Best Fluoro
If I’m fishing stealthily in clear waters on windless days, I use the 4-pound Berkley Vanish for awesome sport.
It’s a strong line, and I trust the knot’s strength. Be careful of kinks; it will weaken the line considerably.
3. Sufix 832 Advanced Superline Braid – Best Braid
I like the low-vis green for stealth, and I also love that the diameter of the 8-strand 20-pound is the same as 6-pound mono.
This is a great fishing line for chasing bass with any lure you can think of. It’s a good line for both spin reels and baitcast reels.
It seems to last longer on the spool than on other braids I’ve used. That’s just speculation, however, I can’t confirm it with any rigor.
I use the 10 and sometimes 20 pounds for bass when I’m targeting monsters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What color line is best for bass fishing?
The best color line for bass fishing is low-vis greens and clear mono and fluoro. I’ll use blues if I want to see the line. I don’t think there is the best color.
My default position is to fish stealth, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. To counter my position, I’ve also fished the brightest yellows and caught plenty of fish.
However, I think the best idea is to go low-vis whenever you can.
What fishing line do pro bass anglers use?
By and large, bass pros are fishing braids. Braids lend well to excellent fishing efficiency, which is critical for pro anglers on a tight clock.
Pros need a predictable line type that delivers outstanding casting length and accuracy with equal performance on both spin and baitcaster reels.
Pros are using lures. They get outstanding line strength and lure presentation with braided lines.
What pound test line should I use for bass fish?
I use anything between 4 and 20 pounds. I’ll only use the 20-pound if I specifically target trophy fish from tough environments.
I like 9-pound mono for the average weekend angler and up to 12-pound mono for beginners.
For the ultimate sports action, fish as lightly as you dare.