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I’m continually surprised at how often I’m asked my opinions on fishing line. I’m surprised because, of all things fishing, I’m not overly particular about my fishing line selection.
My buddy’s son recently asked me about the best fishing line for trout. I told him, with conviction, “It depends…”
The boy’s sharp. And he asked questions that made me think hard about my own fishing line choices for trout. It was a very worthwhile chat.
Seeing as the discussion is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write a quick article and discuss it with you.
There are a few critical things to consider when spooling up for trout fishing.
Interestingly, line choice for trout all comes back to solid fishing basics. Let’s check out the best fishing line for trout.
What Are The 3 Best Fishing Lines For Trout Fishing?
Just to be clear, we’re not talking fly fishing here – that gets its own article. We’re talking monofilament fluorocarbon and braided lines.
They all have benefits and challenges when it comes to trout fishing, and each line will have a standout application under certain circumstances.
Let’s quickly review the key properties of mono, fluoro, and braid.
Monofilament Fishing Line
Mono is still the most popular fishing line for the average angler and will always be an important line in the armory of most anglers, beginners to experts.
Mono has a lot of stretch making it a very forgiving line, particularly on the strike.
You’ll lose fewer fish with hasty, hard strikes, as you’re less likely to pull the hooks from the fish.
That’s stretch at work, and that’s what I mean by forgiveness. Forgiveness also includes mono’s foul hook advantage over braid.
When you pull your lure into a log, the stretch may prevent your hooks from driving hard into the timber.
Braid is less forgiving in these instances.
Mono absorbs water and has nearly neutral buoyancy, meaning it is very slow to sink.
This makes it ideal for fishing the topwater, and any bait you want to suspend high in the column.
Mono has excellent knot strength, overall strength, and excellent abrasion resistance, making it great for fishing gnarly cover.
Good mono is particularly supple and very easy to work with. Casting manners are good. You can expect long and accurate casts on all types of reels.
Mono lasts well these days, particularly those lines with UV additives. However, of all the lines, it’s the line you will have to change most frequently.
Mono can last for years or weeks. It all depends on usage, UV exposure, and exposure to dust, oils, and other impurities.
If you pull a massive fish through 200 yards of reef, you may have to replace it straight after the fight.
Above all, mono is the most user-friendly line there is, it’s cost-effective, with entry-level options, as well as premium performance brands.
Can You Use Mono for Trout Fishing?
Yes, mono is probably the best line for trout fishing, as you can use it for every approach.
It’s great for casting, lure fishing, trolling, fresh bait fishing, and any other technique you can think of.
It’s ideal for land-based fishing or fishing from a boat and can be used with any reel type, especially spinning reels.
Because it’s a very slow sinking line, you must experiment with sinkers and lure weights to put your bait in the target zone.
It doesn’t take much to sink mono, but it will sit with slack which can be an issue for sensitivity.
Again, selecting the correct sinker weights will somewhat mitigate this, ensuring obvious bite indicators when using set baits.
What Is the Best Test Weight for Mono when Trout Fishing?
Heavy lines are not ideal for targeting trout. Even when you’re chasing trophy fish, the key with trout is to fish as light as you dare.
Depending on where you’re fishing, the wily old trout is pretty sensitive to resistance on the fishing line they can see.
This is especially true of heavily fished areas, still days, and lake fishing. It’s also important when chasing trophy trout.
Trophy trout didn’t grow to that enormous size because they bite at anything they could see. They’re cautious and selective.
Mono from 4 to 8 pounds is ideal for most applications.
Some will use lines as light as 2 pounds, but it’s not recommended for beginner anglers. 2 pounds is a sports-driven approach.
On the other extreme is trolling. 8 pounds is pretty common. However, if you’re using down riggers or trolling close to the banks, you might want to up the breaking strain a couple of pounds for insurance.
I’m a big fan of 6-pound low-vis mono for everything bar trolling.
It’s a happy medium that works brilliantly when rigs are tied correctly and adds a little bit of insurance over 4 pounds, should you hook something substantial.
Whether or not you use a leader is driven by a variety of factors. Most of which relate to the technique you’ve chosen based on geography, conditions, and target.
The bottom line is a leader is not essential. I will often tie a hook directly to the mainline.
Especially when using live baits, powerbait, fresh flesh baits, or things like bread or corn.
Spinning reel anglers should be aware that line twist is likely when using such a rig with mono. I’ll use a swivel in my rig if I’m casting lures, especially hardbody lures.
See Also: Does Fishing Line Color Matter?
Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Fluoro as a mainline has come a long way and is now quite popular. Its biggest features are its translucence – it’s very hard to see in the water.
Fluoro is harder than mono, making it a very good choice when fishing gnarly structures.
It also has less stretch than mono, making it more sensitive. However, it does have some stretch, so it’s still far more forgiving than braided lines.
Fluoro sinks faster than mono. When you cast it, you’ll notice the slack goes pretty quickly.
This makes it a good line for fishing deeper, especially for lures you want to get down in the column faster.
Knot strength has improved significantly ever since they’ve managed to make fluoro more supple and user-friendly.
Line memory has also dropped with fluoro, again making it more user-friendly.
Overall it’s a very strong fishing line and highly reliable in a heavy battle with aggressive fish.
Many mainline fluoro fans like it in the lower test weights from 4 to 8 pounds.It’s pretty expensive and has durability similar to that of mono.
You’ll find fluoro is likely more popular with more experienced anglers using highly refined, application-specific rigs.
Can You Use Fluorocarbon Fishing Line for Trout Fishing?
Yes, you can use a fluorocarbon fishing line for trout fishing. The hardness of fluoro might come in handy if you’re fishing places with lots of cover and gnarly structures.
I’ve become a big fan of fluoro with light test weight lines. If for nothing else, I’m getting incredible durability from it.
While an expensive outlay, I’m getting excellent value for money as I’m replacing it far less.
As we established earlier, fluoro sinks faster than mono. So if I’m fishing deeper in the water column or looking to work a deeper running lure, fluoro is a great option.
I like it for set baits because it can lighten the sinker load a little, and still keep a tight line, which is beneficial for seeing the slightest of bites.
If I’m fishing in a rocky, reefy or gravelly location, fluoro provides a little more insurance against the inevitable abrasion. This could be critical if you were to hook a fish of size.
Mono stretches, but far less than mono. I prefer stretch in my line when trolling for trout, and I think you will too.
The thing is, it’s not a big deal, and if I had to troll with fluoro, I’d do it.
However, there are benefits to stretch when trolling. That little forgiveness can mean the difference between a strike and a hook-up.
What Is the Best Test Weight for Fluoro when Trout Fishing?
When you choose fluoro, it’s common to select the same breaking strains you would with mono.
However, for those looking to maximize lure action and bait presentation, there’s a good argument for fishing lighter.
And fluoro’s durability allows you to fish lighter with more confidence.
Abrasion resistance, especially when fishing light, can make a big difference when pulling an angry trout from cover.
I still use 6-pound line. Essentially it’s my cut-off point. I have lost plenty of good fish using 4 pounds and under, usually due to contact with structures.
I do have an exception, however, and that’s if I’m casting unweighted soft plastics. I’ll use 2 or 4 pounds for this application, if for no other reason than to get a decent cast.
If you’re looking for a standard, I’d go 6 pounds for the lion’s share of trout fishing applications and up it to 8 pounds if trolling.
If I’m targeting trophy fish with bigger live baits around heavy cover, I will have a reel spooled with 10 pounds in reserve.
Sometimes a gut feeling tells me to go a little heavier – and sometimes, it pays off.
A slightly heavier fluoro fishing line can be an advantage when the wind is up, and the weather is a pain.
Braided Fishing Lines
The most significant feature of braided fishing lines is their strength-to-diameter ratio.
You get exceptional strength from thin line. For example, the thickness of 20-pound braid is almost the same as that of 6-pound mono.
This has great advantages for getting larger amounts of stronger line onto less capacious spools.
Another standout feature of braid is its lack of stretch, which is virtually zero. Contrary to popular belief, braid has some stretch, but it’s not even detectable.
This provides huge benefits for sensitivity – you feel everything. For lure anglers, braids have been a revelation.
They’re the best lines for lure fishing as they enable lures to operate at peak performance/action.
Sensitivity comes at a cost, however. Braid is the least forgiving, least user-friendly fishing line.
Anglers must have a good arsenal of braid-specific knots, and they must be tied with care to ensure strength and integrity.
Braid will also cut wet fingers. Anglers should take care when handling braided fishing lines when they’re under load or high tension.
As there is virtually no stretch, anglers must develop their strike techniques to ensure they don’t pull hooks when striking.
There’s a tendency to pull hooks quite easily with early, aggressive strikes. This is common with those new to braids.
Abrasion resistance has improved with braid. However, it’s likely the least abrasion resistant of the three common fishing lines.
This statement may cause a little argument, but in my experience, braid fairs less well in gnarly environments.
Braid is very expensive but will last many sessions if cared for. Look for lines that have UV protection.
While colored braids fade in the sun, don’t take this fading as a sign that you need to replace them – the color goes, yes, but the line integrity remains.
Braid is probably the least favorable line for chasing trout. But we’ll look at that in more detail shortly.
Can You Use Braid Fishing Line for Trout Fishing
Yes, you can use braid fishing line for trout fishing. In spite of this, I don’t recall ever chasing trout with braid on my reel.
Trout have soft mouths, and you’re using small hooks. I feel that the lack of stretch in braid puts you at a disadvantage.
It’s pretty easy to pull the hooks from a trout’s mouth when you strike a little too early, and a little too hard.
There’s also no shock absorption with braid, which means pulling the hooks can be an issue throughout the fight.
I can’t really think of a time when using braid to hunt trout would provide you with a significant advantage over mono or fluoro.
Braid floats, so those wanting to fish the topwater in shallows will get some advantage.
This is because they can tow lures over nasty cover without the fear of foul hooking logs and rocks.
There is an argument that you could fish a 20-pound braid and have a far better chance of landing a monster than you would spooled up with 4-pound mono.
Having said that, you’d lose some of the stealth advantages of mono or fluoro, which is critical for hunting trophy trout.
You’d have to fish a mono or fluoro leader, which may give you a little shock absorption.
But still, apart from sensitivity and backup in a monster fight, you’re always looking better served with mono or fluoro mainline.
Braid fishing line is also highly visible to cautious trout. There’s a good chance that casting braid into clear still waters is highly likely to spook your target.
Also Read: What Are The Top Fishing Lines For Catfish?
What is the Best Test Weight for Braid When Trout Fishing
When fishing braids for trout, you will be able to up the breaking strain. You could fish 15 to 20-pound braid for trout. It’s the same diameter as 6-pound mono, so why not?
However, we’re rarely chasing and expecting trophy trout, so such a breaking strain like this is most definitely overkill.
If I selected braid to chase trout, I’d probably go for a 10-pound line and use mono leader, depending on conditions.
To be honest, the 10-pound selection is a little arbitrary, with little science behind it. It’s more a case of why not?
Bottom line is that braid would be my last choice for trout. In fact, I wouldn’t choose it.
I like mono, then fluoro, and wouldn’t really consider braid unless it’s all I had.
Best Trout Fishing Line for Different Types of Reels
It’s a fair question, but ultimately the reel type has little to do with it. All fishing lines work well on spinning reels and baitcasting reels, which is what you’ll be using.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I’d say that if you were using a baitcaster, I’d go mono over fluoro.
It’s different these days; the hardness of fluoro isn’t the issue it used to be on casting reels. And it’s fine now, especially with the lighter breaking strains.
If you want total assurance, use mono. However, I’d use mono or fluoro, whatever reel I was using.
What Breaking Strain for Trout. At a Glance
- 4 to 6 pound for lakes and rivers. 8 pound to maybe 10 when trolling
- Go for the lightest line you dare
- 2 pound for ultra-light sports and heavily fished areas in lakes and ponds
- 2 pound for unweighted plastics and smaller trout
- As for mono
- The difference with fluoro is you can afford to go lighter
- If you’d use 6 pound with mono, consider 4 with fluoro
- There’s no hard rule here
- I would go 10 pound as a happy medium
- Realistically, you can fish anything from 5 to 15 pound wherever you fish
3 Great Fishing Lines for Trout
Fishing line type selection will often come down to personal preference.
Anglers will fish the line they’re most confident with, irrespective of the benefits or challenges of each line type for trout.
In which case, I’ve listed three good options from the three line types that I feel would be useful for chasing trout.
Good Monofilament for Trout
Platypus platinum is an Australian-made mono, and in my opinion, mono doesn’t get any better. It’s low-vis, supple, and user-friendly with excellent strength and abrasion resistance.
While expensive and tougher to get as it’s an import, I think it’s worth the extra effort, especially for trout.
Platypus Platinum is one of the best strength-to-diameter ratio mono lines available and is sold in large volume spools.
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Good Fluorocarbon for Trout
Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
I started using this fluoro some years ago and yet to find another brand that’s convinced me to change.
This brand is particularly good in the lighter breaking strains. It’s great for working cover as the abrasion resistance is first class.
It’s also low vis, so ideal for stealth fishing. It’s the first choice for fishing still, clear waters in heavily fished locations.
No, it’s not cheap, but that’s the thing with fluoro; it’s always going to cost you more – particularly the premium lines such as this.
Good Braid for Trout
Sufix 832 Advanced Superline Braid
Suffix 832 is a highly sought-after braid for all types of fishing. It’s very popular with fresh anglers casting baitcasters of all types, as well as spin anglers.
I have to stress/reiterate that I wouldn’t recommend braids for chasing trout. Yes, of course, you can catch trout with it. However, mono and fluoro are better placed.
If I’m using braid to chase trout, I will use a good one, and Suffix 832 is a particularly good 8-strand braid.
Braid fishing line is expensive, and being a premium brand, you can expect to pay more for Suffix 832.
Go for the coastal blue camo or the green for the best stealth performance.