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I’m still surprised at how often young anglers seek fishing line recommendations for different types of fish. Lately, it’s all about walleye – should I use mono or braid?
I’m as honest as possible, suggesting they use the line type they prefer. My default position for most anglers is always to use the line they’re most comfortable using.
By and large, this will deliver the best results.
But plenty of anglers are looking for every bit of performance they can extract from a walleye rig, including selecting the perfect line.
For performance-driven anglers, line selection for walleye comes down to technique and conditions.
What line type should you use, and in what circumstances, to keep the upper hand in a walleye hunt?
The problem is that line selection is often a personal preference. Where one angler uses braid, another will use mono for the same application.
While there are no rules, there are some principles you can adopt to ensure you’re presenting the best walleye rig possible. Let’s check it out.
When Should You Use Braid For Walleye Fishing?
Firstly, if braid is your go-to line, there’s no reason to change, whatever the application. But there are times when braid is a no-brainer.
Braid is brilliant when fishing lures of most types, with few exceptions. As braid as almost no stretch, it provides unrivaled feedback to the angler.
You can feel every bite, every contour of the bottom, the current, contact with structure, and the performance of your lure.
The lack of stretch in braid also helps you extract maximum action from every lure in your kit.
Presentation is everything. And with lures, braid delivers the ultimate in presentation. I’m not saying mono or fluoro are bad lure lines.
Simply, that braid offers the potential to maximize lure performance.
I also like braid when I’m casting into water foliage of any type. It cuts through it better than mono, mitigating the headache of fouled and snagged lines.
I’m still not convinced of braid over mono for abrasion resistance. Admittedly, braid has come a very long way in this department.
There’s likely little, if anything, between the two where abrasion resistance is concerned, but where there are gnarly snags, I tend to favor mono or fluoro mainline.
When Should You Use Mono For Walleye Fishing?
I need to reiterate that braid is by no means essential for lure fishing for walleye. Good, low-stretch mono fishing lines can deliver outstanding results with lures.
It’s just that once you’ve felt the difference between mono and braid when lure fishing, you’ll understand what I’m talking about – it’s genuinely something you have to feel and experience.
I’m old school and prefer natural live bait over any lure or bait type. I find I get my biggest fish using live bait.
For this, I will always use mono. Mono delivers a better live bait presentation. And I prefer the simplest of rigs for live baiting walleye.
Mono is the best line for running a small bit of lead directly onto a hook. No leader, no swivel. Yes, I get issues with line twists, but it’s no drama. In my experience, simple rigs are the best.
I always use mono when trolling. For that matter, I don’t know anybody who trolls braid, but I’ve seen it.
Mono is very forgiving compared to braid. If you get snagged while trolling, the stretch in mono gives you time to react before the damage is done.
The shock resistance coupled with the stretch is beneficial when striking. Poorly timed, aggressive strikes have a better chance of setting with mono.
Line Strength Recommendations for Walleye
Line strength is down to your level of bravery. The lighter the line you use, the better the presentation.
It’s also worth noting that the lighter your line class, the better the sport – the tougher the challenge.
So, if you’re using the lightest line class you dare, you’ll no doubt attract more interest from fish, but you’ll also have your work cut out for you turning its head and getting it to the boat.
Ultra-light sports anglers will use as little weight as 4-pound mono. The sport is phenomenal, but if you plan to release the fish to fight another day, there’s a problem.
The lighter your line relative to the size and power of the fish means the fight can drag on for a long time. 8 pounds of walleye on 4-pound line is a goliath struggle that takes patience – you have to play out the fish.
A long fight causes the fish far more stress. If fought to exhaustion, its chances of recovery are reduced, often significantly.
For this reason, keep light lines for targeting very small fish only. To catch larger fish, up the line class, so old man walleye can fight on for years to come.
When using mono, I’ll spool up with 8 to 15 pounds, preferring lines that have small diameters.
When spooled with braid, I like 15 to 20 pounds. If I’m targeting trophy fish from tough locations, and heavy cover, I’ll up that to 25 or even 30. This is rare, though.
Line class selection is a little bit gut feel. You need a reasonable idea of your target relative to conditions and your chosen technique.
As a rule of thumb, I’ll up the line class, as conditions get tougher. If I’m fishing heavy cover in poor weather, such as wind and rain, I’ll select a line class that will allow me to present the baits as I want them, where I want them.
It’s important to note that your rod, reel, and lure choice strongly influences your line class. For the best performance, fish in the mild ranges of your rod and reel specs.
I have two go-to walleye reels. A Daiwa BG 3000 with a spool of 8-pound mono and a spool of 15-pound mono.
I use a Curado 300k with two spools. One with 20-pound braid, the other with 15-pound braid.
5 Best Lines for Walleye Fishing
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1. Berkley Trilene XL – Best Value Mono
The Berkley Trilene XL has low memory, is user-friendly, and is affordable. Even with heavy sun exposure and regular use, I replace it less often than others.
There are better mono lines, sure. But it casts well, knots hold, and stands up well against pretty gnarly snags.
The Trilene is a go-to if you’re looking for a solid staple that performs well and doesn’t hurt the bank.
Whenever I change it, I find I want to return to it. It’s very popular, and well-regarded by many anglers.
2. Sufix 832 Advanced Superline Braid – Editors Choice Braid
Yes. It’s a little pricey, and you could argue that there’s better value in other braids. But I’m a fan of Rapala quality, and the quality of 832 is apparent.
I first used 832 for saltwater sport fishing work outside the heads. I’d been using it for quite some time before It occurred to me that I could use it everywhere. So I now do.
Suffix 832 Superline has very thin diameters and excellent strength, and I can cast it a country mile. Not that I usually do, but it’s nice to know I can.I like the low-vis green – boring as it is. It’s a bit of insurance for potentially line-shy walleye. I don’t think walleye are any more line shy than any other fish, but stealth is a sensible default.
While expensive, it’s not the most expensive. And its durability is such that I don’t mind paying the extra.
3. Stren Original Mono – Editor’s Choice Mono Fishing Line
Stren Original Mono is fantastic. It’s been around for a long time, performs reliably and consistently in all critical areas, and is highly cost-effective.
I’ve always used the clear option; I don’t see any reason to use color. The UV guard appears to work very well. This stuff just lasts and is very durable.
So, not only does it perform as it promises, but it also saves you money over time. It’s always heartening to see manufacturers keeping it real with pricing.
Its best features are its high tensile strength, abrasion resistance, and durability.
4. Power Pro Spectra Fiber Braid – Best Braid for Abrasion
Power Pro Spectra offers excellent quality right across key criteria. But, in my experience, Spectra had discernibly better abrasion performance.
Most of us have walleye hotspots where the cover always makes us nervous. Inevitably, this hotspot holds the biggest of the species.
Traditionally, I’ve used mono in such locations, but I fish Power Pro Spectra with confidence.
I had always used it for rock fishing due to its incredible casting attributes. The distance is genuinely exceptional.
Now I cast it in most places where I want to use braid in gnarly cover.
Now I cast it in most places where I want to use braid in gnarly cover.
5. Sunline Super FC Sniper – Editor’s Choice Fluorocarbon
I know this article is about mono v braid. But fluoro mainline is excellent for walleye, especially if you’re targeting heavily fished areas on still, clear days. And that’s when I use it.
Interestingly, I’ve come to prefer this over mono for light work. While it’s my go-to if I feel the fish is overly cautious, it’s also a brilliant option should I wish to cast soft plastics into nasty snags.
I have a 1000 Okuma spinning reel spooled with 6-pound FC. I cast into hazardous locations recklessly, confident I’ll get my gear back.
It has excellent abrasion resistance, which contrasts with its surprisingly supple feel. Take a little extra care with knots, and you’ll have no issues.
Memory is suitable for fluoro, but avoid bending it if you can.
Are Walleye Line Shy?
Walleye aren’t especially line-shy. Fish can learn, fish are often cautious, and fish respond to inputs from the environment in order to survive.
Some conditions will make it easier for fish, that’s all fish, not just walleye, to be a little more cautious with baits.
Unnatural movements, intrusions, and sounds can make them jittery. And this is most likely to occur on very still days.
When there’s no wind and the water is clear and glassy, it’s easier for walleye to identify things that aren’t quite natural, such as heavy fishing lines.
Invariably, you may find walleye line shy when these conditions happen at a heavily fished location.
Interestingly, I’ve caught plenty of fish in these conditions, with unlikely rigs and neon fishing lines. Other times, however, it’s as though I’ve cast into a lifeless desert.
If you adopt a stealthy approach every time you fish, you can at least eliminate one variable, a loud rig, if the bite’s not on.
Should You Use a Leader for Walleye Fishing?
Using a leader is not essential, and some very simple and effective rigs don’t require one.
However, by and large, a leader is a good idea and integral to the vast majority of effective walleye rigs.
If you’re using braid, a mono or fluoro leader is, more or less, necessary.
Also Read: What Are The Top Fishing Lines For Trout?
Frequently Asked Questions
What Pound Test Braid Is Best for Walleye?
Walleye anglers will use anything from 8 to 25 pounds – even heavier. But 15 to 20-pound braid is very common.
What Color Fishing Line Is Best for Walleye?
Use hi-vis if you want to be able to see your line. Use a color that you can see but isn’t too intrusive on the environment. Brighter blues are good when the water’s clean.
For the stealth approach, use clear monos and low-vis green braids.
What Pound Test Mono Should You Use for Walleye?
You can use anything from 4 to 15 pounds. Some will use a heavier line, but it’s unnecessary and too thick for appropriate walleye rigs.
8, 12, and 15 pounds are standard mono line classes and effective across a broad range of walleye sizes.