The challenge of fishing line selection is relatively new to mainstream recreational fishing.
Before the meteoric resurgence of braids – the original fishing lines, we’ve been content using mono.
A handful of brands such as Maxima and Stren in the US, Schneider in Europe, and Platypus in Australia, were (and still are) some of our first choice brands for monofilament.
And for most of us, test weight, or breaking strain (line class), was the driving choice for our selection.
Huge technological developments in materials, materials processing, and manufacture have changed the fishing line landscape significantly.
Also, we now know the impact of fishing line features on our catch results.
Now we have countless options of mono, braids, and modern fluorocarbon line from which to choose.
The selection process can be a little daunting for the uninitiated and even experienced anglers, for that matter.
The main thrust of this article is to identify good fishing line choices for baitcaster reels. While the focus is on baitcasters, much of this information is applicable to spinning reels.
We’ll look at line types, line qualities and features, and the benefits and compromises of choosing a particular line type.
We’ll also feature a few brands and line types that I feel stack up as a worthy investment.
Please keep in mind that there’s a lot of personal preference when it comes to fishing line selection.
Opinions differ greatly, and my opinion as to which line are good quality, is just that – my opinion.
I can say with confidence, however, that the 5 fishing lines I’ve mentioned below, are sure to perform as promised by the manufacturer.
What Type of Line is Best For Baitcasters?
We’re talking about mono, braid, and fluorocarbon here. They’re the 3 broad choices, but selection gets a little more nuanced once you start getting into the different types and features available in each.
Mono and braid are both ideal for baitcasters. I’m yet to see a convincing argument as to any benefit of the average angler spooling up any reel with fluorocarbon.
More on that later, but first I need to qualify the question of which fishing line is best for baitcaster reels.
The question is asked pretty frequently, but in a sense, it’s the wrong question.
Selecting the best line is about selecting the best line for the application. And this invites a host of variables that need to be considered.
For example, if I’m using a low-profile baitcaster to chase largemouth under lily pads and reeds, I’m definitely using braid.
My main reason is that low-diameter strong braids can cut through water-based soft foliage. In this type of structure, I’m less likely to get caught up fishing deep.
If I’m chasing tarpon with a round baitcaster on a rocky headline dotted with reef and bombies, I’m spooling with mono.
Mono gives me the forgiveness of stretch for hard-hitting tarpon. I also have the benefit of excellent abrasion resistance for when the fish tries to cut me off on the rocks.
Using a round baitcaster, I don’t have to concern myself with the extra thickness of mono because the round baitcaster has the capacity to spool on a heap of heavy (larger diameter) mono.
An Important Note on Fluorocarbon
I honestly can’t think of a reason to fill a spool with fluoro. That’s not to say I don’t use or like fluoro.
On the contrary, it hands down one of the best leader materials available. In fact, it’s outstanding, so long as you ensure your knots are sound.
Even though modern fluoro is very supple and easily cast and fished, it’s very expensive.
The only reason I can see to completely fill the spool with fluoro is that it sinks. This is the only property it has that is not shared with any other fishing line.
Its other core benefits are invisibility and hardness.
Also Read: Best Fishing Line For Trout Fishing
Monofilament – Single Strand Line
Strength and Line Diameter
Strength relative to diameter is not great compared to braids. The thicker the line, the more propensity it has to kink, which can invite tangling.
Cast distances are reduced, and knots can be less effective if not tied perfectly.
The thicker the line, the less you can fit on your spool, which can be difficult if spooling heavier line to a smaller spool.
On the upside, a thicker line has far better abrasion resistance.
Mono stretches more than any other fishing line. The benefit of stretch is that it makes the line very forgiving.
Hard strikes from the fish or the angler are less likely to pull the hooks.
Bust-ups on strike and early run are also less likely as stretch mitigates shock force, which can break lines.
The downside of stretch is that it makes the line less sensitive.
The more line you have out, the more stretch you have and the harder it is to feel smaller bites and structure. Stretch also can reduce the swim performance of your lures.
Another problem is that when a lot of line is out, hook setting can be difficult because the line stretches, reducing the penetration force of the hooks.
It’s important to note that there are many mono lines available that have been manufactured with reduced stretch properties.
Memory is the fishing line’s capacity to hold the shape of which it was stored. Line that’s wound on a spool will hold significant loop shapes when taken from the spool.
Memory is bad, as it promotes tangles.
Many anglers will soak the fishing line in warm water to reduce line memory, either before or immediately following spooling up.
Again, mono manufacturers will often promote reduced memory features of particular mono lines.
Reduced memory can be advantageous when spooling onto small diameter spools, with a heavier class of mono.
As a rock angler, abrasion resistance is one of the key features I seek.
Mono, generally speaking, has excellent abrasion resistance. There are a number of brands and types designed specifically to handle highly abrasive applications.
After a long battle through the snags, you will often see your line is frayed and cut, looking very much like your dog chewed it.
Even with cuts and chunks from it, mono can still hold its strength and not break completely.
This is a critical feature of good mono. Especially for many applications where line contact with sharp teeth and craggy structure is likely.
The compromise is that abrasion-resistant lines are often thicker, harder, and less supple. They can have more memory, and knot tying vigilance is required.
However, many mono lines deliver abrasion resistance with negligible impact on other desirable mono features.
Keep in mind that mono is absorbent. It will absorb a small percentage of water.
Absorption can lessen the strength and abrasion resistance properties. The reduction is negligible, however.
Mono has a very slow sink rate, with close to neutral buoyancy. This is ideal for keeping baits and lures in a topwater strike zone.
Slow sinking baits can be very attractive to fish.
The obvious drawback is when you want the bait to get down the water column quickly.
This can be offset by adding weight. However, the addition of lots of weight, while often necessary, is not ideal.
Mono is easy to color. This is why you find plenty of mono color options.
Mono is colored to mitigate visibility, so fish are less likely to be spooked when they see the line.
Lines are also given hi-vis colors for applications and conditions that suit line watching. Often, it’s very handy to see where your line is in the water.
Mono is probably the best line for tying knots. It’s user-friendly, great for the less experienced, and can be tied with knots that will maintain 100 percent breaking strain.
The more supple the line, the easier it is to tie a variety of knots.
Mono has the most accessible pricing of any fishing line. You can get good mono relatively cheaply.
While mono is pretty durable, it can suffer from UV exposure. Prolonged use will see its strength diminish.
This, as well as abrasion damage, ensures you will be replacing your line more often than with other line types.
Braided Fishing Line – Multi Stand Line
Strength and Line Diameter
Braid is the strongest line per diameter of all lines. Its best feature is that you can spool up huge quantities of a very strong line class on a small reel.
Small line diameters deliver better casting manners. Distance is better, as is accuracy.
Braid has very limited stretch. This makes it perfect for lure fishing.
The lack of stretch delivers tremendous feedback to anglers, as every ripple movement and touch is fed back to the angler.
You can also feel the slightest of fish inquiries.
Braids also allow anglers to impart peak action on lures. Lures swim better when attached to braided lines.
The downside of limited stretch is that they are not particularly user-friendly. It is easy to pull hooks with premature, aggressive strikes.
There is also limited shock forgiveness meaning the potential exists for lines to break when attacked suddenly and aggressively.
When trolling, mono is often chosen over braid, for this reason, however, braids do present benefits when trolling deep.
Braided fishing line has no memory. Braids are free from the memory problems associated with mono and fluoro.
This averts kinks, knots, and tangles associated with line memory.
Braided lines can be a third to a quarter the diameter of mono and fluoro lines.
They’re made from 4 to 16 single strands and are easily the strongest lines by far, relative to diameter.
Good abrasion resistance is found as you decrease strand quantity. Fishing rocks and reefs is better with 4 to 6 strand braids.
The diameters of each strand of a 16 strand braid make them vulnerable to gnarly structures.
You will often hear arguments about mono being better for gnarly environments than braid. I tend to agree and usually choose mono for rock fishing.
Braids float or have near-neutral buoyancy. Over time, after plenty of use and some damage, they may tend to sink a little quicker.
Sink rates are very slow, giving them similar application advantages of disadvantages to mono.
Braids are available in a range of colors. It is often argued that the disadvantage of braids is that they are highly visible to fish.
While highly visible, braids are used with mono or fluoro leaders, which are far less visible.
In my opinion, the visibility of braids is always a benefit, and there are no discernible disadvantages.
Several knots deliver awesome knot strength for braids. The simple uni knot is fantastic and very reliable.
However, braid is not friendly to those less accomplished with knot tying skills.
It is important to learn a reliable uni knot at the very least, so you can tie leaders to braids with complete confidence.
Compared to mono, braids are very expensive. You will find many anglers fill a third of their spools with mono and lay braids over the top to save a little cash.
Regardless of the upfront price-horror of braids, they can last a heck of a long time.
I’ve pulled out reels that I’ve used sparingly for a few years and found the braid is in excellent condition.
Unlike my mono filled reels, I seldom pull off a heap of line due to nicks, cuts, and damage. My spool stays full for longer.
Also Read: How To Put Fishing Line on a Spinning Reel
Fluorocarbon – Single-Stranded Line
Strength and Line Diameter
Similar to mono, fluoro fishing line can get pretty thick the higher the class. They’re certainly harder than mono but comparable in strength.
There is minimal stretch in fluoro lines. It’s actually a happy balance between mono and braids.
This is one of the features that makes it great for leaders. Connected to braid, you add a touch of shock capacity to your braid rig.
Fluoro has the most memory of all the lines and is relatively stiff. This is why I don’t like it to fill a spool, particularly a baitcaster spool.
Of all lines, fluoro is the least manageable.
Interestingly, and counter to trend, I have a small 2000 spinning reel that is spooled with 6 lb fluoro.
I find it quite easy to manage and have had little to no trouble with memory.
In my experience, the very light lines are soft enough to be handled pretty easily, without the significant intrusion of memory-based problems.
This is probably Fluoro’s best property. Due to its hardness, fluoro has exceptional abrasion resistance.
This is one of the features that make it legendary leader material.
Fluoro sinks. It does not absorb water, and it sinks relatively quickly. Again, this is a great feature of a leader for many applications.
Particularly when you want to increase the sink rate of your bait when spooled with mono or braid.
Along with abrasion resistance, its invisibility in water is its greatest feature. Again, this is an outstanding feature to have in a leader.
I’m not sure there is much benefit having an entire spool of it, however.
Invisible line is perfect for clear water and cautious fish. But it’s really only that few feet of line behind the lure that really matters.
Thankfully, fluoro has come a long way from the early days when tying reliable knots was very difficult.
Now more supple knots are significantly easier. However, it’s still a very hard line, and it requires carefully constructed tensioned knots to ensure reliability.
Knot strength is good, so long as you tie knots with care.
Many anglers lament the top-shelf pricing of Fluoro. This is probably why so many anglers use it as leader material only.
It can be quite expensive to fill a 5000 size baitcasting reel entirely with fluoro.
The durability of fluoro is good. If I don’t manage to bend or kink my heavy leaders, they will last quite a few sessions.
The biggest benefit is that fluoro can handle UV light and heat. It won’t degrade when exposed to sunlight.
This is a great feature considering the top-shelf price point.
Top 5 Best Lines for Baitcaster Reels
Here are 5 of the best fishing lines for baitcasting reels on the market today
SUFFIX SUPER 21 FISHING LINE MONO
Suffix super 21 offers significantly reduced stretch. There’s excellent abrasion resistance, with the top feature being the very small line diameters for jam-packed spools.
- Low Stretch
- Low Diameters
- Limited line class
- Limited spool sizes
SUNLINE SUPER FC SNIPER FLUORO
This is the fluoro I have on my small spinning reels. While I don’t usually spool my baitcaster reels with fluoro, if I did, it would be this brand for sure.
- User friendly
- Very supple for fluoro
- Excellent core properties
- Limited spool sizes
- Better for advanced anglers to spool a baitcaster
Berkley Trilene Sensation Mono
Popular and cost-effective, Trilene offers Berkeley’s high strength to diameter ratio for mono. Abrasion resistance is excellent, and there’s reduced memory.
- Value for money
- Spool size options
- More memory than advertisement suggests.
DAIWA J BRAID 4 PLY FISHING LINE
Excellent, versatile braid. Ideal for a vast range of fishing applications and excellent value for money. Daiwa quality at an affordable price point.
- Superb quality
- Excellent Value for Money
BERKLEY FIRELINE ULTRA 8 BRAIDED
Tried and true, and excellent value for money with great performance. Berkley Fireline is a staple for many anglers and has been for years.
Reliable, predictable performance in a broad range of applications.
- User-friendly profile
- Good abrasion resistance
- Spool options
- Limited color variety
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Mono or Braid Better for Baitcasters?
Both Mono and Braid line types are perfect for baitcasters. Be aware that braid is a lot more unforgiving than mono.
Bird nests caused by overrun can be a nightmare to resolve.
Test a new reel with mono first until you learn its idiosyncrasies to avoid a little pain and frustration.
Avoid fluorocarbon unless you are very confident with casting baitcasters.
Can you use Fluorocarbon Line on a Baitcasting Reel?
The short answer is yes, you can use fluorocarbon line on a baitcasting reel.
However, I would generally advise against it, as braid and mono are better suited to baitcaster reels.
Few fluoros have the suppleness required to work well on a baitcaster. If you insist on using fluoro on a baitcaster, look for the softest line you can find.
How Much Line Should be on a Baitcaster?
For absolute peak performance, I will always fill a baitcaster to spec, no more, no less.
Over time you will lose line, of course.
But a good baitcaster will still continue to cast well, even missing a third or more of its capacity.
The Best Fishing Line for Baitcasting Reels Wrap Up
You can’t really go wrong if you spool a baitcaster with mono or braid. So long as you do it to spec, of course.
While fluoro can be used on a baitcaster, I struggle to find any significant benefit that would offset the potential complications.
With all of the perfect mono and braid options there are, it’s difficult to see why you might spool with fluoro.
Fluoro is great leader material. But it’s not ideal for filling a baitcaster spool.
My rule of thumb is simplicity. If in doubt, go easy. Ultimately, mono is by far the best fishing line for baitcaster reels.