Selecting Your Fishing Line
Fishing is a relaxing, peaceful sport that rests the mind. However, it requires the correct fishing line for a pleasurable experience. The main purpose of fishing line is to carry the lure to its target when you cast.
This guide will provide you with an easy step-by-step navigation through the waters of finding the perfect fishing line. Here at DICK'S Sporting Goods, our fishing line combines ingenuity and innovation with practicality and precision. From fly fishing to ice fishing and everything in between, we have the right line for your fishing success.
Covering the Basics: Understanding Fishing Line Characteristics
Whether you are preparing to fish in a lake, river, or ocean, considering the unique personalities of your line will have you on the fast track to success and making the big catch of the day. Below are the main components of fishing line:
Diameter: This determines the line's test strength which features improved line durability. DICK'S premium lines offer thinner diameters for increased strength and stability, while also providing you with a more sensitive line to help you feel the fish nibbling on your bait or lure.
Abrasion resistance: When fishing lines are subjected to harsh conditions such as rocks, tree stumps and extreme weather conditions, they need to be abrasion-resistant. We provide line that withstands scuffing, nicks and the normal wear-and-tear from repeated casting.
Color: When looking for the perfect line color, consider finding one that is visible to you, while being nearly invisible to a fish. Below are the different color types that DICK'S offers:
Low-visibility: A stealth-like line that blends into most underwater environments when the fish aren't biting or heavy fishing in the area has made the fish smarter.
Low-visibility clear: This color works well in ultra-clear water or when you know the fishing area you have selected tends to have fish that seem reluctant to bite.
Clear/blue fluorescent: A perfect balance for sunlight to illuminate the line above the surface, while staying clear below the surface.
High-visibility gold: This bright color makes it easier to see when a fish strikes and to view your line position in a current. This color is also beneficial for low-light conditions including dawn, dusk, and at night.
Moss green: This color works well in waters with heavy vegetation or algae.
Stiffness or Limpness
When looking for your ideal fishing line, it's important to consider the type of reel you will be using and the size of fish you are looking to catch. Stiffer fishing line is stronger and works best with catching bigger fish, while limper line works well with catching small fish. A stiffer line works better on bait casting reels, while spin cast reels are most appropriate for a thin, limp line.
Fishing Line Materials: Find Your Best Line
Being prepared on the water with the proper line will make the fishing experience an enjoyable one. Selecting the perfect line is a science and requires an understanding of the kind of fishermen you are or would like to become. You have to consider the type of fish you're trying to catch and the environment you're fishing in. Here are the different types of line available:
Monofilament/Copolymer: The most popular fishing line materials made from nylon, which floats which is important when using lures that work best when close to the surface. Monofilament line is also flexible, which can help prevent a break if the line comes under sudden stress. Copolymer line adds more resistance, while still providing sensitivity and stretch using an inner and outer sheath of nylon to improve the line's ability to withstand wear-and-tear.
Braided:Braided fishing line has small diameter lines improve strength and maintain durability. The nylon is woven in a braided line to add strength while still keeping the line thin. At DICK'S, our braided lines provide an additional coating to hold the braid together, increasing its durability and strength. Braided lines are strong and abrasion-resistant to work well if you will be fishing in cluttered waters.
Fusion: Micro-fiber nylon is fused together to maintain sensitivity, strength and a small line diameter, while keeping the line limp for easier casting and distance. The improved sensitivity and strength make it the best fishing line when baitcasting for bigger fish such as muskie or northern pike. You can also cast the fusion lines easily with the sensitivity and limited stretch allowing you to successfully set the hook when you have a fish biting the bait.
Fluorocarbon: The latest advance in fishing line and one of the best fishing lines is fluorocarbon line made from a polymer of fluorine boned to carbon. Fluorocarbon line comes closest to the refractive index of water, so it becomes virtually invisible under water, but is visible above the surface. This makes for a strong, clear and dense line material. Fluorocarbon lines also sink, making them an option for bottom-running bait.
Invisibility: This is a very important benefit, especially in clear water or finesse fishing.
Durability: The sun's ultraviolet rays don't affect the line allowing for an increased shelf-life.
Strength: Fluorocarbon line doesn't absorb water so it keeps its strength.
Stiffness: This line also has low stretch to help with sensitivity in hooking fish. Its stiffness also means the line doesn't float, so it allows lures to go down deeper and jigs to fall faster.
Pound-Test for Fishing Lines
Fishing line is classified by the "pound-test," the measurement relating to the amount of force, in pounds, required to break the line. The pound-test of the line you use is determined more by the amount of drag pressure you apply than it is by the size of the fish you might catch. In some cases, line can stretch and provide additional durability that exceeds the pound test listed. Below are a few examples:
Monofilament/Copolymer: Look for line with the lowest diameter-to-pound test ratio for the best performance. Monofilament will break down when exposed to direct sunlight and should be changed every six months to a year depending on how often it is used.
Braided: Braided lines are stronger per diameter than monofilament; you can often get 60 pounds of breaking strength in braided line that has the same diameter as 30-pound test monofilament.
Novice anglers: Should choose the line that meets the size of the fish they want to catch. Choose a heavier line if you are unsure.
Advanced anglers: Should choose to use the lightest line possible to increase the challenge of landing a fish.
Shop our great selection of Freshwater and Saltwater Line.
When looking for the perfect fly fishing line, you need to find line that works with your rod and reel for a harmonious fit and feel.
Line Weight: Fly fishing requires a balanced system so match the reel and rod. If you don't, you will hurt your casting accuracy and efficiency. Your fly fishing line weight should also be selected based on the fish you want to catch:
- Lighter lines are suited for delicate presentations and for casting light flies.
- Heavier lines are best for casting large, wind-resistant and heavy flies.
- A 5 weight reel matches up with a 5 weight rod, so it follows that you should select a 5 weight line.
The chart below shows a breakdown of the line weight you should use with the type of fish you want to catch:
|Small Fish||0-4 lbs
|Moderate-sized Trout and Panfish||5-6 lbs
|Bass, Bonefish, Steelhead, and Stripers||7-9 lbs
|Larger freshwater and saltwater fish||8-15 lbs
Line taper: To help you cast more efficiently, most fly lines are tapered. This taper varies in weight, diameter and thickness over the length of the line. There are five main types of taper, each to meet a specific purpose:
Weight-forward (WF) taper: These are the most popular and the best choice if you are a beginner. The first 30 feet of line is heavier because of its tapered front end. The rest of the line is thinner and is known as the running line. The weight-forward line helps with long casts and better precision even in windy conditions.
Bass bug/saltwater (BBT) taper: This taper is much like the weight-forward design except that the front section does not run as long. This design helps with heavier flies, and so its use for catching feisty bass or bigger saltwater fish.
Double taper (DT): DT fly lines are preferred by seasoned fly anglers These lines work especially well in making delicate presentations on small- to medium-size rivers since the belly is at the center, with both ends gradually tapering.
Shooting taper (ST): ST lines cast farther than other lines so they are designed for fast-running rivers and extreme wind conditions. The line portion (front section) is stout and short to form a casting loop. Most anglers attach a shooting line on the running line using monofilament, braided line or a very fine diameter fly line.
Level (L) taper: These lines are uniform in diameter throughout. Level taper lines are the most difficult to cast so they are best used by seasoned veterans, primarily for fly fishing with live bait.
Density: The density of a line determines how it acts in the water. Some lines are very buoyant and float, while others sink to varying degrees. Anglers typically use floating fly lines to present dry flies, but this line type also works well with wet flies. Slightly more dense than floating lines, intermediate lines sink just below the surface of the water. Sinking lines are designed for deeper water, such as lakes or fast rivers, to get streamers or other larger flies to depths where fish are holding. There are four choices below to identify its density:
Floating (F) lines: These do as they say; they float on the water's surface. Floating lines are good for beginners since they are easier to cast and handle. Floating lines also are a must for dry flies, but they can also work with wet flies, nymphs and streamers that are fished several feet below the surface.
Intermediate (I) lines: These are a little denser than water so they sink slowly to present a fly just below the water's surface. These lines work well in shallow, weedy lakes and in choppy waters where you want your line to stay below the choppiness.
Sinking (S) lines: These lines do the opposite of floating lines; they sink. They are designed for deep lakes and deep, fast-flowing rivers. These lines are best for wet flies, nymphs and streamers at a constant depth.
Floating/Sinking (F/S) lines: These combine the two characteristics, the five foot to twenty foot tip or front portion sinks to present the bait while the balance of line floats on the water. This floating/sinking line gets your fly down while helping you maintain control.
Color: If you are a beginner, select a highly visible color such as yellow, orange, lime green and or some shades of tan. These colors are easier to see on the water when you cast so you can more easily recognize and correct any casting mistakes. For sinking lines, you should go with something that's less visible to fish such as brown, olive, dark green or black.
Backing: Fly lines need a thin, high-visibility line tied between the reel spool and back end of your fly line. Backing performs three critical functions:
- It adds length to your fly line, which typically runs only 90 feet.
- This then helps you land big, strong fish that run with your line. Experts suggest that you use at least 100 yards of backing but up to 200 yards for longer-running fish and saltwater fish.
- It also keeps your reel spool full, making line retrieval faster and minimizing line recoil.
Leaders: To allow your fly to hit the water like a natural bug, you need a special, tapered length of line that connects your fly line to the fly. The fly is then tied to the thinnest part of the line called the tippet, which ensures there won't be a big splash that scares away that big fish. Leaders come in a system that helps you match the size of the tippet with the weight of your fly.
Tippet: This is the end section of your tapered leader and the part that ties to your fly. These tippets carry an "X-rating" based on their diameter ranging from 0X to 8X. It is important to carry extra spools of tippet material. Each time you tie a fly, you reduce the length of your leader. After half a dozen changes, you probably will have shortened your leader a foot so you can get back to where you started by tying on another foot of tippet.
When you're out on the water, you want several different sizes and lengths of leaders to adapt to changing conditions and fly sizes:
Determining Your Leader
|Leader Size||Recommended Fly Sizes
|0X||Fly sizes 2 - 1/0
|1X||Fly sizes 4 - 8
|2X||Fly sizes 6 - 10
|3X||Fly sizes 10 - 14
|4X||Fly sizes 12 - 16
|5X||Fly sizes 14 - 18
|6X||Fly sizes 16 - 22
|7X||Fly sizes 18 - 24
|8X||Fly sizes 22 - 28
Shop our great selection of Fly Fishing Line.
For the thrill-seeker in all of us, the sport of ice-fishing combine's extreme weather conditions with catching fish through ice. When looking for your ice fishing line, the most important characteristic you should be searching for is durability and strength. Here at DICK'S, we offer Sufix Ice Magic Fishing Line which is very popular because of its strength and endurance in freezing water temperatures.
Select the line that best accommodates the type of fish you want to target when ice fishing. For example, smaller fish, such as bream or crappies, require a lighter line in the 2 lbs. to 4 lbs. test range. For larger fish, including northern pike, walleye or smallmouth bass, lines from 10 lbs. to 20 lbs. work best.
Ice Fishing Line Tips
At the beginning of ice fishing season, check your fishing line. Over time, exposure to sunlight, cold temperatures, abrasions, and cuts from use can damage your ice fishing line to the point that it is no longer trustworthy. Re-spool your reel with new line before you hit the ice to help reduce the risk of losing a fish from a line break, giving you more confidence when fishing.
During the winter, fish are less active and may strike more lightly. DICK'S provides braided fishing line which can help you detect these light strikes, while simultaneously combining fast sinking speed with abrasion resistance.
Shop our great selection of Ice Fishing Line.
DICK'S Sporting Goods combines superior quality with performance to reach your fishing goals. Having the proper fishing line gear will provide you with the confidence you need to reel in the big catch this season!
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