What Strength Fishing Line to Use

Every angler has that trout fishing father or grandfather, who’s convinced that any line heavier than 4lb “will scare the fish away”. Hearing this repeatedly led me to begin by fishing 4lb fluorocarbon, and I caught a lot of stuff. But, I was also losing a lot of fish. I thought it was necessary to catch much fish, so when I’d go to the pier to catch bait like mackerel and perch, I get out my little 4lb leader line and tie a little Carolina rig. It was a pain to tie line that light and it as so light it would always tangle up around the swivel and weight when hit by waves. When I would hook on a fish which I intended to use only for bait, I’d have to finesse it in with a light drag because waves would yank on the fish hard enough to snap the line. I didn’t only think this fear of using heavy line held for small baitfish either. Once I had caught the aforementioned bait, I’d cut it up and put it on a hook at the end of 12lb mono worn by my bait rod. Eventually, I got sick of breaking off from bat rays and seaweed with such light line so I said fuck it.

I started by upgrading my light-action 5-foot rod that I was using the 4lb on to 8lb mono leader with 10lb mono mainline. I liked this better because I could now horse the fish in over the waves, so this became the go-to for pragmatic reasons. 8lb mono however would still all too often wrap up on the swivel and weight just like how the 4lb did, so I upgraded to 15lb braid. I chose this because I started using premade sabiki rigs which were made of 10lb mono, this matters because if my sabiki rig got snagged, I wanted to break off the rig instead of my mainline. I chose to use braid now for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s simply more responsive which I like for when fishing with lures if I’m not using a sabiki rig. Secondly, it’s much easier to break a rig off when fishing the pier, due to the fact that braid does not stretch, so I’ll only have to deal with stretching the leader line before it snaps. And anybody who fishes the pier a lot knows it’s a bitch to snap line when snagged up at the pier because of the guard rails inevitably rubbing on your line and braid just eliminates this issue entirely.

I also upgraded my 7-foot medium-heavy-action bait rod’s line to 30lb braid. I did this because it not only was appropriate for the fish I was catching but also casts extremely far with the way the braid cut through the air and spooled off the reel. This was necessary for my situation because I always fish 2 bait rods simultaneously, one rod far out and one rod close in because on the pier you will easily get tangled if you fish too close together. Speaking of my close in bait rod, it’s also a medium-heavy-action that’s 6-foot 6-inch which is running 40lb mono. I would have 40lb mono on my far-out rod if I could but it just wouldn’t cast as far so I keep it how it is.

Ultimately, I’ve chosen my line strength not by what fish will break the line but by what is convenient and tangles least, because even though I’ve hooked up on fish at the pier capable of generating more than 40lb of tension, my 40lb line will never feel more than 24lb of tension on it because that’s the drag output the reel it’s spooled on is capable of. In regards to sticking to the lighter line as to not scare fish away, I’ve never noticed a difference in the amount of fish I catch since increasing my line strength. I find this so irrelevant in fact (at least for saltwater) that I’d bet a fish would bite the hook side of a gaff if it had bait on it.

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