11 Reasons Why Your Fishing Line Keeps Breaking And What To Do About It


Fishing lines can be one of the most frustrating aspects of what is supposed to be a relaxing pastime! There is nothing in fishing quite like dealing with a snapped line to make you lose your cool and turn the air blue with some choice expletives! Some line breakages are inevitable, but others can be avoided. Knowing why your line keeps breaking and what to do about it will make your fishing more relaxing!

Here are some reasons why a line will snap when fishing:

  1. No line maintenance
  2. Badly tied knots
  3. Wrong gear for the line
  4. Reel drag setting
  5. No line inspection
  6. Incorrect line strength
  7. Damaged line guides
  8. Uneven spooling
  9. Sharp reel edges
  10. Wrong fish fighting style
  11. Not using a leader

You will always get certain circumstances where a line break is out of your control, and it was going to happen despite anything you could do. This occasion should be more the exception than the rule, so if you have continuous line breakages, there could be a reasonable explanation, with some basic steps you can take to prevent this ongoing frustration. Let’s examine 11 causes of line breaks and the basic measures you can take to avoid them.

Why Your Fishing Line Keeps Breaking

Fishing is an activity that is gear intensive, meaning that as anglers, we rely heavily on our gear to help us have better success in landing our targeted fish!

Our fishing line is one of the crucial pieces of our fishing gear that can make the difference between landing your catch or losing the fish. Some line breakages can be prevented if you know what to look for and what to do to rectify the problem.

We have detailed some causes for line breakages and solutions that can help you minimize the potential for line breaks. Let’s dive right into the problems and see what we can do to prevent line breaks from plaguing your fishing trips!

1. Improper Maintenance Of The Fishing Line

We have already mentioned that fishing is a gear-intensive sport, and many anglers forget that their fishing line is certainly one of the most important aspects of their gear. They will service rods and reels, take special care of lures and hooks, but completely forget about the line.

We have put this as the number one cause of line breakages because the lack of care for the line is a major contributor to this problem, and some of your fishing practices or line care may be damaging the line.

Here are some common fishing line care problems, with solutions to make them no longer an issue for your fishing trips.

  • Damage from light exposure. Line care and storage when you are not fishing play a big part in the maintenance of the line. Fishing line degrades over time when exposed to light. This is not only sunlight but also normal light. This applies to not only the line on your reel but also the spool of spare line that you keep to re-rig your rods. It is no good to replace the line on your reel with a spool of line that has not been stored correctly. How to fix it: Store your rods that have line on and your spare line in a dark, cool location such as a closet. You can also get rod gloves, which are bags designed for rod storage, with a reel on the rod. Monofilament line is more susceptible to light damage than fluorocarbon or braided line.
  • Lure strapping for extended storage. Many anglers store their rods with a lure attached to the line, the hook on the lure is attached to an eyelet, and they crank the line tight. This is called lure strapping, and it can damage the line. When the line is cranked tight, the line bends around the top eyelet of the rod, which creates a kink or a crease in the line at that point if it is stored this way. This makes a weak spot in the line, giving it the potential to break at that point. How to avoid this: don’t crank the line so tight, or don’t store your rod with a lure attached, or purchase a Fishing Rod Sleeve to store your rod with a lure attached.
  • Using the line too long before replacement. Knowing when to change the line on your reel is important because the line degrades and is subject to abrasion and tension as you use it while fishing. What to do: Start the fishing season with new line on your reel. Inspect it often, particularly after fishing in locations with many obstacles, and replace it as necessary.

2. Improperly Tied Knots

Tying knots is an inescapable aspect of fishing, but getting the knot right is important for maintaining the strength and integrity of your line.

One of the biggest mistakes that anglers make is rushing the tying of a knot. Trying to tie a knot too quickly can cause you to accidentally kink the line, creating a weak spot in the line. This may cause the line to break when the fish hits the lure, or when you try to set the hook, or from the tension on the line while fighting the fish.

Tying the wrong knot for the type of jig or lure you are using is another knot problem resulting in line failures. Using the wrong knot can make the knot the weak point in the line or using a bad knot, such as an overhand knot, which is not appropriate for some line types.

Failure to tie the knot correctly can result in the knot coming undone once tension is put on the line. This is not a line break as such, but you will still lose the fish and your lure or rig.

How can you remedy knot problems? You can adopt a few strategies for knots to prevent them from becoming a point of failure on your line.

  • Use the right knots. Find out what is the best knot to use for your fishing style, lure or jig and stick to that knot.
  • Learn your knots. Practice tying your chosen knots so that you can tie them without thinking about it. This way, you won’t make a mistake when you need to tie a knot in a hurry while fishing.
  • Use the right knot for the line type. Certain knots work well on some line types but not on others. Learn which knots are appropriate for the line you are using.

3. Using The Right Gear For Your Line

Fishing is not only about having good gear but also about using the right gear combination. The type, size, and flexibility will require a certain reel type, and the choice of rod and reel will work well with a particular line choice.

Getting this combination right and making sure everything is sized properly to work together as a system will minimize the line breaks you get with your gear.

How do you solve the gear matching problem? When you buy new gear or are new to angling, speak to the fishing or tackle shop people to find out what combination of rod, reel, and line they recommend for your setup. For example, using a heavy rod with a light line is a bad choice that will not produce a good outcome for your fishing.

4. Correct Reel Drag Setting

Most reel-types have a drag system incorporated into their design. It is essentially a mechanism on the reel intended to help prevent line breaks, but it can cause line breaks if used incorrectly.

The drag system places resistance or friction on the rotating mechanism of the reel. If a big fish takes your bait or lure and runs, it will overcome the friction of the drag, and the reel will allow the line to be released. This prevents a large fish from breaking your line.

If the drag on the fishing reel is set too tight, the sudden hit and run of a large fish may snap the line. The drag can be adjusted on most reels, giving you control of how much or little drag is placed on the reel.

How do you fix reel drag problems? Learn how to use the drag system on your reel. Most of this comes with practice, but it is best to have a low drag than a heavy drag; you can always adjust the drag while fighting the fish to accommodate the strength or size of the fish.

5. Lack Of Frequent Line Inspection

Many anglers are guilty of this lack of line care, which is a frequent cause of line breaks. Your line suffers substantial abuse, especially in the cast and retrieve style fishing.

The line can rub on obstacles under the water or even on the line guides or eyelets on the fishing rod. Constant casting and retrieval cause abrasion on the line, weakening it, causing it to snap. The line can also sustain nicks and cuts, kinks, and creases, creating a weak spot.

The most common area of the line that receives this type of damage is the first 50-foot or so at the end where the lure is attached.

Inspect your line frequently throughout your fishing day to avoid this problem. Running your line between your thumb and forefinger from the lure towards your rod will allow you to feel any kinks, nicks, or scrapes in the line.

Cut off the damaged section, store it for disposal when you get home, and re-rig your lure. If you want to learn more about how to dispose of fishing line properly, check out this article that I wrote on the subject.

6. Incorrect Fishing Line Strength

All fishing line has a breaking-strain rating, usually rated in pounds. Targeting large fish species on a line that is too light will result in snapped line more often than not.

What is the solution to the line strength problem? Choose a line with a heavier breaking strain. It is possible to land large fish on a light line, but this requires skill and practice. Rather take a more cautious approach and choose a line with a slightly heavier load limit and gain experience bringing in a fish.

7. Damaged Fishing Line Guides

Fishing line guides are the hoops down the length of the fishing rod that the line runs through to guide it when it de-spools and spools. The outside of the guide is usually made from metal, but the inner part is from hard plastic or even ceramic.

If the inner part of the line guide is damaged, cut, or has fallen out completely, it can damage the line as it runs through the guide, fraying it or even causing it to break.

How do you check for a damaged fishing line guide? You can quickly establish any nicks or rough edges on your line guides by doing the Q-tip test. Run the cotton heat of the Q-tip gently on the inside of each line guide. Strands of cotton will stick to any rough edges of the guide.

If this happens on any of your line guides, have them replaced to avoid damage and breakage of the line.

8. Uneven Line Spooling On The Reel

When a line is spooled onto a fishing reel with uneven tension, the tight sections of the line can bite into the slack sections of the line.

This can result in the line cutting into itself on the reel’s spool, effectively damaging the line and weakening it. This is a frequent problem with lighter lines or small diameter lines such as braided lines. Fluorocarbon line is also notoriously difficult to get an even spool on your fishing reel.

How do you prevent uneven spooling you’re your fishing reel? Make sure your reel is well maintained and all the moving parts work smoothly. Some reels have a line guide to ensure the line is spooled evenly, but if this mechanism is not moving smoothly, it will not lay the line down evenly.

Another strategy is to make your reeling-in action smooth and at a constant pace rather than jerky and uneven. If you need to fix the uneven lay of the line, unspool the entire line and re-spool the line onto the reel, keeping an even tension on the line as you re-spool it.

9. A Sharp Edge On The Fishing Reel

The edges of a fishing reel can sometimes develop sharp edges where the line can catch or even damage the line as it spools on or off the reel. This can be from normal wear and tear, or even damage from being dropped, or from hooking fishing hooks to your reel.

How do you check for a sharp edge on your fishing reel? You can use the same Q-tip method that we mentioned to check the fishing rod’s line guides. Run the Q-tip cotton head across all the surfaces of the reel that make contact with the line.

If you see any cotton strands hooking onto any part of the reel, then you can take action to remedy the problem, which may require replacement parts for your reel, or simply using high grit sandpaper to smooth it off.

10. Improper Fish Fighting Technique

Fighting the fish on the end of your line is the exciting part of fishing! However, this takes technique and skill, which comes with practice and patience.

Impatience and fighting the fish too hard are common mistakes that new anglers make in their excitement to land the fish. Fighting the fish too hard and too strenuously can cause the line to break.

How do you prevent fish fighting line break problems? The best way to fight a fish, particularly a large fish, is to give it some line to run, reel in the slack, and give it some freedom to run again until the fish tires itself out. It can then be reeled in and retrieved without putting the line under extreme tension, causing it to snap.

11. Not Using A Leader

Some fish species and fishing techniques require using a leader with different characteristics to the main line you are using. This is especially true when fishing for a species of fish that has teeth.

Many fish species have teeth or bony ridges in their mouths that can easily cut through your line. A strong leader line is needed to prevent the fish from biting through the line in these fishing circumstances.

The way to resolve this line problem is to know the fish species you are targeting and use the appropriate leader.

In some cases, the leader requires is simply a heavier line, while in other cases, a steel leader is necessary.

Conclusion

There is no way to avoid line breaks completely when fishing, but you can certainly take measures to reduce the occurrence of this problem.

Most of the steps you can take to reduce the risk are fairly simple, and which you can fit into your normal fishing routines without much effort.

Take the time to take care of your line, and you will be rewarded with fewer line breaks, and you stand a better chance of landing that record-breaking catch!

Happy Fishing & Tight Lines!

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