6 Way to Measure How Much Fishing Line Out in the Water

You can do a hundred different things right and still come up empty-handed when you hit the water. You could have top-of-the-line gear, the right bait or lures, and the perfect presentation, but it won’t mean a thing if you aren’t putting your bait where the fish are. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to measure how much line you have out in the water, so you can more accurately fish specific depths in the water column. Today, we’ll cover the six best ways you can improve your productivity on the water. 

Why Measuring Your Line Is Helpful

Before we dive into the different methods you can use, let’s briefly discuss why measuring your line can be crucial. 

Most anglers will start at the bottom and work their way up if you’re using drop fishing techniques like jigging.

As you continue to fish, the conditions you’re fishing and how much action you’re getting provide valuable insight so you can target a specific depth. Once you know where you need to be, depth markers allow you to reach that precise depth easily.

For casting, marking your line can help you repeat your cast to a specific area, so you can be sure you’re placing your bait where it needs to be.

Knowing how much line you have in the water is critical to targeting the correct depth for trolling techniques.

If you know how much line you have out, you can calculate the exact depth you’re trolling at based on the line in the water, the speed of the boat, and the weight of your rig. 

As for depth intervals, markings every 10–20 feet allow you to be most precise. Some metered line provides markings every 5-feet, making it even easier to identify how much line you have in the water accurately. 

Different Ways to Measure How Much Line Is in the Water

Without further adieu, here are the most effective ways to determine how much line you have out in the water. 

1. Use a Marker

Using a marker is an easy, economical, and low-impact way of identifying how much line you have in the water.

This method works best when you’re fishing with braided line because you won’t have to worry about your mark wearing off the line, which will happen if you’re using mono or fluoro. 

All you need to do is make the most permanent marker you can find and throw it in your tackle bag. When you’re at the proper depth, mark your line so you can return to that same spot on your next drop. 

2. Count the Number of Pulls

A tried and true method for identifying how much line you have out in the water is to pull line out from the reel instead of casting or dropping your line. 

For this method, you’ll need first to measure the distance between the fishing reel and the first guide on the rod. Instead of dropping your lure to release the line, keep the reel engaged and pull the line out from the reel to the first guide. 

Count the number of pulls you make and multiply that number by the distance between the reel and the first guide, and you’ll have a reasonable estimation of how much line you have out in the water. 

3. Super Glue Dental Floss or Thread to Line

Super glue is another old trick that easily marks your line at a specific point.

Dental floss is a perfect material for creating a flag to mark your line when your fishing line is a dark colour. For transparent or white line, rod building thread in a bright colour works perfectly. 

All you’ll need to do is wrap the thread around your line at the desired depth/length and put a dab of superglue onto the flag to lock it in place. Keep in mind that the super glue will harden, and over time, that hard spot can damage your rod guides. For this reason, many anglers choose to use marker elastic instead. 

4. Using Marker Elastic 

Marker elastic is another popular tool that makes it easy to identify when your line is at a specific depth. It’s a soft latex rubber that won’t inhibit casting or damage your guides as it moves through them. 

Most anglers use it when casting to accurately reproduce their casts to a specific area, but it can be used for fishing particular depths in the water column, too.

To use marker elastic, you’ll start by either making a perfect cast to an area you’re targeting and then placing marker elastic before the first guide of the rod, or identify a specific depth in the water column and mark your line once you’ve reached that point. 

Tying the marker elastic on is about as simple as it gets: 

  • Cut a 6–8” section of marker elastic from the spool.
  • Make a loop with the marker elastic and hold it against your fishing line. 
  • Take the tag end of the marker elastic and loop it around itself and your fishing line four times. 
  • Pass the tag end through the loop and pull both tag ends to cinch the knot. 
  • Trim the tag ends to about ¼” long. 

5. Multi-Color Fishing Lines

Metered line changes colours over a set distance. Most lines change colour every 25 feet, but some change colour every 10 or 20 feet to provide more accuracy for anglers fishing at specific depths. These lines also have sub-markings to denote every five feet for greater accuracy. 

Determining how much line you have out is as simple as counting the colour changes and doing simple math.

If you let out three-line colours, and the colour changes every 25 feet, you can accurately determine that you have about 75 feet of line out in the water. 

The only drawback of metered line is that for best accuracy, you need to cut a full colour of line off after you retie your rig a few times or need to replace a frayed section of line.

You’ll be out of luck if you prefer to use monofilament as metered line only comes in braid.

Berkley ProSpec Prem. Saltwater Braid, 500-Yard/20-Pound, 5-Color Metered Braid

Best Metered Line Options

Several excellent options on the market deliver cutting-edge benefits in terms of knot strength, breaking strength, and durability while also allowing you to accurately assess how much line you have out in the water. 

The two most popular metered lines are Spectra Power Pro and Berkley Pro Spec. Both lines offer excellent properties and performance. Power Pro offers a four-colour pattern that changes colour every 25 feet, marking every five feet for greater accuracy. Pro-Spec provides a five-colour pattern that changes colour every 20 feet. 

0-999M Fishing Line Depth Counter Finder Tool Tackle Length Gauge Counter Fishing Line Reels

6. Line counter

Line counters are arguably the easiest and most accurate way to identify how much line you have out in the water. 

You’ll find plenty of reels that come with integrated line counters, but you can also retrofit a line counter to your existing setup with accurate results.

These line counters clip onto your rod and allows the line to run through the counter as you let it out from the reel. Once the counter shows the proper amount of line out from the reel, you’ll know you’re fishing at the appropriate depth. 

Recent Posts