Ultimate Monofilament Fishing Line Guide For Beginners


Whether you’re a new or casual angler, shopping for fishing lines can be confusing. There’re so many options available in the market, but, without a doubt, the most common type of fishing line you’ll see is monofilament.

This is why I’ve created the ultimate beginners’ guide for monofilament fishing lines! We will take a deep dive into everything you need to know about monofilament fishing lines.

Summary

Monofilament
Material To Make MonoNylon (Plastic). Various Plastics & Chemicals Added To Adjust Performance.
When To UseTrolling, Live Bait Fishing, Bottom Fishing (Jigging), Casting Lures
Line Strength2lb – 100lb+
Line DiameterThe Thickest Line Out Of The 3 Different Types Of Lines
Abrasion ResistanceModerate Abrasion Resistance
Line StretchStretches Uniformly With Load
~ 10% – 25% Stretch
Line BuoyancySinks Slowly
Water AbsorptionYes – Not Great For Performance
Line MemoryModerate
Line VisibilityModerate
Line ColourMany Options To Choose From
UV ExposureBad
CastingBest
Mainline usageExcellent
Leader Line UsageDecent – Depending On Situation
KnotsEasy To Make Knots
Provides Good Knot Strength If Properly Done
StorageAvoid Sunlight & Hot Temperatures
Life Span1 – 2 Years
RecyclabilityYes
PriceCheapest
Monofilament Fishing Lines

What Are Monofilament Fishing Lines?

Despite monofilament being so popular, many anglers, especially beginners, will have many questions.

The first one is “what are monofilament fishing lines.

Monofilament fishing lines are made from plastics. Nylon is a type of plastic that forms the basis of monofilament lines. Chemical additives and other plastics are added to adjust the line’s characteristics.

Nylon does not have to be used as the based plastic. Over the years, many brands have developed their own proprietary formulation.

Seasoned anglers will call this line “mono” for short. 

The prefix “mono” means One or Single in Greek, which describes how mono is manufactured.

The plastic that makes mono is melted down and extruded through a dye plate with holes in it. As the plastic gets pushed through these holes, a single strand of plastic is created. This single strand creates the monofilament fishing lines you see in stores. 

When Should You Use a Monofilament Fishing Line?

Monofilament is arguably one of the most versatile fishing lines today. Because of its characteristics, it tends to work well in many different applications. This is why so many anglers, both professionals and beginners, love using monofilament.

Below are some situations when you should use monofilament fishing lines:

Trolling

  • Performance: Great
  • Reasons: Trolling stretches the line when being dragged across the water. Essentially making the line act as a spring in the water. This helps set the hook on a fish when they bite and prevents the line from breaking if it strikes too hard.

Live Bait Fishing

  • Performance: Great
  • Reasons: Monofilament is lightweight and relatively buoyant. It makes for a great fishing line choice when fishing with live bait. This results in your live bait being able to move around more freely and naturally. 

Bottom Fishing (Jigging)

  • Performance: Not the best but does the job
  • Reasons: Monofilament stretches, making it hard to feel bites. The deeper you’re fishing, the harder it’ll be to feel bites. That being said, I’ve used monofilament for this purpose for many years, and I still catch fish. This means you have to pick the correct type of action for your rod to compensate.

Casting Lures

  • Performance: Not the best but does the job
  • Reasons: Monofilament has line memory which impacts your casting distance. That being said, monofilament will do just fine, especially if you’re a beginner. 

Picking The Correct Line Strength

Picking the proper line test is the first critical decision you need to make.

There are many different considerations to consider when choosing the proper line rating.

  • Fish Weight
  • Abrasion Factors
  • Line Memory
  • Sensitivity
  • Buoyancy
  • Casting
  • and many more

For the beginners out there, keep things simple.

As a rule of thumb, select a line rating that is one line rating higher than the average weight of a particular species of fish you’re targeting.

Example:

If you’re fishing for trout and the average weight is around 10lb, you should use a fishing line rated for 12lb. 

By upping the size of the line can make up for some of the other parameters that are hard to gauge, such as abrasion. 

If you hook on to a fish larger than 10 lbs does not mean your line will break automatically. Instead, you will have to fight the fish more and be more delicate. Adjusting the reel’s drag will allow you to change the resistance if the fish pulls drag. 

Monofilament Characteristics

Mono can be used in many different applications thanks to its flexible characteristics. Let’s take a deeper look into the attributes of mono.

Line Diameter

Any well-seasoned angler will tell you the line diameter is important to consider. Unfortunately, you have zero control of the line diameter. The manufacturer sets the line diameter.

Regardless, it’s important to understand how line diameter influences the characteristics of monofilament. Here is how changing line diameter could impact your fishing experience:

Thinner LinesThicker Lines
Line Strength? 🔻 🔺
Line Amount A Reel Can Hold?🔺🔻
Casting Distance?🔺🔻
Abrasion Resistance?🔻🔺
Line Memory?🔻🔺
Line Visibility? 🔻 🔺
Sinking Rate? 🔻 🔺
Line Sensitivity?🔺🔻
Line Flexibility?🔺🔻
Shock Resistance?🔻🔺

Abrasion Resistance

When fishing, your fishing line can take a beating. There are plenty of sharp and rough objects underwater that can wear out your fishing line. 

Abrasion resistance should be one of the main things to consider when deciding what fishing line product you want to use. Rocks, fish’s teeth, underwater vegetation are just some of the ways how your fishing line can be damaged.

Inherently, mono has some anti-abrasion properties because of the material it is made of. As you go up in strength, the thicker the line, which also helps provide you more “meat” on the line. This extra thickness helps against abrasion as well.

Some monofilament fishing line products are specifically designed to have more abrasion resistance. This usually means the line has a special coating or chemical added. 

Keep in mind that the more abrasion-resistant a fishing line, the more you lose flexibility and increase line memory. Both of which can potentially negatively impact your fishing experience.

Line Stretch

Monofilament fishing lines tend to stretch when under tension. In fact, mono has the most stretch than any other type of fishing line available in the market.

Monofilament can stretch between 10% to 30% of its length.

The range of which a monofilament can stretch is dependent on the type of materials and chemical additives used to create the line.

Example:

You’re bottom fishing at a depth of 100 yards and hooked on to a large fish. You can expect your line to stretch between 10 to 30 yards!

High Line Stretch

Mono lines with lots of line stretch will act as a shock absorber. The line stretch will dampen the transfer of load directly to your equipment preventing damage. This also helps prevent a hook from ripping out of a fish’s mouth when they strike hard and fast.

This is particularly useful when trolling. When trolling, your tackle is being dragged across the water. This creates some tension which preloads the line causing your line to stretch. 

When a fish strikes your bait, your line will stretch more, providing some resistance. This stretch dampens the effect of a sudden load on your rod and prevents the hook from ripping out of a fish’s mouth. 

Low Line Stretch

The most significant drawback of using lines with lots of line stretch is the lack of sensitivity. Since line stretch dampens out sudden loads on the line, it will make it harder for you to feel bites or set the hook properly.

To combat this while maintaining many of mono’s properties that we all love is products designated as “low stretch.”

Mono with low stretch provides more line sensitivity allowing you to feel bites better. Not to mention, it gives you the ability to set the hook properly.

But you lose most of the shock-absorbing effects that a mono with a lot of line stretch will provide you. These lines are not recommended for trolling or where the fish will strike hard and fast, which could damage your rod.

Buoyancy

Line buoyancy determines if a fishing line floats or sinks, impacting your bait’s presentation. 

Monofilament fishing lines are slightly denser than water, causing them to sink in water. Mono’s density is approximately 15% more than freshwater and 12% more than saltwater.

Water Absorption

Monofilament can absorb roughly 10% of its weight in water. Unfortunately, water absorption results in a 10% reduction in strength for premium lines and as high as 30% for the cheaper lines.

Here is another issue with water absorption. 

Mono will expand as water is absorbed, similar to a sponge absorbing water. The line diameter and length will grow, slightly changing the line’s stretching characteristics. 

The water absorbed in the mono will make it easier for the line to stretch than before. 

Eventually, the water absorbed in the line will evaporate over time. This is not a big issue with freshwater, but saltwater is another story. 

As saltwater is absorbed in the line, it will bring microscopic salt particles into the line. However, as the water evaporates when the line is not being used, the salt particles will remain in the line. 

Over time, the salt particles will alter some of its performance, reducing 

  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Performance
  • Life span

Line Memory

Monofilament has line memory and generally speaking, line memory is bad. 

Despite this line memory issue, many anglers still choose to use monofilament for many different reasons. The good outweighs the bad of line memory.

Several factors influence the amount of line memory that a line can have, such as:

  • Type of fishing line
  • Line Diameter
  • Abrasion Resistance

If you’re experiencing line memory issues, there are things you can do to minimize the amount of line memory. 

There are monofilament lines that are designed to have low line memory if this is something that concerns you.

Visibility

When it comes to bait presentation, you want your fishing line as invisible as possible. If your fishing line is visible underwater, it’s bad and could scare off some fish.

Mono is visible underwater, but it’s considered the middle of the road compared to braided and fluorocarbon lines.

How visible a line is underwater is dependent on how similar light passes through the water and fishing line.

The more similar a line and water reflect light, the more invisible the line will become underwater. Also, the greater the difference between how a line and water reflect light, the more the line will appear underwater.

Physics can measure how an object can bend light by the “Index of refraction.”

Water has an index of refraction, roughly around 1.33. Monofilament has an index of refraction around 1.55, approximately 16.5% greater than water.

This means that monofilament will appear underwater, BUT it won’t stick out like a sore thumb.

What will manner more for monofilament is the line colour.

Line Colour

When picking a line colour, you want to choose a colour that blends with the colour of the water – or do you?

For colours to appear underwater, there needs to be light. Light travels through air and water in waves. Depending on the light’s wavelength determines if a particular colour appears or not.

Every colour needs a specific wavelength of light for the colour to appear as its intended colour. 

Fishing Line Color By Depth
Source: Fix.com Blog

The chart above from Fix.com clearly shows that red will lose its colour first. After a few feet, red will become dark, more like a silhouette in the water. Red requires a very short wavelength to appear, and the shorter wavelengths are what disappear first in the water. 

Luckily monofilament comes in a wide range of colours to experiment with. 

Sunlight (UV) Exposure

Some materials will degrade over time from UV exposure. Unfortunately, monofilament contains types of plastics that will degrade over time.

UV exposure will cause monofilament fishing lines to become weak and brittle. For every 100 hours of UV exposure, mono will lose approximately 20% of its strength. That is like going on 20 different fishing trips and spending 5 hours each trip fishing.

Most casual anglers will not hit 100 hours of UV exposure during a single summer.

Are Monofilament Lines Good For Castings?

Monofilament fishing lines are pretty good lines for casting. Many anglers will consider mono as a middle-of-the-road type of line regarding casting. Braided lines would be viewed as the best, and fluorocarbon would be the worst.

How distance that an average angler can cast a type of line is what determines if a line is good or bad. These are factors that can reduce a monofilament’s casting distance:

Line Diameter: Larger the line diameter, the stiffer the line. This will reduce how far you can cast your line. Casting thinner lines will generally improve your casting distance.

Abrasion Resistance: As abrasion resistance increases, the line hardness and external coatings increase. These result in a stiffer line which will reduce casting distance. 

Line Memory: High line memory impacts how the line comes off the reel when casting. Usually, the line hits the reel and rod guides more than usual, producing more friction and reducing casting distance.

Should I Use Monofilament Lines As A Mainline?

Picking the right fishing line as your mainline is critical to your fishing success. If you choose the wrong line, you might run into line sensitivity, bait presentation, or durability issues.

The good news is that monofilament lines are excellent as a mainline. They are versatile and suitable for many different applications.

Monofilament fishing lines are a great choice if you are fishing:

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  • Fishing topwater
  • Casting
  • Trolling
  • Fishing with Live-Bait
  • Near Underwater Structure

Does Monofilament Make For Good Leader Lines?

Picking the correct type of line as your leader line is just as important as choosing the right line for your mainline.

The purpose of a leader is to:

  • improve bait presentation 
  • protect your mainline
  • prevent your line from breaking due to abrasion.

Monofilament leaders are great to use because of their versatility. Anglers, like myself, have been using mono as a leader for many years.

There is not much difference between mainlines and leaders. Besides, the designated mono leader line you see in the stores is more abrasion-resistant. 

Your leader length will affect your bait’s presentation quite a bit. Pay close attention to the style of fishing you’re doing and how your leader size may affect your fishing.

The strength of your leader line compared to your mainline is a debate that will never end. There are points to be made on both ends. If your leader is weaker than your mainline, the leader will break first, not the mainline, if you got snagged. 

If your leader line is stronger than your mainline, it’s definitely more durable, but you might have to cut your mainline if you got a bad snagged.

How Well Does Monofilament Knots Hold?

Having a strong knot is critical! 

Knots are the only thing that ultimately keeps fish connected to your line, but they are considered as a weak point on your fishing line.

This is why knot strength is so important. Knot strength describes how much weight a knot can hold before it breaks. You can assume a knot strength of 50% of your fishing line rating as a general rule of thumb.

When knots are done well and carefully, the knot strength will be approximately the same as the fishing line’s pound rating. There are a lot of factors that will influence the knot strength.

Line Material:

  • The outer surface of a monofilament fishing line has some friction to it. Friction helps knots lock in place, making it harder for them to become undone.

Line Diameter:

  • A thicker line will hold a knot better than thinner lines because the thicker line will be able to “pinch” itself more than thinner lines.

Line Flexibility:

  • Line flexibility makes it easier for knots to cinch down and lock in place. If the line was really stiff, knots would be able to become undone much more easily.

Type of knots:

  • Every knot serves a particular purpose and has its own knot strength. Understanding which knots to use plays a significant role in how well the knot will hold up. 

Here are eight beginner-friendly knots that you can use with monofilament fishing line:

Arbor Knot – Ties the line to the reel

Improved Clinch Knot – Ties line to hooks, lures, swivels, and sinkers

Uni Knot – Tie line to hooks, lures, swivels, and sinkers

Double Uni Knot – Great for tying two separate segments of lines together

Surgeon’s Knot / End Loop – Ties hooks, lures, swivels, and sinkers

Snell Knot – Great for tying line to hooks.

How To Maintain Monofilament Fishing Line

Believe it or not, if you want your monofilament to be in its best condition should take a few steps to properly maintain the line. Not properly maintaining your line could reduce your fishing line’s lifespan. 

So here are my tips on how to properly maintain your line. 

After Fishing In Freshwater

Organic bacteria from freshwater can be found on your line. They love to eat away on plastics, making your line brittle and weak over time.

To remove this organic bacteria, you will need to clean your line. Here is how:

  1. Fill a bucket with warm water.
  2. Unspool the approximate length of line you’ve been fishing with into the bucket.
  3. Soak the line for a few minutes to soften any buildup. 
  4. Wrap the line with a damp clean cloth. 
  5. Reel the line while applying pressure on the cloth as the line runs through it.

Ideally, you should clean your line 1-2 times a season, but most of us will only do this at the end of the season.

After Fishing In Saltwater

Monofilament will absorb water, and it will also absorb the microscopic salts particles from the saltwater. Over time these salts will reduce line strength and make the line brittle. 

You can remove some of the salts out of the line, but it will be nearly impossible to remove all the salts. But hi, some is better than none. Here is how you do it:

  1. Fill a bucket with freshwater.
  2. Unspool the approximate length of line you’ve been fishing with into the bucket.
  3. Let the line soak anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Wrap the line with a clean cloth to dry to the outside of the line. 
  5. Start reeling in your line while gently squeezing the line.
  6. Repeat as many times as you would like.

The more you repeat this, the more salts you will remove. There is a point where you’ll see minimal results. 

How To Store Monofilament Fishing Lines During The OffSeason?

By not correctly storing monofilament fishing lines, you might be reducing its lifespan.

There are several factors that you need to consider, but the two significant factors are:

  • UV Rays
  • Temperature

We’ve discussed the impact that UV rays have on monofilament. If you’re storing spools of line, you’ll need to place your spools in a tight container to block out the light. If you’re storing a reel with line on it, I recommended covering your reels with a cover to protect the line from the harmful rays.

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As for temperature, monofilament should be stored between 65°F (15°C) to 77°F (25°C), ideally. 

Avoid storing mono in hot temperatures wherever possible. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can cause damage.

Monofilament Fishing Line Typical Life Span

Monofilament doesn’t last forever, and it does have a shelf life but its dependent on many factors:

  • How often are you fishing?
  • Are you fishing with a lot of drag?
  • How are you properly storing your line during the offseason?
  • Are you properly maintaining your fishing line?
  • How long has the fishing line been in storage?

Generally speaking, you can expect to replace your monofilament fishing line between 1 – 2 years. 

How To Dispose Of Old Monofilament Fishing Lines?

There will be a time when you need to replace your monofilament fishing line, but what do you do with the line?

Improperly disposing of your old fishing line could significantly affect the environment. Wildlife can either get tangled in fishing lines or eat fishing lines thinking it was food; both could be deadly.

To properly dispose of your old monofilament line, you need to recycle it. This does not mean you can toss the line in the same household recycling bin. 

There is a unique recycling process that needs to occur when recycling monofilament. Your local tackle store should be able to handle your fishing line for you and send your fishing line to Berkley, where they will recycle your old line.

The Price Of Monofilament Fishing Line?

The price of monofilament is pretty low cost. In fact, it’s the cheapest type of fishing line you can buy. 

After researching tons of fishing lines, I’ve broken down the cost per yard for different line ratings and spool sizes.

Test100 Yards250 Yards300 Yards600 Yards1000 Yards2400 Yards
4 lb$0.06$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02$0.01
6 lb$0.06$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02$0.01
8 lb$0.06$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02$0.01
10 lb$0.07$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02$0.02
12 lb$0.07$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02$0.02
14 lb$0.07$0.03$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02
17 lb$0.07$0.03$0.03$0.02$0.02$0.02
20 lb$0.07$0.03$0.03$0.03$0.03$0.03
25 lb$0.08$0.04$0.03$0.03$0.03$0.03
30 lb$0.08$0.04$0.03$0.03$0.03$0.03

Top Recommended Brands For Beginners

The number of fishing line brands out there can be overwhelming. Every brand has good and bad qualities, making it confusing for someone just starting off. 

If your looking for a recommendation on which brands to use, I’ve narrowed it down to two brands. 

  • Berkley
  • Stren

Monofilament Fishing Line Recommendations

Knowing a good brand is only half the battle. The other half is figuring out what product to use and when. 

Don’t worry! I got you covered if you’re completely confused about what product to use. Here are some of the products that I use and recommend at a reasonable price if you’re worried about cost.

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  • When To Use: Bottom Fishing, Trolling, and Live-Bait Fishing
  • Great for Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
  • Excellent toughness and abrasion resistance preventing line breakage
  • The low stretch allows you to feel bites better and easier to set the hook. 
  • Great for fishing larger fish, especially with some sharp teeth.

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  • When To Use: Live-Bait Fishing, Casting
  • Great for Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
  • Designed for casting, giving you a further casting distance
  • The low line memory gives you fewer kinks and twists in the line
  • Excellent line sensation so you can better feel underwater structures. 

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  • When To Use: Bottom Fishing, Casting, Live-Baiting
  • Great For Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
  • Designed for the toughness fishing conditions
    • Jetties
    • Rocks
    • Heavy Cover
  • Higher line memory
  • Great for hard hooksets

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  • When To Use: Trolling, Casting, Live-Bait Fishing
  • Great For Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
  • The low line memory gives you fewer kinks and twists in the line
  • A significant amount of line stretch great for shock restraint

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  • When To Use: Trolling, Casting
  • Great For Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing
  • Excellent shock resistance for hard-hitting fish
  • Great toughness withstanding sharp underwater objects

Happy Fishing and Tight Lines

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