Can Bass See Fishing Line? (Are Bass Line Shy?) – Freshwater Fishing Advice

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Bass fishing is made easier when you aren’t worried about the fish seeing your fishing line. I would argue the line is the most important link between you and the fish but just how well can bass see your line? Are bass actually line shy and that is costing you fish?

Bass can see most fishing lines under clear conditions except for fluorocarbon which is nearly invisible underwater in all but the clearest of water. Water clarity plays a huge role. Fishing pressure will make bass more line shy.

If you want to learn how to catch bass during warm weather months to include summer, please check out these helpful 32 tips on summer bass fishing. To learn the best time of day to catch bass, you really need to read this insightful article.

Fishing Line Visibility to Bass

Every fishing line has the potential to be seen by bass underwater. Generally speaking, the thinner the diameter, the less visible it will be. Monofilament and braided lines are the most visible.

Monofilament is thicker in diameter than fluorocarbon and braid so it will be easier for bass to see it. As an example, a 6-pound test monofilament may actually be thicker in diameter than 20-pound braid or fluorocarbon.

In clear water, you should avoid monofilament if you are working finesse techniques where stealth is paramount. Finesse techniques include crawling big swimbaits on bottom, ned rigs, and drop shots among others.

This type of fishing gives weary bass plenty of time to analyze your lure and your line. Moving baits like jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and cranks give bass much less time to detect the line.

The clarity of water dictates most of my line selection though. If you are fishing at night, in muddy water, or even in water with some stain, line visibility should not be a huge concern. It’s when you get into clear water of greater than 10-feet of viability when you really need to be careful.

Also, if you are fishing for heavily pressured fish, selecting the wrong line will cost you a lot of fish. Fishing pressure will make bass very skittish.

Are Bass Line Shy?

Bass does not naturally line shy however if they are in a highly pressured fishery with multiple tournaments, you will see bass a lot more cautious and thus more line shy. Another thing that will cause a bass to be more aware of fishing lines is past experience.

Bass who have been caught before will attribute the presence of fishing line with that negative experience. These bass will be a lot more weary and suspicious of lures than fish that haven’t been hooked before.

Line Visibility for Bass: Type

The type of line you select will go a long way to determining your fishing success. There are 3 primary bass fishing lines on the market: braid, fluorocarbon, and monofilament. Each of them have different visibility properties that affect a bass’s ability to detect your line.


Monofilament is a poor option for line shy bass or in clear water because the thick diameter will be more easily seen. Mono is the most commonly used fishing line because it’s the easiest for new fishermen to use and is the cheapest to buy.

However, being the thickest in diameter, monofilament is the worst option for line shy fish and in clear water. Don’t use monofilament if you are finesse fishing (again dropshotting, ned-rigging, or crawling swimbaits) because these techniques rely on you fooling a bass into biting and the mono will give you away.

Also, avoid mono if your water clarity is good. You can get away with mono at night, in stained water, or after a rain, but monofilament will cost you fish in clearer water. I think monofilament is best as a leader material for moving baits like jerkbaits, crankbaits, and spinners.

Mono offers great knot retention and wonderful shock absorption which you will benefit from when an 8 pounder freight-trains your crankbait. As a mainline, I avoid mono for bass because it is too easily seen.

For a complete guide to bass fishing with monofilament, please check out this helpful article I wrote. If you want to learn what are the best fighting fish to catch to include saltwater and freshwater, please check out this helpful article I wrote.


Bass will be able to see braided line if you are fishing in clear water or using a finesse technique where bass are afforded more time to analyze your lure. Braid is my favorite type of fishing line for shear strength, durability, and casting distance.

Because braid offers almost no stretch, it is perfectly suited for finesse fishing when you need to be able to feel your bite. The solid nature of braid though will make it silhouette against the water making it easier for bass to see.

I still believe mono is the worst, but braid is a line type that cautious bass can detect. I prefer to fish with braid as the mainline because of the casting range and sensitivity.

If you are fishing in clear water or using a finesse technique, go with a fluorocarbon leader at least 4-feet in length connected to the braid. That would give you a perfect combination of sensitivity and stealth.

You can also get away with braid, even without a leader for line shy fish if the water is stained, you are fishing at night, or you are moving baits at speed giving bass no time to see the line.

When fishing on pressure water that sees a lot of bass fishermen, either avoid braid or go with a longer leader material. I have gone with 20-foot fluorocarbon leaders before when fishing clear water for smallmouth. It can make a big difference.

For a complete guide to bass fishing with braid, please check out this helpful article I wrote.


Because the thin diameter and light reflection properties of fluorocarbon, it is almost invisible underwater to line shy bass in all but the clearest of water. Fluorocarbon is very thin giving it great castability and use for finesse techniques.

If I’m finesse fishing, I don’t think there’s a better combination that braided mainline and a 10-foot fluorocarbon leader. The braid will give you incredible sensitivity and the fluorocarbon is very hard for bass to see.

If you are on pressured fisheries, I suggest going with a good fluorocarbon line. If your bass aren’t that line shy or the water is murky, you don’t need fluorocarbon as much.

Fluorocarbon can pose knot issues where the knot is actually burnt if you don’t wet it down with saliva before cinching. Of all the fishing lines, fluorocarbon is the hardest for bass to see and the best for bass that are line shy or have been caught before.

Line Color Selection for Bass

Clear and dark green are the best colors for bass fishing in most water clarity because they are hardest for line shy bass to see. Believe it or not, fishing line comes in a variety of colors. The most common color is clear which has the most universal fishing application.

You will also see dark green, black, white, red, yellow, and light blue. Personally, I think red, white, and blue colors are a gimmick, at least for bass fishing. The theory with red is that underwater, red disappears.

That is true with natural reds, bur artificial reds found in lures and red line is very visible underwater. The same is true with light blue. Yellow is the most visible line color and is terrible for line shy bass if used incorrectly.

Yellow stands out like a sore thumb underwater, but when paired with a very long fluorocarbon leader material, yellow provides great visibility for the angler fishing a finesse technique. You can easily see the line twitch with a bite whereas the long clear leader makes it impossible for bass to see.

Never use red, yellow, blue, or white as the only line connecting to your bait. Bass will see that and not bite. I prefer dark green and clear. If the water has some color to it, dark green is my go-to, especially in braid. Clear is ideal for clear water.

Which Line Type is Least Visible for Bass

Fluorocarbon is the least visible fishing line underwater to bass because of its non-reflective coating and ultra-thin diameter. It is the preferred line type for any kind of finesse applications such as drop shots and ned rigs. According to some scientists, fluorocarbon is almost invisible in all but the clearest of water to bass.

Now, if the water is really stained or muddy, just about any fishing line is hard for bass to see. You may as well go straight braid then as that is the strongest line you can use. A lot of bass anglers go straight braid if the water is muddy or if night fishing since bass can’t see the line.

Water Clarity & Line Visibility

As we have already covered, water clarity will dictate how well bass can you detect your fishing line. In clear water with over 10-feet of visibility, you need to be very careful with line selection if you’re using slow baits.

Fluorocarbon is the way to go if your bass are line shy or pressured. In early spring when the reservoirs are flooded from the winter melt-off, you could be fishing in muddy water with maybe a few inches of visibility.

In that clarity of water, you can almost get away with fishing a copper wire for line. I’m just kidding of course but bass can’t see your line. Pay close attention to the clarity of water and let that determine what type and diameter of line you put on.

Line Visibility & Bass Fishing Application

If you are fishing moving or reaction baits like spinners, chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, or swimbaits up in the water column, line concealment isn’t a huge issue. Bass will be reacting to the baits and have very little time to analyze the bait, let alone the line.

You should be fine with almost any type of clear or dark green colored line in most waters. If the water is crazy clear, I would still be cautious using braid or mono.

But when fishing very slow and methodically, go with razor-thin fluorocarbon. Finesse fishing like the wacky rig, ned rig, or drop shot give bass plenty of time to stop and analyze your bait.

If they see your line, they could bounce. The slower you are fishing, the more you need to concern yourself with line diameter and type.

Line Visibility-Strength Trade-Off for Bass

Thinner diameter line is hard for bass to see but normally weaker than thicker diameter line. There is a trade-off between power and invisibility.

You always want to use the strongest line you can get away with but if it’s costing you bites, then you need to go lighter. The rule of thumb I recommend is going with the strongest line you can get away with that is not costing bites.

The best thing about fluorocarbon is you don’t have to sacrifice strength for a thin diameter line. As previously mentioned, 20-pound test fluorocarbon can be thinner in diameter than 6-pound test monofilament and much harder to see.

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