Does Fishing Line Go Bad (How Long Does It Last?)

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Does Fishing Line Go Bad (How Long Does It Last?) | A Guide To Making Fishing Line Last Longer!

does fishing line go bad

So, the other day when I got home from a recent fishing trip, I began spraying off my reels like I always do and it hit me…does fishing line ever go bad? I know that it can get frayed from fishing around docks, rocks, and other types of structure, but does it go bad just on its own when in storage.

So before I started ripping off the line off all of my reels, I decided to do a little research and here’s what I found out.

If you would like to learn how to know when your fishing line is going bad and also how to prolong the life of it, then keep reading!

How Long Does Fishing Line Last?

How long fishing line lasts depends on how well you take care of it. If you rinse your line off with freshwater (especially after using in saltwater), and you keep your rod and reels out of direct sunlight, you should be able to get at least a few years out of it before it needs to be replaced.

With that being said, I usually replace the line on my reels every six months or so! I personally don’t want to lose the fish of a lifetime due to bad fishing line! I replace fishing line this frequently because I fish a lot! Do I have to? Probably not. But better safe than sorry.

How Often To Replace Fishing Line

Here are the times you should replace the fishing line on your fishing reels. As I mentioned, there are quite a few factors that determine how often you should do it, but below are some of the main times you should change out your line.

Every Couple Years For Most People

Unless you’re someone who fishes for a living, you can probably get away with changing your fishing line once every couple of years. However, if your paycheck is determined by how many fish you catch, then you might want to consider changing it a little more often. I personally replace my fishing line about every six months just to be on the safe side.

Before Any Big Fishing Trips

Also, if you are planning a big fishing trip and it’s been a little while since you changed your line, it might be a good idea to go ahead a make a change. It’s not worth losing a fish of a lifetime only to save a few bucks by not upgrading your line.

On Reels That Come Pre-Spooled

Another reason that you should change your line immediately is if you purchase a reel that already has the fishing line on it. In most cases, it will be the cheap stuff and is pretty much garbage.

There are also instances where you may need to only change a small section of your line due to it being frayed.

Signs That Your Fishing Line is Bad

There are different signs when using braid or mono that will determine when it’s time to change out your fishing line.

While it may be hard in some cases to determine whether or not your fishing line needs to be replaced, there are other cases where it’s very clear!

When The Line Is Frayed

One, in particular, is when your line is frayed. This can happen to either mono or braid and occurs when either fighting a fish or getting caught on some type of structure.

If this happens, pay close attention to the condition of your line after every few casts to make sure that there are no weak sections in it. If you spot, a frayed section around your leader area, it’s best to go ahead and cut a good 10 ft section of your main line off just to be on the safe side.

Line Is Discolored

Another sign that your line has gone bad is discoloration.

While this may be hard to spot with clear monofilament lines, it’s much easier to notice if you’re using a colored braid or colored mono line.

The change in color is mainly due to sun exposure, which can dramatically weaken the line. If you notice discoloration, it’s best to bite the bullet and go ahead and replace it.

Mildew Spots (monofilament)

Something else that I’ve only seen with mono, is when the line gets mildew spots on it. While I’m honestly not sure if this weakens the line itself, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and change the line out.

Does Braid Last Longer Than Monofilament

Yes, if properly taken care of, a braided line can last much longer than monofilament. In most cases, someone who goes fishing a few times a month or less should be able to get at least a couple of years out of their braided line.

The life of your braid can also be extended by simply taking it off your reel and re-spooling it with the used part first. This could give you at least another year or so out of it.

Monofilament vs Braid Line (Pros and Cons)

Mono, on the other hand, tends to deteriorate much faster, in part due to exposure to sunlight and memory. It also absorbs moisture after time, so even if you keep your mono in a nice cool, dry place, it can still go bad much quicker than braid.

Besides exposure to sunlight, the biggest cause of mono going bad is due to line memory. Over time mono will take on the shape of whatever it’s wrapped around. So even if it’s never been taken off the spool that you bought it on, it will take on that shape.

This can cause issues when trying to spool it on your reel, as well as, affect your casting distance. The nice thing about braid is that it doesn’t have a memory!

Recommended Fishing Line (Mono and Braid)

Every so often I’m asked which fishing line I recommend. Below are my top two go-to fishing lines. One is monofilament, which I use on a number of my fishing reels. And the other is braided line, which I use when fishing larger fish.

Power Pro Spectra Fiber Braided Fishing Line

Power Pro Spectra uses the Enhanced Body Technology which provides a round, smooth and structurally superior ultra-strong fishing line. The line has virtually no memory or coil, virtually zero stretch and is incredibly strong. It’s a combination of these characteristics along with affordability that makes Power Pro Spectra the best all around fishing line.

KastKing World’s Premium Monofilament

In a time when many people are moving away from monofilament lines in favor of fluorocarbons, copolymers and other hi-tech fishing lines, I still use it heavily.

I’ve found that KastKing Premium monofilament line is not only very affordable, but it’s incredibly strong, resistant to fraying and abrasions and in my experience has always had very little line memory.

How to Extend The Life of Fishing Line

Eventually, all fishing line will need to be replaced. But here are a few things that you can do to extend the line’s life for one more season.

Store Properly

Avoid storing your rod and reels outside or in a place where it gets super hot, cold, or wet such as an outside shed.

Frequently Rinse With Fresh Water

Wash off with fresh water after each use, especially when fishing in saltwater. Make sure the eyelets on your rod are in good shape! If you have worn out eyelets, every time that you cast and reel your line, you could potentially be causing it to fray.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

As I mentioned earlier, if you can keep the fishing line out of direct sunlight, you’ll find that it lasts a lot longer. Sunlight can quickly deteriorate fishing line making it extremely brittle and prone to breakage.

What to Do With Old Fishing Line

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to know that used fishing line disposed of on the bank or in the water can wreak havoc on the local residents.

Recycle Old Fishing Line

So, the number one thing you can do with your old fishing line is recycle it.

There are plenty of places where you can take it for recycling, including your local Bass Pro Shop. Some fishing piers, boat ramps and popular fishing locations have special bins for used fishing line.

Do Not Throw Old Line In The Water

Under no circumstances should you ever throw away unwanted fishing line into the water. Not only are you polluting the waterways that you love to fish in, but you risk the chance of killing the very fish that you are trying to catch. It can also wreak havoc if it gets caught in a boat motor’s propeller.

Use Old Mono As Backing

If you use braid on some of your reels, you can also use your old mono for backing. There’s no sense in wasting money on spooling your reel entirely with braid or buying a brand new spool of mono when you can use what you already have. And yes, using the old stuff is perfectly okay for backing.

Does Unopened Fishing Line Go Bad

Yes, mono and braid can still go bad even if you have never taken them out of the package. If you keep them in a hot place, where they are exposed to extreme heat and or sunlight, they will eventually go bad just like they would if they were on your fishing reel.

Line Memory Is The Culprit

However, memory is what will make your unused line go bad the fastest. When fishing line is being used regularly, it has a chance to stretch out with every cast. If it never leaves the spool that it was packaged on, it will eventually take on that shape. Then when you try to spool it on your reel you end up with a coiled mess. Even worse, when you try and cast it, you risk the chance of backlash, wind knots, and crows nest.

I’m honestly not sure of the shelf life of fishing lines. I’m sure that it varies with the brand as well as the poundage and whether or not it’s braid or monofilament.


The good news is that for the most part, fishing line is relatively inexpensive compared to your other fishing gear, so changing it often shouldn’t put a strain on your wallet. If you’re a weekend warrior who at most only gets to wet a line once every week, then you should be good with changing it once a year.

The cost of changing your line regularly is minimal, however, losing the fish of a lifetime will stay with you a lifetime! Have you ever heard about “the one that got away?” Don’t be that guy!

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