How Often Should You Change Fishing Line?

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Fishing Line Spools

How Often Should You Change Freshwater Fishing Line?

Fishing line nowadays comes in a variety of different materials and the importance of quality fishing line cannot be overstated. You can have the best rods or poles available, but without quality fishing line you’re going to have issues with tangles, weak knots, casting and breakages.

It doesn’t matter which type of fishing line you’re using, whether it be a mono, a fluro, a braid or anything in-between; the quality of line will have an impact on not only it’s use but also how it degrades over time and over the frequency which it is used.

You should change your fishing line once or twice a year. The frequency that you use the line will have an impact but there are some other factors that can affect the life-span of your line, these are:

  • Frequency of use – regular use will degrade the structure the line making it weaker and more prone to tangle.
  • Being stored in direct sun-light – UV rays will also degrade the structure of fishing line.
  • Lighter line more prone to wear – Lighter lines have a weaker structure and thus, over time, degrade more quickly than heavier lines, especially with regular use.
  • Storing wet – Line that is stored wet will degrade faster than a dry line.
  • The type of water fished – Salt water will degrade a line faster than freshwater.

Although it is recommended to replace fishing line once or twice a year, it is possible to use a line for much longer than that.

If you’re predominantly fishing on small waters, like I do, then you’re probably not using more than 40-50 meters of your line spool with each fishing session; as fishing line spools are sold in varying lengths, typically from 300m to 1000m, you could just cut off 50m after 12 months and continue to use the spool for another 12 months. However, be sure to factor in any lost line due to breaks and tangles.

Key Points When Choosing a Fishing Line

  • Line Breaking Strain (weight) – This is how much force is needed to break the line. The bigger the fish you are targeting then then higher the breaking strain on the line needs to be.
  • Line Diameter – This is the thickness of the line. Generally, the higher the breaking strain of a line the thicker the line is. The thicker the line is the more likely it is to scare fish away from your bait. As discussed braided lines offer very high breaking strains while maintaining a smaller diameter.
  • Line Stretch – As discussed already, there are benefits and disadvantages to both stretchy and stretch-free lines; it boils down to more the distance you want to fish from the bank, how accurately you need to cast and how sensitive you expect your line to be.
  • Abrasion resistance – The more resistant a line is to abrasion the longer it will last.
  • Line Flexibility – In general, the more flexible a line is the better it will cast and the better it will hug the waterbed when bottom or slack line fishing.

Below are some of the most common line types and what benefits and drawbacks they have.

Click here to view my recommended Fishing Reels

Monofilament Line

Monofilament line is constructed using a single strand of nylon and so is very cheap to manufacture, making it a cheap and practical line that can be used across all fishing disciplines. For this reason, monofilament line is by far the most popular.

Naturally monofilament line is translucent and so it is very easy to dye, this means that it is available in a variety of different colours, so you can choose a colour that best suits your fishing environments. It’s even available in in bright and vibrant colours, ideal for situations when you need to watch your line closely.

Monofilament line is also very stretchy, with some brands of line stretchy up to 25% before breaking point. This has the benefit of being able to absorb the shock of an aggressive bite or a hooked fish rapidly kicking or changing direction; this makes monofilament an excellent choice for beginners.

While a stretchy line certainly has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks; when distance fishing, particularly with a weight such as a leger, it can be difficult to judge casting distances as the spring and stretch in the line can cause overcasting.

Because monofilament line is a single strand of nylon it has a large strength to diameter ratio. The heavier lines being quite thick, this is great for filling spools on a budget.

The thickness of the line also means that it’s fairly buoyant and a good choice for surface fishing. However, for this reason, it’s a good choice for slack line fishing. Slack line fishing is when your line is laid on the waterbed and so the line needs to slack from the hook to the rod.

Monofilament line is extremely susceptible to UV light damage which degrades the quality. It’s always best to sore your line in a dark place no matter what line type, but this is particularly important with monofilament.

While monofilament is susceptible to UV damage, it also very resistant to abrasion, when stored correctly monofilament can last a long time.

Finally, monofilament line is absorbent and so can react differently when wet. This can affect the line weight, strength and have an adverse on hook settings.

Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon line is essentially like monofilament in the sense that it is a single strand, however, fluorocarbon line has benefits where monofilament has drawbacks.

Fluorocarbon has a similar strength to diameter ratio as monofilament but Fluorocarbon line has the same refractive index as water and so when in the water the line becomes practically invisible. This is great for stealth fishing and allows you to use a heavier line without it being so prominent in the water like a monofilament would.

Fluorocarbon is denser than monofilament and so sinks much faster, so while it’s not a good choice for surface fishing, it’s a great choice for fishing on the waterbed or even using weightless setups.

Fluorocarbon line is not as stretchy as monofilament making it much more sensitive to gentle bites and takes. This also means that it’s a better choice for distance than monofilament line. However, while fluorocarbon does still have some stretch, some people find it more difficult to cast and so is not normally recommended for beginners, making it less popular than monofilament.

Fluorocarbon is not absorbent like monofilament is, and while this makes the line more consistent in the way it behaves while fishing, it requires some trial an error to understand how to get the most out of the line knot strength. Most fluorocarbon lines recommend that you tie them with a wet line but this can change from line to line; it’s best to do some research first rather than struggling with this on bank when you just want to be fishing.

Finally, unlike monofilament, fluorocarbon is not susceptible to UV damage and is also significantly more abrasion resistant than monofilament.

In short, the benefits of fluorocarbon line mean it’s a worthy upgrade from monofilament but may require a bit more skill and finesse.

For information on how to use a Sliding Float Stop Knot read – Sliding Float Stop Knot

Braided Line

Braided line is, as the name suggests, multiple strands which have been braided and moulded or welded together to make a single line.

The multi-strand construction means that you can get much stronger line with a much smaller diameter; This is excellent when you’re targeting larger or harder fighting fish, as you can keep a light (near invisible) line whilst still maintaining maximum strength.

Braided line is also dense and so sinks fast, like fluorocarbon, makes it a great choice for fishing on the waterbed. However, unlike fluorocarbon, braided line is the most visible in the water as it isn’t translucent and the colour choices are limited, unlike monofilament.

Braided line in considerably more expensive than monofilament, and while having a much smaller diameter has its benefits, it means that you need much more line to fill a spool. For this reason, many people will back a spool (having line of one type on the spool first and adding a second line on top of it) with a heavy monofilament line and then top the spool up with braided.

This has another benefit in the fact that that monofilament line is much less likely to slip on the spool like braided is.

Braided line has no stretching capabilities which makes it a great choice for casting long distances and casting with accuracy. Braided line is also much more flexible than the other types so would be the preferred choice for slack line fishing on the waterbed.

Unlike monofilament and fluorocarbon lines, braided lines are more susceptible to abrasion damage, to the extent that some rob manufacturers are making rods with braided line friendly guides on their rods.

Amazon has a great selection of Braided lines

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