What Is Monofilament Fishing Line?

How to Choose the Best Monofilament Fishing Lines

Sufix Fishing Line
Sufix Fishing Line. 2008 Sufix Line Company licensed to About.com

Monofilament fishing line has been around for years and is the most popular kind of line used today. It works for a wide variety of fishing applications and can be made to have specific qualities that help under varying conditions.

Monofilament lines are made from a mixture of polymers that are heated until fluid and then extruded through tiny holes to form strands of line. The size of the hole controls the diameter of the line, and, to some extent, the strength, or pound test, of the line. These strands are cooled quickly and wound onto spools.

The type of chemicals in the mixture can control qualities of the line. Things like limpness, strength, toughness and other desirable casting factors can be emphasized by varying the mixture of polymers. The color of the line is also controlled by adding chemicals. Lines can be tailor-made to fit a wide range of fishing needs.


Limpness: A soft flexible line is "limp" and casts easily.

Strength: Line is rated in pound test, which is the amount of pull in pounds it takes to break the line. Most lines will break at above the stated pound test rating. If you are trying to catch a line class record fish, you must buy line that breaks at the stated test. 

Toughness: Monofilament lines will abrade when rubbed against things like rocks and wood. Tougher line will not abrade as easily.

Stretch: monofilament lines will stretch, some more than others. Stretch can be both good or bad, so you need to choose the amount of stretch that is best for your fishing needs.

Diameter: The diameter of line is designated in fractions of an inch or millimeters. In general, thinner line is better since it is limper but will not be strong or as tough as a thicker-diameter line.

Memory: Monafilament line tends to hold the shape of its spool, and this is called memory. Less memory in line is better.

Knot strength: Monofilament line is slippery, and many kinds of knots will slip and come loose. It may also cut itself, depending on the kind of knot. A good knot is very important, and some lines have better knot strength than others.

Color: Clear lines are less likely to spook fish but are harder for the fisherman to see. Some lines have a blue tinge in ultraviolet light so they show up above the water in sunlight but disappear under the water to offer the best of both worlds. Some lines come in bright colors so they are more visible; these are good when fishing for species that don't shy away from the line, such as catfish.

Quality Issues

Lines come in a wide variety of qualities. The more expensive lines have better quality control and will be consistent in strength, color, and diameter. They will hold up longer on the spool and in use.

Monofilament line stretches, which can be bad or good. Stretch makes a line more forgiving when a big fish makes a strong run but it also makes it harder to set the hook. The amount of stretch can be controlled by the additives, but all monofilament lines will stretch some.

On spinning reels, a limp, flexible line is best, but lines with those qualities are usually not as strong and will stretch more. Stiffer line works well on bait-casting reels, and it can be stronger and have less stretch. Stiffer lines are also usually more abrasion resistant. Stiffer lines hold the shape of the spool more, and this memory causes problems casting at times. It also makes the line coil after a cast and lowers your ability to feel and control your bait.

Some Good Monofilament Lines to Consider

  • Trilene XT Monofilament Fishing Line. Trilene XT is a very tough, abrasion-resistant line. It is somewhat stiff and works best on casting reels, and is excellent for flipping and pitching to heavy cover. This line holds knots well and does not slip. It has limited stretch due to its thick diameter but is not as invisible as thinner lines.
  • Stren Original Monofilament Fishing Line. The line I used for many years. It is tough, holds knots well and casts acceptably. This line comes in clear or clear blue, green and gold for visibility or stealth, whichever you need. It is a good all-around line that is abrasion-resistant and has relatively little stretch.
  • Stren Super Tough Monofilament Fishing Line. Tougher than Original Stren, this line is more abrasion-resistant and has more strength but less stretch. It is somewhat stiffer so is better suited for baitcasting reels. It is a thick line, too.
  • Bass Pro Shops Excel Trophy. A favorite of many because it is relatively cheap, Excel has a hard finish and relatively small diameter. It resists abrasion well and holds knots without slipping. It comes in clear only.
  • Remington Express Monofilament Fishing Line. A fairly new line on the market from the gun and bullet folks, this line is tough, it has a relatively small diameter and comes in clear only. It also has a low memory, something other tough lines often have problems with.
  • Rapala Tough Monofilament Fishing Line. With good abrasion-resistance, this line from the folks best known for lures has good shock strength and holds knots well.
  •  Ande Monofilament Fishing Line. A very popular saltwater line, Ande comes in two types: an abrasion-resistant line that is stronger than the stated test,  and a tournament-grade line that will break at the stated test. For a record in a line class, the tournament grade is a must.