Choosing the Right Fishing Line for Bass

Choosing the Right Fishing Line for Bass

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spinning reel fishing line

Picking out the right fishing line for your lures and soft plastics is not as easy as it looks, so don’t worry if you get confused at times. Having the right knowledge to match your line with both the lure and the rod can be crucial to getting the most action out of your lure. With so many different options of braided line, monofilament and fluorocarbon on the market, it can get a little overwhelming, but this is where we step in! I rarely use monofilament when bass fishing and this is because fluorocarbon lasts longer, gives more sensitivity and refracts light better than mono, helping it stay invisible underwater. Fluoro is a bit more expensive but I believe the benefits are worth the extra few bucks. Here’s a breakdown of my personal line preferences when I’m out on the water. Keep in mind that these are my choices – feel free to go heavier or lighter as long as you’re comfortable and confident while fishing.

6-10lb Fluorocarbon Line

Used On A Spinning Setup For:

  • Drop Shot
  • Shakey Head
  • Nail (Neko) Rig
  • Wacky Rig

I started out using 6lb fluorocarbon but soon bumped up to 8lb simply because it gave me the extra strength and castability was still great. In ultra-clear water situations you can bump down to 6lb for a more finesse presentation but 8lb works perfect for almost all situations. The only time that I use 10lb is when I’m fishing heavier cover, but I’ll use 20-30lb braid as the main line with a few yards of 10lb fluoro leader.

Recently I’ve been using 20-30lb braided main line with an 8lb fluoro leader for all of my spinning finesse methods and I love it. With braid you get little to no line twist, great castability and a lot more sensitivity. Three benefits that keep me stuck to using braid!

12lb Fluorocarbon Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Medium-Diving Crankbaits
  • Deep-Diving Crankbaits
  • Lipless Crankbaits
  • Light Football & Finesse Jigs
  • Small-Medium Spoons
  • Shakey Head
  • Wacky Rig
  • Jerkbaits

As a rule of thumb, 12lb fluoro or mono is the lightest that I’ll go on a casting setup. The only time you should bump down to 10lb fluorocarbon is if you’re fishing an extra deep-diving crankbait (ones that go 20-25+ feet) but for any other situation I highly suggest 12lb test.

I love the castability and finesse-y feel of 12lb fluoro. If you’re fishing any medium or deep-diving crankbait, 12lb will get you down to the desired depth quickly and provide enough strength against sharp rocks and other structure. If I’m fishing a lighter football head jig I’ll use 12lb if my 15lb test isn’t casting as easily as I’d like. For my lipless cranks, spoons and jerkbaits, the lighter 12lb test allows me to get the most action out of my lures while still being strong enough to handle meaty hooksets.

15lb Fluorocarbon Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Tubes
  • Wacky Rig
  • Swim Jigs
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Squarebill Crankbaits
  • Soft Paddletail Swimbaits
  • Light Football & Finesse Jigs

If you want a versatile line choice, this is the one. I use 15lb fluorocarbon to throw almost anything in my box (aside from topwater and punching of course). The strength and castability of 15lb makes it perfect for dragging more finesse methods or slinging swim jigs, cranks and swimbaits around through all sorts of cover. I’ve put 15lb fluoro on a bunch of my reels and have been able to switch them around a variety of rods, making my not-so-huge arsenal a little more versatile.

17lb Fluorocarbon Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Football & Pitching Jigs
  • Paddletail Swimbaits
  • Chatterbaits
  • Texas Rigs
  • Carolina Rigs
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Swim Jigs

It’s time to beef things up a bit. 17lb fluoro comes into play when I’m fishing heavier cover and need the extra “umph” to play the fish a bit more aggressively. 17lb fluoro is great when it comes to abrasion resistance and allows you to fish through rocks, timber and thicker grass rather easily. If I’m fishing football jigs and Texas Rigs I’ll use 20lb at times, but 17lb test is easier to flip and cast with if the cover isn’t too thick.

20lb Fluorocarbon Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Large Soft Paddletail Swimbaits
  • Medium/Large Hard Swimbaits
  • Football & Pitching Jigs
  • Texas Rigs
  • Carolina Rigs
  • Chatterbaits
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Swim Jigs
  • Tubes

Most of my buddies absolutely abide by 20lb fluoro for most situations, and it’s fun! 20lb fluoro is no joke – you can horse a bass through cover and boat flip with confidence! (not always the best case, but for fun fishing, go right ahead). I love using 20lb on anything that I can drag around, whether it be a larger tube, football jig or Carolina Rig. Texas Rigging with 20lb fluoro is a blast as well, and it allows you to avoid the high visibility of braid while still providing enough strength to pull a fish through thick cover. For those of you who like throwing swimbaits, 20lb test is perfect for tossing around a decent-sized swimbait or glidebait while avoiding the thick feel of 25lb test. Overall, this is a great line choice for your heavier applications and you should definitely have 20lb spooled on at least a few reels.

25lb Fluorocarbon & Monofilament Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Alabama Rigs (A-Rigs)
  • Large Swimbaits & Glidebaits
  • Large Topwater Walking & Wake Baits (Monofilament Line Only)
  • Medium/Large Soft Paddletail Swimbaits

Okay, now we’re getting serious! For those of you big-bait lovers, 25lb fluoro is an absolute must. If you don’t want to snap off an expensive swimbait on a cast or hookset, bump from 20lb to 25lb and you’ll feel a big difference in line strength the second you whip out a cast. I fish all of my A-Rigs on 25lb test as well, simply as insurance that I won’t lose a $30 rig as long as I tie my knots correctly. For your larger topwater baits such as the M.S. Slammer or wood Lunker Punker, 25lb monofilament works great. The stretchier mono provides you with just enough of a buffer to avoid bending any hooks out as opposed to the zero-stretch, no-kidding-around braided line. If you’re thinking of throwing big, then think 25lb test and you’ll be good to go.

10-30lb Braided Line

Used On A Spinning or Casting Setup For:

  • Small/Medium Topwater Baits
  • Drop Shot
  • Shakey Head
  • Wacky Rig
  • Nail (Neko) Rig
  • Small Soft Paddletail Swimbaits
  • Weightless Flukes

Usually I’ll fish the lighter 10-30lb braid on my spinning setup, but even then I usually bump up to around 20-30lb because the line is more manageable. By “manageable” I mean the braid is a bit stiffer as opposed to the super limp 10lb so I don’t get as many wind knots and other nasty tangles. As mentioned before, whenever I use a braided main line on my spinning reels I always top it off with a few yards of fluorocarbon leader. This allows me to fish with the benefits of braid yet still maintain low line visibility to get more bites.

If you want to use braid on a casting reel I’d recommend going no less than 30lb. This is also to avoid any unwanted tangles and 30lb is already super thin so you’ll be casting a mile anyways. It’s perfect for getting more sensitivity if you’re fishing finesse baits and works well with weightless wacky rigs as it floats on the surface and lets you keep track of any bites. Basically, if you’re fishing the smaller stuff and want more sensitivity, bite detection and longevity out of your line, then light braid is the way to go.

40-50lb Braided Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Soft-Bodied Frogs
  • Football & Pitching Jigs
  • Texas & Carolina Rigs
  • Small/Medium Topwater Baits

If you don’t like the bulky feel of 65lb braid then stick with the 40-50lb range for easier casting and more line capacity on your reel. You’ll notice quite a big difference in castability when comparing 40-50lb with 65lb, and if you’re not fishing extremely heavy cover there’s no need to go that high anyways. With any dragging technique such as football jigs and Carolina rigs, 40-50lb braid (with a fluoro leader) gives you the extra sensitivity and hookset strength you need to feel bites in deeper water and drive the hook hard enough especially on the end of a long cast. For your small to medium topwater lures, 40-50lb braid will be way better than monofilament as it has no stretch, allowing you to set the hook properly after any gnarly blowup. This is the perfect range of braided line to throw on a whole variety of methods, so play around and see what works for you.

65lb+ Braided Line

Used On A Casting Setup For:

  • Flipping & Punching
  • Medium/Large Topwater Baits
    • Walking Baits
    • Soft-Bodied Frogs
    • Buzzbaits
    • Wakebaits

The beefy part of the braid spectrum. 65lb braid is an absolute must if you’re flipping and punching heavy cover. The immense strength of 65lb will give you enough power to horse fish out of the thickest vegetation and timber. 65lb is also great for topwater! The thicker diameter keeps your line floating on the surface much better, allowing you to work your topwater baits properly. 65lb is also crucial for frog fishing as this method requires some of the hardest hooksets in the game, meaning your line will need to keep up.

I hope this line guide has helped you break down your selection and gain a better understanding of which lures require what pound line. PLEASE feel free to include any of your own personal suggestions and tips in the comments below! We can always learn from each other’s experiences. Tight lines!

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