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Fish Line Strength Charts

Fishing line diameter comparison - Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, Braided

Monofilament is the line most anglers are familiar with, it is inexpensive, comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and winds easily on spinning and spincast reels.

Fluorocarbon has less stretch, so many prefer it for setting hooks quicker on light-striking fish. It sinks faster than monofilament, so it works better with lighter-weight lures at reaching depths. Fluorocarbon has a smaller diameter to stretch ratio than monofilament, so you can wrap more on a spool.

Braided line is preferred for baitcasting reels. It has the highest strength-to-weight ratio and is available in a wide range of strengths. It is used by deep sea anglers for massive saltwater species and for lake fishermen working rocks and submerged structure for its abrasion resistance. The only drawback with braided line comes in knot strength, it does not hold a knot well.

Monofilament Line Strength Chart

Line Weight (lbs) Diameter (inches) Diameter (mm)
4 0.008 0.20
6 0.009 0.22
8 0.010 0.25
10 0.011 0.27
12 0.013 0.33
14 0.014 0.35
17 0.015 0.38
20 0.016 0.40
30 0.020 0.50
40 0.023 0.60

Monofilament is the standard line from entry-level, inexpensive pre-spooled packaged rod and reel combinations to professional fishermen working large rivers and saltwater. The strength is its ability to hold knots and its ability to sink slower than fluorocarbon. Another strength comes in the variety of colors it is offered in. By matching line color with sky conditions and the color of the water, you can reduce visibility making your lures or live bait more realistic to gamefish.

In freshwater, panfish, trout, bass, perch, and walleye are good species for mono.

Monofilament's drawback is stretch. When you feel a strike and react by setting the hook, monofilament will stretch when jerking the lure back, delaying the set of the hook. That can mean lost fish in some situations.

Monofilament always has less abrasion resistance than braided or fluorocarbon, and it is UV sensitive. Prolonged exposure will weaken the line.

Fluorocarbon Line Strength Chart

Line Weight (lbs) Diameter (inches) Diameter (mm)
4 0.007 0.17
6 0.009 0.22
8 0.010 0.25
10 0.011 0.27
12 0.012 0.30
14 0.013 0.33
17 0.015 0.38
20 0.016 0.40
30 0.020 0.50
40 0.022 0.55

Fluorocarbon at first glance is superior to monofilament in every way. It has greater sensitivity meaning you can feel strikes quicker, it has better abrasion resistance, has almost no stretch, and is almost invisible in the water. Unlike mono, it is impervious to UV light, and doesn’t take on water, it sinks at a constant rate as well making it better for ice fishing and working at specific depths.

What are the drawbacks? The first and least is cost, but fluorocarbon can be pricey.

The reason it hasn’t taken over the lead from monofilament is its inflexibility and tendency to break on the spool after repeated casts. The line is brittle when wound repeatedly and often breaks on long casts or worse yet while reeling in large fish.

While it’s not preferred for these reasons, it does make an excellent, nearly invisible leader with braided line.

Braided Line Strength Chart

Line Weight (lbs) Diameter (inches) Diameter (mm) Comparable Diameter Mono
3 0.002 0.06 <1
5 0.005 0.10 <1
8 0.005 0.10 1
10 0.005 0.15 2
15 0.007 0.19 4
20 0.009 0.23 6
30 0.011 0.28 8
40 0.012 0.32 10

The benefits of braided line are many. It is abrasion resistant, is smaller than the other two styles of line which means you can carry more line on your spool with braid than the others and it is strong. It is more buoyant than the others. Braid will float for a while, and it suspends well just below the surface. This makes it the choice for most topwater bass fishermen.

It is also the choice for many saltwater anglers since a reel can hold several hundred yards of very high test line, which is ideal for tuna, marlin, and other large species.

The one drawback, and it’s a big one, to braid is its inability to hold a knot. Braided line is slick and doesn’t tie well. Experienced anglers can compensate by tying an Albright or Double-Knit know to a fluorocarbon leader.

Fishing Line Test

Fishing Line Test (lbs) Fish Species
2-4 Panfish, small native fish, trout, bluefill, smallmouth bass
6-12 Largemouth bass, flathead, smaller salmon, walleye, catfish
8-14 Sea bass, sea trout, flounder
14-20 Carp, musky, pike, catfish, stripers, salmon
16-25 Redfish, salmon, stripers
30+ Tuna, marlin, shark, large king fish

You lose sensitivity with each step up the monofilament weight ladder. You can catch brook trout or bluegill with 20-pound test line, but you won’t feel the action as well as you can with two or four-pound test. The action is most of the fun of fishing.

Smaller species don’t need powerful line. For smaller trout, bluegill, perch, and small bass, anything six pounds and below works great.

There is no standard line for fishing, but six-pound test monofilament comes close. Most people aren’t going to tie into something large enough to break this line and its increased sensitivity makes it a great universal choice.

If you’re after salmon, larger rainbow trout, big largemouth bass, or carp, 10-pound mono is the way to go. It still has the sensitivity to feel a strike, though with these fish that’s usually not a problem since they hit so hard. The stretch of mono is a benefit with hard-striking species since the slight give on impact won’t break the line.

For larger species, or when working large, fast-moving rivers you’ll need stronger line, and saltwater angling is another dimension in strength rating. Sensitivity isn’t important with marlin, swordfish, or tuna.