Gone Outdoors

How to Choose the Right Fishing Line Strength

by David Somerset

No single fishing line strength will be appropriate in all situations. The right fishing line strength will depend on your rod and reel as well as the species of fish you are trying to catch. If you have a fishing line of the wrong strength, you may have a hard time casting your line or landing any fish that you hook. This can be frustrating for any angler, so it is important to choose the right fishing line strength.

1. Determine the line capacity of your reel. This will usually be marked on the side of the reel. Generally the line capacity will be listed in "yds-lbs." The two numbers listed will indicate the number of yards that the reel can hold of a specific test line. For example, on a reel marked 150-12, you will be able to wind 150 yards of 12-lb. test line onto the reel without causing problems.

2. Choose a 2- to-4-lb. test line for fishing off the shore or a dock. According to Bass Pro Shops, fishermen should "consider the size and species of fish being targeted." The fish you catch from these areas will be small, and you will need a light line to be able to see their nibbles. A 2- to 4-lb. line will almost always be strong enough to land these small fish.

3. Use 12-lb. test line for most freshwater species in larger rivers or lakes. Line of this strength is small enough that an angler will notice an 8-lb. fish nibbling at his bait, but is also strong enough to reel in a 15- or 16-lb. fish that puts up a decent fight.

4. Select stronger fishing line for catching fish out of aquatic plants. A 15-lb.test line is usually sufficient for species like largemouth bass, which you may have to drag out of thick aquatic plants. While a weaker fishing line could probably land such a fish in open water, if the line becomes tangled in the plants, you may need some extra strength to keep the line from breaking.

5. Choose very strong 30-lb. test or stronger fishing line for ice or deep-sea fishing. Many of the fish caught during these types of fishing excursions are significantly larger than standard freshwater fish, and specialized extra-strength line will be necessary to land them.


  • Check for nicks or small cuts in your fishing line periodically. Damaged line may not perform at its rated strength.


  • Don't use a line strength larger than your reel is rated for, or you will have a hard time casting the line any distance.

About the Author

David Somerset has been a writer intermittently for 11 years. He attended New Mexico Tech and earned a Bachelor of Science in technical communication in 2007. From being published in the "Bucksworth Community News" to writing how-to articles for eHow, his experience is quite diverse.

Photo Credits

  • spinning wheel image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com