Gone Outdoors

How to Determine What Test Fishing Line to Use

by Eric Cedric

Fishing line is rated by its strength -- for example, 6-lb. test, 8-lb. test and 10-lb. test. Pound test refers to the line's ability to withstand the pull of a fish without snapping. If you use a fishing line that is too light, it will snap. Use a line that is too heavy and you risk scaring the fish away. When deciding what fishing line to use, consider the average weight of the kind of fish you are pursuing, the reel you are using and where you are fishing.

1. Take into account where you are fishing. Use a lighter pound test line if you are fishing from the shore so you can cast it farther. Use a heavier pound test in a boat, where you will be dropping bait to the bottom. Also use heavier line if you are fishing in heavy current; the added weight helps prevent excessive drift. Also, when a fish strikes and you set the hook, the added weight of the line in the current is helpful.

2. Choose a lighter line over a heavier line when you have choice, because lighter line is harder for fish to see. For example, if you are fishing for bass that average 2 lbs., the ideal line would be 5-to-10 lb. test.

3. Select a lighter weight line when you are using a spin casting reel. Spin casting reels are lighter and have open spools, and their purpose is to get the line out as far as possible with a cast. With a bait casting reel, heavier line is a good option. Most bait casting reels are used for bait fishing or jigging.

4. Find out what fish are biting on. Check with the local fish and game department. If your are fishing for bass, a species known for fighting back, use the lightest weight line possible. Use heavier line for walleye, catfish and bullhead, bottom dwellers that are hard to bring up from the depths.

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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