Gone Outdoors

How to Set Up a Saltwater Fishing Line

by Ann Azbill

Fishing is a favorite pastime that provides hours of relaxation for the dedicated fisherman. Besides the obvious difference in the types of water and fish, the fishing poles for freshwater and saltwater fishing are set up differently to allow for the wave action present in saltwater. Fishing in the ocean brings about a whole different aspect in fishing that is not present in freshwater fishing. A fisherman never knows what he is going to catch next because the ocean has an endless array of different species of fish and other wildlife.

Rod, Reel and Line

Choose at least a 15 lb. test line for saltwater fishing. Fishing line is measured by test strength; the bigger the number, the heavier the line is. Theoretically, a 15-pound test line will hold a fish that is at least 15 lbs. There are exceptions. Fishing line can stretch and weaken when used frequently. If fishing line keeps breaking, it is time to replace it.

Choose a rod that is comfortable for you to cast. A rod that is too long for you will be difficult to cast and hard to hold. Generally, the longer and thicker the rod is, the larger the test line it will hold. You only need to pick a rod that is big enough to hold a 15 lb. test line.

There are three different styles of reels. Baitcasting reels, or open-faced reels, are usually for the more seasoned fisherman. They are a little more difficult to cast. They are usually used with higher-pound test line. Spinning reels are a little easier to use and work well with 15 lb. test line. Finally, there is the spin cast, or closed-faced reel. This is considered the best reel for a beginner. Choose one that will fit a 15 lb. test line.

Setting up the Line

If you buy the rod and reel with the line already on it, all you will have to do is attach a hook and a weight to the line. In saltwater fishing, the weight goes at the bottom, with the hook at least 18 inches above it. The weight holds the hook and allows for the wave action. Weights are sold by the ounce. Choose a weight that is comparable to the wave action and wind. On a windy day, with a moderate amount of wave action, you will need a heavier weight; try a 2- or 3-ounce weight. Weights made especially for saltwater have claws on them to grasp the sand at the bottom of the ocean. These are good on a windy day when the water is choppy.

If you buy the line separately from the rod and reel, load the line on the reel. Push the line through the small hole on the side of the reel, and tie it in a knot.

Use the handle on the reel to wind the fishing line onto the reel, taking care not to twist it. Use about 300 to 400 feet of line, depending on the size of the reel.

Thread the line through each eye on the rod, leaving at least four feet at the end to attach the hook and weight.

Items you will need
  • Fishing poll
  • Fishing line
  • Hook
  • Weight


  • Use a fisherman's knot to tie line, hooks and weights. The not is made by wrapping an end around several times, then pushing the end through the first loop. The knot makes it easier to remove the hook and weight when necessary.
  • For convenience, and to save time, purchase fishing rigs that have snap swivel hooks on them. Tie them on to the end of the fishing line on the rod. All you have to do is open the hooks to install the fishing hook and the weight.
  • Have someone hold the spool of fishing line while you are winding it on the reel. It makes it easier to control knots and twisting.


  • Fish hooks can be very dangerous. Take care when putting them on the fishing line.


About the Author

Ann Azbill has been writing online content since the spring of 2009. Her portfolio includes articles for eHow and About.com. Azbill holds an associate's degree in business.