Fish Beat: Reel in the best line

By Jim Hagerty

Staff Writer

There are a variety of fishing line brands on the market. Some are multi-purpose, while others are made to accommodate specific methods. A good line will also live up to its claims of strength.

While proving which line is actually the best can be anything short of difficult, however, some are better than others. Choosing a good fish line—regardless of the manufacturer—comes with knowing what to look for in terms of reliability and performance.

Braided line

Braided lines are just what their name suggests. They are usually made of cloth or a soft synthetic material. Their small strands are woven or braided together like thread to form a single, strong line. The best braided lines contain just the right amount of coating, resulting in minimal friction on rod guides. Lines by Diamond, Powerpro and Spiderwire are industry leaders.


Monofilament is, today, the most popular for all-around fishing applications. Choosing the best plastic monofilament can be a bit tricky, as economy brands are sometimes prone to twisting and crimping. A good line will cast and spool well, and not bend, crimp and stretch easily after fighting fish. Berkley (Fireline, Trilene) and Shakespeare are popular and trusted lines.

Fly fishing

Fishing with flies requires a strong line. A solid sinking-tip fly line should make easy casts, sink slowly from the tip, and move through water with little or no ripples. A floating line should be flat, evenly coated and back up into a reel evenly. Regardless of the application, the best fly lines have strong cores (solid or braided), even tapers, pliable coating and solid loops for knotting. Brands from Cortland, Jim Teeny and Airflo are among the top brands.

Economy and private labels

Private-label fish lines from outdoors outfitters such as Cabelas are also reliable products and usually made by companies that manufacture the most popular brands. Staying away from the cheaply-made imports (usually from Asia) is recommended. Although these lines are suitable for beginners, they are often low in quality. If you must skimp, a private-label line is the way to go.

Send us your fishing photos

The Rock River Times is interested in seeing pictures of fish caught in area waters. Send digital photos to us at with “Fish Beat Photos” in the subject line. Glossies can be sent to The Rock River Times, 128 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61101.

From the October 14-20, 2009 issue

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