An Angler's Beginner Guide to Fishing Line and Braid

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An Angler's Beginner Guide to Fishing Line and Braid

As anglers, we’re truly blessed that we can fish many tactics to suit our own disciplines and preferences and style. One day we might want to catch a bag of roach on the waggler and the next chucking a method feeder into a clear bream-infested gravel pit might take our fancy! Nonetheless, if you’re going to be successful using a number of fishing methods then you’ll need to match the line and braid that you’re using to the species and size of fish you are targeting. There is no point in using thick braid for wary, clear-water roach, much the same as using light fluoro for large carp!

We, here at Angling Direct, though we would put together a little guide for those taking up fishing as line and braid will be one of your first purchases. You need to make sure you pick the right one and we’re here to help you get the right setup.


Types of Fishing Lines

When it comes to fishing lines, there are three main types;

1. Monofilament

2. Fluorocarbon

3. Braid

Monofilament is the most common line that anglers use and it has a number of properties that make it an obvious choice for many fishing situations. A good mono should be limp and have little memory – some lines curl to the shape of the spool you buy them on and this line will prove hard to cast and tangles can often occur. Mono is resilient and will last you a season or more if kept out of direct sunlight. We suggest keeping your lines in a dark place and changing your mainline every season. The best knot with mono is the five-turn grinner.

Fluorocarbon is typically hard-wearing, almost invisible in water, sinks fast and is stiff. These properties make fluoro line a great hook length material. A fluorocarbon mainline is common among carp anglers who like the fact that they can sink the line without the use of back leads, making it perfect for hard waters where the fish are wary of tight lines arrowing through the water. It’s also great as a replacement for lead-core leaders because of its hard-wearing characteristics.

Like mono, you can pick up fluorocarbon in breaking strains from 1lb all the way through to over 40lb, although for most fishing situations 15lb will be the maximum you will need. Flouro of 40lb and above makes an excellent alternative to wire traces for jerk baiting and doesn’t show up in the water as the wire does. The best knot type when using Fluoro is three or four-turn tucked blood knot.

Braid has a completely different make-up from mono and fluoro. It is constructed from a number of strands of fibre that make it very strong, meaning you can have a low diameter and a high breaking strength. Braid has zero stretch and zero memory, making it perfect for lure fishing and when looking for sensitive bites from shy species. The best knot to use for braid is a five-turn grinner, through the eye twice.


Why does Break Strains and Diameters Matter?

All three types of fishing lines are measured in diameter and breaking strain which will always be clearly labelled on the packaging. The lines breaking strain means the amount of force it takes to break it. The strain stated is the minimum that the line should break at and you will find that almost all good lines have a much higher breaking strain than is stated.

The diameter is the thickness of the line. With braid, you can achieve a high breaking strain for the diameter when compared with mono and fluoro.


Examples of Line Strength and Which Fish to Target

1lb to 4lb breaking strain - Very light lines like these are great for small species like roach, rudd and perch, where finesse is needed to get bites. In a mixed-species fishery where you expect to catch a variety of fish, we suggest 4lb mainline as a good starting point because this is light enough to allow you to catch small fish but there’s enough strength there to land a carp or other large fish if they do come along.

5lb to 10lb breaking strain - Mid-sized species like tench, bream, barbel and chub require a stronger line to make sure you have enough backbone to land them. If you’re fishing for big barbel on large rivers then 10lb mainline is a must. Big Stillwater tench also require a line strength of around 8lb to 10lb. Scale down to 6lb to 8lb for large bream because these don’t fight as hard as tench.

10lb plus breaking strain - Large, hard-fighting fish like carp and pike need a line that’s up to the job and you should be using 10lb minimum for carp and we’d recommend using 30lb to 40lb braid for pike. You may think this is excessive but 40lb braid has a surprisingly thin diameter and allows you to cast large dead baits with ease. Added to this, you’ll be able to pull out of most snags, thereby not leaving a potentially deadly baited rig in the water. Every water is different and you should only use this as a guide. For example, if you are fishing very snaggy water then you may want to increase your line strength to cope. The same goes in open water with no snags; here you might want to look at lowering your line strength, giving you a subtler presentation.


Top Tips for Line Maintenance

1) Getting tangles is one of the most frustrating parts of being an angler but you can stop line twist, a major cause of the dreaded bird’s nest, by catching it and preventing it early. After casting and landing fish, the line can twist, especially when using your reel’s clutch. A simple trick is to find an area of grass, cast out your line and wind in under tension. This should untwist your line, ready for another day.

2) Make sure to clean your line in between sessions, as reeling your line in for the last time, be sure to use a wipe to catch all the dirt and debris from the waters so that your line can be respooled, clean and fresh.

3) Remember when stripping your old line to keep it to one side until you visit one of our Angling Direct stores, where you can pop it into one of our recycling bins which is then sent to Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme. This helps keep the bankside clear for other nature users and lessen our impact as anglers on the environment.

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