Best Fishing Line of 2020
With the best combination of strength, feel, and low visibility in the water, the SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid fishing line took the top spot. We tested the 20-lb test line version. With its thin diameter, it feels more like an 8-lb test mono line. This meant we could put far more line on the reel than you could with a 20-lb mono line. Another plus? It was one of the best casting lines, consistently casting farther and easier than the other braided and mono lines. It also features a unique blue camo color that seamlessly blended into the lakes and streams we fished on, which we think helped us sneak up on more than a few fish. And when it comes to memory, it's close to nonexistent with this line—a big plus if you've ever dealt with wind knots.
If we had to come up with a downside, it would be that it's almost too strong. If you get a hook or lure stuck, be ready to lose it or cut your line. It's that tough to break. Also, the blue camo color might work better in some bodies of water than others, so knowledge of which bodies of water you plan to fish is beneficial. After weeks of testing, our experts believe that if you're looking for the best all-around fishing line out there, look no further than the SpiderWire Stealth.
If you want to land that trophy fish, it's best not to spook them first. That's precisely where the Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon excels. When in the water, it was seemingly invisible, solidly living up to its name in our tests. Another nice feature is its impressive sensitivity. It allowed us to detect even the smallest bites and set the hook when a fish took the bait. It also features relatively low memory for a fluorocarbon line, which was a plus when casting, and it had the unique ability to sink faster than the other lines—something we appreciated when trying to drop a lure close to where a fish had just jumped.
The only real complaint we had about this line is its casting distance. While it beat out many of the monofilament lines we tested, it couldn't keep up with the braided ones in our tests. Overall though, if you want a nearly invisible line with great sensitivity and strength, this line is for you.
If you want the right combination of versatility, strength, and sensitivity at a low price, look no further than the time-tested Berkley Trilene XL. While this line lacks some of the fancy features found on the lines above, it makes up for it with quality and versatility. It had reasonably low memory for a monofilament line, which helped it resist kinks for better casting. Speaking of that, this was the best mono line when it came to casting performance. It ran smoothly through the guides on multiple rods and helped us place the bait right where we wanted it. It was also a very versatile fishing line, working equally as well in fresh and saltwater.
One of the few things we found to complain about was its abrasion resistance. While it was better than some of the other mono lines, it was still reasonably easy to break the line if ran over some rocks a few times. This meant we lost a few lures to the rocky lakeshore and riverbed. But if that minor flaw isn't a big deal for you, we recommend picking up the Berkley Trilene XL at a low price for a great product.
When it came to feel, KastKing SuperPower Braided line was about as sensitive as any line we've ever used. It consistently let us know when a fish was biting and helped us quickly set the hook as soon as they took the bait. It also gave us impressive casting distance and was respectable when it came to abrasion resistance. And being that it's a braided line, its diameter was far smaller than a similar mono line, meaning we could fit a lot of line on a small reel. This was especially beneficial when hiking out to a secret spot and wanting to bring the smallest and lightest gear possible.
The only downsides? For one, if you've ever tied a knot with braided line, you know how hard it can be. This line was no different and might even be more difficult than other braided lines. There was also the small issue of the die coming off on your hands when spooling it. Not a big deal, but not desired, either. All in all, if you want a fishing line that will give you incredible feel, the KastKing SuperPower Braided is the line for you.
If you need a no-frills fishing line that gets the job done in nearly any environment, look no further than the Berkley Trilene Big Game. It's amazingly strong and resists abrasion well. This was proven many times when we got a lure stuck in some rocks, and the line was nearly impossible to break even after scraping over the rocks many times. This line was also great for different fishing styles, whether it be casting with a lure or just dropping a hook with a worm on it. It was also one of the best when it came to knot strength. Once we tied a knot, we were confident it would hold.
Although it had many upsides, there were some downsides to consider. This line had the most stretch of all the lines tested. This diminished its feel quite a bit, so we missed more than a few bites, and trying to set the hook was a problem several times. It also has a fair bit of memory, so expect to have some issue if you leave this on the reel for an extended period. Overall, this line was great for a range of styles and techniques. So, if you need a line that can handle the rigors of everyday fishing, you might want to give the Berkley Trilene Big Game a try.
If you like fluorocarbon line but don't like the higher cost, KastKing FluoroKote is a happy medium. It provides time-tested strength and versatility of a mono line with a fluorocarbon coating that helps reduce the line's visibility in the water. And because it's mono, it still provides a good deal of flexibility compared to a full fluorocarbon line. We also found that this was one of the easier lines to tie knots with, which was a welcome relief after fishing with a braided line.
Unfortunately, because this is still a monofilament line, there were some drawbacks. While it was a little less stretchy than typical mono lines, it still stretched enough to hinder sensitivity. We were caught off guard a few times when a fish stole the bait, and when using a lure, it was hard to sense its movement through the water. If you want a happy medium between a full fluorocarbon line and a mono one, though, the KastKing FluoroKote is still a good bet.
If you can't decide between fishing on a lake and fishing off an ocean pier, or frequent both fishing locations, the Stren High Impact Monofilament may be the right choice for you. It works well on many spinning reels, and its traditional mono construction means you get great strength and abrasion resistance. Its classic, light blue color also blended into many different water environments, from turquoise lakes to dark blue ocean waters.
By our assessment, though, this line falls short in several areas. For one, it has a lot of memory. So, expect to have issues from time to time when casting. And speaking of that, this line scored very low when it came to casting. It didn't travel smoothly through the guides on multiple rods, and it was challenging to place the lure exactly where you wanted it. With all that said, the Stren High Impact Monofilament is reasonably priced and will get the job done in most situations. We just tended to prefer other lines that proved to be easier for us to cast.
If you know anything about braided line, you know there can be some drawbacks. Tying knots can be difficult; the line is more visible, harder to cut, etc. Unfortunately, the Power Pro Spectra Braided Line was guilty of most of these during our test period, plus it had a few additional issues that the other lines we tested didn't have. One of the most annoying was its consistent ability to stick to itself on the spool. This meant many of our casts were stopped short when the line got to a certain sticking point. We also noticed this line frayed easily, leaving it vulnerable to breaking with a fish on the hook. And while it wasn't a big deal, we noticed it bled a lot of ink when handling it.
With all that said, we feel that this line isn't your best option. And while it did get the job done during our testing period (we did catch fish with it), its drawbacks became more pronounced the longer we used it. Our testers don't recommend this fishing line.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead reviewer, Kit Smith, is a life-long angler. He's fished streams, lakes, oceans, and bays for over three decades. Kit's initial fishing experiences include catching halibut and salmon in the San Francisco Bay and alpine stream and lake fishing in the Central Sierra. Later, he moved to Colorado to attend college, where he continued to perfect his angling craft. Kit spends a lot of his free time fishing and reading about fishing gear to stay up to date on the latest products and trends in the world of angling.
Testing took place in streams and lakes around Mammoth Lakes, California, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the coast of Southern California. To get a range of testing environments, we also fished from shorelines and boat decks. Kit got several fishing buddies involved to fish with him and give feedback on each product, and in the process, dozens of fish were hooked, landed, and released. This helped us get a lot of experience with each line. Insight was gained through intentional in-the-field testing to get a feel for the sensitivity, as well as the versatility and memory. Once we understood each line's advantages, we compared them in side-by-side real-world use to tease out the differences. Our field testing, combined with side-by-side inspections and comparisons, both informed our overall assessments.
Analysis and Test Results
During field testing, the five metrics that we assessed for each fishing line are Strength, Memory, Casting, Versatility, and Knots. Below, we'll discuss the importance of each, as well as which lines stood out among the competition.
A line's strength is a crucial component to consider and can mean the difference between reeling in a trophy fish and coming up empty. If it's not strong enough, the line will likely break when it matters most. But strength doesn't only mean how much weight a line can handle; it also indicates how tough the line is when it comes to abrasion. Abrasion can happen against rocks, the side of a boat, or even the guides of your rod.
When it comes to maximum strength, the SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid and the Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon take the top spots. While the 20-lb SpiderWire line we tested takes the cake for the toughest fishing line, proving to be nearly impossible to break, the Berkley Trilene Big Game also ranks high in this category. Of course, strength can come at a cost, as we found out when getting a hook or lured snagged in some rocks. You'll most likely have to cut the line and probably lose your lure if either of these gets stuck.
This might be one of the most overlooked aspects of fishing line. If you're not familiar with memory, it's a line's tendency to take on the spool's shape. And the more it takes on this shape, the more memory it's said to have. And a lot of memory is not something you want your line to exhibit. In general, monofilament lines tend to have more memory, and braided lines tend to have less. This category's standout is the KastKing SuperPower Braided, with little to no memory even when left on the reel for extended periods.
With its classic monofilament construction, the Berkley Trilene XL also proved strong in this metric. While mono line is not typically known for having low memory, this one was impressive and showed only a little memory even after being on the spool for several weeks. The KastKing FluoroKote fits the low memory bill, too. It never spiraled off the reel and made for smooth casts every time.
When you're trying to drop your bait in a specific spot or get a lure to where a fish just jumped, casting distance and control is critical. There were some standouts based on this metric. The Berkley Trilene XL gave us impressive casting distance and accuracy on several different rods, especially for a mono line.
The true king of casting in our tests, though, is the SpiderWire Stealth. With a special coating and braided construction, this line made us look like pros every time we sent a lure flying. Of course, as one of the most expensive lines we purchased, we learned that casting performance comes at a cost.
Having a line that can handle whatever fish you hook is certainly a desired aspect of fishing line. But not all lines are created equal. The Berkley Trilene Big Game is the clear winner here. With its equally great performance in both fresh and saltwater and its ability to be used for many different fishing styles, this model is very versatile.
In contrast, while it's a high-quality product, the Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon is really only made for one type of fishing (freshwater). Because of that, it didn't score highly in the versatility metric, despite excelling in its niche.
With as many knots as you'll tie on a fishing trip, we think this is an important metric to include when assessing fishing line. Traditional mono lines are the clear winners here, which wasn't a surprise since monofilament lines are almost always easier to tie than braided ones. That said, one braided line did an admirable job in this category. The SpiderWire Stealth was much easier to tie than any other braided lines in our line-up and provided excellent knot strength.
One of the best lines tested was the Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon. It made tying many knots a simple task, including the ever-popular Clinch and Uni knot. But many of the mono lines were just as easy to tie, including the Berkley Trilene Big Game and the Stren High Impact Monofilament. If you get easily frustrated with a line that's hard to tie, you'll want to consider one of these fishing lines.
Fishing line is an essential piece of angling equipment, despite being frequently overlooked. But the right line could make or break (literally) your fishing outing. Before making a purchase decision, it's crucial to consider the type of fishing you prefer. Are you looking to fish off the bottom with bait, or are you staying near the surface with a lure? Whatever it is, there's a line here designed just for you. We hope our research, tests, and analyses help you identify which product will best suit your needs. Now get out there, drop a line, and bring back a fish brag about.
— Kit Smith