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We thoroughly researched the market, bought 8 of the best fishing lines available, and rigorously tested each one side-by-side to give you the information you need to make the right purchase decision for your needs. Our experts tested the selected fishing lines in nearly every possible environment, from rivers to lakes to bays. We made detailed notes on how each performed in metrics like strength, memory, and casting. When you're angling for the big one, the fishing line is one of the most important aspects of claiming success. We hope our detailed analysis will lead you to the right fishing line for you.
The SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid fishing line earned top marks in our testing, boasting a perfect combo of feel, strength, and low visibility when cast in the water. The line that we tested was a 20-lb variation, but the diameter of the line was fine and felt like an 8-lb test mono line. The slender line helped us add way more line on the reel than a 20-lb mono line would allow for. And you know what else we like? This line simply cast better than others, repeatedly casting beyond the rest of the mono and braided lines with ease. Want the ability to sneak up on some fish? The uncommon blue camo color of this line camouflages spectacularly in the streams and lakes we tested it in, allowing you to be more incognito when you cast. As for the line's memory, you hardly notice it at all—which you know is a great asset if you have ever had to manage wind knots.
When considering the negatives, the only complaint we could really come up with was that the line almost has too much strength. If a lure or hook happens to get stuck, it's likely that you will lose it or have to clip the line because it's too difficult to break. The unique blue camo color might not work perfectly in all bodies of water, either, so it's worth taking into consideration what type of water you will be fishing in with this line. If you want the fishing line that is the number one all-around after weeks of testing with our experts, you'll find it with the SpiderWire Stealth.
It's difficult to land a trophy fish if you've spooked them all into hiding. That's precisely where the Berkley Vanish 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, the Berkley Vanish 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 our few gripes about the Trilene XL was its abrasion resistance. While 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 desirable, either. All in all, if you want a fishing line that will give you incredible feel, check out the KastKing SuperPower Braided.
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 wonderfully durable, resisting 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.
Why You Should Trust Us
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. We wrangled several fishing buddies to head out on the water with us to 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. We gained insight 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.
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.
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.
We don't take price into consideration during our product testing, but we certainly consider it after all is said and done. We loved the Berkley products for their great price-to-performance ratio, particularly the Berkley Trilene XL, which offers strength, sensitivity, and versatility for a low price.
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.
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.
This might be one of the most overlooked aspects of fishing line. Memory is a line's tendency to take on the spool's shape. 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. The Stren High Impact, on the other hand, had way too much memory, which caused its casting distance to decrease quite a bit.
Even after weeks on the reel, these lines showed very little memory.
Having a line that can handle whatever fish you hook is certainly a desirable trait in a fishing line, but not all lines are created equal. Some lines are better suited for lakes, some for oceans.
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 lines. 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.
There was one braided line that did an admirable job in this category, however. 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, we were sure to include a diversity of lines in our review so you could find one that suits your needs. 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.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.