Sea Fishing Lines Guide

Monofilament line is the first choice for sea angling, especially from the shore because of its stretch which copes better with the long distances fished. Braid lines are favoured more for boat fishing. Choosing the correct monofilament line for shore angling is fairly straightforward because only certain breaking strains/diameters are suitable for the various types of sea angling situations. Too thin lines snap too easily and too thick lines reduce casting distance and are affected by strong tide. Usually the choice of a line size is a compromise between breaking strain and diameter. Strong enough to fish with, but thin enough to be able to cast a maximum distance and combat current.

Line quality is important but it’s fair to say that most of the lines available nowadays are of good quality, even the cheapest lines although they may only be cheaper because the spool contains less line.

For beach casting most reels will require approx 300 metres/yards of line and so a spool size of that is a minimum requirement – Its more economical to buy bulk spools and it’s a good idea to look at the multiplies of 300 yards on your spool to see how many reel fills it contains.
For beach angling over clear sands lines between 12lb and 18lb are the best choice. These have a diameter between .30mm and .38mm and that promotes the longest distances with the standard beach fishing reels, both multipliers and fixed spools.

For rough ground where tackle may need to be pulled free from snags or fish bullied from kelp and rocks then stronger thicker lines of  25lb to 30lb bs (0.40mm +) lines are preferred.
Similarly for boat fishing the type of fishing and the reel being used has the controlling say on what breaking strain and how much line to use. Don’t confuse total capacity marked on reels with the best working capacity – multipliers work best with slightly less line that their capacity whilst fixed spool perform at their best with a full spool.

A casting shock leader is a stronger length of line at the front of the main line that takes the shock of casting the lead. Cast a 6oz lead on 15lb main line and it will break and threaten a tragic accident. Leader strength is determined by multiplying each ounce of the lead’s weight by 10lb of breaking strain. 4oz lead = 40lb line; 6oz lead = 60lb bs line, 7oz +70lb and so on. There are specific low diameter extra strong lines produced for shock leaders and these are particularly worth using simply because of the dangers of a line breaking, a quality shock leader material is more reliable that a cheap heavy main line used as a leader.

Tapered shock leaders are a popular way of overcoming a bulky knot between main line and leader and are especially effective for use with fixed spool reels or multipliers with a level line.

Most of the best shock leader lines are also preferred for use making terminal rig bodies. This is because the rig body is also included in the stress area of the line when casting and so the caster, especially those using power casting styles like the pendulum cast want a very reliable line that will not snap. The same ratio of line size per lead weight cast is used for rigs as for shock leaders.

An increasing number of copolymer lines are now available and these have extra knock strength as well as no memory. Unlike the early monofilaments which coiled easily and occasionally snapped suddenly when in contact with other lines or snags. Most of the best copolymer lines have a smoother surface and pass through the rings more smoothly – The down side of this is that on some knot strength is compromised because the knots can slip under stress. That’s why lots of firms now produce separate main lines, leaders and snood lines.

Monofilament lines are all the same aren’t they?  Well NO actually they are not! If you are not a polymer chemist and not totally familiar with the the ever changing technology, manufacturing process or the materials of modern co-polymer fishing lines then you are not alone. Neither are some of the distributors and tackle firms that sell lines throughout the UK. They buy monofilament lines in bulk from around the world, without really knowing the detailed technical changes that continually take place in line manufacture. The World’s major line manufacturers were Germany, America and Japan but nowadays line is also made in India, and China amongst other places – Line is bought and sold in huge bulk by distributors who spool, label and package it for the world market and many apparently different makes and labels are the same line.

All modern monofilament lines have been upgraded and are totally different from the original nylon monofilaments than were discovered in the 1930s. Then monofilament fishing lines came in two qualities with the more expensive lines pre-stretched which strengthened them and lowered their diameter and the standard monofilaments which were of very mixed quality.

Recent technology has blended and reinforced the polymer matrix of monofilament lines with various combinations of nylon polymer construction producing lines of differing qualities, more strength, less stretch, more abrasion resistance, easier flow, etc. In the case of sea angling lines the co polymer influence is universal and the change in lines from those of twenty years ago is dramatic. Few of the old style monofilaments still exists and even the cheapest of lines now have the influence of the co-polymer technology. Today’s lines are tougher, have less memory, less stretch and a more regular diameter with some  differing enormously in their specifications which brings tremendous choice to anglers. That good news continues with the arrival of the fluorocarbons and other materials ensuring that the fishing line will continue to evolve and improve.

Buy your line by diameter and not breaking strain, because this is more crucial to the lines behaviour on the reel spool. Also lines differ greatly when diameters and breaking strains are compared. Most models of multipliers cast their best distances with line diameter within a small range – Go too thin, or too thick and the reel cannot unload the line efficiently which produces overruns or lack of distance. Such even influences the retrieve speed of lures which can in turn affect catches. Very low diameter lines perform best on a fixed spool reel, but on a multiplier can cause overruns.

Colouring line, it is claimed, weakens it. However, this is miniscule and has no real effect on line strength in the diameters used for beach casting. (12lb to 30lb)
Many manufacturers claim their line is clear, but in fact many so called clear lines are white or opaque. It is claimed that red is the first colour to disappear from the spectrum 6ft below the sea’s surface.

Knock or impact strength is a vital quality of lines which are to be used in the harshest sea angling environment. Take particular care when selecting a line, of low diameter. Thin lines with high breaking strains may sound great, but is their knock strength and abrasive resistance up to the task? OK for distance over clear ground, but it may be better to opt for a bigger diameter for rough ground fishing!

You might prefer a line because of its colour, field casters like bright yellow or orange because potentially hazardous snap offs can be found easily. Bright colours are also easier to untangle in an angling situation. But other qualities also come into the equation with strength, smoothness, lack of memory, reduced stretch, abrasive resistance and regular diameter some of the most sought after essentials of a fishing line!

Breaking strain conversions on spools are not always correct and for 15lb vary between 6.5kg and 8kg – The actual conversion is 6.8kg.

Braid line lacks any of the stretch of monofilaments which is good and bad depending on how you are fishing. For boat fishing a none stretch braid will greatly improve bite indication and also counteract strong tide, whilst on the shore none stretch line means that movement of the surf, swell and tide will transmit to baits and rod tip. Braid is great for spinning too. Beware that some of the early braids were flat and may catch more tide than their diameter would suggest.

For beach casting braid can only be used on a fixed spool reel – This is because braid under pressure digs into its coils on the reel and when using a multiplier this can result in the line jamming mid cast with disastrous consequences.

Fluorocarbon lines are finding increasing popularity for hook snoods although not necessarily because of their neutral buoyancy – more for their knock strength and lack of memory.

7 thoughts on “Sea Fishing Lines Guide

  1. you say dont use red line unless by rocks, but this is not correct red is the best line as its the first line to go clear under 6ft of water

  2. Hi,

    I bought some line off the internet & noticed when it arrived that some of the info on the packaging was covered over. The line was bought as mm 0.306 / 14.5 kgs which seems great, but the info covered up said Kgs 5.670.
    I went for the thin line as I fish in strong tidal areas & thinner lines get me to hold the btm with less lead.
    The lower Kg value is ISO while the higher is fish test. I just want to know what the breaking strain is in ‘old money’ is it 30lb line or 12lb?

    Help appreciated 😉

  3. i have fished dungeness kent for many years now i dont have particularly expensive rods or reels but am really struggling to cast out and or hold the bottom in the rough sea’s i was advised to try lighter line and heavier weights which i have duly done but still end up washing back up on shore as i am about to upgrade all my gear i would appreciate any and all advise on this.

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