Determine Target Species
The first and probably most important factor to consider before you decide what strength of fishing line to put on your reel is the species of fish you are fishing for. In general if you are fishing for a freshwater species of fish the strength of your fishing line can be much lighter than if you were fishing for a saltwater species. The reason for this is simply because freshwater species generally are smaller than saltwater species. Once you decide on the exact species or group of species you plan to target you can then make a decision as to your line strength. Below is a ballpark of what Lb. test fishing line I generally use based on species.
- Bluegill : 2-4 lb. test fishing line
- Perch : 4-8 lb. test fishing line
- Crappie: 4-8 lb. test fishing line
- Bass : 5-12 lb. test fishing line
- Trout: 5-10 lb. test fishing line
- Pike: 10-20 lb. test fishing line
- Walley : 10-20 lb. test fishing line
- Catfish : 8-15 lb. test fishing line
- Scup : 4-8 lb. test fishing line
- Flounder : 8-15 lb. test fishing line
- Tautog : 10-20 lb. test fishing line
- Bluefish : 15-25 lb. test fishing line
- Striper : 15-30 lb. test fishing line
- Tuna: 20-40 lb. test fishing line
Where Do You Plan on Fishing
Now that you have a baseline of what strength fishing line you should use the next factor to consider is the exact location you plan on fishing. Will you be fishing from shore or by boat? Will you be fishing in a fast moving river or stagnant pond? These questions will help to further refine your selection of fishing line. For instance if you are fishing from shore and plan on casting frequently, you may want to consider a lighter fishing line such that your casts reach further. If you plan on fishing in a boat sending your bait directly to the bottom with a fishing weight then you may want to consider using a heavier line in case you get snagged on the bottom. A heavier line may be the more appropriate choice if you plan on fishing in a fast moving river with strong currents. If you hook into a decent size fish within a fast moving stream the weight of the fish may seem magnified placing much more stress on your fishing line and rod.
Determine Your Objectives
If you are planning on catching and releasing your fish for the day a lighter line may be the better choice for you as you will likely get more action considering that the lighter line has less of a chance scaring the fish away. Always try to use the lightest line possible without running the risk of breaking the line as you will see an increase in hits throughout the day. However if you plan on bringing your catches to the dinner table and do not want to run the risk of snapping your line then use a heavier line.
Rod and Reel Strength
A majority of rod and reels inform you of the recommended line strength on it. It is either printed on the reel itself or on the handle of the rod. But as long as you do not place 25lb test on a small freshwater shimano reel you should be fine with any choice. To avoid much aggravation at the lake or pond I would recommend using a heavier line strength at first as the lighter lines are known to tangle more frequently.
Another helpful tip is to spray down your fishing reel and line after every trip to ensure that it does not begin to breakdown and lose its strength. This is expecially important if you plan on saltwater fishing frequently.