The Best Line for Your Spinning Reel: Bass Fishing
As the popularity in lighter line techniques grows steadily, our drive to find the perfect line for our spinning reel follows. Line selection can be a difficult choice, especially when it comes to targeting finicky bass. This post breaks down some of the best line options for your spinning reel, as well providing some essential tips and tricks when it comes to line application.
The Spinning Setup for Bass Fishing
The spinning setup is a must-have on the boat for all bass fishermen. The main reason for this is that the spinning setup shines when casting lighter presentations.
When I say lighter presentations, I mean weightless soft baits, small crankbaits, or any other downsized (or unweighted) presentation. The lighter lures are always tougher to get out to desired zones, but the spinning setup enables us the cast all lure weights with solid accuracy and control.
Heavier applications, or as many like to describe as power fishing, are better suited to baitcasting setups. The baitcasting reel is built for efficient and accurate casting - the perfect weapon for covering a lot of high percentage zones.
Bass fishing continues to grow at an incredible rate. This means that lakes and systems are getting fish more than ever. The consequence of this is that bass are seeing more lures every day and become more pressured and finicky.
Pressured bass are tougher to catch and your best bet will often be a slower, smaller, and more subtle presentation. These presentations are usually weightless and as I mentioned - this is where the spinning setup shines.
The spinning setup is generally always associated with finesse fishing - which basically means lighter, smaller, and more delicate presentations. There’s a reason finesse fishing has won more prize money than any other technique in recent years and that’s because it thrives when the bite becomes tough.
Line Types for Bass Fishing
Getting a basic understanding of the attributes and characteristics of each line type is an absolute necessity when it comes to improving and growing as a bass angler. I’ll highlight the main characteristics for each of the three main line types:
Fluorocarbon displays attributes which make it hard to ignore as a mainline for your spinning reel. Minimal stretch, abrasion resistance, the ability to sink, and immense strength are just a few to mention.
Fluorocarbon for Bass Fishing
This line has taken over bass fishing. Modern fluorocarbon possesses elements of all the best features you could want in a line and some techniques simply rely on it. Here are some key characteristics of fluorocarbon:
- It sinks: Fluorocarbon is denser than traditional monofilament. This means that it sinks and is significantly more abrasion-resistant. The fact that it sinks makes it incredibly effective for weightless presentations as well as any other presentations that require the bait to stay down in the water columns
- It offers immense abrasion resistance: This gives anglers confidence when fishing around cover as your line is less likely to get knicked or snapped when fighting a fish
- Low stretch: This is incredibly important when it comes to getting a good hook set and is one of the reasons that fluorocarbon has risen to such popularity
- Enhanced sensitivity: The tightly packed molecules within fluorocarbon transmits more energy, meaning that any small signal at the end of your line will be felt better. Small bites or your lure bouncing along the bottom will generally be more sensitive when using fluorocarbon
- Waterproof: Unlike monofilament, fluorocarbon doesn’t absorb water - The benefit of this is that fluorocarbon offers the same performance benefits below the surface as it does when it is dry
- Lower visibility: Although there is some debate on this, there may very well be slightly less visibility when using fluorocarbon. When fishing pressured waters, any way to enhance your presentation should be considered
- Impressive strength: One can go lighter with fluorocarbon and still expect impressive strength and pulling power. Going lighter will mean a thinner line diameter and ultimately a better presentation
Drawbacks of Fluorocarbon
It may have some serious benefits, but there are some considerable drawbacks of fluorocarbon. However, it must be mentioned that these lines are being built to be better than ever by some of the most respected line brands in the world, in an effort to alleviate these inconveniences.
Here are some drawbacks of using fluorocarbon:
- Manageability: Fluorocarbon is definitely a slightly tougher line to manage compared to the likes of monofilament
- Suppleness: The serious suppleness on fluorocarbon can take some getting used to. This line can have line lay issues, especially when spooled on a baitcasting reel
- Knot tying: Tying on your hook with fluorocarbon can be a slightly more frustrating process. Some fluorocarbon lines are known to slip, so you need to make sure of a solid knot with each application
- It sinks: The fact that fluorocarbon sinks means it’s not the best line option for certain techniques such as all topwaters
Braid for Bass Fishing
Braid remains a crucial component for any serious bass angler. Many bass anglers will only use braid - as it offers unmatched strength. Certain techniques will simply not work without braid and everyone should probably have a reel spooled with it no matter where you’re fishing. Here are some features of braid:
- Superior strength: This is what braid is known for - unmatched strength. Made from synthetic materials, braid has insane strength, and anglers are able to pull as hard as they like on it. This is essential for fishing heavy cover
- Thin diameter: It may be the strongest line, but it also has the thinnest diameter. A thin diameter means a better action for any lure, making braid a superb option to get an optimal presentation for several techniques
- Sensitivity: Because braid has virtually zero stretch, this means anglers will have more direct contact with their lure and will feel any sort of bump or bite
- Hook setting: The zero stretch factor also helps with getting a crisp and direct hookset
- Casting distance: Many anglers love having braid spooled purely because of the enhanced casting distance. Braid shoots off a spool effortlessly and one can reach attractive zones that are far away
- Various colors: Color may be a limiting factor for braid in some instances, but it is also extremely useful. Many finesse techniques these days require serious line watching and having a colored line that stands out will aid the line watching process immensely
- Combines with fluorocarbon: The thin diameter of braid combines extremely well with light fluorocarbon, creating a streamlined link between the two lines. This combination is continuing to gain popularity within the finesse fishing scene
Drawbacks of Braid
Many love it, many can’t stand it. Braid is a controversial line that without a doubt has its positives, but it also has some flaws that can’t be ignored.
Here are some drawbacks of using braid:
- The color: Braid’s color makes it more visible to fish even though its diameter is very thin. This makes braid less effective in clearer water conditions
- Knot tying: Braid is without a doubt the most frustrating line to tie knots with. Often, different knots are needed and even these can slip considerably
- Manageability: One of a bass angler’s greatest fears is getting backlash with braid. This can be extremely tough to sort out and the general manageability of braid can be a frustrating task
This is a line that is maybe falling under the radar a bit. The development of fluorocarbon has resulted in monofilament becoming the second choice for many applications, however, monofilament still has its place within bass fishing. Here are some notable characteristics of monofilament fishing line:
- Manageability: Monofilament is probably the easiest line to work with. Memory is extremely low and knot tying is a breeze. This is a large reason why it’s advised to start off fishing with monofilament
- Strength: Although it may not have the power of fluorocarbon, monofilament still offers impressive strength and abrasion resistance
- It floats: This is where monofilament really shines. Topwater fishing when it’s on is always an absolute pleasure and monofilament will ensure the most attractive action on your topwater lure
- Low visibility: Although it’s argued that it’s more visible than fluorocarbon, monofilament stills hides pretty well
- Stretch: Although this is definitely a disadvantage for certain techniques, having stretch will benefit the hook setting potential in other techniques, such as a crankbait
Drawbacks of Monofilament
There are very few negatives of monofilament, but they are pretty significant in how they relate to the overall performance of the angler.
Here are some drawbacks of using monofilament:
- Strength: Monofilament simply isn’t as strong as fluorocarbon or braid. For this reason, fishing this line in heavier cover or vegetation is always a bit riskier. Monofilament is better suited to open water scenarios for sure
- Stretch: The stretching characteristic of monofilament also have a detrimental effect to hook setting ability. The slight delay caused by the stretch can result in anglers missing fish
- Floating trait: Certain applications, notably finesse applications, require a line that’ll help the bait reach the bottom. Monofilament floats, resulting in weightless presentations staying higher up in the water column
What is the Best Line for your Spinning Reel?
Having spoken about the three major lines, it’s clear that each line shines for different applications. The fact is, you should probably make use of all the lines in order to enhance your versatility within each technique that bass fishing has to offer.
When it comes to the spinning setup, this is generally related to finesse fishing - which as mentioned earlier, involves lighter and smaller presentations. So, we’re going to mention what we think is the best line for these applications.
The most preferred option for a spinning reel in modern times is fluorocarbon, and here are the key reasons why:
Thin diameter matched by impressive strength
One can go extremely light with fluorocarbon and still expect the necessary strength to deal with big bass.
It’s always better to go to thinner and lighter if possible, as the thinner diameter will allow your bait to move more freely and naturally within the water column.
A thinner diameter will give your wacky rig, shaky head, drop shot, or even your ned rig a much more free-flowing action.
It gets weightless presentations down to strike zones
Weightless lures and baits can take a while to get down, especially when using line such as monofilament.
Fluorocarbon accelerates the process of getting your weightless presentation to the bottom and into a bass’s strike zone. This is particularly important with ultra-light presentations.
Debatable, but many have gained confidence in this theory. Bass are more pressured than ever, so anything to hide the imperfections of our presentation should be considered.
One can always look to go lighter for pressured fish, as this will make the lure even more appealing to a bass. Firstly, because of the more natural action, and secondly, the thinner line will be less visible.
Best Line Setup for Your Spinning Reel
In terms of the strength of fluorocarbon to go for, this will depend on the types of zones you’re fishing.
For more clear, open water scenarios, one would want to go lighter with a thinner diameter. 6-8lb should be considered.
When it comes to fishing heavier vegetation or other threatening cover, one can look to go heavier with the line. This will ensure that you’ll have the necessary pulling power to get a fish out of a tight area. Within the 8-12lb region is ideal - but you wouldn’t want to go heavier than 12lb.
In terms of product options, we’ve reviewed several fluorocarbons that we have tested ourselves. Here are some great options to consider for your spinning reel:
Although on the pricey side, you’re guaranteed a solid full season with lines of this quality.
Spooling your spinning reel fully with fluorocarbon will definitely take some getting used to, but once worked out, it’ll definitely increase your success rate with finesse fishing techniques.
Braid to Fluorocarbon Leader
Another immensely popular application for a spinning reel is having braid spooled with a fluorocarbon leader.
Braid is great to have on the spool for a number of reasons, such as:
- Greater casting distance
- Zero stretch
- Line watching ability
- Improved strength
One of the major benefits of this application is that you're going to save money in the long run. Modern fluorocarbons are expense to replace and unfortunately as seasons pass, you will have to replace spools. Braid is more affordable and it'll also last longer on your spool.
The setup definitely has its benefits, which is why many are turning to it. One should generally try to match the diameter of the braid with the fluorocarbon for this.
For instance, 30lb braid would match nicely for 8lb fluorocarbon, and linking these will be more comfortable.
The spinning setup is becoming more and more prevalent in modern bass fishing. Our waters are getting fished more than ever and the more delicate and less imposing your presentation is, the better the chances are of getting bit.
Fluorocarbon is the best option for your spinning reel if you intend on using your spinning setup for finesse techniques. If you’re looking to use a spinning setup for a wide range of techniques, make use of other lines and try to understand where each of them specializes.