The Best Monofilament Fishing Lines of 2020

spinning reel spooled with monofilament

Monofilament is the most commonly used fishing line available. It is the type of line most people start with and is great value for money. Mono is also easy to handle and hold knots very well. But it’s not just for the amateur, monofilament has some unique properties which make it the go to line for many applications.

Our Top Picks

Here are our top picks for the best monofilament fishing line of 2020.

#1 Stren Original (Best All Round)

#2 Berkley Trilene Big Game (Best for Baitcaster Reels)

#3 Berkley Trilene XL (Best for Spinning Reels)

#4 Berkley Trilene XT (Best Abrasion Resistance)

#5 Stren MagnaThin (Best Castability)

Overview of monofilament fishing line

This type of line, also called mono, is made from a single strand of extruded material. It can be made from various polymer materials. However, nylon is by far the most common and popular polymer for its manufacture.

Other polymers can also be added to mono to change its properties

Benefits

  • Abrasion Resistance – The most abrasion resistant type of fishing line available. Going to be well suited for areas of heavy cover so your line can endure the sharp rocks and rough logs.
  • High Stretch – Adds some shock absorbance to your set up. Will give you a softer hook set for soft mouthed fish species. Also great for lures with treble hooks to help keep the fish pinned.
  • Buoyant – Will not sink as fast as other types of line. Great for working top waters to keep the nose up and the lure close to the surface.
  • Price – The cheapest line option available and represents great value for money.

Trade Offs

  • Poor Sensitivity – The extra stretch comes at the cost of poorer sensitivity. Less suited for fishing deeper water when you want to feel light bites.
  • Thickness – A larger diameter makes the line less aerodynamic. This will reduce your casting distance. Will also be more affected by underwater currents.
  • Slower Responsiveness – Any movement of the rod will cause the line to stretch before transferring the force to your hooked fish. This creates a feedback delay. Less suited if you want fast hooksets or to quickly horse fish out of cover.
  • UV Damage – Susceptible to damage from the sun’s UV light. Requires more frequent replacement.

How to compare monofilament fishing line

There are many manufacturers of monofilament fishing lines out there and all monos aren’t created equal. Most companies are going to pronounce their product as the best choice for you, but don’t get all caught up in the sales pitch. Here are a few important factors to consider when comparing monofilament fishing lines and how they affect performance.

Diameter 

The thickness of the line is going to have a big effect on its castability. Large diameter lines will be more affected by air resistance shortening your range. Thinner lines will be more aerodynamic and are also easier to handle.

Memory

A high memory line will remain somewhat coiled after coming off the spool. This means during the cast it will hit up against the guides, increasing friction and decreasing your distance. A line with no memory will come off the line straight, travel smoothly through the guides and cast better. High memory lines also tend to jump off the spool, particularly for spinning reels.

Flexibility

More flexible or limp lines are easier to handle and have better castability. Less flexible or stiffer lines are more difficult to handle and tie strong holding knots with. Stiff lines are especially a problem with spinning reels as they dont stay on the spool very well.

Abrasion Resistance

Ideally more abrasion resistance is better. A more durable line will be less likely to fail when you have a fish hooked and wont need to be replaced as frequently. However, it usually comes at the cost of extra thickness, memory and stiffness.

Treatments

Some lines feature treatments which can improve its performance or longevity. Can include additives to protect against UV damage.

Our picks for best monofilament fishing line

Stren Original (Best All Round)

Stren Original is a great all round performing monofilament. It has a great balance of strength, flexibility and abrasion resistance. It’s going to perform well whether you’re using a spinning or casting reel.

Stren Original has an added benefit in that it has a UV guard. This is going to reduce damage from sunlight and help prolong the life of the line.

It comes in a little cheaper than most good brands and has a range of tests from 4-30lb. The line diameter for a 10lb test comes in at 0.012 inch which is in the middle range for this strength. Stren Original comes in a range of colours including clear, high-vis and low-vis options.

Pros

  • Great versatile all round performer
  • Good abrasion resistance
  • Good flexibility
  • Additional UV guard
  • Suitable for both spinning and baitcasting reels

Cons

  • Good at everything, but not the best at anything

Berkley Trilene Big Game (Best for Baitcaster Reels)

The Berkley Big Game is another solid performing monofilament line. The design of this line is shifted more towards dealing with the fighting power of larger fish. It’s going to provide that extra strength and abrasion resistance compared to a standard line, great for areas of heavy cover. The Big Game mono is also going to provide a controlled stretch during the fight for great control.

The extra strength and durability comes at a cost though. Big Game is going to be a little stiffer than other monofilament lines which is going to make it less suitable for a spinning reel. It’s going to work great on baitcasting reels though and is why we have picked it as best for this category.

As it’s suited for fighting those bigger fish, Berkeley Big Game comes in a higher test range between 8-130lb. At 10lb test it comes in a little thicker than average at 0.012 inch for the purpose of extra durability. It comes in a good range of colours as well including clear, high-vis and low-vis options.

Pros

  • Great strength
  • Great abrasion resistance
  • Controlled stretch for extra control
  • Works great with baitcasting reels

Cons

  • Slightly stiffer than other mono lines
  • Slightly larger diameter than other mono lines
  • Less suited for spinning reels

Berkley Trilene XL (Best for Spinning Reels)

The Berkley Trilene XL is a swing in the other direction compared to the Big Game. The XL stands for extra limp and is a more flexible mono line. This makes it a great option for spinning reels and is why it has won our pick for this category.

It’s going to have improved castability and be a bit more manageable compared to other monos. It has a slightly smaller diameter too which will improve its aerodynamics and help get your line out further. A great option if you’re looking for that extra casting distance.

As always there is a slight tradeoff. The extra castability comes at the cost of less abrasion resistance. This is going to make it less suitable for those water bodies with plenty of rough cover.

The Berkley Trilene XL has a great range of tests from 2-30lb. Its diameter comes in on the lower end at 0.011 inch for its 10lb test. The colour range is a little more limited compared to other lines with clear, fluorescent blue and low-vis green options.

Pros

  • Extra limp for improved handling
  • Smaller diameter for improved castability
  • Works great with spinning reels

Cons

  • Less abrasion resistance
  • Smaller range of colours

Berkley Trilene XT (Best Abrasion Resistance)

Now if you want to max out on your abrasion resistance we recommend the Berkley Trilene XT. The XT stands for extra tough. It comes in at a much thicker diameter of 0.014 inch for 10lb test which is where a lot of the abrasion resistance will come from. Ofcourse, this is also going to make a stiffer line so I wouldn’t recommend it for spinning reels. It is best left for baitcasters.

The downside of the thickness is that it’s going to decrease castability. Trilene XT is going to encounter a little more air resistance during the cast so won’t be the best option if you’re trying to get your line out far.

This Berkley line comes in a good range of tests from 4-30 lb. There is also a good selection of colors available with clear, high-vis and low-vis options available.

Pros

  • Excellent abrasion resistance
  • Works well with baitcaster reels
  • Good range of colours

Cons

  • Poorer castability
  • Less suited for spinning reels

Stren MagnaThin (Best Castability)

Now if castability is your main priority, Stren MagnaThin is a great option. As the name suggests, this line offers a small diameter to improve handlability and casting distance. Great for getting a long smooth cast. Because of this it’s going to work really well with spinning gear.

However, the thinner diameter will make it less abrasion resistant. So if you’re fishing in areas of heavy cover, another line may be more suitable.

Stren MagnaThin comes in a nice range of tests from 4-30 lb. Colour range is a bit limited though with only clear and low-vis options available.

Pros

  • Great castability
  • Low stretch for extra sensitivity
  • Suited well for spinning gear
  • Easy to handle

Cons

  • Less abrasion resistant
  • Limited color range

How to choose the right monofilament line for you

Strength

The strength of a fishing line is also called weight or test. It refers to how much weight the line can hold before breaking. 

Ideally you want to use as light a test possible to catch your target fish. Light tests have a smaller diameter so are going to offer better castability and be easier to handle. A good guideline is to match the test of your line to the weight of the fish.

You also need to consider the specs of your rod and reel. The most suitable strength line will usually be printed on them somewhere. It will usually be given as a range. If not, up or down a test is usually okay.

Don’t go too far though. Straying too far from these recommendations can lead to poorer casting, more tangles and frequent line breaks. In the worst scenarios, it can cause damage to your rod or reel.

Length

Your reel will also come with a length spec for a given line test. This is the maximum length of that test line the reel can store.  For example, mono capacity 12lb/160yds means that the reel has capacity for 160yds of 12lb monofilament line.

You don’t want to over or under spool your reel with line. Over spooling is going to interfere with the reels mechanics and cause excessive tangles, Under spooling is going to greatly reduce your casting distance.

Get a length that is going to give you a decent amount of extra line after spooling your reel. Its better to have a properly spooled reel with some line leftover than be under spooled. You can also use the leftovers for things like leaders.

Tips for using monofilament fishing line

Here are some great tips to help you get the most out of your mono.

  • Spooling – When you are spooling make sure the line is coming off the package the same direction it’s going on the spool. This makes sure you are matching the memory of the line. Going against the lines memory from the packaging will cause it to not sit nicely on your reel and will be more prone to tangles.
  • Setting the hook – The extra stretch in mono means your hook sets are going to be softer compared to something like braid fishing line. To help set the hook, bring the rod tip down and take up the slack before sweeping upwards. This is particularly useful when you have a lot of line out such as deepwater fishing.
  • Keep your line fresh – Mono is susceptible to UV damage but also absorbs water which weakens the line. It’s also going to get a little beat up after a long day fishing. Therefore it’s a good idea to keep your line fresh by removing 10-20yds of line after a trip. This will make sure you’re good to go out next time and not lose your fish from a failing line.

Takeaway

Mono is a versatile fishing line that every angler should have in their arsenal. We recommend Stren Original as the best all round performing monofilament fishing line. If you’re looking for a more specialised application the other lines will make a great addition to your tackle.