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If you’re in the market for new fishing line, you’ve likely come across not only a suddenly wide variety of materials but also nearly every color imaginable is now at your fingertips. With such a selection available I started wondering to myself, how much does the color of my fishing line matter? I decided I had to find out once and for all the answer to this question.
To discover the answer, I began researching and then testing different colors and combinations with various fishing line materials to see how the color of my line affected the quality of my fishing. After compiling as much information as I could, I felt confident that I had solved this conundrum. So, does fishing line color matter? What I learned was that yes, fishing line color matters, but the color of the line might not matter as much to the fish, as it does to the angler.
I’m sure every angler has had this question pop into their head at one point or another. It’s nearly impossible not to wonder what impact the color of your fishing line will have on spooking the fish. The problem is that if you ask five different fishermen, you’ll probably receive five different answers for the best color of line to use. That’s because different colors are going to work better depending on style, location and the time of day.
Can Fish Tell the Difference in Line Color?
Intuitively, as anglers, we are in a constant battle of trying to fool our prey. We want lures that look as lifelike as possible, and we are always being mindful of not spooking the fish.
Therefore, when it comes to dangling our bait from a long line, if that line is clearly visible we conclude that there is not much deception as far as fooling the fish. The lure is supposed to look real, but if it’s attached to a line then isn’t it obvious that the bait is inauthentic?
To any reasonable human, a visible line is a clear giveaway, and as anglers, we’re thinking in our heads, “if a fish sees the line, they’ll ignore the bait.”
While that makes sense to our human brains, fish have much smaller brains that can’t understand concepts such as deception, or fishing in general. While the fish may be able to see the line, there is no way for them to know that at the other end of the line is your rod, ready to reel him on up.
The brain of a fish is so simplistic that they cannot feel pain. A brain that is so undeveloped that it can’t feel pain is also not going to be able to see the fishing line and understand in an instant what’s happening.
There is one key area where the fish can learn, and that is when an area becomes overfished during peak seasons. Through trial and error of being caught repeatedly, theoretically fish can start to determine that the line is dangerous.
As fishermen, we love to tell fish stories. Whether it’s of the heartbreak variety or for bragging rights over a good friend, fish stories get told repeatedly and are often exaggerated. That’s what makes them so much fun.
So, undoubtedly, you’ve heard or read a story of someone who was fishing with the exact same setup as their friend, but one of them caught a bunch of fish while the other got skunked. The one difference? The color of the line.
This is the classic case where correlation does not equal causation. Many different factors go into catching a fish that are both in our control, such as retrieve speed, and completely out of our control, such as what the fish are doing under our boats.
On the other side of the coin, you will also hear stories of people who threw a braided line, which is clearly visible on crystal clear waters and still slays the fish.
At the end of the day, fishing line color likely matters little. What matters much more is fishing line material, which can have an impact on lure action, reel speed, spool size, and tangling.
Fishing with Multiple Rigs
One area where line color makes a substantial difference is if you’re fishing with multiple rigs. If you have three or four rods set up and the line is all the same color, there’s a good chance that you’ll get the lines confused as they move in the water. With colored lines, you can quickly identify which rod is hooked into a fish.
Colored lines are almost mandatory for sight fishing. If an angler loses sight of his line in the water, it’s already game over if he is sight fishing. With a hi-visibility line color, you’ll be able to easily see where your line is and direct it where to go.
The real question is, does fishing line color matter to you?
Having colored fishing line can be helpful to an angler to see the line on top of the water. Being able to better see the line can allow you to notice a strike a split-second quicker, which can be the difference between landing and losing a fish. A colored line also has the advantage of being able to identify knots and twists in your line more quickly.
This all adds up to a colored line making you a more efficient fisherman.
What Matters Most is Confidence
One of the biggest factors when it comes to the color of the fishing line is how it affects your confidence. You may believe that if the fish can see your line, you have less of a chance to catch that fish. If the line color is affecting your confidence in any way, you should fish with the least visible line.
What Matters More than Line Color, is Line Construction
I believe what matters much more than the color of your line is what your line is the material your line is made from. There are some who claim that fish think green line looks like grass, that red and pink lines disappear as they get deeper, and that blue line blends in better on a clear day, however, at the end of the day, there is no evidence proving any of these theories, they are entirely anecdotal. The material of the line, however, does have a direct effect on your fishing, and its performance can be measured and tested.
Braided line is the most visible line in the water, but it also happens to contain by far the best materials when compared to competing lines such as monofilament and fluorocarbon.
If you like your tackle looking spot-on, you can now buy braided line in pretty much any color you’d like. So, if line color matters to you, look no further than a braided line for most applications.
One of the great benefits of braided line is that there are zero stretches. This makes any bites on your lure incredibly sensitive to feel. The ability to better recognize a strike is a massive advantage for any angler.
Braided line also flows free and easy from your reel. It tangles less, and you can hold more of it, which means longer casts, and deeper drops.
In fact, if you aren’t convinced that it doesn’t matter if a fish can see your line, one of the many advantages of braided line is a much thinner diameter than other line types which are rated for the same weight. A smaller diameter means that the line is less visible in the water.
The one drawback to a braided line is that it doesn’t have the abrasion resistance that mono and fluoro have, giving it a shorter shelf life if you are fishing around structure.
Mono line has a much larger diameter than braid, which gives it added abrasion resistance. Mono is also both buoyant and can stretch. This makes mono perfect for topwater, trolling, or fishing around rocks, but not practical at deep drop shots or jigging. You can buy mono line in pretty much any color you’d like.
The fishing line with the best abrasion resistance on the market is fluorocarbon. Along with its abrasion resistance, fluorocarbon is most well known for the claim that it is nearly invisible in the water. Manufacturers of fluorocarbon suggest that the construction of fluorocarbon line allows light to pass through undistorted. As far as line visibility goes, fluorocarbon is the clear winner.
Does Fishing Line Color Really Matter?
I believe the answer to that question is that fishing line color does not matter to the fish, it only matters to you. There are many situations where the colored line makes you a more efficient, and a more effective angler. There is also a confidence factor. If your tackle looks good, you’re going to feel good, and that should lead to better fishing.
If you’re fishing on crystal clear water with a bright sun, it may feel counterintuitive to throw in a clearly visible line to what you imagine are finicky fish. In this case, I suggest always having two rods on hand. One strung up with braid, and the other with fluorocarbon.
Try both out with the same lure and see for yourself how the fish react. It’s likely a coin flip as to which setup lands more fish.
What really matters most is your confidence and mindset. If the blue braided line looks good to you, go for it. If you want to be as stealth as possible, go with a clear fluorocarbon. Whichever color of fishing line you chose, make it one that you can comfortably and confidently fish with.