Tying into a monster catfish is a heart-pounding experience, and you want to know that the fishing line you’ve spooled on your reel can take the heat.
When you’re hunting murky water for a big blue, you don’t need excellent sensitivity or super long casts, but you will appreciate awesome shock strength, incredible knot integrity, and unbeatable abrasion resistance.
Not convinced? Keep reading!
Below, you’ll find careful, fact-based analysis of the pros and cons of mono vs. braid, as well as reviews of some of the best lines for catfish:
Monofilament Line for Catfish
Braided Line For Catfish
Table of Contents (clickable)
Related: Best Hooks For Catfish
|Weights: 8, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, 100, 130 |
Colors: Clear, Green, Solar Collector, Steel Blue
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Trilene Big Game is my favorite mono for catfishing, hands down. Strong, resistant to abrasion, easy to tie, and available in weights that pull like chain, it’s easy to understand why.
Whether you’re spooling on 15-pound test for dinner or 80-pound test for trophies, Big Game won’t let you down. Possessing superior shock strength, this is tough line for hard fights in every line weight, and in the heavier options, it makes an outstanding shock leader for braid.
In fact, there’s a good choice for nearly any situation, though the numbers are tilted heavily in favor of the big boys.
If there’s something I don’t like about Trilene Big Game, it’s that the high-visibility color option doesn’t provide as much contrast as Neon Tangerine or Hi-Vis Gold. That said, Solar Collector is easy enough to see in low-light conditions, and when you’re fishing for trophy cats, there’s usually very little doubt about when one’s on your line!
And as you’d expect, it ties well and holds tight, even in the larger diameters. For big fish, that’s essential, and I’d trust the heavy weights of Big Game to outperform similarly strong braids.
Weights: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 20, 25, 30
Colors: Clear, Clear Blue Fluorescent, Hi-Vis Gold, Low-Vis Green
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Stren Original may not be high-tech or new, but it’s very, very good line for catfish under 60 pounds or so. And while it’s not available in weights that make it trophy-ready, most of us are well served by 30-pound test on a good rod for catfish and a properly-set drag.
Casting and sensitivity aren’t big concerns when you’re after catfish, but Stren original is relatively low-memory, allowing it to cast well. It’s also more sensitive than you’d imagine while still retaining awesome shock strength.
I find that Stren Original really shines when abrasion is an issue, and more than a few fishermen have discovered that it makes excellent leader material for braid if you don’t fish for real heavyweights. It’ll stand up to a beating, to be sure, but it’s always a good idea to strip and cut line, retying between each big fish.
Stren’s abrasion resistance was confirmed by SaltStrong, and in a four-way head-to-head, Stren Original proved the toughest when abrasion was the issue.
This line ties really well and holds knots hard. For me, that’s a huge plus.
It’s available in Hi-Vis Gold, my go-to pick for catfishing.
|Weights: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 20, 25, 30 |
Colors: Clear, Camo, Neon Tangerine, Smoke Green
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Sufix Siege is a great alternative to Stren Original and an excellent choice for anglers who’re after anything other than record-setting cats.
Sufix produces an excellent high-visibility color, and there’s no doubt that Neon Tangerine stands out like a stain on a white shirt, making it a great color option for low-light conditions.
Siege is extruded and wound to prevent memory, and it’s plenty limp, making it easy to cast and handle. It ties very easily, and like Stren Original, those knots are nearly as strong as your main line. That’s reassuring, and I never feel undergunned when I spool this Sufix onto my catfish reel.
In terms of abrasion resistance, Siege stands up to abuse, though the Stren is hard to beat on this front.
|Weights: 3, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 65, 80, 100, 150, 200, 250 |
Colors: Vermillion Red, Moss Green, White, and High-Vis Yellow
Strands: 4 or 6
Material: resin-infused Spectra
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Power Pro’s incredibly wide range of weights makes it a popular choice in both fresh and saltwater, and its proprietary tech results in a very tough, very smooth braid. And since it’s available in incredible tests, it can compensate for some of the common weaknesses of braid.
Like all braids, expect fantastic tensile strength for diameter, but poor shock strength, weak knots, and low abrasion resistance.
To mitigate these issues, I recommend doubling the test from what you need. For instance, if you’d be spooling on 15-pound mono, reach for 30-pound Power Pro, and so on. And with the range of heavy weights available in this line-up, that’s not a problem.
That should bring knot strength up to where you’ll want it, but always use a mono shock leader!
High-Vis Yellow is an excellent color choice for low-light situations, and it’ll be easy to keep track of your line when the sun’s going down.
|Weights: 6, 8, 13, 18, 20, 26, 30, 39, 50, 63, 79, 86, 99 |
Colors: Camo, Coastal Camo, Ghost, Low-Vis Green, Neon Lime, High-Vis Yellow, and Multi-Color.
Material: Dyneema plus a GORE fiber
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Sufix 832 is a popular choice among anglers, and it’s gained something of a cult following among braid enthusiasts. Strong, easy to cast, and super sensitive: Sufix 832 is a probably the best line for fishing bass I’ve ever used.
But is it ideal for catfish?
I’d say no, giving the nod to mono.
Sufix takes a unique approach to the design of this line, using a fiber developed by GORE (that’s right, the company behind Gore-Tex!) that’s then braided together with seven Dyneema fibers to create a unified whole. Sufix claims that this improves strength, casting, and abrasion resistance, and one feel will confirm that this is very smooth, very round braid.
Casting is generally excellent with this line, and unlike many braids with a heavy coating, Sufix 832 doesn’t shed tiny particles all over your gear, bleed onto your reel, or feel stiff in your hands.
But casting isn’t that big of a deal for most catfish anglers, and strength without knot integrity just doesn’t mean that much.
To compensate, I recommend running heavier Sufix 832 than your weight of fish calls for, starting at no less than 30-pound line to allow for 15-pound knots. It’ll still be remarkably thin and cast very well.
And in the heaviest options, you’ll still get roughly 45 pounds of knot integrity--nothing to sneeze at, but hardly a challenge for heavy weights of Trilene Big Game.
And as always with braid, I’d run a monofilament shock leader to prevent break-offs. And even in heavy weights, braid just can’t take much abrasion before being compromised.
High-Vis Yellow is an excellent low-light color option, and you won’t have any trouble keeping track of your line.
|Weights: 6, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 65, 80, 100, 120Colors: Dark Green, Chartreuse, White, and Multi-Color |
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Daiwa’s J-Braid x8 is a great choice for braid if you’re after catfish, as it’s available in very heavy tests.
Woven together from eight strands of Dyneema, J-Braid x8 is strong, and it’s available in a wide range of weights. Be careful when selecting your color, however, as not every option is offered in every weight. But given the huge variety of tests available, it fits a lot of situations well.
We find J-Braid x8 to be very smooth, and it casts exceptionally well, though this is not typically a concern among catfishermen.
J-Braid is very strong, and it’s available in heavier weights than Sufix 832. That matters since knot integrity will be an issue, as will abrasion resistance. As a result, I’d recommend running twice the tensile strength you need, since you’ll be getting half the knot strength you want.
Chartreuse is an excellent color option for low-light, and I’ve no complaints here.
Of course, you’ll want to run a mono shock leader with J-Braid, as shock strength will be poor.
And some anglers complain that the coating on this line will flake and that in extreme heat, it can become sticky. Most, however, did not experience either of these issues.
Catfish demand strong lines, and it’s no surprise that our two top picks offer really heavy-weight lines.
Trilene Big Game is the strongest, toughest mono I’ve ever fished--and with exceptional shock strength, awesome knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option--it’s as good as they come.
Whether you’re after average channel cats or bruiser blues, I guarantee Big Game won’t let you down!
But if you must run braid, my pick would be Power Pro.
Available in true heavy-weight tests, you can run stouter line than you need to improve its poor abrasion resistance and weak knot integrity. The result is that you’ll still pack plenty of Power Pro on your spool while mitigating the worst of the issues that bedevil braid.
I recommend that you use a mono shock leader with any braid, and Trilene Big Game is an unbeatable choice in this role.
Check out our top picks for the best bait for catfish!
Nylon monofilament, as its name suggests, is composed of a single strand--or filament--of tough nylon. It’s a common choice for catfish anglers, and a close look at its strengths and weaknesses reveals why.
Shock strength - When a big fish hits your line hard or decides to quickly change direction with all its might, your line is put under tremendous stress. Good rods and proper drag settings help absorb some of that strain, but your line takes a beating nonetheless.
Mono offers quite a bit of stretch--properly called “elasticity”--allowing it to act as a shock absorber in its own right and reducing the chance of a sudden break-off. According to Berkeley, monofilament can stretch as much as 25%, while Rapala puts that number at 28%.
Secure knots - Mono ties easily and the knots hold really well, leaving braid in its dust!
Even plain-Jane monofilament like Trilene XL outperforms braid for knot strength, holding to 97% of its tensile strength. By contrast, when TackleTour tested a variety of top braided superlines, the average knot strength was just 49%.
That’s an enormous difference, and if you’ve ever had a knot let go at the hook or leader while running braid, you know just how frustrating that can be.
Abrasion resistance - Nylon is tough material, and when formed as a single, round strand, it can really shrug off impacts with sharp rocks, stumps, downed trees, and other line hazards.
Stretch can weaken hooksets - All that stretch means that when you go to set your hook, you’re contending with line that gives as you pull. And the more line you have in play, the worse this gets!
Braided lines are made from spun polyethylene fibers that are then woven together into a single strand. Two fiber types are available to manufacturers, Dyneema or Spectra, and the only real difference between them is in processing. But braided lines do vary in how many fibers they weave together, ranging from a low of three to as many as eight. Many high-end superlines are then coated to reduce water absorption, improve handling and casting, and provide greater resistance to abrasion.
Plenty of catfish anglers swear by braid, and if you want to start an argument, just suggest that they switch to mono instead!
Braid can be a good choice for catfish, especially if you understand its strengths and weaknesses:
Tensile strength - Diameter to diameter, nothing comes close to braid!
In the real world, this allows anglers to run heavier line than they can with mono or fill their spool with far more line. For instance, 20-pound Sufix Performance Braid has the same diameter as 6-pound monofilament.
Strong hooksets - Though many anglers believe braid can’t stretch, that’s not the case. But in contrast to mono, which can stretch as much as 28 percent, braid will typically stretch from 1 to 8 percent of its length.
In the real world, that’s very little, and the result is that when you try to set your hook, you’re more or less pulling directly on it as if it were attached by steel cable instead of line. And of course, the more line you have out, the more you’ll notice the difference.
Low shock strength - The tradeoff for those immediate hooksets is that braid can’t absorb shock. A sudden burst of force can snap even strong braids as they just can’t stretch to contend with the load.
Some anglers overcome this weakness by running much heavier braids than necessary, but that comes at its own cost.
I recommend that you use a monofilament shock leader any time you run braid as your main line. It’ll help cushion sudden shocks, and you’ll land more big cats, guaranteed!
Weak knots - Dyneema and Spectra are very slick materials, and they just don’t bind on themselves very well. As a result, all braided lines suffer poor knot strength, and even after modifying knots to no-slip versions, the extra stresses created at bends cause problems for braid.
As I mentioned above, expect knot strength in the range of 50% of the tensile strength of your braid.
Poor abrasion resistance - You’ve probably seen advertising copy or heard other anglers touting the abrasion resistance of braid. But even the manufacturers recognize that this is just hype. As Berkley explains, “Due to their exceptionally thin diameter, not all superlines stand up as well to abrasion” as mono.
Other experts agree. “The fact that braided line is manufactured by wrapping multiple strands over the top of each other means that those strands can separate. When they do separate--and they will whenever something hard scratches the surface in just the right way--they allow water to enter what was a sealed surface. When they open up, the water that gets in wears them, and that wear can result in breaks. Trust us when we say that those stresses will result in big fish getting away.”
In the real world, the only way to overcome this is to run much heavier braid than necessary, and even then, you’ll need to inspect it frequently for signs of damage--a bit of fuzz here and there.
Fluorocarbon is a monofilament composed of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). Essentially a type of thermoplastic, it’s both harder and denser than nylon. In theory, this makes fluorocarbon--diameter for diameter--more abrasion resistant than standard mono. It also improves its sink rate and sensitivity.
High-quality fluorocarbon lines are multi-layered affairs, with a strong core to improve strength. They’re also usually coated to improve abrasion resistance, improving their handling and casting performance, too.
Some bass anglers run fluorocarbon main line, but I just can’t recommend it for catfishing. Expensive and hard to cast and tie, it’s best suited for leader material--and even there, heavy mono is just as good and much less expensive.
Overall, mono is probably a better choice for catfish than braid.
We get that this is an argument starter, and we can see that running heavy braid can compensate for some of its weaknesses. But in the final analysis, mono is easier to use, less expensive, and more forgiving than braid.
Braid will provide harder hooksets, however.
Whether you’re fishing for channel cats for a fish fry, or looking for the bragging rights of a trophy blue of flathead, catfishing demands strong line.
For channels cats, I recommend monofilament line between 10 and 20 pounds, depending on the size of the fish you regularly catch in that location. I’d string up heavier where the fish are larger, or where I might tie into a blue or flathead.
15# line is a good go-to choice, and if I’m headed to the river for a relaxing evening of catfishing, that’s what you’ll find on my reel most often.
But for blues and flatheads, I step that up a notch or two, running 20- to 30-pound test pretty regularly.
And for real trophies, the sky’s the limit. Use the pound test that makes the most sense for the fish you’re after.
I’d double those minimums for braid to improve knot strength and increase abrasion resistance.
Mono is the clear choice here, and it’s my preference for catfish.
If you do decide to run braid, always use a monofilament shock leader. It will help your line take the sudden strain of a big fish.
For me, this is critical.
If a knot can’t hold, it doesn’t matter how strong your line is.
With mono, you can be really confident that a well-tied knot will do its work. With braid, you’re going to need to tie some modifications to make it hold, and even then, knot strength isn’t going to be impressive.
One way to counter this is to run heavier braid, increasing the tensile strength of the knot as you step-up your line.
But be warned--that can be murder on your guides!
It’s important that you learn to tie the right knot for the line you choose, and if you’re not sure, take a look at this article, where we discuss our favorites.
If you fish where there’s a lot of debris like rocks, logs, and downed trees, you’ll need to think carefully about abrasion resistance.
Again, mono is king in this regard.
Catfishing happens in low-light conditions, and super-clear water is not typically a problem you’ll face!
As a result, line visibility isn’t an issue, and in fact, high-visibility colors are a great choice. They allow you to see your lines and monitor exactly what’s happening.
I generally recommend these hi-vis options, and I’ve highlighted them in each product on our shortlist.
Whichever side you take in the mono vs. braid battle, making a smart choice about the line you pick can make the difference between “fishing” and “catching.”
And to be sure, any of the products on our shortlist will get the job done if you do yours.
If we’ve helped you make your pick, changed your mind, or made a mistake on some point, we’d love to hear from you!
Please leave a comment below.