If there is a single point of argument-starting contention, it’s fishing line choice. And choosing the best line for surf fishing isn't the easiest of things.
Some surf anglers swear by braided superlines. Others choose monofilament. And while I’ve yet to run into someone running fluorocarbon as main line, I’ll bet they’re out there!
We’ve busted the myths surrounding fishing line before, and we’re here to do it again in this article. Below, you’ll find an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of your options, as well as reviews of our favorites.
Quick glance at the best line for surf fishing:
Table of Contents (clickable)
|Weights: 8, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, 100, 130 |
Colors: Clear, Green, Solar Collector, Steel Blue
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When you need heavy-weight mono, Trilene Big Game delivers. Whether you’re casting for monster striped bass, bull reds, or shark off the beach, you won’t be disappointed.
15-, 20-, and 25-pound tests are my favorite in the Big Game line-up, but I’ll step up to 30 or 40 when I know I’m working for a terrific fight with big sharks, or when I need a shock leader for braid. Especially as you move up in weight, and thus in diameter, Trilene Big Game gets very, very abrasion-resistant. For large fish putting up a fight near reefs and rocks, you probably can’t find a better product.
Big Game’s color palette offers nearly invisible options, and wherever you’re fishing, you’ll find you have an excellent option.
Knot strength is excellent, and even in heavy weights, it’s easy to tie. Admirably limp and low on memory, it casts well, too.
Is there a better mono for surf fishing?
I really don’t think so!
|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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I doubt there’s an angler reading this who isn’t familiar with Stren Original.
It’s been around a long time, and in test after test, real-world fight after fight, it just does what it should. Among our favorite monofilaments, we strongly recommend you give this a try from the beach.
In 12-, 14-, 17-, and 20-pound tests, I would (and have) spooled Stren Original in preparation for reds, specks, and flounder, and with a quality rod and reel, wouldn’t feel out-gunned if I tied into something really mean.
In fact, one of my friends landed a 41-inch red on 12-pound Stren Original last weekend!
Available in both low- and high-vis options, as well as fluorescent for night fishing, there’s a color for nearly any condition. Clear and Low-Vis Green are always solid choices, too, and chances are, there’s a color to match the water where you’re fishing.
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. That says a lot right there, and this was confirmed by SaltStrong. In a four-way head-to-head, Stren Original proved the toughest!
Stren’s line is pretty limp, leading to amazing casts, and it ties easily--as you’d expect.
Inexpensive, readily available, and high performing: what’s not to like?
|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 has earned something of a cult following, and it’s not hard to understand why: good colorfastness, awesome strength, and incredible castability--that what Sufix delivers time and time again.
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.
Available in a wide range of weights and colors, you’ll have no trouble finding a color to blend in with the water you’re fishing. That said, you should anticipate some fading--that’s just how it is with braid.
Keep in mind that even excellent braid like Sufix 832 has poor shock and knot strength. To mitigate this, I like to step up to 30- and 39-pound test from the beach.
|Weights: 3, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 65, 80, 100, 150, 200, 250 |
Colors: Vermillion Red, Moss Green, White, High-Vis Yellow
Strands: 4 or 6
Material: resin-infused Spectra
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Like Stren Original, we doubt there’s an angler reading this who hasn’t heard of Power Pro.
Composed of Spectra fibers infused with resins to improve the shape and abrasion resistance of the final braid, Power Pro is slick and slow to allow water to penetrate. In my experience, this is very limp line, exhibiting almost no memory.
As you’d expect from that, it casts really well, though it can be a touch “noisy” through the guides. That’s no big deal in our book, especially when we watch our lures land where we want them to.
If we have a quibble about this line, it’s the poor range of color choices. Basically, you have one high-vis color, red, white, and green. That’s not a lot of options, though this range will get it done.
I like the 30- and 40-pound tests from the beach, though as with all braid, I like to use a monofilament shock leader and be very careful with my knots.
We generally recommend mono over braid for most surf anglers, most of the time.
And our favorite surfcasting line is Trilene Big Game. Available in a range of hues to match the water you’re fishing, it’s nearly invisible to fish. It’s also available in moderate and heavy weights, making it a good choice for everything from specks to sharks.
It casts well, too, and memory hasn’t been an issue for us.
Top that off with superior shock strength, awesome knot strength, and fantastic abrasion resistance, and it’s easy to see why we like it so much.
But if you prefer braid, we don’t think you can do better than Sufix 832.
It’s as limp as overcooked pasta and casts superbly. If distance is the first priority, this is the line I would reach for when casting from the beach.
Not as invisible as Trilene Big Game by any measure, it’s also more likely to break under a sudden load. And knot strength is going to suffer--be sure to use strong knots like the Palomar!
If you’re a long-time reader, you know that we’re unapologetic fans of monofilament.
We’ve run the tests, done the research, and checked the science.
That doesn’t mean we don’t run braid where feel is critical, but the vast majority of the time, our own reels are spooled-up with mono.
For surf fishing, that doesn’t change. If you weigh the pros and cons of mono against braid, we think mono comes out on top.
To see why, let’s break down the common line types. We won’t go through all the science a second time, but if you want to get into the details, check out the links we include below.
Monofilament is composed of a single strand of tough nylon. Nylon is naturally stretchy, and as it provides some inherent give, it acts as a shock absorber, preventing sudden failures.
Mono also ties very well, as it can bind on itself better than either braid or fluorocarbon. That doesn’t just mean you can use easier-to-tie knots: repeated testing reveals that it’s the king of knot strength, and that translates into far fewer break-offs.
Monofilament is also very resistant to abrasion, inexpensive, and available in a wide range of colors, including clear.
It casts pretty well, too, especially if you take the time to fix any line twist.
But its weakness is sensitivity. Because it’s not very dense, and given that otherwise admirable stretch, mono is generally lacking in ‘feel.’
For surfcasting, you typically rely on quality circle hooks and a sand spike. Fish that take your line generally self-hook, though sometimes they may require a little assistance in the form of an insurance hook set.
But unlike bass fishing, for instance, “feel” is not particularly important, making mono even more appropriate for this application.
Fluorocarbon, as we’ve said before, is still probably best used as leader material by most anglers. 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.
Fluorocarbon lines are often multi-layered, mating a core to a coating that improves abrasion resistance, handling, and casting performance.
In contrast to what you might have heard, fluoro stretches like mono, absorbing shock, but its low plasticity means that it tends to stay stretched once it’s been deformed. It does, however, provide slightly better “feel” than monofilament, an important consideration for some types of fishing.
But even the best fluorocarbons tend to be a bit stiff, giving them deep memory and making them poor performers when casting. They’re also hard to tie well, and won't bind on themselves easily, generally yielding low knot strength.
The verdict is still out on its supposed “invisibility,” too, and this seems to depend at least as much on the species you’re after as the line itself.
Overall, we really can’t recommend fluorocarbon for surfcasting.
Braided superlines are composed of spun polyethylene fibers that are then woven together into a single strand. Dyneema and Spectra are the two kinds of fibers available to manufacturers, and the only real difference between them is how they’re processed.
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.
Braid is an excellent choice when you need superior casting, more line on your spool, or the highest possible tensile strength for diameter. It’s very, very sensitive, and is at its best when there’s a lot of line between you and your terminal tackle.
This can make it an excellent choice for surf fishing, as long casts are the order of the day!
Its weaknesses may give you some reservations, however. Neither Dyneema nor Spectra are great at sudden shock resistance, and they can break when subjected to unexpected force.
Braid does stretch - typically from 1 to 8 percent of its length - but it can’t handle heavy loads over short time spans.
And because these materials are very slick, they simply don’t tie well, and average braid will start to have trouble at just half its actual tensile strength. For instance, TackleTour’s tests revealed an average knot strength of just 49 percent. For 20-pound test, that means that the run of the mill braid will start to experience knot failure at just 9.8 pounds!
And in contrast to what you might have heard, our research reveals that braided line is not particularly abrasion-resistant, either.
It’s also extremely visible in the water, as it can’t be colored easily.
The verdict? We can see some situations in which the extra casting distance of braid might be just what you need, but for most anglers, most of the time, monofilament is probably the better choice.
There are four things we really care about when we’re choosing a line to fill our spools.
Let’s get real: if you can’t reach the back edge of the breakers or drop your tackle in that hole 60 yards off-shore, you’re not going to have a good day. And given that so much about surfcasting tackle comes down to casting, you want a line that’s going to work with you rather than against you.
Hands down, braid is the best on this front.
Combining exceptional limpness with little to no memory, high-quality braided superlines typically outcast anything else, though some monofilaments can give them a run for their money.
This is a very big deal, and anyone who says otherwise is selling you something!
No matter how strong your line, 99% of the time, the knot is going to form the weakest point on your line. And if your knot fails, your line fails.
For our money, knot strength is as important as tensile strength or test--and a solid argument can be made for it taking the top spot. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
This is a point on which monofilament is essentially untouchable.
As all anglers do, we’ve talked a lot about knots.
In the real world, you really want line that takes a knot easily, ties quickly with just a few steps, and is more or less foolproof. Awesome knots that you can only tie at home just don’t seem to get us very far on the beach once something goes wrong.
A line that can take a simple knot quickly is worth its weight in gold when the fish are biting and you're busy re-tying your terminal tackle!
This is another point where mono simply outshines the alternatives.
Very few anglers go looking for the little guys, and everyone’s heart starts pounding when a real monster takes their line and starts a run.
If you don’t think shock strength matters in a fight, you’ve never felt the heart-stopping disappointment of a broken line.
When you’ve got a bruiser on the hook and it decides to really fight, you need line that’s strong--and line that can handle sudden, unexpected loads.
This is another strong point for mono.
With a properly set drag, a strong rod, and a bit of skill, 15- to 20-pound test mono--or 30- to 40-pound braid--can chain a big bad fish to the beach like steel cable.
Why heavier for braid? Low knot integrity and poor shock strength; the extra test helps to mitigate these concerns.
But whichever option you choose, always set your drag to about ⅓ the rated test of your line.
If you do, even a big fish will find the drag tires quickly, and you’ll find that these tests can lock a big striper or bull red to your rod.
In fact, heavier line isn’t necessary, and it’ll only reduce how much you pack on your spool, as well as affecting performance (and visibility) in the water.
Whether you choose mono or braid, selecting the right line is critical to your success from the beach. And with as many myths and rumors as there are about fishing line performance, it’s always worth getting the facts straight.
We hope this article has helped, and we’d love to hear from you!
Please leave a comment below.