Monofilament (Mono) Fishing Line – A Complete Guide

There are many options for fishing line including monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid fishing lines. One of our tried-and-true favorites is monofilament fishing line—or mono for short—an easy-to-find, cheap, reliable, and versatile line well-suited for many types of fishing. This staple should be in any tacklebox and has stood the test of time.

Monofilament is a single strand fishing line typically made from nylon and used for many different types of fishing. Mono is affordable and easy-to-find, and it comes in a variety of strengths and colors. Known for its ability to stretch and its abrasion resistance, mono is a favorite line for many anglers.

If you are ready to learn all you need to know to get started with monofilament line, scroll to start learning.

All about monofilament fishing line

Monofilament is named for its key attribute: mono, meaning one, is a single strand of fishing line. Monofilament, or mono for short, is typically made from nylon or combinations of different types of nylon to give mono stretch, strength, and other attributes. Monofilament is also very affordable, having been around for a very long time means that you have many options that have stood the test of time (and many, many fish).   Because it’s made from nylon, manufacturers are able to really customize the features of the line from stretch and stiffness to diameter or buoyancy. Mono is easy to knot, and also if you have an unwanted knot, you can usually work it out without getting too frustrated.

When to use mono

Mono is preferred when:

  • You are fishing around structures, as it has a high abrasion resistance.
  • You want less of a sink rate.
  • You are outfitting your reels on a budget, but still want a quality line.

Mono is a great line that is easy to use and cast—perfect for beginners or the experienced angler. You can use mono in just about any fishing situation, with spinning and casting reels. Mono has great knot strength and you can easily tie it off, meaning fewer break-offs. You can use mono for many types of fishing. From general fishing to trolling, shark fishing to big game, mono is a flexible, popular choice. If you want your baits to be deep, or need more sensitivity in your line, you might want to pass over the mono. But for just about everything else, you can’t go wrong. Mono is also great for surf fishing, where the environment tends to be harsher with more obstacles like rocks and sand hitting your line. You can even pull a fish out of the rocks with a high level of confidence that your line won’t break.

How long will monofilament last?

Monofilament is a hearty line, but it won't last forever. If you're casting lines 10 to 12 times a year, we recommend replacing your mono at least once a year. You will need to replace your mono more often if you store your reels in the sun, fish more frequently, or encounter saltwater corrosion.

Storing Monofilament

Sunlight, in particular, can cause monofilament line to break down, making it weaker over time. We recommend that you use reel covers to protect your line and reel from UV damage when the line is on the reel. When it's not on your reel, storing mono in the right conditions can also extend its shelf life. Store your line in:

  • A temperature-controlled area, ideally inside your house (not your car). Extreme temperatures will weaken the line.
  • Low-humidity conditions, even a waterproof box.
  • Out of direct sunlight.
  • Away from materials that can cause abrasions on the line in storage such as rocks, gravel, or other fishing gear.

 Many anglers like to keep their line stored in a separate, clear, watertight box so they can see what they have. Just be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight.

Making the most of your mono

Mono can certainly last longer than one season, but the longer you go between changing your line, you can expect

  • Break strength and castability to decrease, and
  • Stiffness, line visibility, and sink rate to increase.

Some anglers opt to cut off anywhere from 30-50 yards of line to expose fresher line with less abrasion, water damage, and UV damage. However, you will sacrifice line capacity by doing this.


Mono is known for its ability to stretch without breaking up to 25 percent, and in some cases even more. This can be helpful if you set the hook too hard or drag. Mono also has a high “shock strength,” meaning that if you’re fighting to land a bigger fish, it reduces the chances that the hook could dislodge or tear away completely from the fish. This offers a more humane approach and is an important safety consideration for you on the other end of the line. One downside to mono (and there aren’t many) is that because of how much it stretches, it’s less sensitive than other types of lines. If you really need to feel how your line is performing in the water, you will probably want to skip the mono.

Weight and Break Strength

Have you ever wondered what the pound ratings on a fishing line really mean? Generally, it means how much weight a line can hold before breaking when it is wet. Often, we see people assuming this means how much a line can hold when dry, which can be misleading and frustrating when you’re testing it out in a store. Keep in mind that mono does absorb water and will experience some strength loss when wet. This does not mean that mono isn't a great fishing line, it just means that you need to consider this while you’re fishing. Over time, it will stretch even more. When mono has a little more give, you’ll find that it will stretch more and cast further. You’ll want to make sure that you’re using the right line for your rod and reel, which you can find on their labeling. Most of these classifications are based on monofilament line. For saltwater fishing, you’ll need line from at least 10-pound test, if not 15-pound test, to target multiple species all the way up through 80+ pounds for large offshore rigs for shark or marlin. In a freshwater environment, you will want to have something lower test weight like 2-4-pound test will get you a catch like a trout or panfish, through a 20-pound+ test for catfish or stripers.


Most nylon fishing lines will have a memory, which essentially causes your line to curl the same way that it sits on a spool. We’ve already talked about how stretchy mono line is, which will come in handy when battling line memory issues. Easy ways to combat line memory include:

  • Store your line and spools in moderate temperatures. Avoid leaving line in extreme conditions.
  • Change line frequently, especially if it has been a while since you’ve been fishing.
  • Invest in high quality line.
  • If all else fails, replace the line entirely.

 You probably won’t have to do that, though, because even stretching the line out by hand or tying up a heavy lure and trolling for a bit can greatly reduce the line memory and get you fishing sooner than later. Another easy way to erase your line’s memory is by running it under warm water to remove the memory before you head out.

Sink Rate and Shape

Monofilament has a great buoyancy that will serve you well with topwater lures. It’s a common misconception that monofilament floats. While mono appears to float, over time it will eventually begin to sink depending on the diameter, strength, and overall weight of the line—all of which contribute to how much water it can absorb. Mono is round which means that the line can roll across abrasive surfaces and withstand nicks or scratches better than other types of line. A few chunks missing after encountering some rocks? Not the end of the world. You can still have a great day!


A good rule of thumb is that you want to see your fishing line, but you don’t want the fish to see it. Most fish can see some type of color, and many things can impact water visibility including light, depth, and weather. Because fish see a wide array of colors, if the color of the line varies greatly from its surroundings, it can scare fish off. It’s important to use the right type of line for your conditions. Having several different types of line in your tackle box will mean you’re prepared for anything.Monofilament comes in many colors like:

  • Transparent – use transparent line in very clear water, it’s great for cautious fish. It’s also hard to go wrong with a transparent line.  
  • Clear Blue – offers great camouflage in the water, and you can still see it above water.
  • Green – a great and versatile option for green or even murky waters, green line tends to blend in with the environment, making it harder for fish to see.
  • Yellow – if you’re new to fishing, yellow line is generally quite visible; this can help a novice angler have a good sense of where the line is in the water, but that means that fish can see it, as well. Yellow or other high-visibility colors are useful if you’re fishing near others, too, as you will have a better line of sight into what everyone is doing.
  • Red/pink – the deeper the water gets, the harder it is to see lines.

 Each of these performs differently in various water depths. After prolonged exposure to saltwater, you may notice your line turning white. When using any equipment for salt water fishing, don’t forget to rinse off with freshwater when you return to keep your gear lasting as long as possible.

Disposal & Recycling

As with any fishing or hunting activity, follow the principles of leave no trace. Monofilament line that’s left behind can pose significant hazards with birds or other wildlife getting caught in the line, causing injuries or even death. As it’s hard to see, wildlife may ingest lines as well. Look for local recycling programs for used fishing line. Often found near popular fishing spots, you will see special receptacles designed to recycle fishing line. Most bait and tackle shops will also recycle line for you. Recycled line is repurposed and recycled into things like tackle boxes. For more information about how to make your line last as long as possible, and how to properly dispose of it when you’re done, check out our total guide to proper fishing line maintenance and disposal.

Using monofilament as a leader

There are times when you might want a fishing leader, which is a line you tie to the end of your fishing line to improve your bait presentation, add strength to your line against fish with teeth or sharp gill plates, or reduce line twist when paired with a swivel.You can use monofilament as a leader in a couple of situations:

  • When using mono as your main fishing line
  • Fishing for soft mouthed fish
  • Fishing with braid in shallow water
  • As a topshot for big game fishing

 Monofilament leaders can act as a shock absorber on your line, making the overall experience more comfortable and less jarring for you on the other end of the rod.

Considerations when selecting line weight

Here are a few key things to consider when selecting line weight:

  • What are you catching? Knowing what you’re going for should be one of the most important factors in determining what weight line you’ll be using. Smaller fish will require lighter line.
  • What’s the weather like? Weather conditions will impact how your lines behave in the water.
  • Where are you? You might make different color choices if you’re on the open water with a great cast and few obstacles versus fishing in a heavily abrasive environment.

All out of mono?

It happens to the best of us—we get out there and realize we forgot something at home or grabbed the wrong item for the tackle box. If you’re all out of mono, the closest line to use would be a copolymer, which is a heavier duty line with good abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon is another alternative, but it’s not as stretchy and tends to sink a bit more. Braided fishing lines are typically used for much heavier duty fishing than mono.  

Which monofilament line should you buy?

We recommend starting simple, using tried and true brands, and expanding from there. Mono is at a relatively low price point when compared to other types of lines, so it’s not out of the question for most anglers to pick up a few different options.


Even though “mono” means “one,” there are many types of monofilament options on the market for you to choose from. We recommend starting simple, using tried and true brands, and expanding from there.

The bottom line on mono

Monofilament is a tried-and-true favorite of ours here. We love it for its flexibility, stretch, and reliability in numerous fishing situations. It’s easy to find, easy to use, and an affordable price point. A great line for the novice or experienced angler, it’s a tackle box staple that you should always have on hand.

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