Having quality gear that you can rely on is key for an enjoyable experience out on the water, whether you're an avid angler or just getting your feet wet in the world of fishing.
One critical component that all too often gets overlooked with fishing setups is the fishing line itself. And the unfortunate answer is yes - fishing line can certainly go bad over time.
While your rod, reel, tackle and other accessories may remain perfectly functional for years on end, your line takes the brunt of damage and wear from repeated use.
To keep it performing its best for as long as possible, understanding fishing line lifespans and proper maintenance is invaluable knowledge for any angler.
Types and lifespans of fishing line
Let's examine a few of the most common varieties of fishing line and their lifespan considerations.
Monofilament lines dominate the fishing scene for their balance of stretch, strength and affordability. However, monos are vulnerable to heat, sunlight and moisture - enemies that gradually weaken the nylon over moderate use. For most recreational fishing, expect to replace monofilament annually, sometimes more often with frequent use or harsh conditions.
Fluorocarbon lines offer a level up in resilience. The synthetic material easily withstands exposure to sun, heat and water year after year. Fluorocarbon is also less visible underwater. With proper maintenance, these lines often last between 2-6 seasons depending on handling. One downside is a tendency toward "necking", or narrow, weak points if stretched too thin.
By weaving multiple woven strands, braided lines achieve incredible density and strength for their size. Their high resistance to abrasion and environmental factors means exceptional longevity - some braids may provide up to a decade of use if cared for properly. However, tension and minor fraying over time can allow unraveling.
Here's a comparative table showcasing the different types of fishing lines and their respective lifespans:
Type of Line
Average Lifespan (Usage Dependent)
Flexible, easy to use, affordable
1-3 years for recreational use; less with heavy/frequent use or harsh conditions
Sensitive to UV light, heat, and moisture
Less visible underwater, more resilient to environmental factors
2-6 seasons, depending on handling
Resistant to sun, heat, and water
Highly durable, strong, great abrasion resistance
Up to a decade with proper care
Highly resistant to environmental factors
This table offers a quick overview, allowing you to compare and contrast the three common types of fishing lines based on their characteristics, lifespan, and how they are affected by environmental factors. Keep in mind that the actual lifespan of these lines can vary based on factors like frequency of use, storage conditions, and maintenance practices.
When to replace your fishing line
Knowing when it's time to swap out your fishing line is key to success on the water. Keep an eye on these telltale signs of aging line past its prime.
Look closely for fraying, nicks, discoloration or texture changes - all indicators your line has endured some wear and tear. Brittleness, cracking or physical imperfections mean strength and performance have started deteriorating.
You may also notice casting distance and accuracy decreasing over time. Memory and retained coils make for messy casting. Consider replacing if you struggle to cleanly work the line.
Does tying secure knots suddenly seem impossible? Do more knots slip loose under pressure? This points to compromised integrity. The line simply can't hold like it used to.
Unused fishing line
Unused fishing line waiting in your tackle box isn't immune to the effects of time. Proper storage can help maximize shelf life.
Braided line, already a durability superstar, keeps its integrity for up to a decade in good conditions. Fluorocarbon enjoys an average shelf life around 4-8 years when stored well. Monofilament is the least enduring, with optimal use-by dates of only 2-4 years after purchase.
Fishing line storage and maintenance
To get the most bang for your buck on fishing line, keep these storage tips in mind:
- Steer clear of direct sun exposure or heat whenever possible - degraded nylon and polymers affect performance. Cool, dry areas are ideal for preventing moisture damage. Consider a sealed container for extra protection.
- Maintain line spools/reels carefully to avoid kinks, knots and tangles during storage. These can weaken integrity.
- Ensure the storage space itself is free of chemical fumes or residues. Gasoline, repellent and other strong chemicals speed the breakdown of line materials.
Don't miss our guide to keeping other fishing gear in top condition.
How to check fishing line
Even lines stored properly experience wear. Get in the routine of inspecting gear before trips. Catching issues at home allows time to respool and prevent headaches out on the water.
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Scan the first yards closest to the reel for nicks, fraying or rough spots. Run fingers down the line to feel for imperfections, then trim damaged portions. This goes for all line types.
Monofilament is also vulnerable to UV damage, visible as cloudy sections on an otherwise clear line. Use bright light to identify these weaknesses. Remove any sections showing UV exposure.
Coiling memory causes problematic twisting and tangles, especially with monofilament. Drape a few feet of line off the reel - tight loops indicate bothersome memory. See our article on removing line twist before totally replacing.
Don't forget to test knot strength and integrity before baiting up. Give knots a firm tug - if they slip or fail, line integrity is compromised. Catching weak knots now prevents losing gear out on the water.
With extra care taken during storage, fishing line can uphold top performance for surprising lengths of time. But no line lasts forever! Monitor aging and replace as needed before hitting the water. When in doubt, go ahead and refresh your line - saving money on replacement is not worth losing the catch of a lifetime!
Check out our blog for more fishing tips, tricks, and updates!