Why Does My Fishing Line Keep Getting Tangled?

Why Does My Fishing Line Keep Getting Tangled?

What is it? Why should you use it? Types of tshirt

Table of Contents

Getting your fishing line tangled is like a rite of passage that none of us signed up for. We've all been there, casting our lines with hope and confidence, only to end up with a knotted mess (also known as backlash, bird’s nest, or professional overrun to anglers) instead of the monster catch we were aiming for.

A tangled fishing line makes it difficult to cast and can even damage the line. It might lead you to lose fish, find it hard to feel when they're biting, and make you waste your precious time out on the water.

It’s, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating things that can happen while fishing. The worst part is that it can happen to you whether you're a fresh-faced beginner trying to impress, or a seasoned pro taking on the challenges of both saltwater and freshwater fishing. (If you listen hard enough, you can probably hear the fish laughing as you fumble with your reel.)

And untangling the line? Now that's a test of patience that can make even the calmest angler consider taking up a less complicated hobby.

How do I prevent fishing line tangles?


The good news is that tangled fishing lines don’t have to ruin your day by the water. Understanding why they happen, how to prevent them, and what to do if your line gets tangled, are all part of learning how to fish. By casting properly, filling our reel with just the right amount of line, taking care of our gear, paying attention to line memory, and adding in a dash of patience, we can certainly reduce the chances of tangling.

So let’s leave those tangled days behind, or at least make them a rare event worthy of a chuckle or two!

Why does my fishing line keep getting tangled?

There are several reasons why your fishing line may keep getting tangled. Here are a few of them:

  • Casting into the wind
  • Excess line on reel
  • Improper spooling and fishing line storage
  • Fishing line memory issues
  • Too much slack in the line

Addressing these causes can help you significantly decrease the likelihood of those pesky tangles.


How to prevent fishing line tangles


Casting into the wind

Casting into the wind is one of the biggest causes of tangled fishing lines. To prevent tangles, sometimes called wind knots when they’re caused by casting into the wing, you need to understand the direction of the wind and its effect on your fishing. If you cast directly into strong winds, the wind can blow the line and lure back towards you, and this can create a mess on the spool.

To overcome this challenge, positioning is key. By positioning yourself with the wind at your back whenever possible, you can minimize the wind's interference with the line. This alignment helps maintain control and prevent those frustrating loops and tangles.

If casting with the wind at your back is not an option, another technique is to cast low to the surface of the water. This minimizes the wind's impact on the line and allows for more accurate casting.

Adapting your casting technique to the wind's direction can significantly reduce the chances of line tangling.

Too much fishing line

Another common mistake that increases the chances of tangled lines is an overfilled spool. When the spool is overfilled, the line may not unwind evenly as it is cast, leading to tangles.

Finding the right amount of line to use on a fishing spool might seem like a guessing game, but it actually just depends on the type of reel and the maximum amount of line your spool can handle, which your reel manufacturer provides.


Why does my fishing line keep getting tangled


Now, if you're like me and appreciate a good tool to make life easier, you'll be happy to know that there are fishing reel line capacity calculators out there. These handy calculators require you to enter the line diameter and length, and they will estimate how much line you can put on your spool.

While filling up the spool, it's also a good idea to leave a small gap of about an eighth of an inch between your line and the edge of the spool to help keep your line manageable and keep those tangles at bay.

Incorrect spooling

Mistakes in spooling also frequently cause tangles. Your best bet is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to correctly spool your reel. Make sure your reel is clear of any gunk. Take it slow and easy, no need to rush. Use your fingers to keep a bit of tension on the line as you wind it onto the reel to minimize tangles.

Problems with fishing line memory

Let’s talk about fishing line memory - it’s how line can “remember” the shape of the spool it's been wound on, making it all curly and coiled when you unravel it. This tends to happen if the line sits on the spool for a while. The longer it hangs out like that, the more it gets all coiled up. Those coils can end up getting caught on things like guides or other parts of your fishing gear, leading to tangles and knots.

No worries, though, there are a few tricks to keep that memory in check. For starters, be picky about your line choice. Look for lines that are labeled as having minimal or low memory. Braided lines are known to hardly hold on to memory, so, they're a solid bet. On the other hand, monofilament lines are notorious for developing memory and coiling up. We talk more about the different kinds of fishing line, their pros and cons, and which ones to choose depending on your fishing situation in a previous post.

Improper fishing line storage

When it comes to fishing gear storage, leaving your line exposed to direct sunlight or stored in areas where the temperature gets too high, can also lead to line memory problems.

When you’re not fishing, keep your line in a cool and shady place. You can also give your line some gentle stretch to straighten out those coils and steer clear of tangling. Check the fishing line often to see if it's worn out or damaged, because if it is, it can get tangled more easily. Check out our post on Fishing Gear Storage and Maintenance for a more thorough guide on this.

Slack line

When there's too much slack in the line, it can get tangled while casting or pulling it in. This is a common problem for those who fish in the ocean, as they often face strong winds and fast-moving water. To stop your line from getting loose, maintain tension on it while reeling in. You can do this by holding the line with your fingers to keep it tight or by changing the settings on your reel.


Here's a summary of the do's and don'ts to prevent fishing line tangles.


Infographic Why does my fishing line always get tangled? Do's and don'ts to avoid line tangling



Final thoughts

When it comes to fishing, dealing with tangled lines can be super frustrating. What's worse is that they can mess up your chances of catching fish, damage your gear, and waste a ton of time. Being patient and building a deeper understanding of what causes fishing line tangles is important. By learning what causes these tangles, you're taking a step forward to make sure your fishing trips go more smoothly, and you get to enjoy those beautiful catches.

Lastly, don't keep these tips to yourself! Share them with your fishing buddies and other people who love to fish, so everyone can enjoy the sport without getting all tangled up in frustration.



Corn as Fishing Bait: Pros, Cons, Rules, and Alternatives

The use of corn as fishing bait has been a favorite among anglers, whether pro or beginner, for quite some time. The common golden grain is a go-to for catching a variety of fish, won't burn a hole in your pocket, and can be used in a bunch of creative ways. But it’s also caused a lot of confusion and controversy among fishing enthusiasts, because of two reasons: one, some states have specific regulations in place about the use of corn as bait or in chumming, and two, because of concerns surrounding its impact to the environment and on fish.

Why Fishermen Wear Neck Gaiters

Just like everybody else, we anglers have personal preferences. Live or artificial bait? Saltwater or freshwater? Catch and keep or catch and release? Despite these differences, though, some of us do still share some similarities as fishermen: one of them being the fact that we wear neck gaiters when going out on fishing trips.

Cast Far, Catch More: Why You Should Consider Using Braided Fishing Line

The angler's world is full of choices, and among these, the braided fishing line is a versatile tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. With its unique blend of strength, sensitivity, and versatility, it might just be the missing piece of fishing gear in your tackle bag. 

Minnow Traps Made Easy: Effortlessly Trap Live Bait for Fishing

After having been fishing for so many years, I've come to appreciate the many tools and techniques that enhance the fishing experience. Among them, the minnow trap holds a special place. Now, you might wonder what's so exciting about a device that catches tiny fish? And why do you need a minnow trap when you can just buy bait at the local tackle shop?

How To Catch Trout

Unlock the secrets to catching trout! Dive into trout biology, select the right gear, and fish where they love to hide. Apply proven trout strategies and watch your success soar.

How Can I Catch Bigger Fish?

Let's dive into the question we all have: How can I catch bigger fish? We'll explore everything from choosing the right gear and tackle, to finding the hotspots where the big fish hang out, and even what to do when you've got a real heavyweight on your line.