How Long Does Fishing Line Last?

At the end of every season, anglers pack up their gear and store it somewhere not to be seen again until the beginning of spring. It’s a sad time for all of us, but it’s also a good time to think about what you’d like to add or remove from your arsenal for next year. Inevitably, you will think about that spool of line you have in your tackle box. Do you have enough to spool for next year? Or the bigger question, how long does fishing line last? Can the line on the reel last another season? What about that spool in the tackle box? We’ll try to help you make the right decision to figure out how long fishing line lasts.

If you’re ready to replace your line, you can always check out what the best braided fishing line is or the best fluorocarbon line, depending on what you like to use. If you’re a spinning reel angler, you can find what the best fishing line is for spinning reel anglers like yourself, too. There are a lot of options out there, so let us help you make the right choice before your next trip on the water.

How Long Does Fishing Line Last? Why Not Forever?

Spiderwire Monofilament Line - How Long Does Fishing Line Last?
Spiderwire Monofilament Line – How Long Does Fishing Line Last?

No matter what type of fishing line you use: monofilament, fluorocarbon, braided– they all have a shelf life. Some lines last longer than others but each one should be carefully looked at pretty much before every trip. Let me explain. A friend of mine who I consider a fantastic angler tells me stories every weekend about his latest haul. I’m often amazed at how successful he is week in and week out. For all the years I’ve known him and the amazing fish stories I’ve heard he’s not once told me about a fish that broke off the line. How is that possible? Everyone’s suffered a break. Not him. Here’s why. Before every trip out, usually right in the boat as he’s setting up, he’ll do a quick inspection of the line around the hook or lure, a few feet up, all the way to the reel. He’ll take a quick look at some of the line on the spool just to make sure he doesn’t see obvious wear.

Always check for nicks, crimps, and pinches in the line

He’d inspect that line well enough so that he could be confident it won’t fail him when he gets a strike. If he found obvious wear, he’d unspool a few feet of line and snip it off. No matter what, he made sure to be meticulous with the line on his reel. It was that obsession with using good, clean line that has helped him be so successful on the water.

So how long does line last? Well, it all depends on what you use. For my friend, he uses monofilament exclusively. He uses it for a few reasons- it’s clear, making it much easier to catch fish that use their sight. He also likes the flexible properties of monofilament, giving the angler a little more help when fighting a fish. Another main reason he uses monofilament is because it’s typically cheaper than the other types. Not a bad reason if you ask me.

But because he uses monofilament, anyone who uses monofilament for that matter, should expect to replace it annually. If you fish as often as my friend does, that line is not only getting beaten up by the action of casting, fighting a fish, and reeling, but the UV rays from the sun breakdown monofilament line weakening it. You’ll find old monofilament is much easier to break, nick, and pinch providing obvious weak points. So if you use monofilament line, even good monofilament, you should plan to replace it every year at a minimum as the lifespan of monofilament fishing line is not very long when used.

Always Inspect Your Line - How Long Does Fishing Line Last?
Always Inspect Your Line – How Long Does Fishing Line Last?

How Long Does Fishing Line Last? Braided Line

Braided line is interesting because it’s really a bunch of strands of thin monofilament line braided together. It’s a thicker line so it can withstand frayed edges a little better than monofilament, but you should always snip away what looks to be worn just to be safe. For bass anglers that wrestle largemouths out of thick cover, take a few minutes and double check the braided line to make sure it’s not too frayed. Like my friend with his monofilament line, it’s always better to be over cautious than to lose that big one because of line failure.

Most anglers suggest replacing braided line every couple of years, but with prices being as low as they are, you really should look to replace it every year.  The shelf life of braided line is long, but rather than wonder and hope your line will hold up another season, go pick up your favorite braided fishing line and re-spool the reel. To me it’s just piece of mind.

How Long Does Fishing Line Last? Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon line is a little different from monofilament. It is a single strand line but it’s made of different plastics which makes it much harder to see in water and a lot stronger than typical monofilament. The trade off with fluorocarbon line is that it retains memory even more so than monofilament. You’ll see mono peel off your reel with loops in the line- with fluorocarbon that memory is even worse. To the point it can interfere with casting, retrieving, just ruining the overall experience if you don’t use it properly. For this fluorocarbon is best recommended as leader line rather than using it as your main line. That, plus it’s the most expensive of the three main types of fishing line.

Because of its properties and because of its expense, it’s hard to justify using fluorocarbon as your main line. If you do, you should expect to replace it from the reel every year. Again, the same properties that affect monofilament lines affect fluorocarbon. UV rays will break down the line over time, even though with fluorocarbon it’s not as susceptible. Regardless, replace it every year and store it in a dark, temperate area when not in use. We’ll discuss storage in the next section.

How Long Does Fishing Line Last? How to store fishing line

It’s very easy to just throw a spool of line in your tackle box, have it sit in there forever and forget about it until you need it. I’ve done it countless times over the years. But if you put some thought into it you’d realize it’s not a good idea to just leave fishing line in your tacklebox. You absolutely should have some spare fishing line in your tacklebox for when you need it, but a lot of anglers will leave their tacklebox on the boat, or in the trunk of their car, exposed to the elements. Heat will wear down your line even when you’re not using it. Therefore if you’re going to carry a spare spool of line around with you, make a point to store it a cool, dark place when you’re not out fishing.

It’s kind of funny how some anglers treat most of their equipment with reverence, kind of like how many car owners treat their cars. I saw a funny meme the other day of a picture of twenty bottles of soaps and waxes with the caption, “This is what I use to wash my car.” Below the picture was a picture of a shower with one bar of soap and the line, “This is what I use to wash myself.” The principle is sort of the same with fishing. If you take good care of your equipment, neatly organizing your tacklebox, cleaning lures, sharpening hooks, but you let your fishing line bake in the plastic oven with a Plano logo on the side, you’re just begging to lose all those nice lures you worked so hard to keep clean and sharp.

Not a Good Place To Store Your Line - How Long Does Fishing Line Last?
Not a Good Place To Store Your Line – How Long Does Fishing Line Last?

How Long Does Fishing Line Last? In Summary

For monofilament lines, you should replace them at least every year. Maybe twice a year depending on how much fishing you do. For charter captains I’d recommend a couple times a year. You don’t want to be cheap on line when people are paying to catch fish. For braided lines you can go every couple of years but I’d say annually. For fluorocarbon lines expect annually but maybe more often, again depending on how much fishing you do.

To get the most out of your fishing line, you should follow these steps:

  • Store it in a temperate, dark location. A closet in the house or a drawer in a desk are good choices. Just don’t leave line in a hot garage or some place that has zero air conditioning. Not just spooled line, but line on reels should also be stored indoors in a dark location.
  • Make sure your rod and reel are working properly. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it, but some anglers, rather than getting a new rod will fish with broken guides. Usually the tip, and of course as you’re casting that line will rub up with that broken tip or rub through a broken guide. You’re asking to lose your line. As a matter of fact, at one point I was fishing and after one cast I lost my lure. I thought that was strange, so I re-tied and cast again. Same result. I had no idea what was going on, because all my guides were on the rod. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized the ceramic was missing on one of the guides so as the line went through it it was shearing the line. Make sure each guide is as it should be. And make sure the line is properly spooled on the reel
  • Check, check, and re-check your line. You may concentrate solely on catching fish out on the water but if you don’t inspect your line regularly you may lose that fish of a lifetime. Make sure, especially around the lure or hook, that you don’t have nicks, pinches or any kind of damage to the line. If so, cut the bad part away and re-tie. You’ll be glad you did.

Fishing line isn’t the most expensive piece to your fishing arsenal, but it is arguably the most important. Take care of your fishing line and it will take care of you. And don’t be cheap. Don’t risk losing that big fish because you felt you could get five years out of your fishing line. The frustration saved is worth the price of new line. As an angler who has felt that pain, don’t make the same mistake! Tight, but well-maintained and regularly replaced, lines!