Best Fishing Line for Steelhead: Our Top 11 Picks

August 16, 2021

Our editors at Finn’s Fishing Tips independently research, test, and recommend the best products to help you make purchase decisions. You can learn more about our review process here. We sometimes get a commission through purchases made via our links.

So you’re looking to fish for some steelhead but can’t seem to figure out which fishing line to use? Say no more! To snatch a steelhead, you need to bring your A-game. This means having the right set of tools. The fishing line you choose can make or break your steelhead catch. 

That being the case, we’re here to highlight some of the best fishing lines for steelhead. We’ve assessed several products and looked at countless buyer reviews to find the cream of the crop, so be sure to stick around. 

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…

Berkley FireLine Micro Ice Fishing Line

Although braided lines aren’t commonly used for steelhead fishing, the Berkley FireLine Micro Ice Fishing Line still earns its place as a top-of-the-line fishing string. This braided line is unlike any other. 

According to fishing experts, braided lines can become too hard in the colder months, but this line has proven otherwise. 

As mentioned by several reviews for the crystal-fused FireLine, this product can be used in ice fishing for trout. 

Further, its strength and durability make this fishing line stronger than any monofilament fishing line. On top of that, the Berkley offers you a superior feel and underwater visibility, making this thermally fused fishing line perfect for anticipating any strikes.

Its smooth finish ensures fast casting, which is ideal for a heavy fish like the steelhead. To add, this line lasts longer than most other braided lines, giving great value for your money. Just make sure to use this line with a spinning reel.

Pros 

  • High strength and durability
  • Underwater invisibility
  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Smooth finish for easy casting

Cons 

  • Minor knotting issues
  • Not the most budget-friendly

Maxima Fishing Line Leader Wheel, Ultragreen

Steelhead trout can be quite shy, which is why you wouldn’t want to use a chunky, colorful line that might give you away easily, and that’s where the Maxima Fishing Line comes in handy.   

This fishing line is virtually undetectable to steelhead with its signature moss green color. It’ll significantly heighten your chances of catching the big-game stout.

The Maxima’s knots are tough and tear-proof. If you’re having some trouble with securing the knot, we recommend lubricating the line with some water. Your saliva will do, also. 

For a monofilament line, the Maxima performed well in resisting abrasion from the underwater environment.

Unfortunately for the Maxima, some reviewers faced stiffness, which down-graded its casting durability. 

Pros 

  • Optimal Invisibility 
  • Durable, tear-proof knots 
  • Abrasion-resistant

Cons 

  • High stiffness

Seaguar STS Trout/Steelhead Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Seaguar’s Fluorocarbon Fishing Line will give you all the benefits needed to tackle your prize, from maximum invisibility to excellent durability. 

As opposed to the light floating of monofilament lines, fluorocarbon ones are heavier and will sink deep. This will give you better access to steelhead since these fish go through deeper river terrains. 

Despite sinking into deeper waters, the Seaguar boasts a smaller diameter than monofilaments. This will help in hiding your line very well. 

Pros 

  • Thin diameter 
  • Perfect for maintaining knots
  • Designed for steelhead
  • High resistance to abrasions

Cons 

  • Not-so-ideal brittleness

Stren MagnaThin Fishing Line

Thinner might be better when it comes to fishing for some steelhead, as heavier lines may put you at a disadvantage due to their high visibility. 

The Stren MagnaThin picks up on this advantage, boasting a thin and lightweight design that’s perfect for catching large fish. It provides easy casting and a ton of control. 

Note, however, that such lines as the Stren MagnaThin tend to lack in terms of durability due to how thin they are. So, you shouldn’t expect it to last very long. 

This is why most fishing experts advise that you purchase an 8lb leader that won’t be either too thin or too thick. 

Nonetheless, we appreciate this product’s affordability. 

Pros

  • Cost-efficient 
  • Narrow line
  • Travels deep
  • High invisibility

Cons

  • Prone to breaking off 

P-Line Hydrofloat Float Fishing Line

Going into the steelhead game, you’re probably already familiar with a few fishing techniques by now. Most anglers actually prefer to float-fish when dealing with steelhead. 

The P-Line Hydrofloat Float Fishing Line is specifically designed for float-fishing steelhead and salmon. If you’re still a beginner, this fishing line is a great way to start float-fishing.  

It won’t stretch on you, ensuring longevity. The P-Line will also provide exceptional buoyancy for easy casting and better overall control. 

On the flip side, it can be difficult to use this line in colder weather as it becomes overly stiff. The coating of the line might also wear off easily. 

Pros 

  • Stretch-resistant  
  • Lightweight
  • Allows for easy casting
  • Offers excellent control

Cons

  • Stiff in cold weather
  • Color coat may wear off

RIO Products InTouch Trout/Steelhead Indicator

For all the professional steelhead anglers out there, this product might just be for you. The RIO Products InTouch Trout/Steelhead Indicator is the perfect tool for fly-fishing at a long-range. 

This product has some impressive features. One of them is that it has a fly line taper with a three-color line to be able to measure casting distances with ease. 

It boasts minimum stretching, thanks to ConnectCore Technology, which ensures longevity. The fishing line’s high slickness will repel any dirt or fragments.

Since it’s a forward-weighted line, it has a strong front tip, an extended body, and a back taper that will offer excellent control.

Pros

  • Remarkable durability
  • Slick and smooth 
  • Offers superior control
  • Excellent grip

Cons

  • Not the most affordable

Yo-Zuri Hybrid Monofilament Fishing Line

The Yo-Zuri Hybrid Fishing Line stands out with its unique combination of fluorocarbon and nylon. This extrusion process has made this fishing line 100% waterproof. 

This means that the lack of water absorption won’t compromise the line’s control and handling structure. It’ll also help it avoid stretching and abrasions. 

The Yo-Zuri has low memory, making it better for casting. The fishing line is also UV-resistant, which will help in hotter fishing seasons.

Although this product is budget-friendly, some users claim that it may get stiff and that it has a tendency to tangle and break off. 

Pros

  • Low memory 
  • UV-resistant 
  • Easy knot-tying
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Can get stiff
  • Tends to tangle

Goture 8 Strands Braided Backing Fly Fishing Line

As an angler looking for the big game, you need a strong, dependable fishing line. The Goture 8 Strands Braided Backing Fly Fishing Line contains a special compound called dacron. This one compound is enough to give you the extra edge and support you need to catch a steelhead. 

This fishing line is also easy to knot, which makes it easier for you to combine two lines together if needed. The Goture line also has a colorful collection to choose from. 

Pros

  • Excellent support
  • Perfect for knotting 
  • Easier to spool

Cons

  • A bit too rough

Piscifun ONYX Braided Fishing Line

Tying knots in your fishing line can be a troubling task. While most steelhead anglers opt for the tangle-prone monofilament lines, the Piscifun ONYX Braided Fishing Line handles your knot-tying frustrations well. 

This braided line is one of the most durable fishing lines in the market. Its signature Nano Resin Coating boosts its abrasion resistance. Since it boasts great strength and durability, the fishing line won’t easily stretch or cause any breakages, even from the sharpest of fish teeth. 

Although its green color will give you heightened invisibility, the color dye bleeds and may cause staining on your rods. 

We’re sure you’ll enjoy a fun-filled fishing experience with this line, though. After all, there is fun in Piscifun. 

Pros

  • Avoids abrasions
  • Tough and resilient  
  • Optimal for long casting
  • Undetectable
  • Highly sensitive

Cons

  • Bleeding color dye 

SAPLIZE 100% Fluorocarbon Coated Monofilament Fishing Line

While fluorocarbon lines are quite effective at handling steelhead, thanks to their low visibility and stretch, most anglers still mostly go for monofilament fishing lines because they’re smooth and easily castable. But why not have the best of both worlds? 

The SAPLIZE Fluorocarbon Coated Monofilament Fishing Line strikes the perfect balance between the characteristics of a fluorocarbon line and a monofilament line. 

This fishing line doesn’t reflect in sunlight, making it undetectable. It’s also quite flexible and very easy to handle. 

The main drawback is that it has a thin diameter, and so it’s more prone to breakage, especially when tying knots. 

Pros

  • High invisibility 
  • Highly affordable
  • Reduced stretching
  • Narrow line  

Cons

  • Prone to breakage 

SpiderWire Ultracast Invisi-Braid Superline Fishing Line

Have you ever heard of Dyneema? It’s a type of fiber made in the Netherlands that allegedly boasts 15 times more strength than steel. If that isn’t secure enough, we don’t know what is! 

Lucky for all steelhead anglers out there, the SpiderWire Ultracast Invisi-Braid Superline Fishing Line is infused with Dyneema, granting you the durability needed to catch big-game fish without having to worry about breakage. 

In addition to its strength, the SpiderWire offers heightened sensitivity and invisibility, thanks to its thin diameter. 

Pros

  • Translucent color
  • Thin diameter
  • Highly sensitive
  • Stretch-resistant
  • Dyneema-infused 

Cons 

  • Premium price tag  

History of steelhead

The steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) originated from the Pacific Coast. Their migration routes extended from the US Western Coast up to Canadian and Alaskan shores and all the way to Russian borders. Talk about a long and winding road!

As for the Great Lakes relocation, in 1872, the US Fish Commission aimed to include several Pacific salmon species into the country’s food source. Back then, the steelhead was put in the same category as salmon.  

Steelhead trout act a lot like salmon, actually. They hatch in the bottom of fast-flowing, well-oxygenated riverbeds. Afterward, some stay in freshwater, while the rest find their way to the ocean, 

Like salmon, steelhead return to freshwater after growing in size. What makes this trout more resilient than salmon, however, is that they continue to survive after spawning. Salmon, on the other hand, die after spawning. 

The trout had gained its big break into the US fishing industry and is now highly regarded among fishermen. It’s known to be one of the most challenging catches as well as the prime game fish.

FAQs

Q: So, mono, fluoro, or braided fishing line?

Choosing the right type of fishing line can depend on a lot of factors. It can depend on your preferences, fishing techniques, and additional gear. 

For instance, if you’re looking to go float-fishing for steelhead, a monofilament fishing line would do just the trick. If you have a spinning reel, the braided line is the way to go. 

Q: How many yards of fishing line do I need for steelhead fishing?

You will need approximately 120-150 yards. This may vary depending on the weight of the fishing line, which is why we recommend referring to your local bait shop. 

Q: How much weight of fishing line is needed for steelhead?

This will mostly depend on the waters you’re fishing in, as well as the size of the fish. If the water’s current is rough, we recommend going for 15-17 Ibs. If things are looking calm, then you may just need around 8-10 Ibs. With respect to steelhead’s weight, a 10-14 lbs line should do. 

Q: Where should I look for steelhead?

Steelhead prefer deeper waters, which comes as no surprise since they are oceanic. They’re more likely to be found in rocky areas where they can easily evade fishermen. If you’re having trouble locating them, don’t hesitate to ask your local experts. 

Q: When’s the Best Time for Steelhead Fishing?

This will depend on several factors, particularly where you’ll be fishing. For instance, steelhead that creep their way up to the Northwestern region, in Columbia, are more likely to appear in autumn and winter.

Furthermore, summer steelhead are usually smaller in size than the ones coming in winter. Although summer has less potential, it holds more comfortable conditions to catch steelhead. Summer runs can be found east of the Cascades, among other areas. 

Final Thoughts 

We know steelhead are a tough catch, but with the right set of tools and the right mindset, we think you’ll be able to catch some in no time! 

After gearing up, make sure to do your homework and find out where and when it’s best to go fishing for steelhead. Wouldn’t want to go fishing for nothing, now would we?

We wish you well on your next fishing trip.

Happy Hunting!

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