The Best Trout Fishing Line: The Complete Guide

May 14, 2020

The Best Trout Fishing Line: The Complete Guide

Trout are one of the most fished for gamefish in the United States. They live in both freshwater and saltwater (sometimes at the same time!), and go after many types of lures and bait. In our article on how to fish for trout, we covered the many different techniques that work for all types of trout. But what types of fishing lines work best for trout? 

In this article, we’ll cover the best trout fishing line options spanning from expensive fluorocarbon fishing line to colored monofilament. We’ll also do a quick review of what exactly trout are, where they live, and how to use different types of line fish for them. After finishing our detailed article on the best trout fishing line, you’ll know exactly which type of line to get!

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to read about the specifics, we recommend the following for the best trout fishing line.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Favorites

For smaller trout: 2lb to 8lb monofilament colored in dark green.

For larger trout: 8lb to 15lb fluorocarbon or braided line colored in dark green or blue.

What Are Trout?

Trout are a common freshwater fish that live in the northern hemisphere of North America. It’s worth noting that several types of trout spend part of their life in saltwater (cutthroat trout and steelhead) but the majority live in freshwater streams and lakes. Some common types are listed below

  • Rainbow trout.
  • Brown trout.
  • Cutthroat trout.
  • Steelhead.
  • Brook trout.

Where Do Trout Live?

Trout varieties are split into two categories: still water (such as lakes, estuaries, and ponds) and moving water (like streams and rivers). Both habitats need to have cool, clean water, an abundance of trout food (nymphs, insects, crawfish, and baitfish), and underwater structures to hide from predators.

If you want to learn more about where to find trout, check out our detailed guide on how to fish for trout for more information. If you’re fishing for stocked trout, check out our best lures for stocked trout guide.

Types of Trout Fishing Line

So how many different types of trout fishing line are there? Fishing line is broken up into three categories: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided line. Each type has its pros and cons. Monofilament tends to be the cheapest and most flexible, while fluorocarbon is more expensive and harder. Braided is around the same price as fluorocarbon, but has an even stronger tensile strength per diameter. Braided line, however, is susceptible to tearing if it gets tangled around rocks or other underwater structure.

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between fluorocarbon and monofilament, check out our comparison article on which is better.

Best Monofilament Trout Fishing Line

The most common type of fishing line that works well for trout is monofilament. As we detailed in our monofilament vs fluorocarbon article, the line called monofilament because it’s extruded as a single strand of material – as opposed to multiple strands that can then be fused or braided together. Monofilament can be made from several different materials, but the most common is nylon plastic. Usually, brands use multiple different types of nylon that they blend together before extruding. These polymers are engineered to have different specifications depending on the application. 

For trout, the best kind of monofilament to use is dependent on the size of trout you’re fishing for. For smaller species like rainbow and brook trout, 2lb to 8lb monofilament is ideal. You want to use a lighter test monofilament line so the fish can’t see it underwater. It also works best with light and ultra-light rods and trout-sized reels that are more fun to catch smaller trout on.

Larger Trout Fishing Line

For larger species of trout, we recommend using 8lb to 15lb test. This ensures that if you hook into a monster trout you’ll have enough strength in your line that you won’t risk losing the fish. If you are worried that 15lb test line isn’t going to be enough, feel free to bump up to 20lb. This could be a good idea if you’re trolling or specifically going for large lake trout.

When picking out the color of monofilament, check the color of the water where you’re planning on fishing. You’ll want to match your line to the color of the water. If in doubt, pick a dark translucent green.

Best Fluorocarbon Trout Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon also works well for fishing for trout. It used to only be used for intense industrial saltwater applications, but in recent years it’s become more common for casual fishermen to use. Fluorocarbon is made from a variety of compounds, including fluorine, chlorine, carbon, and various hydrocarbons. The most frequent combination used for making fluorocarbon fishing line is polyvinylidene difluoride. Like monofilament, the mixture is extruded in a single strand. Fluorocarbon’s molecules are packed tightly together so the line is more dense and heavy than monofilament. This density also adds to its strength and decreases stretch.

For trout, we recommend the same test ratings and coloring that we did for monofilament: 2lb to 8lb for smaller trout and 8lb to 15lb for larger trout. Look at the color fo the water where you’re planning on fishing and match your fluorocarbon line to a similar color. If you’re not sure, pick a dark translucent green or blue.

Best Braided Fishing Line for Trout

Unlike monofilament and fluorocarbon, braided line is made by braiding filaments of synthetic plastic. It may come as a surprise, but braided fishing like is actually the oldest type of fishing line. People have been braiding together strands to make line since they began fishing.

Braided fishing line can be great for trout due to its high tensile strength to diameter ratios. The drawbacks of braided line are that it doesn’t have any stretch and can tear on rocks or logs if it gets snagged. 

For smaller trout, we actually don’t recommend using braided line. Braided line is the most visible type of fishing line and for smaller fish, it makes sense to use monofilament or fluorocarbon. 

Larger trout, however, are a great match for braided line. 8lb to 20lb test braided line is much thinner than the equivalent monofilament or fluorocarbon line and larger fish cannot see it underwater. Braided line is perfect for trolling for lake trout or large steelhead in the ocean. As with the other line types, consider the color of the water you’ll be fishing in before picking out your color of braided line.


Depending on the type of trout and style of fishing you’re doing there are many types of fishing line that work well. We hope after reading this article you’ll use our advice and catch a trophy-sized trout. Got a specific combination of color and fishing line type that works really well? Let us know what it is down in the comments!

Happy Hunting!

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