Using the right type of line with the right strength is absolutely essential when it comes to pike fishing. I have been predator fishing for more than 20 years now and had to try out a lot of different brands and line strengths before I finally found the best fishing line for pike. In this article, I am sharing my experiences and recommendations, in order to help you find the perfect mainline for your pike fishing adventures.
Both braid and monofilament are great choices when it comes to picking your mainline for pike. Braid is the perfect pick when spin fishing or fishing with dead baits, while mono is your number one choice for live bait fishing and trolling.
If you want to learn everything there is to know about the different properties of braid and monofilament fishing line and exactly when you should be using braid or mono for your pike fishing, all you have to do is keep reading!
Should You Use Braid or Mono for Pike Fishing?
The answer to this question isn’t either-or, it’s both! Braid and monofilament are both really solid choices when it comes to picking your mainline for pike. But as they have different properties, strengths, and weaknesses, knowing which line you should use for a specific fishing technique can really make a lot of difference.
Here is a little visual aid that quickly links the different techniques and methods for catching northern pike to their respective best fishing lines.
Braid virtually has no stretch to it, which means it allows you to feel and detect even the most careful of tugs or takes. This can be a huge advantage when spin fishing with e.g. softbaits on or close to the bottom, or when dead baiting for sluggish pike in cold water.
As braid is a lot smoother than mono, it also allows you to do very long, effortless casts, which I personally appreciate immensely when sin fishing with heavier lures. It also travels quietly through your guides and onto your reel when retrieving your lure or bait, which makes frequent casting a lot easier and close-distance fishing way more stealthier.
Furthermore, thicker braid is incredibly strong, which is a great advantage when lure fishing in or close to snaggy areas. If your lure happens to get snagged, you won’t have a problem getting it free again with a thick braid mainline. It’s a real lure saver!
On the contrary, using monofilament, which does stretch quite a bit, for trolling and/or live baiting can be immensely beneficial for your fishing. The mono’s stretch will help to absorb the take and initial fight that the pike will initiate, which can and often does have a positive impact on the hookset by a trolled lure or moving live bait.
Additionally, mono allows your trolled crankbaits or live baits to move around more freely and flexibly, giving them a far better and more realistic presentation.
So as you can see, both lines fit different pike fishing situations extremely well, you just have to know when to use which! If you do, you’ll be able to greatly optimize your fishing and catch a lot more pike!
What Pound Test Line for Pike?
Once again, it comes down to what type of lien you are using for your pike fishing. Monofilament isn’t as strong as braid, which means that the pound test for a mono mainline will have to be higher than that of a braid mainline for pike.
Furthermore, the line strength you should be using is determined by the water you’re fishing in and its features. If there are a lot of snags, such as weeds, reeds, sunken trees, etc, you should definitely up your line strength somewhat, no matter if it’s mono or braid you’re using.
Because if your line is too weak and you end up finding yourself in the middle of a fight with a big pike that swims hither and thither (and that usually heads right for the snags), the risk of a line break is simply too high. And nothing is more frustrating than losing a big fish (and your tackle).
What Pound Test for Braid Line?
The standard braid breaking strain for pike is 30lb, which is a strength that will be perfect for most waters and situations.
No matter if you’re spin fishing with lures or dead baiting, a 30lb braid will serve you extremely well by giving you a lot of feel and a perfect bait presentation.
Braid is a really great strength-to-diameter ratio, which means that you’ll be fishing a fairly thin and invisible braid that’s ultra-strong, even though a 30lb mainline sounds quite thick. So don’t let that fool you!
Personally, I really wouldn’t go lower than a 30lb test, there’s just no need for that.
On the other hand, increasing your braid’s pound test isn’t problematic at all, for the same reason; strength-to-diameter! Even breaking strains of 40 or 50lb won’t get noticed much at all by the fish, especially when using a dark-colored line.
So, if you’re fishing in or close to snaggy areas, up that breaking strain to 40 or 50lb. With a line strength like that, you’ll be invincible and no snag will do your gear any harm!
What Pound Test for Monofilament Line?
The ideal breaking strain for monofilament mainline when pike fishing would be 15lb. This pound test is strong enough for really big pike and at the same time flexible enough to not impact your bait presentation and movement.
On the lower end of the spectrum is a 12lb test, which some anglers prefer when fishing for pike. But in my opinion, that’s just not good enough for a predator that can be both extremely strong and angry.
On the upper end, I wouldn’t go higher than a 20lb test, not so because of the visual aspect (pike really don’t care that much about a thicker, slightly more visible fishing line underwater), but because of flexibility and stiffness.
Anything stronger than 20lb will give you a fairly stiff line that can have a negative impact on the presentation of your trolled lures or live baits.
Best Braided Line for Pike Fishing
I use Power Pro for all my spin and dead bait fishing, which is why I can recommend this line with full confidence. And so do thousands of other anglers, by the way. The Power Pro is an extremely popular and highly qualitative fishing line. You simply can’t go wrong with it on your reel!
The greatest and most impressive thing about the Power Pro is how well it communicates movement.
If you’re spin fishing with an inline spinner, you can practically feel every rotation of the blade. If you’re zig-zagging a softbait over the bottom, you will feel every bump the jig head makes. Being able to feel all those little details really helps to optimize your lure retrieval technique and also enables you to detect if your lures aren’t moving right underwater.
And, of course, if you’re getting even the slightest of tugs and takes by a pike, you will feel it and can hence strike instantaneously. Trust me when I say that you will feel everything with that line!
I also really appreciate this braid’s softness and sensitivity when dead baiting for pike. In cold water conditions, pike can be extremely slow and picky, and missing takes or striking too early is something that happens fairly often.
But with a fine braided mainline such as the Power Pro, every strike will hit home. You can really feel the way the pike moves and takes in the bait, which makes it so much easier to time the strike correctly.
The Power Pro also has the following high-performance features that are worth mentioning:
- Constructed with spectra fiber for incredible abrasion resistance
- Impressive strength-to-diameter ratio
- Excellent cast-ability
- Will last for several seasons
Best Monofilament Line for Pike Fishing
Without a doubt, the Berkley Trilene Big Game is one of the market’s finest monofilament fishing lines. I have used it myself for many years now, both on my trolling rods and when float or bottom fishing with live baits for pike, and it’s just such a superb fishing line!
The guys at Berkley have really done a good job here, and for the quality you’ll get, the price is more than right as well!
If I can get my hands on some bigger live baits, I’ll always be using them for northern pike, as they tend to keep the smaller fish away quite effectively. And so, using a mono mainline with some memory is even more essential.
Those big baitfish have a lot of power in them and if you’re fishing with a line that doesn’t have a little stretch in it, they can and will shake off those treble hooks quite easily. Gone is the bait and you’re just bathing your naked hooks in the water!
Similarly when trolling, the Berkley Big Game has outdone itself each and every time! Its higher memory and flexibility allows my trolled crankbaits, which I mostly use for pike, to use their full potential when it comes to diving and moving around (wobbling). They just “swim” so much more naturally and freely behind the boat on a mono line, which often makes them a lot more attractive for the pike, I find.
Additionally, the Berkley Trilene Big Game has the following really awesome features that make it the best mono line for pike:
- Ultra-strong for its diameter
- Shock absorbent (has a controlled stretch to it that’ll give it even more fighting power)
- Super tough and abrasion-resistant
For a mono line, it really is unbelievably strong and resistant. It holds up well against snags and no matter how big, fat, and angry that pike you’re gonna catch will be, that line will make sure that you can land that fish without any problem at all!
How Often Should You Change Your Pike Fishing Line?
This depends once again on the line material you are fishing with. Generally speaking, you will have to change your monofilament line way more often than your braid mainline.
But don’t make the mistake and change your line too often, with the above-mentioned line recommendations, that’s just not necessary at all!
Some “experts”, who are often sponsored by the brands they talk or write about, will tell you that you should change your line every 3-4 months, some even suggest changing it after every fishing trip. If you ask me, that’s just outrageous, in several regards!
For one thing, changing your mainline that often would be fairly costly. Sure, it’s not going to ruin you, but some anglers do have limited budgets and especially braided line costs quite a bit.
For another thing, using up that much fishing isn’t exactly great for the environment. On the contrary, it can worsen environmental pollution, if the lines don’t end up where they’re supposed to go. To me, this is just another way of making more money and fueling the already unsustainable consumer culture we all live in right now.
But enough of that! If you are using quality lines and your mainline doesn’t get exposed to some serious abrasion, you can actually use it safely for quite a while.
How Often Should You Change Monofilament Line?
Mono line has 3 main features that will make it last shorter than other lines:
- It absorbs water
- It can get damaged by UV light
- It stretches
If you are fishing with your mono line on a regular basis, all these factors will make your line weaker over time. Now, Berkley’s Trilene Big Game is one of the most qualitative monofilaments lines that I’ve ever fished with, but it’ll still deteriorate!
And so, if you are a moderate angler, I recommend changing your mono line once a year. If you are a maniac and head out every other day (or if you ain’t got any kids yet (haha)), meaning that you’ll use your line extensively, you can instead change it twice a year, just to be on the safe side of things.
How Often Should You Change Braid Line?
Braid is a whole different topic! Braided mainline can be extremely durable and if you’re using a quality line, as the Power Pro, you’re good to go for several years without having to worry about deterioration!
Of course, you’ll have to use your common sense here as well; if there are any weak points or your line feels used, fuzzy, and frayed, it’s time to change it. Especially if you are fishing close to snags or sharp objects (like rocks), as braid does have a lower abrasion resistance than mono!
But if there’s nothing wrong with it, braid can and will last you for a very long time.
Some anglers suggest changing your braid about once a year, but I can confidently recommend 2 years! Especially the Power Pro will just keep on being smooth and strong, and so changing it before its time is up isn’t a very smart or economical move.
Pro Tip: If you’ve still got enough line on your reel spool, you can also flip your braid, as one half of it practically remains unused on your reel. Simply spool it onto an empty line spool and then put it back on. Boom! You now basically have a new line on your reel and saved some money. Good to go for another 2 years with the same old fishing line!