So, the other day when I got home from a recent fishing trip, I began spraying off my reels like I always do and it hit me…does fishing line go bad? I know that it can get frayed from fishing around docks, rocks, and other types of structure, but does it go bad due to anything else. Before I started ripping off the line on all of my reels, I decided to do a little research and here’s what I found out.
Yes, fishing line can go bad over time! How fast depends on how well you take care of it. If you rinse your line off with freshwater (especially after using in saltwater), and you keep your rod and reels out of direct sunlight, you should be able to get at least a few years out of it before it needs to be replaced.
If you would like to learn how to know when your fishing line is going bad and also how to prolong the life of it, then keep reading!
How Often Should You Replace Your Fishing Line
Unless you are someone who fishes for a living, you can probably get away with changing your fishing line on your reels once every couple of years or so. However, if your paycheck is determined by how many fish you catch, then you might want to consider changing it a little more often. I personally replace my fishing line at least once a year just to be on the safe side.
Also, if you are planning a big fishing trip and it’s been a little while since you changed your line, it might be a good idea to go ahead a make a change. It’s not worth losing a fish of a lifetime only to save a few bucks by not upgrading your line.
Another reason that you should change your line immediately is if you purchase a reel that already has the fishing line on it. In most cases, it will be the cheap stuff and is pretty much garbage.
There are also instances where you may need to only change a small section of your line due to it being frayed.
Signs That Your Fishing Line is Bad
There are different signs when using braid or mono that will determine when it’s time to change out your line.
While it may be hard in some cases to determine whether or not your fishing line needs to be replaced, there are other cases where it’s very clear!
One, in particular, is when your line is frayed. This can happen to either mono or braid and occurs when either fighting a fish or getting caught on some type of structure. If this happens, pay close attention to the condition of your line after every few casts to make sure that there are no weak sections in it. If you spot, a frayed section around your leader area, it’s best to go ahead and cut a good 10 ft section of your main line off just to be on the safe side.
Another sign that your line has gone bad is discoloration! While this may be hard to spot with clear monofilament lines, it much easier to notice if you are using a colored braid or mono line. The change in color is mainly due to sun exposure, which can dramatically weaken your line. If you notice a discoloration, it’s best to bite the bullet and go ahead and change.
Something else that I’ve only seen with mono, is when the line gets mildew spots on it. While I’m honestly not sure if this weakens the line itself, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and change the line out.
Does Braid Last Longer Than Monofilament
Yes, if properly taken care of, a braided line can last much longer than monofilament. In most cases, someone who goes fishing a few times a month or less should be able to get at least a couple of years out of their braid. The life of your braid can also be extended by simply taking it off your reel and respooling it with the used part first. This could give you at least another year or so out of it.
Mono, on the other hand, tends to deteriorate much faster, in part due to exposure to sunlight and memory. It also absorbs moisture after time, so even if you keep your mono in a nice cool, dry place, it can still go bad much quicker than braid. However, besides exposure to sunlight, the biggest cause of mono going bad is due to its memory. Over time mono will take on the shape of whatever it’s wrapped around. So even if it’s never been taken off the spool that you bought it on, it will take on that shape. This can cause issues when trying to spool it on your reel, as well as, affect your casting distance. The nice thing about braid is that it doesn’t have a memory!
How to Extend The Life of Fishing Line
Eventually, all fishing line will need to be replaced, however, there are a few things that you can do to extend its life.
Avoid storing your rod and reels outside or in a place where it gets super hot, cold, or wet such as an outside shed.
Wash off with fresh water after each use, especially when fishing in saltwater.
Make sure the eyelets on your rod are in good shape! If you have worn out eyes, every time that you cast and reel your line, you could potentially be causing it to fray.
Keep out of direct sunlight.
What to Do With Your Old Line
I wouldn’t consider myself a “green” kind of guy, however, I do strongly recommend that you recycle your used fishing line. There are plenty of places where you can take it, including your local Bass Pro Shop, fishing pier, and some boat ramps. Under no circumstances should you ever throw away unwanted fishing line into the water. Not only are you polluting the waterways that you love to fish in, but you risk the chance of killing the very fish that you are trying to catch. It can also wreak havoc if it gets caught in your boat motor’s propeller.
If you use braid on some of your reels, you can also use your old mono for backing. There’s no sense in wasting money on spooling your reel entirely with braid or buying a brand new spool of mono when you can use what you already have. And yes, using the old stuff is perfectly okay for backing.
Does Unopened Fishing Line Go Bad
Yes, mono and braid can still go bad even if you have never taken them out of the package. If you keep them in a hot place, where they are exposed to extreme heat and or sunlight, they will eventually go bad just like they would if they were on your fishing reel.
However, memory is what will make your unused line go bad the fastest. When fishing line is being used regularly, it has a chance to stretch out with every cast. If it never leaves the spool that it was packaged on, it will eventually take on that shape, so when you try to spool it on your reel, you end up with a coiled mess. Even worse, when you try and cast it, you risk the chance of backlash, wind knots, and crows nest.
I’m honestly not sure of the shelf life of fishing lines. I’m sure that it varies with the brand as well as the poundage and whether or not it’s braided line or monofilament.
The good news is that for the most part, fishing line is relatively inexpensive compared to your other fishing gear, so changing it often shouldn’t put a strain on your wallet. If you’re a weekend warrior who at most only gets to wet a line once every week, then you should be good with changing it once a year.
The cost of changing your line regularly is minimal, however, losing the fish of a lifetime will stay with you well, a lifetime! Have you ever heard about “the one that got away?” Don’t be that guy!