Choosing the right line can be a daunting task. From mainline to leader, braid to fluorocarbon, sink tips to weight-forward floating lines, there’s a lot to know and more choices than ever before. Below is a sampling of some of the lines we use.

Daiwa J-Braid x8 GrandDaiwa J-Braid x8 Grand
Several years ago, a number of companies came out with 8-carrier braids to create a smoother, quieter, better-casting super line. They succeeded, but a problem that followed was decreased abrasion resistance. Daiwa claims x8 Grand is four times as abrasion resistant as typically tougher 4-carrier braids, yet still has the full-bodied feel and smoothness for which 8-carrier braids are known. Our tester used x8 Grand in 65-pound-test for salmon trolling and bottomfishing with good results. After testing it, he spooled up his other five trolling reels with it. The colors are long lasting, with no waxy coating that eventually flakes off.
Cortland Streamer Sink Tip 15Cortland Streamer Sink Tip 15
This specialty fly line combines a 15-foot, type 6 sinking tip (6 inches per second), with a floating running line. In between the tungsten sink tip, there’s a 6-foot body, 10-foot back taper and 10-foot step before the 59 feet of running line. The design allows you to toss big streamers into big rivers and get the flies down to salmon, steelhead and trout. We also used it to speed-strip Deceiver patterns to cutthroat trout prowling in the inshore salt. We can envision some stillwater applications for this line as well.
TUF-LINE XD FluorocarbonTUF-LINE XD Fluorocarbon
Looking for a tough fluorocarbon for big, sometimes toothy fish in rocky or weedy environments? XD is a great choice. We used 40-pound-test to tie shrimp fly/jigging leaders for rockfish, and we used 150-pound-test to build halibut leaders. This stuff is tough! Our halibut leaders landed multiple fish to 80 pounds. Although tough to do, we snelled 10/0 Big River Bait hooks on the 150-pound-test XD and rigged them with oversized hoochies for bait fishing for halibut. With 40-pound-test XD, we tied dropper loops into the leader to attach shrimp flies and used a Palomar knot to tie a jig to the bottom of the leader. Generally, leaders tied with this material last all day, sometimes a couple days. XD is available in 20- to 200-pound-test, on either 25-, 50- or 100-yard spools. Good stuff!
TUF-LINE XS FluorocarbonTUF-LINE XS Fluorocarbon
TUF-LINE, well known for being one of the first line manufacturers to produce gel-spun polyethylene fishing lines, now makes fluorocarbon lines and leader material. XS fluorocarbon comes in 25- and 200-yard spools, in pound-tests from 4 to 25. It’s made to be used as a main line or leader material. We used 25-pound-test this summer as leader material for hover fishing for Chinook salmon. We experienced no break-offs, and we often caught several fish over the course of a day on a given leader. XS is more supple than its cousin, XD, yet it is still very abrasion resistant. Like all good fluorocarbon lines, it virtually disappears in water. Knots we used with this line included the improved clinch knot, Trilene knot, Palomar knot, and bumper tie. All were easy to tie and seated well with this line.
PowerPro MaxcuatroPowerPro Maxcuatro
The main selling point of Maxcuatro is that it’s 25% thinner than standard Power Pro of a given pound-test. This allows you to put more line on your reels—an important consideration when light-tackle jigging for lings and halibut. It will also allow trolled lures to reach greater depths since thinner lines have less water resistance. Our tester spooled up a Penn Lever Drag reel with 80-pound-test in Hi-Vis Yellow to jig for halibut and the line performed admirably in this role. Maxcuatro comes in tests from 20 to 100, and in Moss Green, Hi-Vis Yellow, and Aqua Green colors.
Sufix Advance FluorocarbonSufix Advance Fluorocarbon
One of the things we like most about this fluorocarbon is that it is not too stiff and remains relatively memory-free, which allows it to pile on both spinning and baitcasting reels with ease. It also ties good knots. We used the 6- and 12-pound-test models as main line for trout fishing in stocked lakes (6-pound-test) and for tossing hardware to coho (12-pound-test). We used the 20-pound-test as leader material when fishing for Chinook and also as a top shot on our rockfish reel. This line is available in 200-yard and 1200-yard spools and in line tests from 4- to 30-pound.
Izorline First String MonofilamentIzorline First String Monofilament, clear
This monofilament line is available in clear and marine blue in 2- to 135-pound-test, and spool sizes from 250 yards to over 11,000 yards, depending on the pound-test. We used 40-pound-test (370-yard spool) to make mooching leaders, spinners rigged on mono to be used behind flashers, and for leaders between flashers and spoons such as the Coho Killer. This material is very supple and ties great knots considering it is 40-pound-test. Though we used First String as leader material, it was designed to be a main line. Considering the quality of Izorline’s product line, we’re surprised we don’t see it in more widespread use in Alaska.
Izorline First String LeaderIzorline First String Leader Pack, clear
Izorline First String leader packs are available in 80- to a whopping 600-pound-test on 50-yard coils or 100-yard wrist spools. We used 135-pound-test to make halibut bait leaders and jigging leaders. We can’t attest to the knot strength with the 135-pound-test we used because we crimped it using Izorline’s Premium Aluminum Sleeves to make our leaders. This material worked well for halibut and lingcod leaders.
Rio InTouch Single Handed Spey Fly LineRio InTouch Single Handed Spey Fly Line
We were looking for a specialty line for roll casting streamers and bead rigs and this does the job nicely. We regularly fish several rivers that are tight and brush-choked, and this line allows us to place the hook where it needs to go by roll casting a one-handed fly rod. We tested the WF8F. The line is designed with a long front taper, so it casts nicely overhead as well. It floats high on the water, is tough and durable, has a low stretch and is dressed in a hydrophobic coating. If you want to learn more about how to properly roll cast, check out Simon Gawesworth’s video here:
RIO Lake Series InTouch Stillwater FloaterRIO Lake Series InTouch Stillwater Floater (WF5F and 6F)
This line is aimed squarely at the stillwater angler. The taper is a little different than a standard weight-forward line in that it is designed to be able to cast indicator rigs better, which it does. Built on Rio’s ConnectCore, the line has just 6% stretch, enabling the angler to feel more bites. This same, low-stretch core results in a line that is more durable than those built on stretchy cores. We fished this line a lot in 2020, primarily with indicators with chironomid-pupa imitations suspended below. If you fish stillwater a lot with indicators, this is your line.
Elite RIO Gold Floating Fly LineElite RIO Gold Floating Fly Line (WF5F)
Compared to the Rio InTouch Stillwater Floater, the Elite Gold has a different taper design. It’s built for long casts and smooth presentation, but not necessarily for indicator use. That said, we used it with indicator/chironomid-pupa imitations in lakes and it performed quite well. It didn’t handle indicators as well as the InTouch Stillwater Floater, but it did pretty darned good. For an all-around floater for lakes and streams, this line is hard to beat.
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