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Catfish Fishing Line

catfish fishing line

Fishing Line For Catfish

Just as I mentioned in my article about catfish rods and choosing a reel for fishing with catfish punch bait about people using rods that are way too heavy I think this is a common problem among catfish anglers with fishing line as well.

I see people all the time talking about using monofilament fishing line that ranges anywhere from 30 to 70 lb test and for some reason they think it is necessary to use this heavy fishing line for catfish. I also frequently hear people talking about fishing for catfish with braided fishing line up to about 80 lb test in open water for no apparent reason.

I am talking specifically about main line, what runs from your fishing reel to your catfish fishing rig, leader line is a different topic for a different day.

Being able to manage a big fish has nothing to do with the lb test line you use it all has to do with patience, proper drag setting and not getting in a big hurry when bringing the catfish in. One prime example of this is “Splash” the Texas state record blue catfish that weighed 121 lbs. When “splash” was caught he was the largest rod and reel catfish on record in the US. Splash was caught using 20 lb test line. This alone should be evidence enough that you don’t need these super heavy fishing lines.

As a general rule catfish anglers have tendency to reach for this super heavy catfish fishing line and for some reason feel they need that heavy catfish fishing line  just because they might catch that next 100+ lb monster trophy catfish.

The truth is, the heavier your catfish fishing line gets the more it limits you. Using heavier fishing line on your reels:

  • Reduces the capacity (number of feet) that your reel will hold
  • Makes it more difficult to cast
  • Decreases casting distance
  • Increase the cost of your fishing line per foot
  • Has less stretch creating opportunity for the hooks to straighten or pull out

And this is just a few of the limitations of fishing with catfish fishing line that is too heavy.

I consistently catch big catfish and huge numbers of catfish all year round, whether it be fishing with punch bait for channel catfish, fishing live bait for flathead catfish, of fishing for blue catfish or trophy blue catfish I use the same fishing line all year round.


In all the years I have been fishing for catfish, guiding for catfish and fishing for trophy blue catfish I have never one time had a catfish break my fishing line due to it not being able to handle the pull of the fish. Why is this, because I keep my drags set properly and I use the equipment how it is supposed to be used when landing a catfish.

I use 20 lb test monofilament day in and day out because it is cost effective, versatile, and I can use it for channel catfish and monster trophy blue catfish as well. I have confidence that it is capable of handling everything I need it to handle when fishing for catfish.

Every single experienced catfish angler I have spent any serious time fishing with all use the same as well, twenty lb test monofilament.

Did you know that almost every state record flathead catfish ever caught in Texas was caught by a crappie fisherman? Now that being said you know that crappie fishermen are not using 50 and 70 lb test fishing line, yet they are able to land 75+ lb flathead catfish on these ultra light crappie fishing rigs and light test monofilament fishing lines day in and day out.

Again, proper drag and skill. Set the drag, let the rod do the work and things will fall in to place.

At the end of the day, you are going to use what your comfortable using and you might just as soon go on and keep using that 70 lb test monofilament, but you’re wasting

Line Color:

I have seen great debates over catfish fishing line color and what catfish can and cannot see.  I know people that use fishing line for catfish that runs every color of the rainbow. I have heard people swear that they use red because they get more bites, they use clear because they get more bites etc.

I have tried just about every color of fishing line there is and have succumbed to the fact that it doesn’t matter what color catfish fishing line you are using. I have fished different colors side by side day in and out and it really has not had any effect on the catfish bite.

I personally use fluorescent green and fluorescent yellow fishing lines. I use these because of a number of reasons:

  • I can tell where my lines are in the water at any time
  • I can tell where my lines are relative to each other at any time
  • When covering large areas of water I can tell if my catfish fishing line is being moved by current (or catfish)
  • I can tell when a fish has picked up my fishing line and moved it

There are other reasons as well but these are the important parts.

Again, not only do I use this but just about everyone I know uses these florescent colored fishing lines as well.

Experiment with using different colors of catfish fishing line and see what works best for you when fishing for catfish but you owe it to yourself to use some ultra hi-vis line and see how it works for you.

Line Brand

There are obviously a lot of different brands of fishing line out there and there are some good, and some not so good. Fishing line brand preference is a lot like brand preference for pickup trucks and boat motors.

For years I used Trilene Big Game and thought it was the absolute best out there, and then someone turned me on to Ande Monofilament and I used it for years and years.  Both are very good fishing lines and have strengths and weaknesses over each other (yes you can tell a difference).

Last year had the rare opportunity to go to the Florida Keys and go tarpon fishing and in talking with all the tarpon guides in the Florida Keys I found that most were using Bass Pro Offshore Angler Tight Line on their charter boats, and it got my wheels turning.

These Florida Keys fishing guides claimed that the Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler line was made by Sufix (whether this is true or not I don’t know) and said it was super tough and was really cheap. When I got back to Texas I immediately went to Bass Pro Shops and bought a couple of spools of their Offshore Angler Tight Line and spooled up some of my catfish reels with it.

I was hesitant at first because I had such good success with Ande Monofilament as my catfish fishing line but after a short while I found that I was just as happy with this as I was Ande Monofilament. It really is great catfish fishing line (and is very low priced).

Choosing the right fishing line color and test for fishing for catfish will ultimately make you a more productive and effective catfish angler, so next time you are going to the store to buy catfish fishing line, think about your options and think about why you are using the line you are using. You may just fine that there are better alternatives out there.

You can view suggestions on catfish tackle on our catfish tackle page, and here is the direct link to Offshore Angler Tight Line from Bass Pro Shops.

Sound Off! What lb test color and brand fishing line do you use for catfish fishing (catfishing). Tell us what works for you!

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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. @browntrout3 says:

    Good article. I like to use Trilene’s Big Cat line in the flourescent green. I am using 30lb because that is what is available at the local store, but I could see that 20 would be adequate. I do like the reassurance of the 30 in the area I fish most which is high current and large rocks that the kitty must be negotiated through sometimes. Good stuff. Keep it coming!

    • fasttalker27 says:

      I use Trilene Big Cat in 30 lb as well. Everyone around me uses braid because of stumps, rocks and submerged logs. However, I have only had one bad experience with the 30lb Big cat in fluorescent green and that was because it was wrapped around a stump. It’s cheaper if you buy it in the big roll….not sure if they still make the big rolls anymore.

  2. use 20 lb braided lot stronger and wont stretch

  3. I use 65 pound braids, because I fish in some heavy tree stump, submerge logs. I cast into those tree stump and horse these big blues out into the open water. That why I use such a heavy line. There has been several time that I hooked some trophy blues and they break my off.

  4. King Of The Spread (@KingOfTheSpread) says:

    I use 30lbs braided Proline. It is as thin or thinner than 20lbs monofilm and stronger than 80lbs monofilm.

    Myron, I promise you 65lbs braid is a little over board. With 30lbs braid your hooks, barrel swivels, reel or pole will break before the line does. Trust me I’ve broken reels in the past trying to pull out a snag.

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