Choosing the right fishing line

How to Choose the Right Fishing Line

Live to Fish offers a wide variety of fishing line for all of your freshwater, saltwater, and ice fishing needs. Choose from industry standards like monofilament, braided line or even specialty products like lead core trolling line. Not sure what you want or which fishing line is right for you? Don’t worry – we’ll provide all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.

Monofilament Fishing Line

Monofilament Line

Let’s start with monofilament line. Monofilament is made from a single fiber of nylon. It is some of the least expensive line on the market and it comes in a variety of colors and tensile strengths (labeled as ‘pound test’ on the package or spool). This line can stretch to absorb shocks and it stays neat on the spool. It is also abrasion-resistant with a uniform cross section that knots easily.

While monofilament is a tried and true fishing line type, some important setbacks of monofilament should also be noted. This line has a strong ‘memory’ tendency, which means that it’s more likely to hold the shape of the spool when cast. Also, monofilament is not as strong as braided line, either (we’ll cover braided line next). Lastly, exposure to sunlight breaks down the nylon construction of monofilament over time, so you’ll be looking at replacing your line at least once a year.

If you do decide to purchase some monofilament line, Live to Fish carries up to 100 pound test line in an assortment of colors including clear, pink, and varying shades of blue and green. Fishermen often choose our clear or blue mono line because fish have a hard time seeing these colors once the line is submerged.

Braided Fishing Line

braided-lineBraided line is just as popular as monofilament line but twice as strong. This often means that you’ll get more line per spool than you will with a mono line that is rated with the same tensile strength. Braided line is often made of woven or braided fibers of different materials like Dacron, Spectra, or dyneema to create a single strand of fishing line. Dacron is the same material that water bottles are made from. Dyneema and Spectra are very strong abrasion-resistant fibers.

Due to its extraordinary strength, braided line is the first choice for deep sea fishing. It sinks faster, casts farther, and trolls deeper. It doesn’t stretch, it doesn’t have a memory, and it does not break down in sunlight. This means that you can use braided line year-after-year without need for replacement.

Before you settle on braided line as your miracle option, there are a few setbacks that you should be aware of. First, this fishing line is very slippery, so you must be able to tie a knot that can hold with low friction. As mentioned before, braided line is very strong, so it can only be cut with clippers or extra sharp scissors. Lastly, while braided line comes in an assortment of colors, it doesn’t blend into the water like monofilament can, so fish may be able to see the line in exceptionally clear water conditions.

Regardless, if you feel like braided line is right for you, Live to Fish carries white, yellow, camouflage, vermillion red, green, and marine blue options in ratings up to 100 pound test. Many of these colors come in hi-vis and low-vis varieties.

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

fluorocarbon-line.jpgIf monofilament and braided line aren’t for you, fluorocarbon line is always an option. This fishing line is generally used as leader material because it is invisible underwater and abrasion resistant. Fluorocarbon line is great for fly fishing or for going after fish that are easily spooked by visible fishing line.


Like all other fishing lines, fluorocarbon line isn’t perfect. First, not all fluorocarbon lines are made from 100% fluorocarbon. This line is also prone to memory problems.
If you are interested in reading about fluorocarbon in freshwater fishing applications, check out this article by Nick Ruiz from Bass Resource, a site dedicated to bass fishing resources. Live to Fish offers fluorocarbon line in tests up to 20 pounds.

Fishing-Type Specific Lines

If you’re looking for fishing line that is specific to a certain type of fishing, we offer fly line, ice line, and Tuf-Line Lead Core Trolling Line, which is a type of specialty line.

Fly Fishing Line
Fly Fishing LineFly line is used for, well, fly fishing. In addition to being identified by tensile strength, fly line is identified by the weight of the line. The line weight is then matched with the heaviness of the fly rod. Live to Fish carries fly line in clear, white, chartreuse, and yellow with line tests up to 30 pounds. The yellow line comes in different hues depending on your fly fishing needs.


Ice Fishing line
Ice Fishing LineIce line is strong enough to withstand the cold, harsh conditions that come with sticking your line into freezing water. Ice fishing line is available in braided and monofilament varieties. The ice fishing line at Live to Fish is braided and black in color with 25 and 35-pound test options.


Lead Core Trolling Line
lead-core-trolling-lineFinally, Lead Core Trolling Line from Tuf-Line is a specialty line option. It has a lead core and the color changes every ten yards to allow fishermen to measure depth. A lead core trolling line is the main line for heavy trolling applications where reaching a certain depth is important. It is a high density line that sinks relatively quickly, resulting in less line being used. However, these lines are very thick compared to their braided counterparts and often require a reel that can handle a larger spool. The trolling lines from Live to Fish can handle up to 36-pound test.

Fishing Leaders

Fishing LeaderWhile these can’t be exactly classified as standalone fishing lines, fishing leaders are especially important when working with braided and some specialty fishing lines. A leader is a short length of line that connects to the main line on one end and the hook or lure on the other end. Leaders are designed to improve your chances of hooking a fish and keeping it without having to cast and waste all of your line. While leader line is available, a leader can be made from any line material—including stronger versions of the line that you are already using.

Some Final Advice

While there are many fishing line options to choose from, it is important to pay special attention to your line’s tensile strength or the point at which it finally breaks. For example, a 10-pound test line is going to break once it exceeds 10 pounds of pressure. You also want to be careful to choose a line that can handle the workload. Things as simple as knotting your line while attaching a hook can cause damage.

Do you have a favorite line that’s your go-to on the water? Want to share tips for extending the life of your line? Leave a comment or get in touch with the Live to Fish crew.

Penn Fishing Reels Header

Fishing Reels From Penn

Since its founding in 1932, Penn Fishing Tackle Company has been producing high quality fishing reels. Live to Fish strives to honor Penn’s tradition of excellence by offering some of their top-performing reel models to you. We know that it can be hard to choose the perfect reel to pair with your rod, so we’re going to break down all of the Penn reel options for you.

Penn Conventional Reels

Penn General Purpose Level Wind Reel
The Penn General Purpose Level Wind Reel boasts a classic time-proven design.

Let’s begin with Penn’s General Purpose Level Wind Reel. It boasts a simplistic, time-proven design that’s been hard at work since its inception in the 1940s. The General Purpose Level Wind Reel is a conventional reel that performs well in both freshwater and saltwater. Use it for trolling and casting. Special features on this model include HT-100 drag washers, a stainless steel wind system, and a counter-balanced handle with oversized paddle knobs for comfort. Live to Fish carries the 309M Level Wind Reel, which is a right-handed reel with a mechanical braking system and a multi-stop anti-reverse feature.

Penn General Purpose Level Wind Reel Specifications. Click a size to view more info:
Reel Size Mono Capacity Braid Capacity Max Drag Gear Ratio Retrieval Rate
Size 209M 360/17 290/20 190/30 575/30 400/50 330/65 10 lb. 3:2:1 19″
Size 309M 450/20 300/30 250/40 625/50 525/65 450/80 15 lb. 2.8:1 20″

The Penn Squall Lever Drag Reel is another option if you’re on the market for a conventional reel. It is lightweight and ergonomically designed with graphite construction for corrosion resistance. The stainless steel gears offer a higher gear speed ratio than their competition. The Squall Lever Drag Reel is perfectly built for trolling near the shore for kingfish, dolphin, and wahoo. This reel features a Dura-Drag system, six stainless steel bearings, a silent double-dog anti-reverse, and switchblade lugs on the 50 and 60 options.

Watch the Squall Lever Drag Reel in action here:

Penn Squall Lever Drag Reel Specifications. Click a size to view more info:
Reel Size Mono Capacity Braid Capacity Max Drag Gear Ratio Retrieval Rate
Size 40 490/25 360/30 300/40 1075/30 750/50 625/65 20 lb. 5.1:1 37″
Size 50 500/30 420/40 310/50 1050/50 875/65 750/80 27 lb. 4.3:1 35″
Size 60 500/40 370/50 330/60 1050/65 900/80 775/100 27 lb. 4.3:1 35″

Penn Spinning Reels

If you are looking for a spinning reel, Live to Fish offers two options from Penn: the Spinfisher V Spinning Reel and the Fierce II Spinning Reel. Let’s take a look at each one.

Penn Spinfisher V Reel
The Penn Spinfisher V is a beautiful spinning reel with a patented water-tight design.

The Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel has a patented Water Tight design that protects the gearbox and drag systems from saltwater damage. Its full metal body and side plate keep precise gear alignment under heavy loads with a max drag of 40 pounds on the SSV9500 option. Other features include a machined and anodized aluminum Superline spool with line capacity rings, a sealed HT-100 Slammer Drag System, instant anti-reverse, and five shielded stainless steel ball bearings.

Penn Spinfisher V Spinning Reel Specifications. Click a size to view more info:
Reel Size Mono Capacity Braid Capacity Max Drag Gear Ratio Retrieval Rate
SSV 4500 300/8 250/10 185/12 365/15 280/20 200/30 25 lb. 6.2:1 35″
SSV 5500 360/10 270/12 240/15 425/20 320/30 250/40 30 lb. 5.6:1 35″
SSV 7500 440/15 300/20 210/30 430/40 360/50 320/65 13 lb. 4.7:1 36″
SSV 8500 440/20 300/30 250/40 650/40 540/50 470/65 35 lb. 4.7:1 42″
SSV 9500 360/30 300/40 220/50 630/50 540/65 490/80 20lb 4.2:1 39″

If you would like to watch the Spinfisher V in action, check out the video here:

Penn Fierce II SpinningReel
The Penn Fierce II Spinning Reel is dependable and durable even through the roughest conditions.

The Penn Fierce II Spinning Reel offers dependability and power so that you can tame the toughest fish in the roughest conditions. Like the Spinfisher V, it has a full metal body. It also boasts a stainless steel main shaft and thick aluminum bail wire. The drag system features oiled-felt construction. The Fierce II also has a Superline spool and line capacity rings.

Penn Fierce II Spinning Reel Specifications. Click a size to view more info:
Reel Size Mono Capacity Braid Capacity Max Drag Gear Ratio Retrieval Rate
Size 2000 240/4 180/6 125/8 210/8 180/10 165/15 7 lb. 6.2:1 30″
Size 3000 200/8 165/10 120/12 250/15 180/20 130/30 10 lb. 6.2:1 35″
Size 4000 270/8 220/10 165/12 360/15 260/20 185/30 13 lb. 6.2:1 37″
Size 5000 225/12 200/15 135/20 420/20 300/30 240/40 20 lb. 5.6:1 36″
Size 6000 335/15 230/20 210/25 490/30 390/40 335/50 20 lb. 5.6:1 41″
Size 8000 340/20 310/25 230/30 475/50 390/65 345/80 25 lb. 5.3:1 44″

You can see this reel in action by viewing the video here:

Hopefully our overview of the various Penn reels has made your choice a little easier. If not, leave a comment or get in touch and we’ll get things sorted out for you. Be sure to also keep an eye out for blog updates as the Live to Fish crew is going to be taking out a Penn reel or two on a fishing trip very soon!

Crankbait Header Image

Crankbaits 101

Not to be confused with jerk-baits, the crankbait is usually much thicker and shorter in size. A crankbait is a hard bait that dives at various depths in the water. Highly-recommended by bass fisherman, this lure can also be used for other species of fish besides bass. Crankbaits come in many different sizes, can be lipped or lipless, and sometimes feature chambered bodies with rattle bearings designed to attract fish with sound. Overall, this lure was designed to mimic the everyday actions of baitfish, crayfish, and other small prey.

In this entry, we’ll discuss the multiple types of crankbaits, corresponding diving depths, recommended gear, and how to tune your lure. Give it a read & let help you crank one out!

Types of Crankbaits:

Squarebill Crankbait
Squarebill: Great in super shallow waters. Features a short, square lip to help it glide through weeds and water brush without getting stuck. When this lure bumps into rocks or other objects, it deflects and changes directions.

Deep Diver Crankbait
Shallow Diver: Great in shallow waters. Ideal to fish in areas with lots of cover such as fallen trees, shallow grass, rocks, under docks, etc. This lure uses its short lip and treble hooks to bounce off objects and avoid potential hang-ups.

Medium Diver Crankbait
Medium/Moderate Diver: Able to dive in deeper waters, however it works best in water levels between 8-12 feet deep. Reaching the water’s bottom will cause it to bounce off and entice bites.

Deep Diver: Great for offshore fishing. These lures are able to dive deep into water over 12 ft. and stay down there to entice big, lurking bass. Keep the lure moving and bumping into objects in order to raise the chance of a bite.

Lipless Crankbait
Lipless: Great for winter bass fishing. Able to be cast extremely far and retrieved quickly. Be careful when using around heavy cover, the lack of lip causes this lure to get stuck or held up more easily than the others.

Average Crankbait Diving Depths

  • Squarebills: 0-5 ft.
  • Shallow Diver: 0-8 ft.
  • Medium-Moderate Diver: 8-12 ft.
  • Deep-Diver: 12-20 ft.

Recommended Gear, Line, & Accessories

Like many other lures on the market, most crankbait manufacturers will supply their own information on recommended gear, line, and accessories for successful catches. It’s always a good idea to follow each specific crankbait’s recommendations to ensure that you’re using it properly, however, feel free to switch it up and find what works best for you. Below are some general gear recommendations to use with crankbaits.

Hooks: Make sure that your hooks are strong, durable, and ready to hold fish. It’s important to modify your hooks when needed. You may even want to consider changing out your lure’s original hooks for more reliable ones of your choosing. Just make sure that the new hooks are similar in hook-to-lure ratio, or else your lure action may negatively change.

Line: When fishing with crankbaits, we recommend that you use a small diameter line to allow your lure to drop more easily and deeply into the water. Choose a thin monofilament or fluorocarbon line to get the best action out of your crankbait. Monofilament line works best with shallow-to-medium level waters, while fluorocarbon sinks faster and is better for medium-to-deep diving crankbaits.

Split-Ring Pliers: These are a must have for any good angler. Keeping a nice set of split-ring pliers in your tackle box will definitely come in handy when it’s time to tune your crankbait.

Rods: Crankbaits work best with medium-heavy power rods that measure between 6’6” and 8’ long. A rod that’s too short won’t cast as well, while a rod that’s too long will be too difficult to reel-in. It’s important that the rod is able to be held at a 45-degree angle with your rod tip hovering just above the water. If you hold your rod at a 90-degree angle or higher, you’ll weaken your natural pulling power. The lower your rod is held; the more power and leverage you’ll have to reel in large catches.

Reels: Choose a reel with a 4:1 or 5:1 gear ratio to allow more power for reeling in catches.

How-to Properly Tune a Crankbait

We all have that special “lucky” lure that we love to use. Unfortunately, sometimes that lure becomes damaged over time by the vicious strikes of big, hungry bass. That’s why it’s important to keep your crankbaits properly tuned with a straight line-tie eye. With a set of split-ring or needle-nose pliers, hold your crankbait steady and gently twist the line-tie eye in the opposite direction of which it is pulling. This will straighten it out and help your lure move more freely.

Have questions?
We’re ready to answer any crankbait or other product questions that you may have. Just give us a call at 1-844-9-FISHIN or drop us a line on our contact page.


Catch-And-Release Fish Handling

While emphasis is often placed on getting the right gear or heading out to the right spot to land that trophy catch to be grace your plate or your wall, it’s also important to emphasize the necessity of catch-and-release fishing and, in turn, the necessity of handling fish properly before and during release to increase their chances of survival.

Some readers may be thinking:

“But catch-and-release fishing is lame, there’s no such thing as a ‘proper way’ to handle a fish. All you’ve gotta do is throw it back if you’re not keeping it.”

Well, readers, have we got news for you. Catch-and-release fishing is a beneficial, often necessary means of maintaining healthy fishing stock. It’s also part of standard fishing regulation to release fish that are out of season or don’t meet certain size requirements. Live to Fish carries an assortment of charts & guides to help you identify local freshwater or saltwater species, as well as scales & rulers to determine the length and weight of your catch.

If you happen to have a fish that you do need to release back into the wild, you must do so correctly. Unfortunately, you can’t just throw it back and hope for the best. Fish are often stressed and exhausted by the time they reach the boat and don’t have the energy to just swim on their merry way after you cut the line or remove the hook.

How a Fish’s Anatomy Can Cause Serious Injury

Fish that are pulled in from deep marine waters often sustain additional injuries beyond mere exhaustion. Certain species, like snapper and grouper, have organs called swim bladders. The swim bladder allows the fish to maintain a certain depth by controlling its buoyancy. If a fish is pulled up too quickly, the change in the water pressure can cause a life-threatening disorder called barotrauma. When a fish experiences barotrauma, its swim bladder to take on too much gas and expand beyond normal size or even explode.

More About Barotrauma

Damage to a fish’s swim bladder or other internal organs from being pulled up too quickly from the deep is called barotrauma. Signs of barotrauma on fish may include the stomach coming out of the mouth, bulging eyes, a bloated belly, and distended intestines. Luckily enough, scientists and anglers have been working together to create venting tools and descending devices that allow fishermen to reverse the effects of barotrauma and safely release them back into the water. Check out this video from NOAA Fisheries that shows a few of these devices in action.

Barotrauma is a worrisome thing. But if you treat your catch with respect and handle them correctly before, during, and after capture, you can reduce the effects of stress on your catch prior to release. Check out the gallery below to help you identify the physical signs of barotrauma in your catch.

More Tips:

You should have an idea of which kinds of which fish you are going to keep and which ones you’re going to release before you ever hit the water. If you can, know each species size, weight, and bag limit regulations for the area that you are fishing in, and always obtain the appropriate fishing licensing for everyone in your party.

Use appropriate tackle that limits how long you are fighting the fish before you bring it in to the boat. Remember that fighting makes the fish exhausted and stressed out. Try not to use multi-hook rigs or lures unless you’re going after the appropriate types of fish for such equipment. If you’re using a treble hook, you can remove hooks and flatten barbs with pliers to cause less damage and make it easier to unhook the fish for release. If you know that you are going to be catch-and-release fishing, use a barbless hook or a circle hook because it will catch in the fish’s mouth and not in the gut, barbless hooks are also much easier to remove. Hook removal tools will also allow you to remove the hook safely from your boat with minimal handling of the fish. If you want to know more about the different types of hooks, head on over and take a look at our blog posts on hook anatomy and hook styles.

Bring larger fish, like sharks, to the boat in twenty minutes or less to cut down on stress and exhaustion. Again, use appropriate species-specific tackle. If you find that you’re fighting a fish longer than intended, use heavier tackle.

Fish Handling Tips & Techniques

For Smaller Fish: If you need to handle a catch, be sure to wet your hands first. Many fish are covered in a slimy substance that prevents infection and helps them move through the water. If you touch them with dry hands, the substance will come off and the fish will have a hard time swimming away. Try to handle fish with a net whenever possible rather than with your hands. We recommend rubber-coated nets because they can support a fish’s weight and will not remove the slimy protective coating.

For Larger Fish: If you’ve got a big fish, like a shark or a tarpon, keep it in the water. Dragging it over the gunwale or onboard your boat can damage its organs and lessen its chances of survival. If you’ve got a toothy fish, support its front with a gripping tool and put the other hand under its belly to support its weight. If your fish is agitated or too big and absolutely needs to be released, but you don’t have time to remove the hook properly, it’s fine to cut the line as close to the hook as possible before you set the fish free. If you do have time to remove the hook, use a de-hooking tool, like the Redbone Performance Hook Remover. Finally, don’t toss or throw your fish back. Release it head first so that water is forced back over the gills. This allows the fish to catch its breath faster and swim away.

You can opt to take a picture or capture a video of your catch instead of keeping it for a wall mount. Be sure to keep your fish horizontally supported and keep it in the water if it’s an especially large species. Let it go immediately after, especially if you are taking pictures of a species that is not in season.

Post-Release Care & Resuscitation

If you let your fish go and it doesn’t immediately swim away or it swims away and starts to float back to the surface, you can resuscitate it. Take hold of the fish and place it in the current with one hand under the belly and the other hand holding the bottom lip or the tail. Be sure to place the fish head-first to force the water through the mouth and over the gills. If you’re on a boat, but there is no current, you can nudge the motor into gear to create a current. Hold the fish alongside the boat and let the water move over it. If you are trying to revive a fish from a boat with no motor and there is no current present, move the fish in a figure eight pattern to get the water flowing through the gills. Don’t move the fish back and forth in the water because it prevents the water from properly flowing through the gills. Wounded and sick fish swim back and forth. Healthy fish do not.

Additional Information & Resources

In addition to following safe practices for catch-and-release fishing, take a moment to check out this brochure from the National Parks Service or watch this video on the conservation benefits of catch-and-release fishing from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

By practicing proper fish handling techniques in addition to catch-and-release fishing, you’re helping the environment and helping to improve everyone’s fishing experience more than you think!

Share Your Experiences

Finally, if you have any tips for proper fish handling or if you want to share your own experiences with catch-and-release fishing, do post them below or send us an email.

Amberjack Fishing Header

Amberjack Fishing in April

On a perfect April morning, took a trip out to one of our favorite wrecks off of Tampa Bay to see what we could pull up from the depths. Typical day on the water, first we stocked up on some white bait with a cast net and sabiki rod, then high tail it to the fishing grounds. The water was gin clear and flat as glass, and conditions were as ideal as they can get for any fishing excursion. We planned to target amberjack and possibly some toothy predators, so we were prepared with heavy gear, bait, and lures.

Gearing Up

Rule #1: If you’re can’t be sure what type of fish you’re going to encounter, you’d best be prepared with a few options for rods and reels. Gear-wise, we had a few different selections on the boat to prep us for whatever situation presented itself. Since we knew we were going for amberjack, we had medium-heavy power Redbone Rods outfitted with a few sturdy saltwater spinning reels.

We also had some heavier 6 ft Shimano poles with Tekota 800 reels ready to go for the deeper drops. Redbone’s Medium/Heavy Offshore Rods performed very well, combining good action with enough backbone to horse the fish in quick before they get taken by toothy predators. We chose to pair one redbone rod with a Penn Spinfisher V Reel, and lined it with 65 lb. Power Pro Braid to give us the advantage that sturdy, dependable hardware and light, strong line bring to the battle. Be sure to check out the entire gear list at the end of this article.

April is for Amberjacks

We had some pretty serious action from the AJ’s as soon as we dropped anchor and chimed. In no time the jacks were running in full force and schooling closely around the boat just below the surface. AJ’s are a pelagic fish that typically congregate around the middle of the water column, above reefs and wrecks. This would normally call for a vertical jig or mid-water diving lure (or a knocker rig if you choose something lively on your hook).

Ultimately, Topwater Did The Trick

Today was a different story, the AJ’s close surface proximity made the situation ideal for running topwater lures, hard jerkbaits and shallow dive baits. Hooking up with a powerful jack was as simple as casting in and retrieving the line. The excitement and hyperactivity of the schooling AJ’s made for a decent hit and a solid fight on almost every cast. If you’ve ever caught a jack before, you know their nickname “donkey of the sea” refers to their reputation as an extremely powerful fighting fish. In other words, even if you don’t have a keeper on the line, you’re still in for a hell of a fight. After a full day of reeling in fish after fish, every arm on the boat was worn out and ready for a break, or at least a cold beer.

Highlights of the Day

A couple of visits from some curious blacktips and bull sharks made the day even more interesting, as well as a nice-sized Cobia that came up for a bite and turned into a nice catch-and-release. May he live to bite another day.

More Information About Amberjack

You can catch Amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico year round, but the season is closed from annually from June 1 – July 31. Current minimum size limit is at 34” fork length, and the daily bag limit is 1 per person. For more information on amberjacks, visit For great deals on tackle and gear to help you on your next trip out, visit us at

Gear List: