Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips What pound test should I put on my reel?
What pound test should I put on my reel?

“What pound test should I put on my reel?”

Fishing in Ocean City is varied, so it depends on where you are fishing and
what you are fishing for.

“I’m fishing out of a boat for flounder.”

If you are fishing out of a boat for flounder, you do not need super heavy
line. In the back bays (meaning you are fishing around the Rt. 90 Bridge,
Thorofare, Convention Hall Channel, or the bay behind Assateague) you can
use anywhere between 8 pound to 12 pound test. If you were fishing near the
Route 50 Bridge and the Inlet where you may encounter some rocks or other
underwater debris, I would go to the 12 to 15 pound test. If you plan to
fish the inlet for stripers, go a little heavier. Slap on some line in the
14 to 20 pound test range.

Some people come to town with their reels spooled with freshwater line such
as 4 or 6- pound test. It is not that the fish will break the line, but
anytime you get snagged up you have a much greater chance of breaking off
your rig. The slightest nick will weaken your line as well. Then… that big
flounder may break off at the boat! Try to use at least 8-pound test. And
even in that case, make sure the line is good and fairly new. One way to
test to see if your line is good is to tie a swivel to the end of the line
and pull it hard. If it snaps right off you’re in trouble. It means your
line is bad. Get it changed before going fishing.

“I’m going offshore bottom fishing for flounder, sea bass, and maybe

For sea bass and flounder, you don’t need much more pound test line than you
use inshore. But, you never know what you may encounter offshore while you
are bottom fishing. You may hang into a 12-pound blue, a 30-pound cobia, a
big tautog or a king mackerel. I would put on 14 to 20 pound test line on
the spinning reels and 15 to 30 pound test on the conventional type reels.

The greatest thing that has happened to saltwater (and freshwater) fishing
over the last decade is Spectra Line. This is not monofilament line and
needs to be treated with the greatest of respect when using offshore. It
has a very thin diameter, no stretch, and no memory. For example, in the
Power Pro Brand, which we carry in our stores, the 40-pound test has a
10-pound test diameter. This compact structure picks up less water. That
means you can use less sinker weight than if you were using a 40-pound test
monofilament. For example, it might take an 8-ounce sinker to hold bottom
with 40-pound test monofilament but it might only take a 4-ounce sinker to
hold bottom with the 40-pound test Power Pro Spectra Line!

With no stretch, even if you are fishing in deep water, say 90-feet, when
you set the hook, you set the hook!

Here’s what Captain Monty of the party boat “Morning Star” had to say about
Spectra Lines in his newsletter two weeks ago:

"I am always surprised by the folks that haven't discovered the no stretch
braids. Spectra - Fire line - Power Pro, whatever brand, it hasn't seemed to
matter; they all catch better than mono for our style of fishing. Friends
shouldn't let friends fish mono... I can actually see it from the wheelhouse
as the lines go down. If I have 4 or 5 folks in an area with their reels
loaded full of mono there will be a delay; everyone with the mono is either
bowed up or missing strikes. Believe it. It shows in the box at the end of
the day too. Oh yes, there are some who are masters with mono and they'll
catch very well indeed, but the beginning, advanced and expert levels will
benefit from the braid. I hear stories all
the time about boats that will not allow braid aboard. Perhaps I should be
the first boat not to allow mono?! Nah. Fish it if its fun for you... Still
though, not allowing it aboard is akin to a general ordering his men to put
away the machine guns and get out the flintlocks. And, yes, all my rentals
are loaded with braid...”

And yes Captain Monty, all my own personal reels (except for my trolling
reels) are filled with Power Pro Spectra Line. I haven’t used monofilament
line for bottom fishing in several years.

“Why do you say you have to treat the line with the greatest of respect?”

Because of its strength, small diameter and no-stretch qualities you have to
be very careful when getting these lines out of a snag. You NEVER want to
wrap it around your hand. It could cut your finger off if someone started up
the boat and you were in an unforgiving snag. When we are fishing, and get
hopelessly snagged with this line, we wrap it around a cleat on the boat and
pull it out that way. There’s also the ol’ rolling pin trick. Wrap the line
a couple times around the rolling pin and pull up. NEVER pull with your rod
as you can break it so fast your head will spin. No stretch, no forgiveness!

We have learned to use a lighter pound test leader when using Spectra Lines.
If you are using 40-pound test Spectra Line, use a 25# or 30# test leader.
Then, your leader will break first. We also fish with those inexpensive fish
finder rigs when fishing for flounder. If the sinker gets snagged, that
little plastic part breaks, and you lose your sinker but save your rig and
get out of the snag. (These are great for fishing near a wreck offshore, OR
fishing near all that structure near B.J.’s South or the rocks around the

“What pound test Spectra Line should I use if I am drifting in the bay?”

Use 15-30 pound test in the bay. Use 30-50 pound test offshore. 50-pound
test is preferred for tautog fishing. (Always use a mono leader around
40-pound test when tautog fishing.)

When spooling on Spectra line to a spinning reel, ALWAYS put on some
monofilament backing. Otherwise, the super smooth Spectra Line will spin
around and around on the spool and make a big mess. When we spool Spectra
Lines from service spools in our tackle stores, we put on some monofilament
backing and then tie the two lines together with a uni-knot. We fill the
spool part way with monofilament and try to judge the amount of Spectra Line
the customer would like – usually 100 to 200 yards of the Spectra Line on a
spinning reel. http://www.fish4fun.com/Joining2Lines.htm

If you use Spectra Line a lot, learn this Uni-knot to tie two lines
together. You will be able to tie Fluorocarbon leader to the end of your
line so you can throw lures. You can add a couple yards of leader to the end
of your line when fishing in the rocks for tautog, or you can simply add a
lighter leader to the end of your Spectra-Line in case you get snagged.

One last thing about Spectra-Lines. You have to tie the correct knot at the
end of your line when tying on a swivel or lure or the knot will slip out.
Use a Palamar, Uni-knot, or Improved Clinch Knot. I can’t tell you how many
customers have come back into our stores and think their new line is rotten
because they are using a regular clinch knot or simply tying a couple square
knots! I prefer to use the uni-knot. I always used to use an improved
clinch knot in monofilament but the uni-knot is easier to tie when dealing
with the ultra thin line. (Especially when it’s windy!)




“What pound test should I use for surf fishing?”

When using monofilament line, I would suggest 14 to 20 pound test on a
regular surf rod and reel set-up 910-12 foot). If you are using an 8 or
9-foot rod, I would use 12-15 pound test. Remember, the lighter the line,
the further you can throw out and the less weight you have to use. If you
use Spectra Line, choose 30, 40, or 50-pound test. That would give you an
8-10-or 12-pound test diameter. If you do use the Spectra line for surf, buy
yourself a finger guard, as the line can also be unforgiving to your casting

Last of all, if you are fishing from the Route 50 Bridge at night for
stripers, anglers use 30-40 pound test monofilament or 40-50 pound test
Spectra Line. By day, for flounder fishing, 15-20 pound test mono is

Oceanic Pier- 12-15 pound test. Can’t use too heavy if you are throwing
lures at night! Ocean City Jetty- 15-40 pound test for bottom fishing. 12-17
pound test for lure fishing.

What pound test to use? Always ask at your favorite tackle shop. Most tackle
stores have a line machine to spool your reels for you. They can also take
the old line off with the machine. Hey, that’s better than doing it by hand!

Good fishing…