What Pound Test for Surf Fishing?[Important Factors]

The pound test for your fishing line is one of the most important factors affecting your equipment choice. Picking the incorrect pounds test can make fishing less effective and potentially damage the components of your rods and reels. Different types of fishing require different pound teste, due to different water conditions and sizes of fish. 

When it comes to surf fishing, the optimal pound test sits between 15 and 20 pounds for a monofilament line. For braided lines, the optimal pound test for surf fishing is 30-40 pounds. You can use a line with a stronger pound test for surf fishing, but it may be harder to cast and reel when using a larger line. 

There are a lot of factors that determine the pound test of your line. So we put together this comprehensive article on pound tests. We will talk about which pound test to use for surf fishing and talk about pound tests for other types of fishing. We will also talk about which factors to consider when choosing a pound test. 

What is a Pound Test?

When it comes to fishing, a pound test is a way of referring to the maximum weight that a particular fishing line can hold. In other words, a line’s pound test is the most weight that a fishing line can hold before breaking. 

For example, if the pound test for a line is 20 lbs, then that means the fishing line can handle approximately 20 pounds.

Generally, the pound test is not the maximum weight a line can hold before it will break, but the maximum weight it can hold before straining and stretching. Oten, fishing lines can hold more than their pound test, but the line is much less effective then. 

What is the Best Pound Test for Surf Fishing?

Surf fishing is a style of fishing in which the angler stands on the shoreline or wades into the surf. Surf fishing occurs at all styles of beaches and is sometimes referred to as surfcasting or beachcasting. For the most part surf fishing is performed solely in salt water. 

The exact pound test for your line depends on the type of fish you are catching. For smaller fish, a pound test of 15-20 pounds should work just fine.

More experienced anglers that are going for larger fish may want a stronger line with a 30-40 pound test line. Regardless which pound test you pick, you need to remember to change your lines frequently, especially when fishing in saltwater. 

Monofilament vs Braided Line

There are two main types of fishing line you can use: monofilament and braided. Monofilament lines consist of a single fiber, usually made from a plastic material like nylon.

Monofilament lines are cheap to make, easy to tie, and have more flexibility, but they are relatively fragile and usually have lower pound test ratings. However, monofilament lines are usually clear, so it is harder for fish to notice them.

Braided lines, in contrast, consist of multiple fibers woven together into a single line. Braided lines are consequently stronger than monofilament lines and less flexible.

Typical materials used in braided lines include Micro-Dyneema and Spectron. Since they are made from multiple fibers, they are more opaque than monofilament lines, and so are more noticeable in the water. 

When it comes to surf fishing, both braided and monofilament lines can work. It mostly depends on the kind of fish you’re catching and the weather conditions.

Monofilament lines need to be replaced more often, but they also handle seawater better than braided lines. The main benefit of braided line is that their rigidity makes it easier to feel when a fish grabs the line. 

Why Not Just Use a Heavier Line?

Many people think that they should just always use a heavier line. After all, isn’t a thinner line more likely to break?

The reality is that thinner lines can be beneficial in many cases, even if they cannot handle as much weight.

Thinner lines are less expensive and they can provide a smoother action in currents due to the increased flexibility. Also, the thicker the line, the more friction against the reel. High friction on your line can end up causing it to break faster than a thinner line will. 

So it’s not always in your best interest to just use a heavier line. You should make your decision based on the average weight of the fish you want to catch. 

Pound Test By Species of Fish

You can also estimate the necessary pound test based on the kind of fish you want to catch. Below is a table showing optimal pound tests for common species of fish. 

Fish Species Optimal Pound Test
Panfish 2-10 lbs.
Bass 10-15 lbs.
Walleye 10-12 lbs.
Trout 6-10 lbs.
Catfish 20-30 lbs.
Muskie 100-150 lbs.
Tuna 30-50 lbs.
Kingfish 40-60 lbs.

What Factors Affect Pound Testing?

Fish Size

The main thing that should determine your pound test is the species and size of fish you will be catching. Common types of fish for surfcasting include striped bass, spotted seatrout, flounder, pompano, and bluefish. Look up the average size of the kind of fish that you want to catch, and choose a line with a corresponding pound test. 

Weather and Surf Conditions

Water and weather conditions also affect the kind of pound test you should use. If you are fishing in rough water and windy weather, you may want to choose a thicker line to deal with the extra forces.

If you pick a line that is too light, the current may snap your line or cause it to spool too much. 

Fishing Reel

If you have a fishing line with a certain pound test, you need to also have a reel that can provide an equal amount of drag. Contrary to what many think, applying a weight to a line that is higher than its pound test will not immediately break the line.

Most of the time, it causes the reel to spool as pressure is applied. So, you need to set your drag at the right setting so it provides a good amount of resistance while still letting the line spool a bit.

Shore Conditions 

If you are fishing on a shoreline that has a lot of obstacles or debris, you may want to pick a line with a higher pound test. The presence of rocks, logs, cobble, and weeds will pull on your line.

Pretty much every angler has had a line snap from getting caught on a rock or stick. A more durable line will let you tug it through obstacles without snapping. 

Live Bait vs Lures

If you are using live bait, then a lighter line is better. Monofilament lines with a lower pound test will stretch and hook into the fish’s mouth better.

Lighter lines also have neutral buoyancy, which will contrast with the movement of the live bait. In contrast, you may want to use a line with a higher pound test with lures. Lures work better with braided lines with a higher pound test. 


Your overall fishing experience should also affect the pound test for your line. If you have less experience, we recommend starting with a lighter line.

Lighter monofilament lines will be easier to tie, and it will be easier to practice your technique with a more flexible line. Also, thinner lines produce less friction and can be better for casting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best pound test for surf fishing?

The optimal pound test for surf fishing is 15-20 pounds for a monofilament line and 30-40 pounds for a braided line.

If you are going for smaller fish, then you should be fine with a 6-10 pound test line. Make sure you know the average size of fish you want to catch before choosing your line’s pound test. 

Is a monofilament or braided line better for surf fishing?

It depends on the kind of fish you are catching and the weather conditions. Monofilament line is better for lighter fish and more moderate weather conditions. If you are catching large fish, then braided lines will be a better option. Generally, monofilament lines are easier for beginners to use because it’s easier to tie and more flexible. 

Is a higher pound test line always better?

No, it’s not always the case that a higher pound test is better. A higher pound test means the line can take more weight, but it will also be more rigid and produce more friction. In many cases, this can be a disadvantage. Many anglers bring several lines so they can change on the fly. 

Final Words

Your choice of equipment is an important part of fishing, including your line’s pound test.

To find the correct pound test, make sure that you research the kind of fish you want to catch and your spot’s weather conditions. Choosing the right pound test can mean the difference between a fun time on the water and a frustrating fishing experience.

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