Why is Fishing Line Called ‘Test’?

If you have ever heard someone refer to a fishing line as ‘test’ or seen it written on the box somewhere, you have probably wondered why. Most of us would refer to it simply as a fishing line, so where exactly does the word ‘test’ come into play? The ‘test’ of a fishing line actually has much to do with the fishing line and can help you make the right decision when purchasing.

Why is a fishing line called ‘test’? Fishing line is distinguished by its ‘test’ which is its breaking strength. Breaking strength refers to how much the fish has to fight with the line before it ultimately breaks. Essentially, the test tells you the size of the line and what fish it can handle.

Knowing what test means and how it affects your fishing experience is critical. Without the proper line, you may end up shooing fish away or end up with a line that breaks time and time again. In this article, you will be introduced to the elements of the test and how you can decipher between different tests.

What Does ‘Test’ Mean?

The simple answer to this question is that the test refers to how strong the line is. The amount of test a fishing line has will determine its breaking point, which is how much force a fish has to fight with the fishing line before it ultimately breaks.

It’s clear that the test is an important factor when choosing a fishing line. Keep in mind that the test number has a direct impact on how strong the line is. To put it simply, the higher the number on the box, the stronger the fishing line is going to be. 

Where Do You Find the Test Number?

When you’re out shopping for a new fishing line, it is important to check the test level. Don’t worry; it doesn’t take any special researching to find out how strong the fishing line is. 

You can find the fishing line test directly on the front of the box for most fishing line products. The test should be clearly visible and easily found because it is incredibly important to your overall fishing experience.

The Importance of Test and Species of Fish

It’s important to note that every species of fish will require a different test number. For example, if you’re trying to catch a Bluegill that is typically anywhere between 2 and 4 pounds, then you will want to buy a 4-pound fishing line or a fishing line with a test of 4. This will allow you to be able to catch the Bluegill without the worry of the line breaking.

On the other hand, you never want to buy too high a test for the species you’re fishing for. This is because, the higher the test, the larger in diameter the fishing line will be. When the fishing line has a higher diameter, it is more easily seen by fish. This will make it a challenge to catch a variety of smaller fish who can see it and dart away. 

Unless you are in the market for larger fish such as tuna or walley, it’s best to stick to a lower test fishing line. In fact, for the most part, you should be fine starting out with a 6 to 8-pound test. This is a good size for the majority of fish. It isn’t too small that it can be broken, but it also isn’t so big that it can be easily seen by the fish.

When it comes to choosing a fishing line, you should also consider buying a clear, green, or light blue colored line. These colors are not easily seen by fish, and you will likely end up with a much larger haul by the end of your fishing trip.

Here is a handy chart that can help you choose the right fishing line test for the fish you’re seeking:

BLUEGILL2 to 4 Pound Test Fishing Line
PERCH4 to 8 Pound Test Fishing Line
CRAPPIE4 to 8 Pound Test Fishing Line
BASS5 to 12 Pound Test Fishing Line
TROUT5 to 10 Pound Test Fishing Line
FLOUNDER8 to 15 Pound Test Fishing Line
BLUEFISH15 to 25 Pound Test Fishing Line
TUNA20 to 40 Pound Test Fishing Line
WALLEY10 to 20 Pound Test Fishing Line
CATFISH8 to 15 Pound Test Fishing Line

Do Rod and Reel Size Matter?

If you’re not quite sure what test size you should buy, then you can get the answer quickly by checking the recommended line weights on both your rod and reel. It is important to check the weight limits before adding a fishing line to your fishing equipment. 

If you are using a small, tiny trout reel then you’re likely going to want to choose a fishing line with a low test. Trying to add a test of over 20 pounds to a small reel like this is not only going to look ridiculous but will also have an impact on how you fish. The reel is likely to not function properly, and the rod may end up snapping if there’s too much weight attached. 

Always check the test recommendations for your fishing equipment first. From there, you can decide which type of fish you’re trying to catch and decide on the test amount that is right for you. 

Can Fish Cut the Line with Their Teeth?

Some people might think that they have to get a thick, heavy line in order to stave off fish teeth. They are under the impression that all fish have sharp teeth and can cut through a thin test with ease. Is this old wives’ tale about test a myth, or is it something to be concerned about?

When it comes to fish cutting through your line, you don’t need to worry. In fact, there are really only two fish you need to be concerned about when it comes to fish being able to cut a line: the freshwater northern pike and the musky. Their teeth are flat and sharp with puncturing edges, while other fish species have rounded teeth that won’t slice a line.

Picking the Right Line

There are only two things to keep in mind when choosing a fishing line test: 

  • the recommendation of your fishing equipment 
  • the type of species you’re fishing for 

Remember that you always want to base your decision on the type of rod and reel you have. Choosing a fishing line test that is too large will cause problems for your fishing experience as well as the functionality of your rod and reel. If you’re trying to fish for larger species that require a thicker line, you may have to purchase new equipment to handle it.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to buy a line that has too high of a test for the species you’re after. The thicker fishing line has a wider diameter that is easily seen in the water. If fish can see the line, and they aren’t likely to bite. Remember to start with a 4 pound or 6-pound fishing test and take it from there.


If you ever hear fishing line referred to as ‘test’, know that it is simply referring to how much weight the line can handle before it breaks. Remember that the fishing test amount should be within the recommended size for your fishing equipment and the type of fish you’re fishing for.

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