Ron's Tackle Tips — How to Select the Proper Line Weight

Ken Jones

Staff member
How to Select the Proper Line Weight

By Ron Crandall of Ron's Reel Repair (January 1998)

Before we start, go and get your favorite rod.

Just above the reel seat you'll see, amongst the advertising, a decal that suggests a range of line weights that you can use (something like Fenwick HS 83 M-2, 6-17lb. Line). Obviously, 6# to 17# is a much wider range of line than is ideal. Every rod has a perfect line weight, and here's how you figure it out.

You will need three items to do the test. First, a scale that measures from 0 to about 8 pounds (ours is a fish weighing scale that costs three dollars at Longs Drug Store). Second you will need about fifty feet of at least thirty pound line (cord, string, chalk-line, etc. is acceptable). Something that has body and you can see. Do not use a light weight monofilament line. Lastly, you will need a patient and friendly helper.

String the line through your rod. You can tie it to your reel seat or put it on a reel. Tie the other end to your scale and hook (or tie) the scale to something solid (I use the trailer hitch on my truck) that is about forty feet away. Now, have your patient helper hold the rod at a forty-five degree angle to the ground. Have your helper back up until the tip forms a ninety degree angle to the butt section (that's the butt 45 degrees up and the tip 45 degrees down at this point). The person, you, who is not holding the rod can watch the rod and determine when the angle is correct. Have your helper maintain this position until you can run over and read the scale. This is the reference number. The Fenwick in our test was #3 exactly.

To determine the optimum line weight for your rod, you must then multiply your reference number by 4. In our test, 4 times our reference number of 3 gives 12. Twelve is the optimum line weight for our rod.

Why is all of this important? Any rod will flex to an optimum point, any more, or any less, is wasted. Most people tend to use a line that is too heavy for the rod. If your line is too heavy, your rod will feel heavy and dead. You will also probably have set your drag too high.

After you find your optimum line weight, and fish with it for a while, you'll find that you are having more fun than you ever had before with this particular rod, and are probably landing more fish.