How to Prevent Tangled Fishing Line

How to Prevent Tangled Fishing Line

You may be asking yourself the question, “why does my fishing line keep getting tangled?” Unfortunately tangled fishing lines occur from time to time when using a spinning reel. The worst possible scenario is to have your line tangled during a battle with a fish. I was personally in that position when I was fishing for stripers last fall. After recently changing my fishing line prior to my trip, I was eager to use my new 40-pound monofilament fishing line. Between the tension from the fish as well having the wrong line on my reel, I lost the fish, and my line ended up looking like a bad bird’s nest (see picture above).

I would never want that experience to ever happen again, especially if I can avoid it! Hopefully, these helpful tricks and methods that I have learned will help you avoid tangling your fishing line in the future. Let’s diagnose the problems that you may be having and prevent your next fishing line tangle from happening!

Common Problems

Too Much Line on the Reel

A common mistake when spooling new fishing line on to your reel is adding way too much line. Usually, most reels will have a circled line marker that extends around the circumference of the area where the line is spooled. Do not add more line once it reaches this mark. To be safe, I usually try to stay around a 1/4 inch under this mark on the spool.

The misunderstanding with line capacity is that having more line on the reel is better for fishing because you will be able to explore deeper waters as well as have the extra length to allow fish to go on long runs. However, the problem with too much line is that the line doesn’t maintain enough tension which can cause it to unravel, leading to tangles, twists and knots. If you need the extra line capacity, upgrade to a larger reel. Don’t impede your rod’s ability to cast the line smoothly and precise.

Wrong Type of Fishing Line

This can be one of the more frustrating causes to your line tangling, because the solution usually requires you to change your fishing line that you probably already spent money on. If you are wondering if this may be the main reason behind your fishing line tangles, know which line you are currently using. Monofilament and fluorocarbon line are not the best fishing lines to use for a spinning reel. Since they both retain “memory”, it causes them to repeat similar tangles and twists. The best recommended line for a spinning reel is braided line which doesn’t retain line memory.

The thickness of the line is also another main problem for causing tangles. Typically, adding more thickness to monofilament and fluorocarbon lines cause the spool to not have the tight tension that you need for casting. If you are experiencing this problem, you will notice that the tangles occur either during or after you cast your spinning reel. Lines with more strength are difficult to keep tight on the spool. Try to avoid using very thick lines for spinning reels that you want to cast.

The misunderstanding with types of fishing line is that you should ONLY use braided line for a spinning reel. Not true! Although it is not recommended to using monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing line, you can still use it and have great success. Many rod and reel combos come with a default factory fishing line and that will work just fine. But, the next time you decide to change your line, you may want to consider braided line.

Lack of Line Tension

Sometimes you could have all the correct tackle and followed all the recommended guidelines to avoid tangling your line. However, if your tackle isn’t heavy enough on your line, tangles and twists can occur. When fishing, items like sinkers, swivels, hooks, and lures create enough weight to provide tension on the line. You’ll notice that a heavy sinker is usually fairly reliable in helping avoid tangles because of the impact of its extra weight on the line.

The misunderstanding about line tension is that you need to store your rod with tackle to avoid it from tangling. This is not the case. Storing your line with your fishing tackle can damage the tackle as well as putting too much tension on the rod for no reason. Be sure to remove all heavy weights when storing your rod. To maintain the tension during storage, simply hook or tie the line to one of the rod rings.

Ways to Prevent Fishing Line Tangles & Twists

Soak Fishing Line in Warm Water

One of the best ways to avoid having to deal with fishing line tangles is to soak the fishing line in warm water. Prior to spooling, insert your line into a cup or small bucket of warm water. This will help relax the line memory and provide some extra give. I usually try to leave in the water for a few hours but the main magic happens when the water is still warm. As a result, you will notice that the line will coil less, while also improving the range of your cast.

Use Fishing Line Conditioner

Throughout most of my fishing career, I never knew about conditioner for fishing line. Once I stumbled upon this product, I made it an essential tool within my tackle box. The conditioner usually comes in spray like bottle which can be put directly on the fishing line while its on your spool. I usually do about 4 sprays as I revolve the reel to cover the entire spool area. For the best results, allow for the product to sit on the line overnight. The next time you go fishing, you will notice better casting, tighter line tension and less knots. Fishing line conditioner does not weaken the line or cause damage to the line’s unique characteristics.

Compatibility Between Fishing Line and Reel

The wide range of different types of fishing lines can be very confusing when trying to find what is best for your reel. Many anglers fall into the trap of purchasing too thick of a line for the reel that they are using. For a spinning reel, you want to have higher line flexibility for casting, so it may not be the best idea to purchase a super strong line. Most reels will note the appropriate lines that work for its spool. You can find this information directly on the reel or within the original paperwork that came with the reel. It is important to make sure that your reel is compatible with the line that you decide to purchase.


We prepared this post to help fishermen better diagnose problems with their fishing line tangles. Our experience and research should help you avoid wasting more time untangling your fishing line knots. It is important to note that even the most experienced fishermen find themselves battling problems with tangles in their fishing line. Taking the correct preventive measures should definitely reduce the problems that you have with your fishing line, but it may not completely prevent your fishing line from never tangling again. As you continue to gain more experience fishing, you will gain more knowledge about maintaining tension for your line, which will lead to less problems for your reel. To be more proactive in avoiding line tangles, twists and knots, you should soak your line in warm water, use fishing line conditioner, and make sure that you’ll reel is compatible with the line that you want to use.

More To Explore