Does Fishing Line Go Bad?

A fishing line can degrade over time, like any other piece of fishing equipment. The most inopportune time for your line to malfunction and snap is while you’re trying to reel in a big fish. 

But, does the fishing line go bad? Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines go bad eventually, especially after being used for a few seasons in the water. A braided fishing line is more durable and lasts many years. An adequately stored braided line can last a lifetime, unlike monofilament and fluorocarbon lines which last a few years.

How long will a fishing line last depends on how well you take care of it. Keep reading to learn what makes the fishing line go bad and how to store a line correctly, among other things. 

Does the Fishing Line Have a Shelf Life?

A new spool of fishing line doesn’t actually have an expiration date. However, anglers agree that even a properly stored and packaged new spool of monofilament line will go bad in a few years. 

Generally speaking, an unused spool of monofilament fishing line maintains its strength for 3 to 4 years and can last on a reel for a whole season before becoming weak. On the other hand, the fluorocarbon line remains strong after being kept for 7 or more years in the package.

Unlike monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines, braided-like is virtually immortal if packed and stored correctly. Although the braided fishing line is the hardest to fish with, it can last a lifetime. 

However, it’s not easy to take care of a fishing line, and you’ll likely need to replace the braided line after a few seasons. Still, a braided line will last longer than both monofilament and fluorocarbon lines and is the best choice if you’re looking for a sturdy and durable line. 

How Do I Know if My Fishing Line is Still Good?

How Do I Know if My Fishing Line is Still Good

Fishing lines can become damaged even when stored properly. Inspect your lines before heading out on the water to avoid dealing with a snapped line in the middle of your fishing trip. It’s much easier to deal with a bad line at home where you can quickly change it for a new line. 

Here are a few things you can do to check if the fishing line is still good:

Check for UV Damage

You don’t need to worry about UV damage if you use fluorocarbon or braided fishing lines. However, monofilament lines can get damaged from UV exposure. UV damage appears as cloudy spots on the clear line. 

Check for Abrasions

All types of fishing lines can sustain nicks and cuts that weaken the line. The most damage occurs on the first several feet of the line, so pull the line from the reel and run it between your finger and thumb. 

Use your fingers to check for any rough spots along the line’s length and cut the damaged section of the line.

Check Knot Strength

The knot is usually the first point of failure when the line goes bad. Tug the knot every time you tie up the lure, to test the line’s strength. 

What Makes Fishing Lines Go Bad?

Many different factors affect the durability of the fishing line. Factors like UV light, water quality, abrasions, and temperature changes can damage the fishing line. 

It’s worth mentioning that a still-packed brand-new spool won’t have the same life expectancy as a line that’s on the reel. 

Once the fishing line is unpacked, it’s exposed to all sorts of damage. Nicks, cuts, and other minor abrasions from the rocks and water are the most common form of damage. 

Direct sunlight and UV lights are harmful to monofilament fishing lines, so avoid keeping your rods and reels in the sun more than necessary while fishing.

Summer’s sweltering heat and winter’s frigid temperatures can also make the fishing line go bad. Extreme heat will damage the line in a short time, and cold weather can make it stiff. 

How Often Should You Replace the Fishing Line?

There’s a big difference between a fishing line that goes bad and a line that is past its best-before date, but it’s still functional. 

Below, you’ll find the estimated lifespans of the three most commonly used types of fishing lines. Please don’t rely solely on estimates and always check your line before going fishing.

Monofilament Fishing Line

Depending on how often you go fishing, the monofilament line will last:

  • Heavy fishing: 4 – 6 months
  • Moderate fishing: 1 year
  • Shelf life: 3 – 5 years

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon line is less prone to UV light damage than monofilament fishing line and will, on average last:

  • Heavy fishing: 6 months
  • Moderate fishing: 18 months
  • Shelf life: 7 years

Braided Fishing Line

Braided fishing lines have the longest longevity because they are the strongest. Depending on how much it’s used, a braided line needs to be replaced:

  • Heavy fishing: 1 – 2 years
  • Moderate fishing: 2 years
  • Shelf life: 8 – 10 years

How to Store Fishing Line

To get the most out of your fishing line means you’ll need to store it right. Finding a suitable place to store and maintaining your fishing gear properly will increase its longevity for a few seasons.

Here are a few helpful tips for storing your fishing lines:

  • Keep the fishing lines and spools inside the house
  • Choose a spot in your home with a consistent temperature and humidity for storing your lines
  • Keep fishing lines in a dark place – a box or a drawer can work
  • Do not place fishing rods and reels near a window or in a direct sunlight


A fishing line is an essential piece of every angler’s equipment. Although durable and made to last, fishing lines can go bad and snap.

Depending on how often you go fishing, you may use a single spool for a few years or find that you need to replace it every six months. The style of your fishing and the type of line you use also affect the line’s longevity, so check your line every time before fishing, and if it’s damaged, change it.