Muskie Fishing Line
Craig Sandell 2010

One of the most vital links in the "tackle chain" is the line you use. Over the years, there have been many different lines used by Muskie anglers. I will focus this review on the line that most accomplished Muskie anglers prefer.

Cortland Line


Line, for a Muskie angler, is among the most important tackle choices. Cortland braided Micron line has proven to be an excellent choice for Muskie line. It comes in a variety of colors and weights, however the colors most used by Muskie anglers are "fish belly white" and "black". Which color is better? Every one has their own opinion…I prefer the fish "belly white". Price is about $80.00 for a 1,000 Yard Spool.

Product Review

What line weight should you use? I would NOT recommend that you use line under 30 lb. test. The 30 lb. variety of CORTLAND is an excellent choice if you are dedicating a rod to bucktails. The line has very good casting characteristics which will allow you wide flexibility in your casting approach. The draw back to 30 lb. line is its propensity to fray. It doesn’t take much of an imperfection in your rod guides to cause the line to split. If you are going to use it, check it very very very often and definitely re-tie before you move to another fishing spot.

The 36 lb. test line is a bit better when it comes to fraying and you can use it for all types of lures with the possible exception of large jerk baits.

The 40 lb. test line has got good resistance to fraying and can be used with any lure choice.

Remember that this line is very low stretch. This very desirable feature can be a source of problems if the line is frayed or nicked. CHECK YOUR LINE OFTEN.

What about other lines? There are many lines on the market that are made of the "high strength/small diameter" material. Much, if not all of it was designed for bass anglers. If you are fishing for bass, go ahead and use it. When it comes to Muskie angling, these lines have a pronounced tendency to break, backlash, and untie under stress. Yes, I know that some Muskie personages have lent their names to these lines, however, the proof is in the performance and these lines may "let you down".

T.U. F.I am in the process of doing a field test of T.U.F line. It is made of Spectra and has the usual claims associated with it. I was encouraged to test this line because it is being used by some other Muskie anglers whose opinion I respect...It appears to hold a knot well and strips easily from the reel with light as well as heavy lures. How it performs with a fish on the line...only the season will tell.

Line Test Update 7/1/99

I recently used this line during a 20 day fishing excursion to the Chippewa Flowage. The line diameter did provide better reel performance. The problem with the line is its lack of stretch. When you have a backlash and there is a sudden stop in the lure as it rockets through the air, a great amount of stress is placed upon the line. This stress, if the lure is your average surface or jerk bait, tends to be greater than the line test…the result is your line breaking and your lure continuing to sail into the sunset. This happened to me on two different rod and reel combinations. It is also very difficult to see any minor frays in the line. I ended up taking all of the line off my reels and going back to the 40# braided Micron.

Line Test Update 6/28/01

This season I made another attempt at using the TUF-Line product. I don't know whether I have changed or the line has changes, but this season I did not experience the problem I did in 1999. I do know that I have stopped over-powering my casts and I am sure that that has made a difference in the performance of the line.

It is still hard to detect frays in the line...yes the line does fray. Although you may not need to cut off a few feet of line as much as you do with other lines, you still need to cut it back.

I still do not recommend it for the heavier lures like jerk baits, large crank baits and heavy molded rubber baits.

Line Test Update 9/28/06

This marks 5 years that I have been using TUF Line on my reels and I have found it to be a consistent performer. I have started using it with the lighter jerk baits as well as with crank baits and I have not experienced a problem. I have also started using shorter leaders with my surface baits and bucktails relying on the resistance of the line to be easily bitten off (This is a personal choice and it carries with it obvious 'lost fish' risks).

Line Test Update 9/15/08

I am still using TUF-line (salt & pepper) and I am happy with its performance. I have notices that the 50 Lb. stuff tends to fray a bit over time. In 2009, I will switch to the 80 Lb. and see if there is any advantage to the heavier line.

Line Test Update 4/15/12

I have switched to using white Tuf-Line Plus 80# test. I find that the line holds less water weight and packs better on the reel. It also does not fray like the 50 or 80 pound regular Tuf-Line. I bought a 1500 yard spool.