Can Fish See Fishing Line at Night?

A fishing line might seem like it’s just there to connect the hook at the rod, but to the fish, it’s an indicator that somethings amiss and signals to them that they should keep moving to find their next meal. Night fishing is a favorite for some anglers because fish have a more challenging time seeing the line, making them easier to catch.  

Whether a fish can see the fishing line at night depends primarily on the type and color of the line you use. Monofilament and braided lines disappear in dark water. Many anglers prefer a neon-colored line enabling them to trace it at night with a black light. If it glows in the dark so you can see it in the water, chances are the fish can see it too.

Sure, you want to see the line move for detecting bites better at night. But, is there something you can do to have the best of both worlds where you see it and the fish can’t? Should you use your regular line and cast light onto the water? Does seeing the line make you a better fisherman? If any of these questions are on your mind, keep reading.

Do the Fish See Your Line at Night?

It may not seem like much of a distinction, but it’s essential whether a fish can see your line or if they see it. In other words, just because it’s visible doesn’t mean getting noticed.

Different Fish and Conditions

There’s a big difference between fishing for bass on a murky tree-covered shore and perch in the middle of a lake. Just as bait and tackle are specific for each type of fishing, so are the visual abilities of species of fish.

Water conditions have the most significant impact on the vision of the fish, especially at night. When it’s a full moon shining on crystal clear water, the likelihood of noticing your line is high. Muddy brown water mostly eliminates any chance of being seen, day or night.

Lead and Get Out of the Way

Using a leader is a great way to use a fluorescent line without being noticed by fish. The longer the lead, the better up to about three feet. A fish is chasing your bait, not that thing glowing a few feet away. The purpose of a leader, aside from protecting from breakage, is bait presentation.

Don’t Go to the light

Shining a light on the water is one way to use your standard daytime line at night. Most monofilament line will be invisible in the water. Pay attention when using braided line. The braided line is probably the most visible of all fishing lines. If you light-up the water, the fish will see the braided line.

Using a spotlight doesn’t create the best opportunity to catch fish. Fish have rhythms for day and night like all animals. Unlike you, they don’t require the light to find their way around the lake. Unnatural light may spook the fish more than your glow-in-the-dark fishing line.

What’s My Line?

Day or night, having an anonymous fishing line is an advantage to any fisherman. Avid anglers may have an assortment of spools to swap-out for changing conditions, but the rest of us need to choose one or two.

Types of Fishing Line

Your local tackle store has scores of options, but there are three main types of fishing line: monofilament, braid, and fluorocarbon. What are the lines least detectable by fish?

  • The braided line is the most visible but has many excellent qualities like strength and castability. The best use of this line is in low-visibility water conditions.
  • Yellow monofilament is best for those folks who like to watch their line closely for signs of a bite. This color is highly-visible, and fish that spook easily may notice it.
  • A clear monofilament line is considered an all-purpose line, and it’s tough to see underwater for both fish and anglers. Some brands offer a clear blue line. This line is easier to see above the water due to its blue tint.
  • The red monofilament line will disappear underwater but be highly visible above.
  • Green monofilament is ideal for water with a green hue. It’s invisible in the right water conditions.
  • The fluorocarbon line is the least visible of the lines on the market. It’s more expensive but useful in all water conditions.
  • Companies are now offering different colors braided together to create a camouflaged effect on their line. The diffraction of sunlight underwater creates shadows and reflections, allowing the line to blend into the background, making it more difficult for fish to track.

How to Choose

The best method for choosing the right line boils down to your skill, style, and target fish. Confidence in your gear is essential. If you think your line spooks fish, change it.

Sometimes, the fish aren’t biting for a variety of reasons. Experience results from having tried countless rig combinations for every condition. A skilled angler can fish with any gear but chooses based on experience.

The Importance of Fish Seeing Fishing Line?

A fish seeing your line pales in comparison to other vital factors. Failing to get the basics correct will doom any angler to catching a snooze instead of a fish.

Bait the Hook

Heading out on the water with the wrong bait can make for a long night. Not much you can do to fix this problem on a boat in the middle of the night. The wisest course of action for proper bait procurement is the local bait shop. In this case, determine local by your fishing spot, not where you live. The folks in the bait shop know what’s working and what’s not.

Once you find the bait that’s working, make sure you’re attaching to the hook properly. Properly baiting the hook is the difference between catching fish or feeding them.

Tying Knots

Do you know that, according to, there are more than sixty variations of knots for fishing? The three basic types of knots are line-to-line, loop, and terminal tackle connections. There’s a unique knot for every style of fishing, but all knots have three basic rules:

  1. lubricate the line
  2. pull the knot as tight as possible
  3. trim the excess line

The most basic knot is a Palomar knot. Learn how to tie this all-purpose knot before getting into the weeds of specialty knots.


Casting a rod requires practice to develop competence. Mastering the art of the cast is a skill that expert anglers hone on and off the water. Think target practice for fishermen.

Whether overhead or sidearm, pitch or flip it, the process of casting a fishing rod is the same. Don’t forget to check your surroundings before letting it fly. Overhanging trees and power lines exist to ruin your casting range.

Reeling In

Not knowing how to reel in a fish properly is like flying an airplane and not learning how to land. As opposed to landing an airplane, reeling in your catch is more complicated than it appears.

The basics for reeling in a fish are more than pulling the rod and winding the reel. Be sure the fish is hooked and keep the tip of the rod pointing upward.

Take up any slack on the line without jerking or shaking the rod while controlling the direction of the fish. The process is more systematic than bullying. As the fish losing strength and nears the boat, have your net ready to scoop it out of the water.

Options for Night Fishing

For the best night fishing, becoming comfortable without much light is ideal. Feel and instinct should guide you. If these abilities elude you, options for fishing at night exist other than bright lights and neon fishing line.


A headlamp is probably the most valuable piece of gear for fishing at night. Better than a flashlight, a headlamp allows you to see hands-free. Nothing’s worse than trying to tie a knot and hold a flashlight at the same time. Another advantage of a headlamp is that it lights where you’re looking with no extra effort.

Strike Alert Glow Stick

If you’re one of the people who like to watch their line closely for a sign of a bite, a strike alert glow stick is your answer at night. Attach the sensor to the end of your rod, and it lights up whenever it detects movement from a strike.

Night fishing isn’t always the most intense action, and having one of these attached to your rod allows you to relax or drop more than one line in the water.

Night Light Bobbers

Don’t feel like holding the rod all night? Put one of these night light bobbers on your line. The light floats on the water, and when it gets pulled under, you spring into action.

If you regularly fish with a bobber, having a night light attached is much easier than shining a flashlight on the water and squinting to see if it moved. It enables tracking of your line as it floats and doesn’t get lost.

The Verdict

However you decide to fish at night, whether the fish can see your line is relatively inconsequential. Lighting your boat like a miniature Carnival cruise ship is not ideal, but if that’s what makes it fun for you, go for it.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember, you’re out on the lake to enjoy a night of fishing.

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