The type and strength of your fishing line will depend on the type of fishing and where you are fishing.
Clear Water Finesse Fishing
Use Lighter Line
If you are fishing clear water, the key to getting more bites is down-sizing your line. 6 pound line is ideal for getting more bites, but strong enough to avoid snapping your line if you know what you’re doing. Many anglers will use 8 pound line to avoid snapping the line with bigger fish, but you can definitely get away with 6 pound line if you use light action rods and are careful when bringing the fish in.
Fluorocarbon line is very popular in clear water because it is much harder to see under water. Some anglers will use fluorocarbon as their main line while others will just use it as a leader attachment to mono or braid.
Light Action Rods & Reels
Make sure you are using rods and reels in the light to medium action range. These lighter action rods will help you to avoid breaking the line when you get a big fish.
When fishing murkier water, you can go heavier if you want with your fishing line. For most situations, 10 pound line will work well whether you are casting crankbaits or fishing with soft plastics. 8 to 12 pound test line is a good range. You usually don’t have to go real heavy because you won’t be fishing around as much heavy cover as you do when targeting largemouth bass.
Northern pike make smallmouth bass fishing a little difficult at times. When fishing good lakes that have northern pike and smallmouth bass in them, your best bet is to add a 30 to 40 pound fluorocarbon leader to your fishing line to avoid bite-offs. You may catch less smallmouth bass, but you’ll avoid the bite-offs.
Another strategy is to go a little heavier with your main line and no leader, but make sure to use baits that pike are less attracted to. For example, if you are fishing with finesse worms or a 2.5″ crayfish bait, you are less likely to attract many bigger pike, so you can get away without the heavier leader. You are still going to get bit off this way, but much less than if you fish with an inline spinner since pike of all sizes love to eat the flashy spinners. Most anglers will try to get away with line in the 14 to 17 pound range when using this strategy and it will work somewhat, but the fluorocarbon leader is the better way to go if you’re fishing waters that are home to lots of pike.