If you talk to guides and charter captains about the best fishing lines for trolling steelhead, you’ll hear them mention three to five different types of lines. This is simply because they use different lines for different methods, and since they re the experts, you should consider using the same lines.
The best steelhead trolling line for downriggers is 20 to 30-pound Monofilament line. The best lines used for Dispy Divers is 30 to 40 pound wire line, but 30 to 40 pound Mono, and 65 pound braided line is also good. Anglers will also use lead core and copper lines.
I discuss all of these steelhead trolling lines and the best makes and sizes that the experts use.
Methods and Line Types for Steelhead Trolling:
- Downriggers: Best with 20 to 30-pound Monofilament line.
- Dipsy Divers: Preferably 30 to 40-pound Wire Line, but 30 to 40-pound Mono and 65-pound Braided Line are also effective.
- Planer Boards: Copper and Lead Core lines are suitable, as well as Braided and Monofilament lines.
- Flat-lining: Monofilament and Wire Lines are commonly used.
Leaders and Backing
- Fluorocarbon Leaders: 25 to 30-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon for abrasion resistance. Length depends on method.
- Mono Leaders: 25 to 30-pound Maxima for affordability and effectiveness.
- Backing: Braided line as backing on reels for large steelhead due to its thin diameter and zero stretch.
Top Brands Of Trolling Lines For Steelhead
- Monofilament: Berkley Big Game Line is widely used for its strength and reliability, especially in the 25 to 35-pound range.
- Wire Line: American Fishing Wire Surfstrand Camo Wire is a common choice for its thin diameter and strength.
- Copper Line: Blood Run Tackle Super Copper Trolling Wire is popular for reaching greater depths.
- Lead Core: Stealthcore® Lead Core at 27-pound test is favored for its sink rate.
- Braided Line: PowerPro in 50 to 80 pounds is preferred for its minimal stretch and durability.
|25 to 30 pounds
|Downrigger fishing, Flat-lining, Dipsy, Planer boards
|Berkley Big Game, Ande Line, Blood Run Tackle Sea Flee Monofilament
|50 to 80 pounds
|Flat-line trolling, Dipsy Divers
|32, 40 to 45 pounds
|Greater depths without downriggers
|Blood Run Tackle Super Copper, American Fishing Wire Surfstrand
|Dipsy Diver fishing, Flat line fishing
|American Fishing Wire Surfstrand Camo, Torpedo 7-Strand
|Greater depths without downriggers
|Stealthcore®, TUF-LINE MicroLead
Types Of Lines Used For Trolling Steelhead
There exist four distinct types of fishing lines that are used when trolling for steelhead, each made from different materials and each used by steelhead anglers for specific steelhead trolling techniques.
Certain lines, such as wire lines, demand specialized trolling reels and special trolling rods, while main lines like lead core are thicker and require larger baitcasting trolling reels. Refer to our guides on the Best Trolling Rods for Steelhead and Best Trolling Reels for Steelhead Fishing for more information.
Monofilament line is cheap, works for most fishing methods and you can get it everywhere. It comes with a drawback – it tends to stretch under pressure and can be bulkier than some other lines.
The most common size for most trolling methods used for steelhead is 25 to 30 pounds.
Monofilament line is predominantly used for downrigger fishing and flat-lining, but some anglers still use it for Dipsy and planner boards.
The Top Monofilament Fishing Lines For Steelhead Fishing
- Berkley Big Game Line: The clear Berkley Big Game line stands out as one of the preferred monofilament choices for steelhead trolling. Downrigger anglers often opt for 25 to 35-pound variants.
- Ande Line: Ande lines have been favored by steelhead anglers for over two decades and remain popular today.
- Blood Run Tackle Sea Flee Monofilament Line: In certain areas, Spiny Water Fleas can be problematic, clogging lines and rod guides. This line is designed to prevent such build-ups. Available in 30-pound test.
Best Wire Fishing Line For Trolling Steelhead
Wire lines are one of the best trolling lines for steelhead with some methods. They are composed of single or multi-strand wire and have a thin diameter relative to their strength. They are the preferred choice for specific techniques such as dipsy diver fishing and flat line fishing.
Size: Most anglers favor 30-pound test wire lines.
The slender profile and added weight of wire lines enable anglers to achieve greater depths with their lures or cut bait without relying on downriggers. Wire lines necessitate special trolling rods equipped with roller guides and/or Twili tips.
Top Wire Lines
- American Fishing Wire Surfstrand Camo Wire: American Fishing Wire stands as one of the most commonly used wire lines for steelhead trolling.
- Torpedo 7-Strand Trolling Wire Line –
Best Copper Fishing Line For Steelhead Trolling
Copper lines are akin to wire lines and are favored for certain techniques where anglers need to reach greater depths with their bait or lure.
Copper Line Size: Opt for 40 to 45-pound copper line for most steelhead trolling. Some anglers prefer the 32-pound variant for smaller fish, claiming it’s more user-friendly, but you’ll achieve greater depth with the 45-pound copper.
Top Copper Lines For Trolling Steelhead
- Blood Run Tackle Super Copper Trolling Wire: A highly popular choice among steelhead trolling enthusiasts.
- American Fishing Wire Surfstrand: Another sought-after copper line for steelhead trolling.
Best Lead Core Fishing Line For Trolling Steelhead
Lead core lines are essentially weighted lines used for specific techniques where achieving greater depth is necessary, without relying on downriggers. These lines are favored for their sink rate.
Stealthcore Lead Core – Opt for 27-pound test. [Check Price]
TUF-LINE MicroLead Lead Core: Some steelhead anglers prefer the thinner Micro lead core lines due to reduced water drag.
Braided Line For Steelhead Trolling
Braided lines find favor among certain steelhead fishermen for trolling. I use braided lines and crankbaits for flat-line trolling when targeting spring coho steelhead. Some anglers also favor braided lines when trolling with dipsy divers.
Braided lines like PowerPro in 50 to 80 pounds are commonly employed.
Mono leader options, such as Maxima, are favored by most anglers because steelhead do not seem to be line-shy when trolling, and 25 to 30 pounds of mono is significantly more affordable than fluorocarbon leader.
Best Lines For Dipsy Divers
Wire line is often the top choice for Dipsy Rods, with 30-pound wire lines being the preferred option. Braided lines with minimal stretch and a slim diameter, such as PowerPro in 50 to 80 pounds, are also suitable for Dipsy Divers. These lines offer zero stretch, so ensure your rods are compatible.
For steelhead fishing with Dipsy Divers, some anglers opt for 30 to 40-pound mono, with Berkley Big Game line being a popular choice.
Best Lines For Downrigger Fishing
For downrigger fishing, you’ll want a rod with a softer tip and clear monofilament line ranging from 25 to 40 pounds. Monofilament is ideal because it holds well in downrigger releases and provides some stretch.
Top Monofilament Lines For Downrigger Steelhead Fishing
- Berkley Big Game Line: This is perhaps the most widely used mono line for steelhead trolling.
- Ande Line: An old-school favorite in many areas, known to perform exceptionally well.
Best Lines For Planner Board Fishing
Copper and lead core lines are employed for extending lines out from the sides of the boat on longer, more flexible rods. These lines are optimal for a ski system or planner boards. Braided and monofilament lines can also be used when fishing with planner boards.
Note: Anglers utilize different lines when backtrolling for steelhead in rivers or when bait fishing in rivers. Refer to our guide on the Best Lines for Steelhead Fishing in Rivers for more information.
Backing For Your Baitcasting Reel
Braided line is thin and often serves as backing to fill up the spool, especially when dealing with large chinook steelhead that may make a thousand-foot run. Braided lines offer zero stretch, are lightweight, and are suitable for saltwater trolling.
Best Fishing Lines For Trolling Steelhead Q&A
If you have any questions regarding the best fishing lines for trolling steelhead or would like to share your preferred lines, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.