guide to what carp fishing line breaking strain

The Best Breaking Strain Line For Carp Fishing (Quick Reference Guide)

The best breaking strain line for carp fishing is one that perfectly matches your angling situation. The size of the fish, the type of fishing you are conducting, how far you are casting and the contours of the water are 4 key factors that will influence your choice of breaking strain.

In this article, we will touch on these 4 considerations, explain why they are important, and recommend the best breaking strain for each.

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To cut to the chase and answer the question quickly, check out the following guide which summarises what we will talk about in this article:

The best breaking strain line for carp fishing quick reference chart:

Carp Size

Breaking Strain Line With No Snags or Weed

Breaking Strain Line With Weedy Swim

Breaking Strain Line With Snaggy Swim

0 - 5lb

4 - 6 lb

6 - 8 lb

8 lb

5 - 10lb

6 - 8lb

8 lb

10 - 12 lb

10 - 20lb

8 - 12lb

10 - 15 lb

15 lb

20 lb+

12 - 15lb

15 - 20 lb

20 lb

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How fish size affects the breaking strain of your carp line

It really goes without saying that the bigger and heavier the fish you've hooked, the harder the fight you will have.

Larger fish tend to have the ability to either power off at unbelievable speeds or use their weight to pin themselves to the bottom.

Either one of these circumstances will mean considerable pressure applied to your carp fishing line. For this reason, we recommend that the larger the carp you are fishing for, the higher the breaking strain you should use.

This doesn't mean though that you should use a line the thickness of a towing rope if you are fishing for 30lb carp. Other factors come into play and at the end of the day, you still want your line to be as discreet as possible to even get a bite in the first place.

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How your fishing method will affect your choice of breaking strain

To simplify things slightly when talking about fishing methods in relation to your lines breaking strain we will refer to 3 different ways of fishing for carp. These are:

  • Ledgering
  • Float fishing
  • Surface fishing


Ledgering is the most common way of fishing for carp. So when choosing a suitable breaking strain, there are many choices available to you. The best breaking strain line when ledgering for carp will vary between 6 and 20lb. The most common breaking strain that fits the majority of circumstances is 10, 12, and 15lb.

Sometimes the rig you are using can have an influence on the style of fishing and the breaking strain of the mainline you choose. For an in-depth guide on carp fishing rigs, check out our carp rigs full guide here.

best breaking strain line when ledgering for carp

The most common breaking strain line when ledgering for carp is 10 - 15lb

Float fishing

Float fishing for carp can be a really simple yet exciting tactic. But when it comes to choosing the correct breaking strain for your float reel, do you really need the 10 - 15lb range as specified when ledgering?

The answer to this is no! The reason being, you are not casting as far or indeed as much weight as when ledgering. You are, however, fishing for the same-sized fish and potentially still fishing next to vegetation or snags. Fish will also bolt off at the same velocity and maybe even faster due to less weight being carried.

Because of these factors, it is advised to be cautious with going too low with your breaking strain. When float fishing for carp, a breaking strain of between 6 and 12lb is typically used.

The problem though with fishing with thicker lines, (especially when float fishing) is that they can stick out like a sore thumb. This is because you haven't got the majority of your line closest to the hook pinned to the bottom like you would do when ledgering.

To compensate for this problem, it's generally good practice to fish with a hook-link material, a few pounds thinner than your mainline. A good and common breaking strain line when float fishing for carp is a 10lb mainline tied to a 6lb hook-link.

what breaking strain line when float fishing for carp

Float fishing for carp can be exciting and rewarding. Just ensure your line has a suitable breaking strain

Surface fishing

Similar to float fishing, surface fishing for carp is generally carried out at close quarters. As such, the breaking strain of your line doesn't have to endure long casts with heavy weights.

Quite often carp anglers surface fish for carp just freelining a bait to them or using a fairly light controller float.

One of the caveats to surface fishing is that the carp can easily be spooked by seeing the line when approaching the bait.

For this reason, it is advisable to use a thinner main line with a low breaking strain to stand a chance of getting a take in the first place. You still, however, need a fighting chance of landing the fish once hooked, especially if fishing near vegetation or snags.

We recommend using a clear line when surface fishing with a breaking strain of between 6 and 10lb. If there is a requirement to go heavier due to snags etc then you can always do so but use the thinnest hook-link you can get away with.

The following line is what we use often when surface fishing for carp:

Fox Edges Armadillo Shock and Snag Leader Camo

11 new from £13.99
Free Delivery
as of 23 June 2024 19:22

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How the casting distance affects the breaking strain of your line

When carp fishing, sometimes there is a requirement to cast long distances to be in with a chance of catching. By long distances we mean 100 yards plus.

To achieve this, tackle such as a decent carp rod or a big pit reel will help no end. Another factor though that can really assist in gaining those extra yards is ensuring you have the right breaking strain line for the job.

The lower the breaking strain of your line, the thinner it tends to be and subsequently, the less friction will be applied when peeling off the reel. Friction expels energy and as such will lower the casting distance achieved.

However, if casting a 5oz lead weight to the horizon, an incredible amount of force gets applied to the line and can sometimes lead to crack-offs.

To satisfy all parties here we recommend the use of a shock leader. With the use of a shock leader, we recommend a breaking strain line of between 10 and 15lb but up to 20lb if fishing in weed or snaggy water.

What breaking strain shock leader for carp fishing

So as we have mentioned, the use of a shock leader will allow you to cast at distance without having to use a thick, heavy line that can lose precious yards. But what breaking strain should this be?

As a general rule of thumb, you should use 10lb breaking strain of leader for every 1oz of weight you are casting. So if you are using a 4oz lead, a shock leader with a breaking strain of 40lb should be used.

The following shock leader is by far our favourite and one we always use:

Spectra Braided Fishing Line

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What is the best breaking strain for carp fishing in weed or near snags?

In a nutshell, when fishing near weed or snags you need to ensure that the breaking strain of your line is higher than what it would be in clear water. On top of this, we recommend you choose a line that has got good abrasion-resistant properties as well.

The use of braid is a good choice when fishing in such circumstances. We recommend as an absolute bare minimum a breaking strain of 20lb main line should be used when fishing near snags and weed to give you the best chance of landing the fish and more importantly for fish safety.

best breaking strain line for fishing near snags

An example of a snaggy swim where a bare minimum of 20lb breaking strain line should be used. (image courtesy of Gardner tackle)

What breaking strain line to use when spodding?

A spod rocket full of spod mix can be extremely heavy to cast. One of the easiest ways of spoiling your fishing trip before it has begun is by hearing a loud crack and seeing your orange-tipped rocket launching to the horizon never to be seen again!

So to prevent this from happening, always ensure you have a very strong line with a high breaking strain on your spod rod.

We always use braid on our spod rods at a minimum breaking strain of 30lb. It doesn't have to be the most expensive braid on the market but one that does the job that it was intended for. We recommend this...

IQ Intelligent Hooklink - KIQ20

9 new from £10.94
as of 23 June 2024 19:22

Final thoughts

In theory, carp fishing is quite simple. You put a decent rig in a place where carp are feeding and wait for your bite alarms to scream into action.

But if your line isn't balanced with your gear and is too thick, then you won't succeed. Equally, if you hook a fish and have no chance of landing it, then not only won't you succeed, you also put the goal of our beloved sport in danger.

Hopefully, this article has given you an insight into how to choose the right breaking strain line for your carp fishing and why it is important.

Best of luck and tight lines!

If you need any fishing tackle please consider visiting one of our recommended online fishing tackle shops.

All of the fishing tackle featured in this article can be found at one of the following online shops...

Total fishing tackle

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