What is the Best Color Fishing Line for Saltwater Fish?


Updated on December 8, 2022 by
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Whether you’re going out on a chartered boat fishing expedition or are lucky enough to live near the shore, choosing the right gear for saltwater fishing is important. Choosing your fishing line is part of preparing for a successful fishing expedition. Your fishing line should have the right strength for your expedition but also be the right color.

Which color you pick varies depending on the type of saltwater fishing you are doing. For inshore fishing, murkier colors such as green are better. If you’re going out on an offshore expedition, blue is one of the best colors for saltwater fishing.

Here are all the details you need to know about choosing the right color fishing line. 

What Colors Can Saltwater Fish See?

Stealth is an important quality when you go fishing. Even the dumbest fish won’t bite the bait if it sees that it is attached to a fishing line and hook. That’s why choosing the right color is so important.

Scientists are still debating over what colors saltwater fish can see. Fish detect contrast better than humans do, so they notice silhouettes, especially if the color contrasts with the background of the water. Fish have color detection cones in their eyes, and scientists suspect that some fish see color better than humans because they have ultraviolet cones, but we don’t know which colors fish can see. After all, we can’t ask them.

However, scientists have some theories. Inshore saltwater fish can probably see most of the same colors that humans do. Offshore fish that live in deep waters mostly see in black and white with some shades of blue and green. Fish that live in deeper waters see fewer colors because they have less exposure to color (more on that later). Some fish species, such as sharks, are completely colorblind.

green fishing line for conventional reels

What Colors Are Visible at Different Depths?

As mentioned above, choosing the color of your line depends on the type of fishing you are doing, inshore or offshore fishing. In part, this has to do with the different depths at which you are fishing. 

Offshore fishing means that the line goes deeper. Past a certain depth, some colors are not visible. This has to do with the way light behaves underwater.

When light enters the water, the water absorbs and scatters the light. Colors with longer wavelengths are absorbed first because they have lower energy. That means that the deeper you go underwater, the fewer colors are visible. Colors start fading right away, but the first color, red, disappears at around 15 feet. 

After depths of 15 feet, another color fades every 10 feet or so. They fade in visibility in the following order:

  1. Red
  2. Orange
  3. Yellow
  4. Green
  5. Blue

When you’re going fishing, knowing the depth you are fishing at is important because that will help you figure out which colors you can use for your fishing equipment.

Graph of Visible colours at different depth

Are Saltwater Fish Sensitive to Color Fishing Line?

Some fishermen warn that you need to be careful about which fishing line you take on your saltwater expedition because if the fish can see the line, they won’t bite. When choosing the right tackle for saltwater fishing, you want something that will attract fish, while the opposite principle works for choosing the color of your line. 

Scientists and fishermen are still debating if saltwater fish are sensitive to what color fishing line you use. While fish have cones in their eyes for seeing color, it isn’t clear how well they can actually see color. They see silhouettes much better and use that aspect of their vision to navigate underwater. Many scientists say the dilemma of which color fishing line to use doesn’t matter.

However, anecdotal evidence from fishermen varies widely. Many fishermen swear that they do better with certain color fishing lines because then they can sneak up on the fish. 

The color of your fishing line may not be the most important factor in deciding the success of your fishing expedition, but why not do the best that you can to make your fishing expedition a success?

The Best Color Fishing Line for Saltwater Fish

There is no single answer to which color fishing line is best for saltwater fish. The depth at which you are fishing matters much more.

If you are an avid saltwater fisherman, there are a few colors you should have in your tacklebox, including:

  • Green
  • Blue 
  • Orange

Green

Green is one of the best colors for saltwater fishing at any depth.

Green is great for inshore fishing because the closer you get to shore, the murkier the water. Green blends in with brackish water and seagrass. Just make sure you are getting low-viz green fishing line if you are aiming for camouflage.

Green also works for deep offshore fishing because its wavelengths don’t get absorbed by water the deeper you get. You may think it’s better to choose a color that gets absorbed in the water, but then what happens is that the fish notice a strange dark shape and avoid it.

Green color fishing line for saltwater fishing

Blue

Blue is great for inshore and offshore fishing for the same reasons as green. It is one of the best color line for deep offshore fishing because it stays visible until about 200 feet. That means it doesn’t create a strange dark shape that fish will know to avoid.

Orange

Orange is surprisingly good for offshore fishing in shallow waters. It isn’t very visible underwater but also doesn’t get absorbed by the water as quickly as red. Plus, fishing with high-vis lines makes it easier to color-code your rods and determine which one received a bite. 

Final Thoughts

Scientists are still trying to discover if saltwater fish can actually see color, but many fishermen prefer to be careful and choose colors that will blend in. Green is the best color for inshore fishing in shallow, brackish waters, while blue works best for deep offshore fishing. In my experience, when you get below 100 feet in depth, the color matters much less than the diameter of the fishing line.


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing I prefer than heading down to my local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test. My favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. My dream is to catch a Black Marlin.