What is the Best Color Fishing Line for Trout Fishing?

Updated on December 8, 2022 by
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You could say that fishing and picking out fishing line at the shop are two separate hobbies. There is a reason why fishing shops have so many different types of fishing line. Depending on the type of water, environment, and even the fish species, you will need a different fishing line. Lines vary widely in material, heft, finish, and color.

When catching trout, the type and color line you use is very important because trout are line shy. The best color fishing line for trout fishing are clear, green, and blue. You want to choose a less visible fishing line to try to catch these sneaky fish.

Trout fishing is one of the most popular forms of fishing. Learning the ins and outs of catching these prized fish takes some time. Hopefully, this guide can help you get ahead when fishing for trout.

What Colors Can Trout See?

When figuring out your trout fishing set-up, you need to think from the fish’s perspective, as silly as that sounds. It doesn’t matter what you see but what the fish can see.

Unfortunately for anglers, trout have very good vision. This includes color vision, although colors look very different underwater (more on that later). Although scientists can’t exactly ask a trout what its favorite color is, they can look at trout anatomy to learn more about the fish’s color vision. Trout have rods and cones in their eyes for seeing color, just like humans. In fact, trout can probably see more colors than people because they have cones in their eyes to detect ultraviolet frequencies.

Trout can see almost all colors, including red, yellow, blue, and green. That means you must carefully choose your lures and fishing line when fishing for trout. It is much easier to choose the right fishing line when catching other fish with worse eyesight.

trout caught in river held up focused on tackle used

What Colors Are Visible at Different Depths?

One factor that affects the visibility of the fishing line you are using is the depth of the water. The distance from a light source and the water changes how animals see color. All colors begin to fade when they go underwater because the light waves get dispersed by the water.

As you go deeper, colors with longer wavelengths get refracted, meaning that after a certain depth, they stop being visible. Here is a rule of thumb about which colors are visible at different depths:

  1. At 15 feet: All colors except red
  2. At 25 feet: All colors except red and orange
  3. At 45 feet: Green and blue
  4. 75+ feet: Blue only

In lakes, trout will live at all depths. You may find lake trout in very deep lakes at depths of over 100 feet! That means they live in an environment with no colors besides blue and black.

That does not mean you can use any color since the trout won’t see it. When colors aren’t visible, the objects appear as a dark shape in the water. It makes the contrast even more noticeable, so the trout will be more likely to avoid your line.

Graph of Visible colours at different depth

Are Trout Sensitive to the Color of Fishing Line?

When picking out the best fishing line for catching trout, you need to think of a few different factors, including:

  • Visibility
  • Sensitivity
  • Stretch
  • Strength

There are a lot of guides to picking out the best fishing line. However, not all of them talk about the importance of color.

Trout have some of the best color vision among freshwater fish. They are also incredibly line shy. Due to their natural hunting instincts and their history as a target for anglers, trout have evolved to be on the alert for lines and avoid them whenever possible. 

That means the color matters a lot when you are picking out the best fishing line for catching trout. You want line that will blend in with the water you are fishing in. The goal is to attract the trout to the lure but not alert them to the presence of the line.

Besides the color, you want a fishing line that has a nearly invisible finish. The best fishing lines for catching line shy fish such as trout are fluorocarbon lines. These lines are nearly invisible and highly sensitive when picking up a bite. 

The Best Color Fishing Line for Trout

Determining the best color fishing line to use when catching trout depends a lot on the water conditions you are going out in.


For most situations, a clear fluorocarbon is the best line for catching trout. This line is nearly invisible in clear lakes and rivers. Trout prefer to live in clear bodies of water, so clear line is the most likely to get a bite. You can use a clear line for your whole fishing line or just as the finisher attached to a stronger braided line.


When fishing for trout, you want to match your fishing line to the color of the water. If the water is stained green, then use a green monofilament line. Many fresh bodies of water have a greenish tint instead of being perfectly clear because of the presence of algae and water plants. In slightly brackish water, clear line will stand out.

A spinning reel on a rod near the water


Blue is another good line color for slightly murky waters. When fishing in blue-tinted waters, this line color blends in with the background. Plus, blue blends in with the water even close to the bottom when other colors fade out.


Yellow works in very specific circumstances. In muddy waters, yellow blends in better than a clear line or even a green line. However, avoid it for clear waters as it acts like a beacon telling trout to stay away.

Final Thoughts

Trout are some of the cleverest freshwater fish, but you can outsmart them by getting the right line. Make sure your line blends in with the waters you are fishing in. A clear line works best in most circumstances, but sometimes you need green, blue, or yellow to match the tinge of the water. 

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.