Why Does My Fishing Line Keep Getting Tangled?

why does my fishing line keep getting tangled

A fishing line tangled under the reel is all it takes to make your day gloomy. It doesn’t matter whether you are using a monofilament or a braided fishing line, a bird’s nest, tangles, and wind knots will have you thinking about tossing the reel in the trash. 

To avoid such frustration, why not learn how to keep your fishing line from tangling? This guide explains why fishing lines get tangled and how to fix and avoid them.

Roland Brooks

Daddy by day, fisherman at night.

Table of Contents

The Causes of Line Twisting


Line memory is the major reason why many anglers have line twists. You see, a fishing line has memory, meaning the shape it gets when coiled over a while. When you spool the line to the reel, its memory will prevent it from making a new shape to cause tangles. 

Overfilling the spool is another cause of fishing line tangles when casting. As the fishing line struggles to uncoil itself from the spool, it is more likely to get tangled when overfilled.

Adding the wrong fishing line type will also result in twists. Spinning reels, for instance, work better with braided lines than mono and fluorocarbon lines. 

Using old, frayed lines also cause twists since continued usage degrades the structure. When reeling, a slack line also generates loose coils, knots, and tangles. 

Poor Casting Technique

Wind knot, as the name implies, is a result of casting into the wind. When casting, the line leaves the spool, into the guide, and off the fishing rod.

However, the wind slows down the line speed leaving the rod, causing the line leaving the spool and into the guide to have a higher speed than the line at the rod’s tip. The inconsistency between the guide and the rod tip causes loose coils.


If you spool the new line incorrectly into your spinning reel, you will also have tangled lines. You want to spool the line to your fishing reel in the opposite direction it is coming off the spool. Also, avoid coiling the line too tightly when storing it. 

How to Fix Tangled Fishing Line?

Assuming you made any of the above mistakes, let us discuss how to untangle the spinning reel

Step 1: Avoid applying more tension to the line, as this will only worsen the tangles. 

Step 2: Lock the drag to assess the line twists.

Step 3: Slowly release the line from the spinning reel.

Step 4: Unwind the line until you loosen the line.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 and 5 until all the twisted lines are free. 

At times, trying to fix an overly-tangles line may be futile. In such a case, cut the line with pliers or a knife. 

How to Avoid Tangled Fishing Line?

Stay Away from the Wind

The only way to avoid wind knots is by casting into the wind. Rather than have the wind blowing against your chest when casting, position yourself where it blows on your back. This will reduce line speed inconsistencies that cause wind knots. 

Alternatively, cast low to the water’s surface if you have difficulty casting with the wind. 

Be Wise in Casting

Do you exert much force when casting to send the lure or bait further? If yes, this is only a recipe for fishing line tangles. It turns out the brute force doesn’t get transferred to the rod tip. Instead, it forces the quick release of the line from the spool, causing line speed inconsistencies. So, avoid casting too hard for a tangle-free experience. 

Stop Casting Your Leader Line through the Guides

Also, stop casting the knot that connects the mainline to the leader line through the guides. When the knot comes into contact with the guide, it slows the leader and the braided line behind it, causing an overlap and tangles. 

Therefore, always ensure the knot remains past the rod’s tip before casting. Also, opt to use an FG knot instead of a double uni. The thin FG knot does not get caught when passing through the guides.

Shouldn’t Pick Flexible Rod

Have you ever noticed how the tip of a flexible fishing rod bounces up and down when casting? This bouncing is often to blame for twists and overlaps. Since you do not want to spend your day untangling a fishing line, avoid flimsy rods and get a stiff fishing rod with a sturdy tip. 

Maintain the Fishing Line’s Tension

You can also prevent line tangles by keeping the line straight when spooling and retrieving. Use your fingers to hold and maintain the line tension. As you work to keep the line straight, protect your fingertips from the sharpness of the wire by putting band-aids or holding the line with a small towel or socks. 

Stop Overfilling the Spool

Too much line causes the fishing line to jump off the spool when casting. Therefore, leave some room in your spool, preferably ¼ inch area. Open the bail and yank the line to gauge whether you have overfilled the spool. Reduce the line if the line falls off. 

Monitor How Well Your Line Lays on the Spool

You can avoid line tangles by evenly distributing the line on the spool. The top and bottom parts of the reel’s spool should hold equal lines. 

Avoid Rainbow Cast

Rainbow casting results from casting too high to the extent that the fishing line forms a curve shape, similar to a rainbow. It causes line speed inconsistency and tangles. Fortunately, avoiding rainbow cast can prevent the headache.  

Use the Appropriate Lure and Leader Combination

Also, maintain a balance between the lure weight and the leader. Combine a heavy lure with a thick leader and a light lure with a thin leader. Using heavy leaders with light lures slows the line’s speed, decreases casting distance, and causes knots and tangles. 

Read more about the best topwater bass lures here to decide the ideal strength of the leader line. 

Rig the Lure Correctly

Rigging the bait and lure correctly can also prevent line tangles. Check that you set the hook directly in the middle of your bait or lure to prevent it from spinning and twisting in the water. 

Apply the Fishing Line Lubricant

Lastly, apply four to five sprays of line conditioner on a fresh line or a day before you take your existing line for fishing. The lubricant reduces line friction as it leaves the spool and makes easy untangling of knots. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Using the wrong line size, overfilling the spool, using old, worn-out lines, and the line memory can cause line twists. Casting too much line can cause backlashes, whereas casting in the wind creates wind knots.  

Fluorocarbon fishing lines are less prone to tangling due to their high density. Braided lines, too, can resist twists as they feature several strands of synthetic fibers.  

Yes. You should soak the new line in warm water. Doing so reduces line memory, helping the line lay better on the fishing reel. 

The recommended time for soaking the fishing line varies among anglers. Some recommend a few minutes, a half-hour, an hour, a few hours, and overnight. But a 30 to 60 minutes soak is enough.