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Can Trout See Fishing Line? Red, Yellow, Green…

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It has long been debated what fish can actually see and how they view it. When it comes to colors, many anglers are not sure what color of line is best used when fishing for trout. Can trout see fishing line colors? What colors are most detected by trout? The short answer is yes. Not only can trout see the line but they can also distinguish between the various colors. And, the colors of fishing line are seen differently by the trout at the various water levels. Keep reading to learn about the best colors to use in different situations and how the colors of fishing line are seen by trout at the various water depths. This information could be the difference between catching a small to average-sized trout and catching a trophy sized trout worth bragging about.

Can Trout See Fishing Line: Yes

Trout Fishing with Colored Line Trout's Vision Eyesight Underwater
Rainbow Trout

Trout have exceptional vision. Not only are their eyes similar to those of humans but their eyes can also detect ultraviolet frequencies. Trout have light-sensitive cells in their eyes known as rods and cones. Cone cells are what provides the colors seen in vision and rods distinguish contrast (monochrome) in low light. They also have binocular and monocular vision. Binocular vision is when both eyes are set on the same target. Monocular vision is when both eyes can be used separately allowing to see in opposite directions. When using the eyes in monocular vision the field of view is increased however, the depth perception becomes limited. Moving their eyes independently of each other uniquely helps make them great predators. But, it also means that anglers need to know the correct color of fishing line to use.

The biggest mistake an angler can make is to try and match the line color with the lure color. You want trout to notice your lure and go after it. The lure is what gets the trout to bite. But, if the trout sees your line it will swim in the opposite direction! You want the line to blend in to its surroundings. Also, you do not want to choose the color of line based on whether you can see it. Although it is nice to be able to spot your line, keep in mind that if you can see it the trout can also see it. If you would like to know the top trout lures to go with your line then check out our article Best Trout Lures of All Time Shopping Guide.

Most Reliable Fishing Line That Trout Will Not See

Fishing lines that tend to remain hidden from trout are the fluorocarbon, pink fluorocarbon, and clear monofilament. Trout are line shy freshwater fish. So, leave behind the braided line which will be too visible underwater.


Fluorocarbon is the line that most trout anglers will recommend. The fluorocarbon line has the most claims of being invisible to fish underwater. It has the same light refraction properties as water which helps to disguise the line. Fluorocarbon will sink faster and does not absorb water. This helps to reduce slack, decrease stretch and reduce bowing between the rod tip and lure. Because it is nearly invisible, fluorocarbon is a great choice for trout fishing in clear water. A top performer is the Berkley Vanish.

Pink Fluorocarbon

Pink fluorocarbon appears bright and perhaps not the right choice however, the pink loses its color while submerged at various water depths. Water acts as a selective filter. Colors begin to filter out as they descend into different water depths. The colors underwater disappear in the same order as they appear in the color spectrum. Red first then followed by orange, yellow and green. In only 5 feet of water there is a noticeable loss of red. The loss of visual color also depends on sunlight and water clarity. Pink flourocarbon will become invisible to trout in approximately 15 feet of water. The benefit of using pink fluorocarbon line is that anglers are still able to spot their line. However, for trout, it disappears in the water column. You will be less likely to miss the bite and maximize strikes. Try ANGRYFISH Fluorocarbon Fishing Line it is nearly Invisible underwater.


Clear monofilament (also referred to as mono) is another great choice because it works well in most situations. Mono is easy to handle, affordable and comes in a huge assortment of weights and colors. For invisiblity, clear monofilament is the best choice. And, the best when fishing for smaller trout. Because, to get the same invisibility as a fluorocarbon line you can only use a 2 or 4 pound line.  So, if you are going fishing with the family and are not worried about catching the biggest trout then use clear monofilament with confidence. We suggest trying the highly rated Stren MagnaThin Monofilament Fishing Line.

How is Bright Colored Fishing Line For Trout Fishing?

As mentioned above, fish have cones and rods in their eyes allowing them to see color. During daylight hours, the cones in their eyes help them see a large variety of colors. The rods in their eyes give them night vision but will not help distinguish between colors. Neon colors don’t loose visual underwater like spectrum colors do because of their fluorescence or glow. Fluorescent colors glow because color molecules release energy from light absorption of one color then emitting a different color. Compared to other fish, trout have more cones in their eyes giving them the ability to see more colors. So, neon colors are not a good choice for trout fishing. Remember that water clarity is a factor when choosing a color because it changes how trout see the line.

Blue Line

Clear blue lines can be a great choice for anglers. The angler can still see the line, but beneath the surface, trout are less likely to detect it. The primary benefit of blue line is going to be blending into the water. When fishing water that is more blue than green select blue line to blend in. The color blue travels the furthest underwater. Colors of blue are absorbed in 200 feet underwater. The KastKing Fishing Line, pictured above, is one of the highest rated monofilament lines available.

Yellow line

Another popular line color is yellow. This is a bright color, and anglers like it because the line is easy for them to spot. The problem is that it is also easy for fish to see if the water is clear. However, yellow is not always a bad choice. If you are fishing in muddy waters yellow might just be the best choice for you. It will blend in with muddy water and not be as visible to the trout. Yellow becomes invisible in approximately 35 feet of water. KastKing Nylon Mono Fishing Line, pictured above, with Roll Track is strong and abrasion resistant.

Red Line

Red lines have a lot of debate surrounding them. Many people believe that once submerged red loses its color. However, there are those that say they have seen red underwater, such as scuba divers, and the color actually appears as black. Others claim that red lines can benefit anglers because it can resemble the color of blood. This claim is because lines (or hooks) that are red attract a bite because fish will view it as blood. The only way to know how it works for you is to test it out yourself.  Red is the first color to fade into water depth and becomes invisible at approximately 15 feet. The Zebco Cajun Smooth Cast Fishing Line is a favorite with trout anglers.

Green Line

Green lines can work well if the water has a greenish tint to it. A lot of the bodies of water that anglers fish for trout tend to have a greenish tint. If the water where you fish has a greenish tint then a green line will work well. However, if the water is clear and blueish then the green line will stand out. The trout will be able to see it and they will swim away. A green line that is hard for trout to detect is the P-Line Halo Co-Fluoride Fluorocarbon Mist Green Fishing Line

Can Trout See Fishing Line: Lastly

Trout have excellent eyesight, and they will not bite if they can see the fishing line. While clear fishing line will work in most situations, there are other colors that are effective under specific conditions. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and practice with different colors. If the trout can see the color of the fishing line then you will most likely lose that catch. Match the environment, know your colors for specific depths and experiment with different line colors. The colors fish see underwater depends on how much light there is, the water clarity and water depth where you fish.

Tight Lines!

If you would like other great tips for trout fishing, make sure to read our article How To Catch Trout: Trout Fishing 101.

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