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Fishing Line Tests

Grades: 9-12
Source: William Alkire, Susan Rhoades, Bruce Lautzenheiser


This lab is to test the stretch and breaking points of various brands and strength of polymer fishing lines and to graph the data collected.


What should students know as a result of this lesson?

  • The student should know the strengths of the various fishing lines and how one brand compares with another.

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?

  • Graph data of brand, stress, mass, elongation, and breaking point.


  • Various brands and strength of polymer fishing lines (different brands with same strength and same brand with different strength)
  • SandBucket with a smooth handle with at least ½ inch diameter that will hold enough sand to test your highest strength line
  • Large ringstand or other apparatus with a at least ½ diameter rod attached horizontally
  • Meter stick
  • Duct tape
  • Bathroom or food scaleCup for transferring sand to bucket Hotplate (optional for Part B)
  • Small pieces of pop bottle (optional, for Part B)
  • Forceps (optional for Part B)



  1. Show a video of fishing either a purchased one, taped from TV, or one of yourself.
  2. Show different brands of fishing line and different test weights
  3. Bring in a fishing rod and reel.
  4. Tear newspaper in one direction and then in the other direction ( alignment of polymer molecules)
  5. Stretch pieces of garbage bags cut in one direction and cut in the opposite direction. To assess, listen to student discussion.Sample questions: Why was the tear different?



  • Obtain 3 ft pieces of various fishing lines.
  • Obtain sand, bucket, tape, meter stick, ringstand with clamp.
  • Mass the bucket.
  • Wrap line at least 20 times around the cylindrical partial of the clamp and wrap with duct tape.
  • Wrap the other end of line at least 20 times around the handle of the bucket, wrap with duct tape, and make sure bucket is at least 10 cm above the ring platform.
  • Wrap a small piece of duct tape around the fishing line near the top of it ( just below the horizontal rod).
  • Wrap a small piece of duct tape around the fishing line near the bottom of it ( just above the bucket handle).
  • Mass the cup that is to be used to add the sand to the bucket.
  • Measure the distance between the two pieces of tape that were wrapped around the fishing line.
  • Put sand in cup, mass, and add to the bucket.
  • Again measure the distance between the two pieces of tape.
  • Continue Steps 10,11 until the line breaks.
  • Repeat procedure using a different fishing line.


  • Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of a hot plate.
  • Lay a piece of pop bottle on the hot plate.
  • Turn on the hotplate and when the piece softens pull 2 strands of equal thickness from the crystal with a forceps.
  • Using your hands, pull on one of the strands SLOWLY in order to stretch it so that it is longer than the other strand.
  • Now QUICKLY pull each strand until it breaks and record any differences.
  • Construct a data table showing brand, test weight, elongation, and mass needed to reach the breaking point.
  • Check data table.


  1. Construct a graph of brands vs mass needed to break the line.
  2. Construct a graph of strength vs mass needed to breaks the line (same brand)
  3. Construct a graph of stress (mass) vs elongation for each line.Students look for patterns in the graphs and discuss.Teacher move from group to group monitoring the discussion.


  • Fishing line involves the tying of knots ( to lure, hook, leader, etc.). Repeat one or more of the trials using the line tied to a hook big enough to hook over the horizontal clamp at the top of the apparatus.
  • Research what is meant of the pound test of the lines according to the manufacturer.
  • Research what is meant by manufacturer’s use of the term’monofilament’.Collect student research.


Skills: Students should be able to make a graph.

Best Teaching Practices

  • Student-Centered Instruction
  • Hands-on Teaching
  • Inquiry

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

  • HS-PS2-1 Analyze data to support the claim that Newton's second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
  • HS-PS2-6 Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.

Common Core Standards:

  • RST.9-10.3 Follow pecisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
  • RST.9-10.5 Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).
  • WHST.9-10.2 Write informative/expanatory texts, including narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.

National Standards:

  • Grades 9-12 Standards A, B

Ohio Standards:

  • 9-10 Scientific Inquiry Benchmarks A9
  • Physical Sciences: Nature of Matter #9 Forces and Motion 24

Content Knowledge



Wear protective eyewear

Use of hotplate


Increasing number of people fish as a means of family time or hobby.



Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: Groups of 2 or 4

Pacing/Suggested Time: 1-2 day experiment

Printable PDF Worksheets