Fishing leaders are often overlooked but crucial pieces of fishing equipment. They play a vital role in reducing visibility in the water and protecting against snapped lines. Understanding what a fishing leader is and how to properly attach them can make the difference between a successful fishing trip and returning home empty-handed.
What is a Fishing Leader?
A fishing leader is a short, extra-strong piece of fishing line that you connect between your main fishing line and your lure or hook. It is less visible to fish but more resistant to breaking than the main line. The length of the leader can range from 12 inches to over 20 feet.
Using a fishing leader has numerous benefits and significantly increases your chances of success, despite the temptation to simply tie the lure or hook directly to the main line.
Types of Fishing Leaders
There are several types of fishing leaders to choose from, each suitable for different fishing scenarios.
Standard Monofilament Leader
A standard monofilament leader consists of a single strand of strong, thinly-spun line. It absorbs water, provides abrasion resistance, and offers some stretch. While affordable and flexible for various knot techniques, they deteriorate over time with exposure to UV light and may make it challenging to feel smaller bites.
Fluorocarbon Monofilament Leader
Fluorocarbon leaders also use a single strand of monofilament; however, they are less porous, even less visible to fish, and have less stretch. They excel in abrasion resistance, knot strength, and do not absorb water or deteriorate in UV light. Their only disadvantages are the slightly higher cost and tendency to sink in water.
Wire Fishing Leader
Wire leaders are available in different sizes and lengths, including single-strand, multi-strand, and knottable options. Although less invisible than other leaders, they are essential for catching large fish with sharp teeth. While working with heavy-duty steel fishing leaders can be challenging, they are often necessary for saltwater fishing with live bait.
Benefits of Fishing Leaders
All fishing leaders provide significant benefits compared to using only a main fishing line, regardless of the type. However, specific benefits vary based on the chosen leader.
Lower Chance of Breaking
Sharp rocks, barnacles, and aggressive fish can easily cause your main fishing line to snap. Fishing leaders, such as monofilament, are abrasion-resistant and provide stretch to prevent breaking.
Better Bait Presentation
The right leader makes your leader line virtually invisible to fish, increasing the likelihood of successful bait capture. Fluorocarbon and monofilament leaders have a refractive index close to water, allowing sunlight to pass through quickly. This feature proves highly effective in clear water fishing.
When to Use a Fishing Leader
Using a fishing leader is never a bad idea, and most successful anglers incorporate them into their fishing routine. Leaders protect and strengthen the main fishing line while enhancing bait presentation, making them suitable for various fishing situations, especially in clear water or during fly fishing.
How to Attach Leaders
Several methods exist for attaching a leader to your main fishing line, and the best method depends on the fishing type, water conditions, and targeted fish. The following are two common methods:
Anglers commonly use two primary knots for attaching a leader to the main fishing line: the double uni knot and the albright knot. The albright knot is ideal for connecting unequal diameters of monofilament and braided lines. Meanwhile, the double uni knot is simple and used for tying a fishing leader with a loop to the main fishing line.
A swivel is a device composed of two rings connected to a pivoting joint. Swivels effectively attach a leader line to the main fishing line, eliminating line twisting. However, their usage depends on the fishing type and bait being used. Swivels add weight, potentially causing vulnerability to delicate lines. They also require additional time for attachment.
What is the difference between a fishing line and a leader line?
The main line refers to the line spooled onto the fishing reel, while the leader line is a separate length attached to the main line or lure/hook.
How do I choose the right leader?
The appropriate leader depends on factors such as fishing type, fish species, water clarity, main line strength, and the type of lure/hook used. It is recommended to use a leader material that is at least 2-3 times the breaking strength of the main line.
How long should a fishing leader be?
The length of the fishing leader depends on the fishing type and targeted fish species. Generally, a leader should be at least 2-3 feet long, but it may vary for different fishing techniques or when using thick, highly visible braided line as the main line.