When fishing, the leader you use can be the difference between catching fish and not catching any fish at all. Different types of leaders exist, and understanding their pros and cons can help you choose the right one to use when you’re getting ready to head out on the water.
It’s also important to know how to use fishing leaders in different fishing environments. So why use a leader when fishing?
Here are some of the reasons why but let’s first look at what a leader is and its importance.
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What is a Fishing Leader?
Leaders when fishing are used to connect a lure to your line. This helps cast lures more accurately, as well as keeps hooks attached when fish hit. Leaders are traditionally measured in feet and longer leaders allow for more distance on casts and help cut down on snags.
A leader is measured from its strongest point (the main line) to its weakest point (the first hook), which means that you can usually get away with using a shorter leader than you would with mono or braid line alone.
That being said, fishing leaders come in varying lengths so you’ll want to experiment with different length leaders until you find one that works best for your rig and your style of fishing.
Types of Fishing Leaders
There are many types of fishing leaders, including braided nylon, stainless steel wire, and fluorocarbon. The type you choose depends on where you’re fishing.
For example, braided nylon is best for freshwater lakes, but if you’re planning to fish saltwater, fluorocarbon should be your go-to leader material. If cost is a consideration (it always is), then stainless steel wire leaders are your best bet.
For fishing with bait, you need to cast using a lighter-weight monofilament leader line. The light weight of mono is essential for casting and reeling in your fish.
Often times it will be clear and invisible when in water, so you’ll want to get some fluorocarbon leaders if you’re fishing with bait. Fluorocarbon lines are essentially invisible in water, but since they have less mass than mono, they can be difficult to cast, especially when fishing on lakes or larger bodies of water where wind speed is high.
Fluorocarbon has become popular as fly fishing leader material as well because its low visibility allows anglers to quickly and easily spot any take during their casts.
Fluorocarbon leader lines are made from synthetic fluoropolymers that offer incredible abrasion resistance—this means fewer hang-ups and less breaking. Leader lines are also thinner than traditional monofilament, which makes it much easier for fish to feel bites or pressure.
These leaders also come in different sizes (1x or 2x) so make sure you pick one that works best with your rod setup and needs.
Why Use a Leader When Fishing?
Leader lines make it much easier to fish and can solve three big problems. First, leader lines let you fish in areas where most other people aren’t fishing because leader lines are invisible underwater.
Second, leader lines help you catch more fish because they act as attractive bait and attract targeted species of fish that wouldn’t otherwise go for your lure or bait.
Third, leader lines help new anglers get started by taking out much of the guesswork required to cast and retrieve lures with live bait rigs.
Leaders Help to Avoid Line Breaks
A leader is used to connect your fishing line to your actual fishing lure or bait. The idea is that by using a leader instead of just attaching your line directly to your tackle, you’ll be less likely to have an accidental break-off while you’re reeling in that trophy catch.
By having one more piece of line attached to your main line and then connecting it securely, leaders help prevent such events. Most fishing lines aren’t durable enough on their own and will break under pressure when hooked into something big.
While any type of leader can be used for most types of fish, it’s often best to use a specialized leader designed for freshwater or saltwater use.
There are several reasons to use a leader. For one, it keeps you and your line from getting tangled in branches or other snags near shore; if you drop your bait, it’s easier to retrieve.
Additionally, leaders allow for baits such as live minnows or nightcrawlers that might get eaten by birds or other predators on their way down to deeper waters.
Finally, leaders can reduce tangles between hooks. If you’re worried about dropping your rod while trolling, consider tying off two hooks together so they hang side-by-side rather than on top of each other.
Extra Weight at the End of Your Line
Having extra weight at the end of your line is vital to catching some fish. A leader provides additional weight so that your hook bait sinks quickly to where it needs to be, directly in front of hungry fish.
And if you’re catching bait (like worms), it also keeps them off of your hook by having them travel along an extra leader away from your hook bait.
Importance of the Leader Length
When it comes to fishing, there are many opinions out there on how long you should leave your leader. Some people say two feet and others say six. How long is too long?
As a general rule of thumb, 6 to 8 inches of leader material should be just fine for most applications. The length will vary based on how quickly you need to set your hook, but as a general rule of thumb, five feet of line should easily get you where you need to go.
This is only part of what makes up a quality leader. If you have poor knot-tying skills or use poor materials for tying knots, you might end up with inadequate leaders in terms of flexibility and strength.
Hopefully, you now understand the benefits of using a leader when fishing. A leader is typically made of monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braid. Monofilament comes in different diameters and lengths, so choosing one that fits your needs depends on both application and preference.
If you’re fishing for species like trout or smallmouth bass, most anglers tend to prefer mono leaders because they cast well and are highly visible. In addition to these qualities, they also feature higher tensile strength than braids or fluorocarbons.
However, mono leaders can be sensitive to cold water temperatures and can absorb foreign odors when handled with scented rubber gloves. Fluorocarbon is stronger than monofilament when it comes to abrasion resistance but not as strong as mono when it comes to tensile strength.
In a nutshell, the simple answer to the question of why use a leader when fishing is basically to enhance your fishing experience and catch more fish.