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Fishing Leader Line Explained

A leader line is a short mono or fluoro line tied on to a braided mainline. By using a leader you get to combine the benefits of multiple line types to create the perfect setup of any situation.

Benefits of Using a Leader Line

By utilizing a leader you get the benefits of the braided mainline which gives you the most strength by diameter. This allows you to spool more line onto your reel. The thinner diameter also allows you to cast further than thicker line.

Another benefit of the braided mainline is that it doesn’t have memory which helps cuts down on line twist and coiling. Braid also lasts a lot longer than fluoro and mono line which helps save cost over time.

By adding a fluoro or mono leader you eliminate the biggest drawback of braid, which is the high visibility. Your leader will make the line closest to your lure nearly invisible. It will also give you some line stretch for shock absorption.

Using leaders is especially great for those who don’t have multiple rods. You can load up your reel with braid and swap out your leader to optimize for the lure or technique you are using. This will save you a lot of money over time as you don’t have to replace your entire spool of line.

Cons of Using a Leader Line

The downside to leader lines is they add a point of failure to your setup (the connecting knot). Because of this, it’s important to practice tying your connection knot to ensure it’s strong. Additionally you need to regularly check your connection knot while fishing to verify it’s holding up and not damaged.

How Long Should a Leader Line Be?

Your leader line should be 5-10ft long. This will keep the visible braid far enough away from your lure that it doesn’t scare away fish. The reason I try not to go overboard with a longer leader is I want to keep the knot off the spool. Even with a thin connecting knot it can catch and cause issues when casting if its on your spool.

How to Choose a Leader Line: Fluoro Vs Mono

Monofilament Leader

A mono leader is great when using topwater lures since it floats and won’t pull the nose of the bait down. The other situations where mono is a good option is when you need some extra shock absorption.

For example when fishing large swimbaits and I’m targeting larger than average bass. Larger fish can generate a lot force and mono helps absorb those sudden bursts and lowers the chance of breaking off.

Learn more about monofilament line

Fluorocarbon Leader

I use a fluorocarbon leader for everything else. Fluoro sinks which helps get a little extra depth out of diving lures. It also has less stretch then mono. This is helpful when you need to get a good hook set when fishing single hook baits that require thicker hooks.

Learn more about fluorocarbon line

Frequently Asked Questions

Is leader line different than regular line?

Regular fishing line can be used as a leader. Some manufacturers are now designing lines specifically to be used as a leader. These are typically fluorocrabon with more stretch than standard fluoro lines.

Can I use braid as a leader?

Braid isn’t typically used as a leader line. If you need the benefits of braid you should really just be using straight braid. This eliminates the additional point of failure of a connecting knot.

Should leader line be stronger than main line?

The only time you need a stronger leader than your mainline is if your targeting fish with sharp teeth like pike or muskie. In these situations you may bump up your leader line test to prevent their teeth from cutting the line or you may even want to switch a steel leader.