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What is a Fishing Leader and Do You Need One?

What is a fishing leader? Very basically, a fishing leader is the last length of your fishing line before your hook. It serves a number of different purposes, and is usually a different material to your main line.

This post is a simple, easy to understand guide about fishing leaders. It includes information about the different types of fishing leaders you can get, as well as why you would need one.

What is a Fishing Leader

What is a Fishing Leader?

A fishing leader is the last length of your fishing line before your hook.

It is the part of the line that goes into the water, and comes closest to the fish. For this reason, it needs to be less visible to the fish than your main line, and also stronger so it won’t break.

There are different types of leader for different types of fishing (fly, course or sea), but the two most common types of are fluorocarbon and monofilament leaders.

What is a Fishing Leader?

Fluorocarbon Vs Monofilament Leaders

The table below shows the basic differences between monofilament and fluorocarbon leaders, as well as which types of fishing they are best for.

A monofilament line, or “mono” is the most popular leader material. It has a higher stretch capability compared to fluorocarbon, and makes a good shock absorber.

With fluorocarbon, on the other hand, it’s easier to feel the fish bite, as they don’t stretch much. They provide excellent knot strength, and are more resistant to abrasion.

Monofilament Leader (mono) Fluorocarbon Leader
Material Soft and supple with more stretch Stiff with more resistance to wear and tear
Resilience Absorbs water and deteriorates in UV light Doesn’t absorb water or deteriorate in UV light
Visibility More visible to fish Less visible to fish
Sink Rate Sinks slower Sinks faster
Price Less expensive More expensive
Best For Surface lures Fishing near rocks, break walls or oyster racks

If you are fishing in the River Wandle, best fishing leader for a fly line is just a standard monofilament leader. Most river anglers use monofilament fishing lines, and they are recommended in most fishing guides.

For more specific methods like casting lures, or trolling, a fluoro leader or braided line has more advantages over a mono line.

What Does a Leader Do in Fishing?

Fishing leaders have several purposes:

  • To protect the line from breakages, snags or abrasion.
  • To prevent the line becoming tangled, twisted or kinked.
  • To avoid spooking the fish with an almost invisible wire.
  • To make the fishing wire sink to the bottom.
  • To be able to cast heavy leaders long distances without breaking the line.
  • To give you more control over your line.
  • To help you cast further, and with more accuracy.
  • To make it easier to catch fish.
What is a Fishing Leader?

Should I Use a Leader When Fishing?

It is recommended that you always use a leader when fishing due to the benefits it will give you.

For example, if you are fishing in saltwater, saltwater fish are strong with sharp teeth, that could break your fishing line. If you have a leader, your line will be able to withstand the sharp teeth of the fish, and you are more likely to catch one.

Leader lines are also helpful if you are baitcasting or spinning, as they reduce the visibility of the line, and prevent the line getting twisted.

Can I use a Regular Fishing Line as a Leader?

You can use a regular fishing line as a leader, but the type of line you should use will depend on several factors including:

  • Your Bait (fishing lure or float)
  • Water conditions
  • Type of fish you’re trying to catch
  • Your reel type
  • The colour of your line

There are three different types of fishing lines: braids, nylon monofilament, and fluorocarbon. Each line comes in different sizes and weights.

You should use the heavier line as your leader if you are expecting a lot of abrasion, or targeting large fish with sharp teeth. It is also better not to use a braided line as a leader, as it degrades much quicker than a monofilament or fluorocarbon line.

What is a Fishing Leader?

Other Types of Leader

Monofilament and fluorocarbon leaders are the most common types of leader, but there are also other types of leader such as a wire leader (steel leader), shock leader, and tapered leader.

Leader Type Description and Use
Wire Leader Extra strong leader. It is good for catching large predatory freshwater, or saltwater fish with sharp teeth.
Shock Leader Heavy leader for surf fishing or shore fishing. It absorbs the impact of being tossed around without breaking.
Tapered Leader It has a thin end near the lure, and thick end by the knot. It helps to cast flies with precision, and is used with nearly weightless flies like dry flies.

Should my Leader be Stronger than my Main Line?

In most cases your leader will actually be lighter than your main line. The only time you will need a leader that is stronger, and heavier than your main line, is if you are fishing by rocks, or for toothy fish.

If you are saltwater fishing, or trying to catch a sharp-toothed fish like a northern pike, you should make sure that your leader is stronger than your main line. Also if you are trying to catch a big fish that is likely to put up a fight.

How Long Should my Fishing Leader Be?

Fishing leaders are usually around 26 to 32 inches long. The length of line however, will depend on your type of fishing.

  • Short leader – Use a shorter leader if you are fishing in water which has poor visibility. Shorter leaders are also useful if you need to increases the lure, fly, or bait movement.
  • Long leader – Use a longer leader for surf casting, or in shallow, slow moving, still or clear water. Longer leaders are also better if you are using live bait, and for trolling.

In general, the clearer the water you are fishing in, the longer leader should be.

Short leaders would be less than 26 inches long, and long leaders would measure more than around 30 inches long.

How do You Attach a Leader to a Fishing Line

Two of the best knots to attach leader lines are albright knots, and double uni knots.

Albright Knot

The albright knot is easy to tie, and can join different types of fishing line such as monofilament to braided, or braided to wire. It is one of the best types of knot for joining lines of greatly unequal diameter, or different materials such as monofilament to braid.

The image below shows what an albright knot looks like.

albright knot.
An albright knot

Double Uni Knot

Double uni knots are also good for tying a braided line to a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.

The image below shows what a double uni knot looks like.

Double uni knot
A double uni knot

Helpful Articles

I hope this article helped you to understand what a fishing leader is, and why it is used.

The links below will help you to find the type of leader that you need, as well as provide more information on the basics of fishing.

What is a Fishing Leader?

Thank you for reading my post about fishing leaders. I hope it helped to explain what a leader line is, and helped you to find the right leader for you. Please leave me a comment below and let me know which leader line you decided to use.