Your leader is one of the most important pieces of your kit, it’s the piece of line that has to withstand abrasions, present baits and lures properly, be difficult to see in the water and help with casting. This little piece of line is often overlooked, most people choose their leader based on required strength and visibility, but many people don’t look into the other important properties of leader. You may find by simply putting more weight on the decision of what type of leader to use, your catch rate could skyrocket! Does it really make that much of a difference? Of course it does! Read on to find out just how different each leader is.
Sinking or floating?
Fluorocarbon and monofilament have a few differences between them, fluorocarbon is more difficult to see in the water, whilst monofilament makes for easier knot tying, however, the main difference between these lures when presentation is concerned is the way they move in the water column. Whilst monofilament line floats on the surface of the water, fluorocarbon is much heavier and sinks, if you’re fishing with a surface lure, or perhaps you’re presenting a bait under a float that you want to be suspended close to the surface, monofilament is the choice for you. If, on the other hand, you’re fishing with a soft plastic, a paternoster rig, a jerkbait or a slow sinking/suspending lure, the sinking properties if fluorocarbon will help to keep your lure right where you want it. A little trick if you want to fish a suspending lure down deep is to tie on an extra long fluorocarbon leader. The weight of the line will get your lure down deep without forcing it to sink too quickly.
Abrasion vs Knot Strength
When you’re fishing for larger species such as snapper, gummy shark, or kingfish, a line with heavy abrasive resistance but high mobility for knot tying will come in handy! Tying an improved clinch knot into 80lb monofilament trace is much easier than tying the same knot in 80lb fluorocarbon! Whilst monofilament trace is easier to tie and has great abrasive resistance, it is not as abrasive resistant as fluorocarbon. Keep that in mind when fishing around heavy structure, particularly when fishing line strengths of 15lb or less.
Different Leaders for Different Rigs
Choosing leaders for lures is simple by following the structure and floating/sinking factors, but what about for bait rigs? Leader choices when exclusively bait fishing vary based on a number of factors, as a general rule of thumb I like to recommend fluorocarbon for paternoster rigs as the rigidity of the line helps the hooks avoid drooping and tangling. However, paternoster rigs tied with anything over 40lb may become difficult and knot strength may suffer, I recommend monofilament trace for these circumstances. A similar rule applies with running sinker rigs and Westernport rigs, lighter lines of 30lb and less are best tied with fluorocarbon, but for heavier leaders, monofilament trace can be advantageous. Mono is also recommended for running sinker rigs where the bait is designed to suspend from the bottom, like an artificial trout bait or a swimming livebait.
As with many things in fishing, leader choice is often circumstantial, use this guide as just that; a guide, and adapt to differing conditions to make the correct decision when choosing a leader out on the water.