What is a Leader Line in Fishing

When fishing for fresh and saltwater species with size and teeth, it’s important to use a leader line to increase the odds of landing the biggest fish of the day while also having the ability to effectively cast and present your bait for increased strikes. What is a leader line for fishing?

A leader line in fishing is a piece of terminal tackle that is used to attach the mainline to your lure or bait. Leaders are made of monofilament, fluorocarbon fishing line, or wire, & come in various lengths, & strengths to ensure more fish by presenting a lure or bait naturally & invisible underwater.

Leader Lines are not always the best option when it comes to attaching a hook or lure to your rod’s mainline. This is mostly a matter of preference or experience and that includes the length and strength of the leader lines that are always different in many scenarios of fishing.


How Long Should a Leader Line Be


A leader line is the last 3-36 inches of line and even longer in some saltwater applications that are connected to a hook or lure. Leader Line is connected to your main line by a swivel or tied line-to-line connection such as the double uni knot which is covered in the articles here on MyWaterEarth&Sky.

Shorter length Leader Lines 12-16″ can be more accurate and controlled when throwing above water than longer lengths. Because fish feel vibrations in the water, longer Leader Lines can broadcast more vibrations that spook potential fish underwater near your hookset.

When throwing rigged baits like live eels or even soft plastic imitations, a heavy and long monofilament leader can help keep your eel gliding slowly just above the rocks because it will sink a little bit slower and give it a more natural presentation without the threat of snags.

Leader lines can also absorb the torque or impact on the mainline or knots by having a little stretch to them. These line leaders are often called shock leaders as they absorb some of the shock or impact created by a fighting fish. By absorbing this impact it can greatly reduce the chance of a fish breaking the line or a knot failing. 

The Leader line can be made from a variety of materials that have negative or positive characteristics including, the main material being monofilament or fluorocarbon line, nylon monofilament line, multi-strand cable, single strand wire, or braided line. In most, if not all cases the Leader Line should be stronger than the mainline.


  • Monofilament has a much higher stretch capability and buoyancy rate(floats) than fluorocarbon Mono comes in a variety of different colors, in fact, you can probably get mono in any color. The most common colors would be clear or light green variety.
  • Fluorocarbon is great leader material because it has low visibility and is abrasion-resistant. Fluorocarbon sinks that will help with casting. Another good leader material is single strand wire or multi-strand cable when fish have sharp teeth like the fish found in Ocean water. Thinking Bluefish who can bite through a beer can!


See the source image
               Single Strand Wire Leaders

Single strand wire to make leaders can be found at Cabelas or other Sporting Goods Stores.

  • Great for lure-making, quick-strike rigs, and leaders
  • Solid stainless steel wire
  • Resists corrosion

Normally the leader line is stronger than the mainline protecting against damage that may come to the line from rubbing on the bottom, being cut by the fish’s teeth, or when rubbing against an abrasive fish’s body. Leader Line is measured by the strength;

  • line strength
  • knot strength
  • shock absorbance
  • abrasion resistance
  • cut resistance

Normally fishing line gets stronger as the thickness or diameter increases. The color of the leader line is matched to the color of the environment dark green and white colors are good camouflage colors for fishing in cloudy or murky colored waters.

If you are slow fishing soft plastics in order try longer lengths of Leader Line that will add to the presentation but just the opposite is true when using spoons and topwater when you need to move your lures faster with precision through the water than try using shorter length leader line.

When using a braided line as your mainline fluorocarbon leaders should almost always be used. Fluorocarbon fishing lines are made up to 40 pounds and can be used as the mainline on conventional fishing reels. 


How to Tie a Leader Line


Knowing how to tie a few simple knots is all you need to join your mainline with the leader line add strength will be small enough to move freely through the guides of your pole and into your reel without affecting your cast. See the source image

If you learn one knot at least in my experience I teach my kids these knots as the most useful when fishing. The “Uni Knot” and the “Double Uni Knot” are thought to be among the strongest fishing knot by many anglers.

Though it is mainly used as a bend to join two lines, it can be easily used to connect the ends of a single length of rope to form a loop. The beauty of the knot lies in its symmetry.

  • Double uni knots maintain the strength of the fishing line
  • It is easy to tie with a little practice.
  • The double uni-knot won’t break easily.

The Double Uni Knot and the Palomar knots are considered by many anglers to be easier to tie and just as reliable. Once you complete your wind, it’s a good idea to lubricate (with some spit) the knot before cinching it tight. Then snip off the tag ends.



How to Make a Leader Line


A fishing line leader is a short strand of line that goes between the main line of the fishing reel and the hook or lure itself. A leader is great for bait fishing because it’s heavier, tough, and difficult for big, strong fishes to bite through. This means that anglers can have a thin mainline that’s easily managed and cast without worrying about it being snapped apart. 

Having a good leader greatly increases your chances of landing big fish and decreasing the need for checking your bait every so often or after every fish when fishing rocky terrain will make sure you aren’t casting with a compromised line that could result in you losing the big one.

Choosing the test and the length of the leader line is critical in using tailor-made rigs in extreme conditions and can make the difference between success and failure and wasting time working on your bait and line. A shorter leader will be better for casting artificial baits and won’t need to go through the guides on your rod.

Water clarity. The general rule is the clearer the water the longer the leader line. The reason, of course, is to hide the mainline and the remainder of your setup out of view from the fish. Monofilament is very different than fluorocarbon in a number of ways but certainly has its benefits. Mono has a much higher stretch capability than fluorocarbon.



Fish With Sharp Teeth



JimGalloway Author/Editor



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