Many people ask, “What is a fishing leader, and what is its purpose?” In reality, there are many different reasons you would want to use a fishing leader. Leaders are not a necessity for most fishing applications, but they have their time and place.

What Is A Fishing Leader? The Surprising Truth

Answer these questions, and you’ll be closer to understanding what is a fishing leader and whether or not you need one:

  • Do you fish clear bodies of water?
  • Have you ever fished with a braided line?
  • Do you fish for sharp teeth fish like pike?

If you answered yes to even one of those questions, you’ll want to keep a few leaders in your tackle box. As we established, fishing with a leader is not a necessity, but first, you want to understand what it is and its purpose.

A fishing leader is essentially an extension to your main fishing line. Fishing leaders provide extra line at the end for a variety of different reasons, but the main one is to complement your regular line.

Regardless of whether you use mono, braided, or fluoro, you may want to use a leader to reduce failure in the line and improve scrape resistance.

It’s all about the presentation

The main reason many people use fishing leaders is to improve their presentation to the fish.

You’d have a much better chance of catching something with a clear, monofilament leader on the end of the line. Not only will this lower the chances of you alarming the fish, but you’ll also gain more flexibility.

If you’re a serious bass angler, you understand the importance of braided line with your fishing style. The problem is, braided line fails when it takes on sudden pressure unless you match it to the environment you’re fishing in.

Having that leader on the end will help prevent excessive line failures, and it will lower visibility in the water.

Is a fishing leader necessary?

The quick answer to this question is no. A leader is never necessary, but neither is a lure. I can cast my hook out there all day without a lure, but it doesn’t mean I’ll ever catch anything.

There are more reasons to use a leader than not to use one. Many people simply don’t understand the purpose or the application.

Another issue that a lot of anglers have with fishing leaders is slipping. You need to combine your leader with the right type of line; otherwise, they won’t connect properly. As anglers, we probably all have a series of knots that we know from when we were little.

In most occasions, you’ll want to use a surgeon’s knot to tie your leader to your main line. This process will lessen the chance of slipping, and it will ensure you have a strong connection between the two.

Choosing A Fishing Leader

Now that you understand “What is a fishing leader?” we can talk about choosing one. There are a few different things to keep in mind when shopping for a fishing leader.

The first thing you need to look at is the length of the leader. To determine the proper length you want to look at your fishing style, the condition of the water, and the fish you’re looking to catch.

For example, if you’re using a sinking line, you want a short four-foot leader so the fly sinks quickly and stays below the water column for a while.

If you’re fishing near the top of the water, you’ll want a longer nine-foot leader. This strategy gives you improved visibility for topwater flies.

The act of fishing – for fish, dreams or whatever magic is available – is enough. It transports us to a special world, and a state of mind, where we are free.“Fennel Hudson

Think about it this way; the more time the fish has to think about taking the bait, the longer the leader you should have. During clear water conditions and topwater fishing, you would want a long leader to keep your line as far away from them as possible.

If the water is murky and turbulent on an overcast day, you won’t have to worry as much about the length of your leader.

There are four primary types of fishing leaders, here they are:

1. Monofilament

Mono refers to one solo strand of filament line that is spun thinly together. These are the cheapest and most common options. Monofilament absorbs the most water, is the most flexible, and it has good resistance against wear and tear.

The main advantage of mono leaders is their low visibility and solar absorption. If you’re fishing topwater, you might want to consider something different because of the water absorption.

Since the line moves through the water so easily, it’s prone to sinking fast, which will ruin your topwater presentation.

2. Fluorocarbon

Fluorocarbon is similar to monofilament, but there are a few differences. These are more expensive because they are less porous and the sun shines directly through the line.

These two factors help improve your presentation by not pulling your lure down and not reflecting sunlight at the fish.

Your target fish will have a much harder time seeing a fluoro leader run through the water than a mono one. If you’re fishing in clear and wide-open conditions, you’ll want to equip a fluorocarbon leader to the end of your line.

3. Steel

Steel leaders have some unique applications when you’re dealing with fish like pike or gar. These fish have razor-sharp teeth, and they’ll bite through a monofilament leader in a matter of seconds.

Using a steel leader is difficult, and securing them to your line involves a complicated process of using a special sleeve and barrel swivel to tie the two together properly.

In our opinion, fluorocarbon leaders work as well as steel, and they offer all the visibility benefits of monofilament.

But, we’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

4. Hybrids

Calling something a hybrid usually means it’s a combination of a variety of things mashed together into one. When it comes to fishing leaders, that statement would be incorrect.

Hybrid for fishing leaders generally means its a combination of fluorocarbon line and nylon. The end result is a super-strong leader.

These leaders are more expensive than all the previous options, but they are great outside of finesse fishing situations where you mostly find leaders.

If you’re fishing deepwater or anything heavier than a 10-pound test you want to look towards hybrid fishing leaders.

What Is A Fishing Leader? Fly Fishing, Saltwater, And More

A person removing a hook in a fish

Image by Suzi Wilson from Pixabay

The original question, “What is a fishing leader?” should be a distant memory now. By this point, you might be wondering more about how you can apply a fishing leader to your fishing style.

Did you know?

The most common place you’ll find fishing leaders used is in fly fishing applications. We would even say they are a necessity with fly fishing. If you’ve ever heard the term, “finesse fishing,” you’ll understand what we’re talking about.

Finesse fishing includes lightweight lures, lines, and fast action rods. You use this style of fishing on smaller fish, and it works like a charm when done properly.

That fact doesn’t mean that leaders are only useful in finesse fishing. You can use them in saltwater fishing and even surf fishing as well. Remember, the main reason you’ll want to use one is to disguise your line and prevent the fish from getting spooked.

Fish pay attention to everything, including shadows and vibrations, so it’s hard to get anything by them.You want to do everything you can to prevent them from thinking twice about striking your lure.

Fishing Leaders: To Use Or Not To Use

What is a fishing leader, you asked? What is a fishing leader, we answered. The overall use of this line is simple and straightforward, but there is always a time and a place. If you have trouble fishing open waters, it might be due to the line you’re using.

Braided line is great, and it holds up like a beast, but you will have a hard time getting the fish to bite when they can see your line all the way back to the boat. Using a transparent leader will prevent that from happening.

We recommend going with a fluorocarbon leader for 99 percent of situations because they combine all the best elements into one. If you have any experience fishing with leaders, be sure to drop us a comment and let us know how you rig up your rod.