All About Fishing Leaders: How To Make And Use Them

Fishing leaders are essential tools for anglers who want to catch fish. They are also useful for other types of fishing, such as kayak fishing or fly-fishing.

The leader is a long line attached to the hook. When you cast out the line, the leader keeps the bait close to the surface. This allows the bait to move freely through the water without being snagged.

All About Fishing Leaders: How To Make And Use Them

Fishing leaders come in various sizes and materials. Some are designed specifically for saltwater fishing, while others are better suited for freshwater fishing.

If you’re new to using fishing leaders, we have put together this guide on how to make and use them.

Why Should You Use A Leader While Fishing?

There are multiple reasons why you should consider using a leader when you go fishing.

The main reason being is that a leader will make your fishing line much less visible in the water, while also it is resistant to abrasion and is protected against sharp teeth of certain fish.

Also, by using a leader you will actually end up using less line, and allows you to throw heavier baits as it has some shock absorbance. 

Below, we have gone through all the common reasons, you should consider using a leader while fishing. This will give you a better understanding of using a leader. 


There are different types of fishing line that you can decide from. However, the braided line is very visible in the water and the fluorocarbon fishing line is almost invisible.

Hence, if you are fishing in clear water, you may want to use fluorocarbon leader, then a straight braid, especially around the shyer species of fish. 

If you are bass fishing then you must have a leader, especially if they spook easily. You don’t want to spook them, so by having an invisible leader, then you have more of a chance of catching more fish. 

Abrasion Resistance

A lot of people use a leader and a fluorocarbon leader while fishing, because you add a lot more abrasion resistance to your fishing line. 

Monofilament lines can break quite easily. The braided line is strong, but it can be broken when it makes contact on sharp objects or rocks.

Thus, you want to use a leader using fluorocarbon, as you can be assured that this leader will be strong enough to pull your bait up against any force. 

Teeth Protection

You want to make sure that your line is protected by the sharp teeth of the fish, especially when you are fishing chain pickerel and northern pike.

Both species of fish are known for having extremely sharp teeth that could easily slice through your fishing line. 

In this scenario, a wire leader made from titanium or steel is a better choice than a fluorocarbon leader. You need to add strength.

So if you know that these fish are around, a leader will help to protect your line from their teeth.

Save Money On Fishing Line

In the long term, by using a fishing leader, you will save your money on your fishing line. If you use a long enough leader, then you retie it a few times, before you need to cut the main line and start again.

This could save you money over time on buying new fishing lines. 

Shock Absorption 

A lot of anglers will rig up their gear and use a shock leader. These are slightly different to a traditional leader, as they have a different purpose and longer as well. 

A shock leader is typically used for surf fishing, where heavy baits are cast at extremely long distances. As a result, a shock leader is quite heavy when tired to your main fishing line.

The reason for this, is so that it can absorb the shock that your weight bait and lures produce once that have been cast.

Therefore, the force that is produced, won’t break the main line, which is considerably lighter in weight. 

The concept of a shock absorption leader is also used when trying to catch heavier fish. It gives you the confidence that your line won’t break if you happen to catch a larger and heavier fish. 

Reasons To Use A Shock Leader

When you need to perform a long range cast, then you will need a heavy bait to be able to travel that distance and give you the force to cast the distance as well.

By using a shock leader, this lets you perform these long range casts, but you don’t have to use a really heavy fishing line. 

You will typically hear shock leaders are used for more surf fishing. However, they are useful when you are trying to cast a heavy bait for a large freshwater fish or even a catfish.

Which Line Produces The Best Shock Leader?

The aim of a shock leader is to absorb the force and shock that is created during casting. You need the line to be able to stretch, too. 

As a result, a monofilament line is the best option when it comes to creating a shock leader. This is because monofilament has much more stretch than braided or fluorocarbon fishing line. 

How Heavy Does Your Line Need To Be To Use A Shock Leader?

The answer to this question depends on the amount of weight you are trying to cast with. The rule of thumb is around a 10 pound fishing line for every ounce of your fishing rig. 

However, this takes into account the weight of your hook, bait and anything else that may be attached to your line.

You also need to think about how strong the current is of the water, river or ocean that you are fishing in. 

What Is The Right Size A Shock Leader Should Be?

The size of your shock leader is important, as it needs to be able to handle the force and shock that it is put through.

If you tie the leader too short, then you are restricting the amount of space it has to stretch during the cast. Thus, it is pretty much useful, and you have wasted your fishing line. 

As a result, you want to tie around 30 feet for your leader. This leader will tie around your spool a couple of times.

However, the size will give you the stretch and strength that is required for long range casting and heavier fish. 

Using A Shock Leader For Carp Fishing

Using A Shock Leader For Carp Fishing

Carp fishing is the ideal example when you are freshwater fishing and you should be using a shock leader. Carp like to stay out of reach when you are casting, unless you happen to use a really heavy bait. 

All the principles when it comes to using a shock leader for surf fishing are applied to carp fishing. It is known that carp are weary fish, and they like to stay away from anything they don’t know.

They are a shy species of fish. However, using a shock leader could help to keep your fish calm and intrigued to eat the bait.

Making A Leader

There are a couple of ways to make a fishing leader, and we are going to go through a couple of them now. 

In essence, a leader in fishing could just be a piece of pliable or fluorocarbon wire, which is then tied to your main line with a double knot.

Although, a few people like to use a swivel in between the main line and leader. This actually helps to reduce the chances of the line twisting.

You can produce leaders ahead of time, but you need to make sure that they are big enough for you to spin but small enough to pass through your line guides while casting. 

A snap swivel is another other, that is used on the other end of the leader. The bed that attaches to the hook or lure. The majority of store bought leaders will come like this. 

Attaching A Leader

A lot of people are unsure how to attach your leader to your fishing line. This will vary on how the leader was made. If the leader was purchased from a store, then a barrel swivel will be attached on one end. 

However, tying a fishing leader to your line is actually really easy. Yet, it can become more complicated if the leader doesn’t have a leader attached to it already. In this scenario, you have 2 options. 

You either tie a swivel on, or you join your fishing line and leader together using a simple know. You don’t always need to use a swivel, as they can fail, but they do help prevent the line from twisting. 

Method: Tying Wire Leaders

The easiest way to tire a wire leader is by using a haywire twist. The haywire twist is very strong and quick to do. 

All you need to do is pull around 6 feet of wire through the fishing hook’s eye. Then form a loop with that wire.

By holding the loop and the eye of the hook, you want to twist the main line and the tag end at the same time. By twisting both sides, a corkscrew effect is achieved and the hook and leader twist around one another. 

If you only twist one end, then the leader won’t stay in place and slip free once a free bite. Once you have completed around 5 to 6 corkscrew twists, then twist the tag end around the main line 5 times.

You want these final twists to be as tight as you can make them. 

The corkscrew twists will actually lock together, and this is what gives it strength. 

Attaching A Leader To A Braided Fishing Line

When it comes to braided fishing line, we would recommend using a double uni knot when attaching your leader. The double uni knot is an easy knot which is also extremely strong.

Even when the conditions are windy, the knot works well. 

To tie your leader to your braided line, follow these simple steps:

  • Step 1: Lay your two lines next to each other. Then around each line make an overhead loop.
  • Step 2: Spiral the tag line on each line on the inside loop for around 7 times. 
  • Step 3: Pull the tag line on both lines taut, which will produce a uni knot.
  • Step 4: Finally, pull each main line together. This will form two uni knots that are next to one another. 

Are Leaders Necessary While Bass Fishing?

Both smallmouth and largemouth bass don’t have sharp teeth compared to a lot of other species of fish.

As a result, you don’t actually need to use a leader while bass fishing because the line doesn’t need to be protected by the teeth of the fish. 

However, you may still want to use one if you are fishing in clear water conditions, or near abrasive conditions.

Although you may aim to catch a bass, you could always hook a pike which has very sharp teeth that could snap your line.

Therefore, you don’t necessarily need a leader for bass fishing, but there are multiple other reasons why you may still need one to keep your line safe. 

If you do decide to use a leader while bass fishing, then we would suggest using a fluorocarbon line for your leader, especially when fishing in clear water.

Fluorocarbon wire becomes almost invisible in clear water and is protected by abrasion. Thus, it is the ideal option when fishing in rocky areas as well. 

Now, we understand that fluorocarbon isn’t a metal wire, but it can still hold a good chance against sharp teeth that it may come into contact with.

Fluorocarbon is a much better option when compared to a monofilament or braided main fishing line. 

Do You Need To Use A Leader When Using A Spinnerbait?

When it comes to spinnerbait, a lot of anglers don’t use a leader. This is due to the wire frame being bent, and this gives your fishing line a lot of protection from any teeth.

Also, as spinnerbaits work quite quickly, they form reaction strikes. Hence, your fish you are trying to catch, won’t even notice the fishing line or notice that something is different/wrong. 

So, you don’t have to use a leader when you are using a spinnerbait. 

Do You Need To Use A Leader When Using Topwater Lures?

Again, you don’t need to use a leader when using a topwater lure. However, if you do want to use a leader, then it should be with a monofilament line. 

Ideally, you don’t want to use leaders or a fluorocarbon fishing line when using a topwater lure. This is because fluorocarbon actually sinks. It may not drag your entire lure down, but it could sink it too far.

You may discover that you have been losing a large amount of your topwater lures to pickerel or pike. The best thing to do is create a bigger lure.

Do You Need To Use A Leader When Using Jerkbait?

Jerkbait is a great choice and lure when it comes to fishing northern pike. However, they are often fished using a wire leader. 

You want the leader to be much longer than the jerkbait, so the lure doesn’t get hung up on the hook. It is known that jerkbait can be 8 to 12 foot long, so you need a leader that is around this length or longer. 

Using Regular Fishing Line For Your Leader

You can purchase a leader line, but you can also use a regular fishing line as your leader. Using a regular line, such as fluorocarbon for your leader, will save you money on buying fishing line and is quite convenient. 

This is due to pre-made leader material being actually quite expensive for every yard of it. However, by using your regular line, you still get the same benefits of using a leader that we have mentioned throughout this article. 

Final Thoughts

If you are going fishing for pike or in clear water, then you need to learn or purchase a leader. We have mentioned various reasons why you need to use a leader while you are fishing in particular conditions.

However, the main reason is that a leader will help you to hook and land a lot more fish overall.

They help keep your fishing line strong against abrasion, teeth of particular fish species and are ideal for long range and heavy casting. 

There are various reasons why you need to use a leader. We hope that you have found this article interesting and have a better understanding why you need to use a leader or a shock leader while fishing.

Alongside that, we have given you the methods on how to create your own leader, to save you money from buying on from a stroke.

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