QUESTION: I read and hear a lot about anglers using "leaders" for this and that different species. What exactly is a leader and what is its purpose? I hear about wind-on leaders and fluorocarbon leaders and I'm a little confused as to what they're referring to and even trying to achieve by fishing with a leader.
Fishing World's Greg Finney replies:
There are various types of leaders used by anglers but they all have one thing in common. A leader is a length of monofilament line tied to the end of the main line that is on your fishing reel. It can be a metre long if you fish for bream and whiting or it can be 6 or 7 metres long if you gamefish. It can be lighter than your main line or it can be much heavier than your main line. It all depends on the line class you're fishing and the species sought. I guess a couple of examples would explain things and make it easy to understand.
When fishing for blackfish from the rocks I use a one metre leader or trace of 3kg fluorocarbon line. My main line is 4kg mono. The fluorocarbon leader is used to present the cabbage bait to the fish and make it look as natural as possible. In very clear and calm conditions I'll even go down to a 2kg leader so the fish can't see it or be "spooked" by it.
The lighter leader also means that if I hook a drummer that heads for cover I'll usually get my float back because the lighter leader breaks below the float before my main line. Fluorocarbon leader is a high density fishing line that is less visible in water.
When gamefishing and live baiting for marlin we usually use 15 or 24 kilo line. Line of this size is completely useless when it comes into contact with a marlin's bill. To combat this situation we use a six metre long leader of 250-300 pound mono that has a very hard "skin" and is made to take the punishment handed out by marlin. The heavy line avoids the chances of being worn off during the fight and the six metre length allows us to grab the leader when in reach to control the fish before it's tagged and released.
Our gamefish leaders are clipped to the end of a double in the mainline using a snap swivel but some anglers prefer to use wind-on leaders when gamefishing. A wind-on leader is one that loops to the end of your main line so that it can be wound onto the reel so you can use it control a fish in the final stages of a fight.