Some anglers consider leaders to be a crucial part of successful fishing, while some others see them as a luxury. This raises the question, how important is the leader for successful fishing?
Do you really need a more decisive leader compared to your main fishing line? The answer is yes. But not always. Leaders have a role in fishing, that’s for sure.
When you are either fishing in an area that has sharp rocks or other kinds of submarine objects or your target fish has sharp teeth, then your line has a high chance of snapping.
In those scenarios, having a strong leader is important. But it is not always the case. Sometimes, you are better off having a relatively weaker leader. Let me explain.
I’ve heard people saying that a heavier leader line is essential 90% of the time. I’ve also heard you don’t need it 99% of the time. Both of the opinions are very strong and obviously supported with their logic.
But they are two opposite opinions. So, what is the reality? Do you really need a stronger line all the time? Or can you avoid it altogether? Let’s explore.
What Is The Purpose Of A Leader?
A leader is the extra bit of line that connects the bait with the main fishing line. A leader is usually made of a different line from the main fishing line. This gives the opportunity to introduce an extra trait to the rig without swapping the complete line, spool, or even the fishing rod with another.
Want to make a change on the go? Simply replace the leader and the hook, and your setup is ready for completely different prey.
In the example that I mentioned above, while fishing in a rocky area, you are likely to get your line stuck or scratch on rough edges, and the chance of snapping the line is high.
Now, you could use a thicker and stronger line altogether, but that’s not very practical, is it? Here, a meter-long abrasion-resistant leader would save the line and make your life much more comfortable.
Another time a leader would be very useful is when you are tackling a tricky fish. Fish like Gar have razor-sharp teeth. They can easily cut through light to medium lines.
Here, an extra thick leader can help. Fish like trout have excellent vision for a fish and are easily spooked. A nearly invisible leader will undoubtedly increase your odds.
Sometimes a leader is used to help the bait sink faster and more efficiently. Sometimes a leader will help the bait float more freely and naturally. In all of these cases, there is one thing in common.
The leader will assist you and increase your odds. In no scenario, a leader will catch an impossible fish. The same thing can be achieved with or without a leader. So, having a leader is by no means a must.
How Useful Is A Heavier Leader?
Using a heavier leader is useful in some cases. The word “Heavy” does not necessarily strictly mean heavy. It generally refers to a leader line that is thicker and stronger than the mainline. Here are some scenarios where using a heavier leader will benefit you.
When Fishing In Rocky Water
One of the main uses of a heavier leader is when fishing in rivers or other water bodies that have a rocky bottom, and you are fishing kind of near the bottom. It’s just a matter of time before the line gets tangled and scratches on the sharp edges.
Even if you are careful and avoid that from happening, when the fish comes for a bite, guess what it’ll do? It’ll take the bite and run toward the caverns among the rocks like there’s no tomorrow.
So, having a heavier leader line will decrease the chance of snapping. Even though it will not increase bite or luck, it will increase your overall success.
This includes water that has a significant number of underwater plants, wrecks, rocks, or other objects.
Targeting Toothy Fish
Some fishes have a plain soft mouth, while some others have teeth. Some specialist fish have teeth that are very sharp and easily capable of cutting through a decent line quite effortlessly. A stronger line will give you more time and “meat” for the fish to go through before cutting loose.
Fish like Muskie, Bass, Gar, and Walleyes are all popular gamefish and equipped with rows of teeth. A line that is capable of withstanding the throwing and thrashing of these fish is not always able to withstand their teeth.
You could upgrade the line to a thicker one, but that will easily push your budget through the roof. A thicker leader line with even six inches of length will get the job done while keeping your wallet healthy.
To Make The Bait Dip
Although fairly uncommon, sometimes a heavier leader is used on a line to make the bait dip in the water. When you are using a monofilament or braided line as the main fishing line, you would want to pair it with a heavier leader since the line itself would want to float. A floaty bait is not particularly interesting to all the fishes.
Using a leader made of fluorocarbon can resolve the issue pretty handily. Fluorocarbon is denser than water, and so It will add a bit of extra weight to the bait helping it sink underwater. As a result, your bait will appear more realistic and convincing to the fish, increasing your chance of getting a bite.
When attaching a leader to the main fishing line, you can use a swivel to connect the two. The swivel will allow the leader to rotate freely without introducing any twist to the line.
This is helpful because twists in the line may create a few issues such as inconsistent reeling and unreeling, the line getting tangled, unexpected knots, and curving the line if the line has high line memory.
A swivel will tackle the issues. Any kind of leader will do the job, but a stronger leader is simply better at it.
Is A Heavier Leader A Compulsory Element?
No. A heavy leader line is not a compulsory element in successful fishing. All it does is give you slightly better luck or a bit more convenience. The same fish can be caught with or without a leader.
The success of fishing depends more on the skill of the angler than his rig. The rig sure plays a big role; it never surpasses its operator. Once you get into fishing you can easily master the skills to bypass the issues that a leader line is mostly used for.
But it is not redundant by any means. Even though it is not a must-to-have, it sure is useful. It’s just, in my opinion, a lot of the people overrate it more than it deserves. So, rather than worrying about getting the perfect leader line, you should prioritize sharpening your skill.