Leaders are a length of fishing line that attaches between your bait and your main line. Leaders can be created from monofilament, fluorocarbon, steel or braid line.
Why use a leader?
Using a leader can divert the attention of a fish from your main line. It can also mean the difference between an intact line and one that is sheared off due to a fish getting a little aggressive and steel bite pro biting through your line.
When should I use a leader?
A leader is especially helpful if you are dealing with fish that are line shy. Great examples of these types of fish that migrate to the Northeast such as false albacore, Atlantic Bonito and Spanish Mackeral. When these fish are headed south, they tend to gorge on smaller bait-fish. This helps them survive the long trek to warm water. These fish are gifted with keen site. If something appears out of the ordinary, they will often pass up your bait, no matter how carefully you have prepared it. This can be easily remedied by a fluorocarbon leader.
The reason that fluorocarbon is so effective is that it provides close to no light refraction. The lighter the line, the less refraction. Fortunately the fish who are the easiest to lure using a fluorocarbon lead mostly weigh in at less than ten pounds, you can use a twenty pound fluorocarbon leader. If you’ve ever fished with another angler who isn’t using a fluro lead, you already know the value of using them. The most effective leader length in this case is between three and four feet. Anything more or less will not give the desired results.
If you prefer braided lines, chances are that adding a monofilament leader can help tremendously. Monofilament has much less visibility than braided line and offers far more flexibility. A mono leader can help absorb the shock involved with a fish determined to fight every step of the way. Anglers who prefer graphite or fiberglass rods often find that a mono leader can help land that oversized fish on a short line. Typically a four to five foot leader is ideal but the minimum should be three feet.
If the preferred catch of the day is Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Barracuda or bluefish, as you well know they are renowned for their nasty teeth. These fish are also not particularly line shy. Most anglers opt for the highly visible steel leader. The steel leader boasts twenty to thirty pound weight and can handle most pikes and muskies, though a bluefish would require a forty to sixty pound leader. If you are angling for barracuda, the recommendation is to go higher as they can easily snap through eighty pound single strand wire as if it were thread. The blues and barracuda well known for scissor-sharp teeth are renowned for their ability to bite. You can use a lighter weight leader for pike and muskies since their teeth tend to be a it more needle-like.