many people in the UK I have now adopted the American term 'leader' when refering
to the wire trace used for lure fishing. This seems a sensible move as it differentiates
them from the hooked traces we use for fishing natural baits. I frequently get
asked about leader choice by people new to jerkbait fishing, and the subject also
crops up regularly on internet forums. Are solid, single strand, wire leaders
best or multistrand ones? I have used both types - catching good fish on each,
and to be perfectly honest can't tell if the choice affects lure action as some
people claim. I seem to get as much glide out of my jerkbaits with 90lb multistrand
leaders as I do using a solid leader. It has to be said that these are fairly
stiff when compared to lighter multistrand wire. I have never found that solid
leaders tangle with lure hooks any less frequently than do multistrand leaders
- as is also claimed at times. So, I use the ones I find most convenient to use
Both types of leader
have their drawbacks and advantages. Solid leaders are tricky to straighten out
if they get a bad bend or kink in them through fouling with the lure, or during
a fight with a pike - and leader straightness does seem to affect lure
action. They are also a nuisance to transport without getting accidentally bent,
while multistrand leaders can be kept coiled up in grip seal bags and take up
very little room. However, reliable solid leaders are easy to make using just
a pair of round nosed pliers and a pair of side cutters. Multistrand leaders need
either crimping (not everyone trusts crimped traces, but in heavy wire I find
it okay) or they have to be twisted - which is not easy in heavy multistrand.
strand steel leaders are thinner than multistrand leaders of the same breaking
strain - so if you think that matters it might be a factor to consider. However,
I don't recommend that you do away with the swivel if choosing solid leader. The
swivel may be superfluous as an anti kink device when using lures that don't impart
line twist, but it is important as an attachment point for the braid. There are
two reasons for this. The one I think has most bearing is that 80lb single strand
wire is a lot thinner than the eye of the size of swivel fitted to jerkbait traces
and I am convinced that this affects knot strength. I am sure that knots are stronger
when tied to a wire of a diameter at least equal to that of the line, and thicker
wire than the line is better still - if not taken to extremes, of course. I have
heard it suggested that tying a knot direct to the wire of the leader might weaken
the knot through repeated flexing too. Either way, keep the swivel as a safety
For jerkbait fishing the choice
is yours, solid or multistrand. Try both and use the type you get on with best.
I find that I can fish all my large lures (not just jerkbaits) using 90lb multistrand
leaders. However, solid leaders do seem to tangle less frequently with spinnerbaits
- for some reason that I don't understand!
steel leaders have served me so well for many years that I have never felt the
need to use any other type...... until I tried single-strand titanium wire. Titanium
wire is lighter than steel, more flexible and kink resistant, but is also thicker
for a given breaking strain - and it is more expensive than steel. All these properties
suggest a leader material that will revolutionise pike fishing. Unfortunatley,
titanium wire is more difficult to work with than either solid or multistrand
steel leader wire. Titanium wire cannot be twisted to connect swivels and snaps,
it has to be crimped in the heavier strains while light wire can be knotted (with
practice). Unfortunately, because titanium is also hard it is difficult to crimp
- and there is a risk that the wire will pull out of the crimp under pressure.
Multistrand titanium wire is also available, but the titanium multistrand leaders
I have seen so far are just too supple for my liking as lure leaders.
titanium wire offers everything you could want in a leader. Although stiff in
use, single-strand titanium wire is also supple - if that makes any sense! The
first solid titanium leaders I used were rated at 100lb and were very thick in
diameter. They were good though! However, these leaders were also fitted with
large ball bearing swivels, which added weight to the leader making them heavier
than my standard steel leaders!
to Seb Shelton I now have the crimping of single strand titanium wire under control
and am using a much finer wire than the leaders I had tried before. These leaders
are made from 100lb wire and are stronger than my 90lb multistrand leaders - which
I always though were indestructible! One field tester has landed over fifty pike
on one titanium leader - inculding a good few double figure fish to over eighteen
pounds. Because the wire is so kink resistant there is every chance that the snap
link will fatigue before the leader, so this is a point to note with titanium
leaders - in fact it is worth watching on all heavy leaders.
the time being the titanium leaders I am now using serve me for all my needs.
They offer the anti-tangle properties of solid leaders with the kink resistance
of multistrand, while being lighter than both. Once you have used titanium leaders
steel seems crude and primitive. That is not to say that steel won't always have
a place as a leader material. Owing to the expense of titanium wire its use where
snags abound is not good for the bank balance! So on snaggy rivers, and for deep
trolling in rocky environments, for example, steel will still find favour.
predict that, over the next five years, titanium wire will do to steel what superbraids
have done to nylon monofilament over the last five years. We used to hear people
saying there was no need for overpriced braids, but now just about everyone is
using braid for most of their lure fishing! The same will happen with titanium
wire once enough people have seen the advantages it offers and it becomes more
widely available. I can already see how a finer wire, say fifty or sixty pound
test, will have benefits for minnowbait and jig fishing.
thing that is worth considering with all leader types is sleeving the connections
(twists or crimps) with shrink tubing. This covers the sharp tag ends of the wire
which can save you from pain when handling the leader - with or without a fish
attached - and also removes the chances of the line being damaged if it wraps
around the connection. I also like to sleeve the lower part of the snap link,
in order to hold it in line with the leader as I feel this reduces the incidence
of tangles of leader with lure.
of leader is another topic that is often raised. My preference is for a minimum
of ten inches (25cm) and a maximum of eighteen (46cm). Any shorter is foolhardy
and increases the chances of a pike's teeth encountering your line, any longer
makes casting a pain. Even with a long leader pike can get wrapped up in line
and leader to such an extent that the line crosses the teeth. No matter how long
your leader it is possble. I have even had a pike bite through the line between
the rings on my rod - but that's another story!
(This article first appeared on this
website - June 4th 2002)