Frayed Fishing Leaders and Lost Fish

If you’re new to the sport of inshore saltwater fishing, you may not be aware of the importance of using a leader.  A leader is a separate piece of line you attach to your main fishing line.  The importance of a leader is found in simply considering how much more difficult it is for a fish to break a 30 or 40 pound test leader than it is your 10 or 15 pound test fishing line.  A fishing line’s strength is called the “test,” and it’s measured in “pounds.” Hence, the term “pound test.”  In addition to a leader having an obvious increase in numbers concerning the pound test, the best leader material will provide more abrasion resistance than your fishing line.   When pursuing inshore saltwater gamefish such as snook, a leader will often make the difference between landing the snook or having a lost fish.  The inside of a snook’s lips are rough; like sandpaper.  Same with redfish.  It makes sense for snook and redfish to have tough mouths.  One of the creatures each feeds on is blue crabs.  They need to be able to crush the crab’s shell in order to consume the crab without injury.  If you never considered what functions the mouth and jaws of these fish must accomplish in order to ensure their survival, being aware will help you understand the importance of a leader.  At the end of your leader is your lure or hook with bait.    As far as your fishing line is concerned, the leader is the last section of line between you and the fish.  Making that last link as strong as you can, while not overdoing it, will lead to you landing more fish than losing them during the fight.

Fishing Leader Material from Live to Fish
Fishing Leader Material from Live to Fish

With few exceptions, your main fishing line will be composed of either braid or monofilament.  Your leader will be composed of either fluorocarbon or monofilament; with fluorocarbon being preferable. Basically, the only material you don’t see used as a leader for inshore saltwater fishing is braided line.  The reason for braid’s omission as a leader material is due to the fact that braid is highly visible to fish.  It’s often in a solid dark color.  Even when it’s white, it’s still very apparent.  Being highly visible is a factor you’re looking to avoid when selecting a leader material.  You don’t want fish to see your line.  You certainly don’t want them to see anything attached to your lure or hook.  Just as you won’t catch anything if seaweed ends up on your presentation, no bait fish swims around with line coming out of it’s body and pointing towards the surface.  Snook and trout have exceptional eyesight.  Redfish can see well enough but tend to find their prey through their sense of smell.  Regardless, you stand to catch more fish by avoiding the appearance of a link between you and what you’re using to catch fish.

Braided fishing line available in the showroom at Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669
Some of the braided fishing line options available in the showroom at Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669

What is fluorocarbon?  When manufactured, fluorocarbon is comprised of a carbon base combined with a polymer.  A polymer is a synthetic or naturally occurring compound in which smaller molecules bond to form a larger compound.  The chemical properties of fluorocarbon classify it as a perfluoroalkanes.  Perfluoroalkanes are very stable because of the strength of the carbon–fluorine bond, one of the strongest in organic chemistry.  In other words, fluorocarbon is incredibly durable and resilient.

Fluorocarbon fishing leader in different pound test line strengths
Fluorocarbon fishing leader in different pound test line strengths

Aesthetically, fluorocarbon looks the same as monofilament.  Aside from appearance, the similarities between fluorocarbon and monofilament are few.  The differences between the two are many.  One noteworthy difference is what is referred to as “line stretch,” or the ability of a fishing line to “give.”  Monofilament stretches.  Fluorocarbon does not.  In fact, fluorocarbon is helpful for instantaneous, solid hook sets.   Another difference involves what’s referred to as “line memory.”  Line memory is best exemplified by picturing fishing line pulled off a fishing reel spool, and that fishing line remaining in a tightly coiled shape.  Remaining tightly coiled would be evidence of line memory.  Monofilament has far more line memory than fluorocarbon.

Fluorocarbon is beneficial for use as a leader material because of how difficult it is for fish to see underwater.   The near invisibility comes from having a refractive index that is approximately equal to that of water.  The refractive index determines how much light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material. Given the nearly equivalent refractive index with water, light passes through fluorocarbon fishing line almost as easily as passes through water.  Hence, it’s invisibility.  For reference, water has a refractive index of 1.333.  Fluorocarbon’s refractive index is 1.42.  With only a .087 difference, the two are very close on the refractive scale.

At Live to Fish, we carry a wide variety of fishing line and leader materials.  If you need to replace your fishing line, or your leader is frayed and worn, we keep both fishing line and leader material in stock.  We can also re-spool your reel at our store.  Our showroom is located at: Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669.  You can also purchase what you need from our website, www.livetofish.com  We’re available to answer your questions and help ensure you purchase the products that are most likely to lead to your success on the water.  Feel free to contact us at 844-934-7448 or contactus@livetofish.com

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