LONGER CASTS may need longer leaders...

There are a number of reasons to adjust leader length: to separate bait from weight, place the bait higher in the water column, allow the bait to trail and swim more naturally after the sinker hits.

But here’s another. Whether you’re tying fluoro to braid or as I often do, fluoro to mono for dart heads, when fishing on the bottom, the farther you have to cast the longer your leader really needs to be. It’s all about your line leading or preceding your bait through the cover. And you know what they say in boxing, “Don’t lead with your chin.”

The longer the cast you make, the smaller or lower the angle from rod tip to your bait on the bottom. That means the closer your knot to the bait, the more likely it will be hitting the rocks and snags before your slip sinker or jig head. And it doesn’t matter what knot you tie–they all create a little “bump” in the otherwise smooth filament(s). When you lead with the knot on repeated retrieves you can damage your connection.

Believe me, it’s taken almost a year of experimenting to figure this out. (Okay, I’m a slow learner.) But what I’ve found, for example, was a 12-pound Sunline leader with 6-pound mono cut down the break-offs around the head or sinker, but some leader failure was still happening up at main line connection.

Sure enough, I started paying closer attention. What I found was after working through scratchy bottom or after several hard hop and pops trying to extract the jig from snags, the knot was taking a lot more of the hits. Since I have doubled the leader length (to rod length), that same type knot failure is a very rare occurrence. On the short pitches, of course, or unless you’re fishing uphill, the shorter leader (2-3 feet) is still good.

Anyway, it’s something you might play with.

BTW: If you tie two dramatically different line/leader strengths (pound tests) together, you may gain abrasion resistance, but when put under duress, the end with the lower tensile strength is still going to break first. That’s not a knot quality issue, just reality.


4 Responses to “Leader length: don’t lead with your chin”

I like your solution to the problem of knot contact.Good stuff. In the same long cast scenario, my strategy to reduce snagging a Texas rig is to stand up and keep my rod tip high.
Details: How much longer is your new length? What mechanical adjustments have you had to make so that your casting accuracy is not compromised? Are you continuing to experiment with line to leader connection knots?

by George Kramer

Of course, Rich, as an experienced angler you know raising the tip increases the angle to the lure and help avoid the problem I’m talking about. In that vein 40 to 50 foot casts from a raised deck aren’t as problematical the same as 70 to 100 footers.

When shaking, however, the tip may be up, but on the slack part of the retrieve motion, the line drops into the danger zone when working the bait back. As I noted, rod length leader works for me–and most of my rods are 7 feet or longer. Half that length leader works for pitching in tight quarters.

As for knots, multiple turn knots like double Uni’s do spread out the wear area, but it seems the weak spot always shows up under the most tension at the most critical time. I use a Seaguar knot much of the time because it’s so much faster to tie–especially when you’re fighting the wind and the TM.

I suppose using full-spool fluoro would reduce the knot-hitting problem even better, though then I’d lose the benefits of the braided or fused line. I admit, my take is situational. 😉

Wow that was heavy, so much for keepin fishin simple.

by George Kramer

Obviously, the nature of the bank–its grade (steepness) and the type of cover–also help determine if the distance and thus, line angle from rod tip to lure, requires a certain length leader.