Do You Need To Use A Leader With Braided Line?

I’ve been using braid as my main fishing line for a while now since there are a lot of benefits to using it. I hear a lot of people asking whether or not you should put a leader on the end of your braid, and in this post, I’m going to be answering that question.

The simple answer is that when you’re using braided line you should use a leader 90% of the time. Braid has a lot of benefits such as casting distance, strength, and sensitivity. That being said, it also isn’t the best to tie to your lure because it’s fairly easy to see in the water. The only time you might want to use straight braid is if you’re fishing extremely dirty water or there’s a lot of vegetation where you’ll get snagged.

Those are the only two times I’ll use straight braid when I’m fishing. The majority of the time I’ll use fluorocarbon as my leader and the reason for that is it’s a lot harder for the fish to see in the water. I did an article showing how each line and each color looks in the water (see that here). Continue reading to see some more tips on how to fish with braided fishing line.

The Benefits Of Using Braid

Like I was saying before, I use braid as my main fishing line on the majority of my rods. Even though there are a few downsides to using it (visibility, floats, can cause a mess if it breaks), the benefits are a lot better in my opinion.

The first benefit to using braid is that it’ll improve your casting distance. If you’re using a spinning or baitcasting rod then this will be pretty important to you. If you can improve your casting distance you’ll be able to cover more water. That’ll hopefully lead to more fish. I did a test where I compared how far each of the lines went and you can see that here.

The second benefit of using braid is that you can put more line on your spool. If you need to fish with a 20 lb line and you’re using fluorocarbon, you might only be able to put 100 yards on your spool (I’m making up numbers). 20 lb braid is the same thickness as 6 lb monofilament and that means you might be able to put 200 yards on your spool. If you’re just casting it won’t be a huge deal but it could come in handy if you’re trolling deeper water.

The next benefit of braid is that it’s stronger than mono/fluoro of the same diameter. If you’re comparing 20 lb braid to 20 lb mono, it’s obviously going to be very similar. When you compare braid and mono of the same thickness, the braid will be much stronger. That’ll hopefully help you land bigger fish.

Another benefit to using braid is that it’s more sensitive. This isn’t going to guarantee that you’ll catch more fish but it can definitely improve your chances. Having a more sensitive rod will help you feel what’s going on under the water and you’ll be able to feel the smaller bites a lot better. This is especially useful on a cheaper fishing rod. When you toss braid on a cheaper rod it’ll make it feel more expensive than it actually is (it won’t be exactly the same but you get my point).

The final benefit is that it’ll last longer. Braid is going to be more expensive than mono and fluoro but the good thing about it is that it should last 2-3 times as long. You might only get one year out of a spool of monofilament but I’ve had the same braid on my spool for the past couple (I use this). I really don’t enjoy spooling line on my reels so this is a big plus for me.

Why Use A Leader

Do You Need To Use A Leader With Braided Line

Since there are a number of disadvantages to using braid, we want to use a leader to make up for those. You can either use fluorocarbon or monofilament as your leader. It’ll all depend on your preference and what type of fishing you’re doing. I’ll talk about what I use in a second.

The first reason you’d want to use a leader is that it’s harder for the fish to see. If you’re fishing in super dirty water then you can just stick with braid if you want. If you saw the test I did (above) comparing what each line looks like in the water you’ll know that fluorocarbon is the hardest to see underwater. Braid is pretty visible and that’s why you might not want to tie it directly to your lure.

Another reason you’d want to use a leader is that it can be good if you’re fishing around rocks, docks, or bridges. If your line is constantly rubbing on something it’ll eventually wear out and break. If you’re using 20 lb braid as your main fishing line, you can toss on a 30-40 lb leader and your line will be a lot harder to break off.

The last reason you’d want to use a leader is that it’ll be better for the water if you break off. If you’re fishing with straight braid and get snagged on something, it could be really tough to break off and you might have to cut your line. Braid causes a huge mess in the water and can ruin fishing spots. If you have a lighter leader line, that should break off instead.

Best Leader To Use With Braid

When it comes to what type of leader you’ll use, it all depends on your preference and what type of fishing you’re doing. If you’re fishing ultra-clear water then you’ll probably want to use fluorocarbon. If you’re fishing topwater then you might want to stick with monofilament (since it floats).

In 90% of my cases, I’ll use fluorocarbon as my leader. Some people don’t like it as much but it’s always worked well for me. I’ll usually use 20 lb braid as my main fishing line and then I’ll use whatever strength of fluoro I need. If I’m fishing for kokanee or rainbow I’ll use 4-6 lb and then I’ll use 12-15 lb if I’m fishing for bass or salmon.

I’ll normally use Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon and it’s always been decent. I wouldn’t use it as my main fishing line but it works well as a leader. The reason you don’t want to use it as your main fishing line is that it has a lot of memory. When it sits in the packaging for who knows how long it gets a curve to it and it won’t be the best if you’re trying to cast. This doesn’t matter at all if you’re using it as leader material.

Tips For Spooling Braid

I just wanted to mention a couple of quick tips if you’re using braid as your main fishing line. You don’t need to use all of them but I’ve learned a few things that have made my life a lot easier and more enjoyable.

The first thing you’ll want to do is put a couple of wraps of fluorocarbon or monofilament on your spool BEFORE attaching the braid. Braid is pretty slippery and tends to slide on the spool. If you give it something to bite into then you’ll get much better performance out of your rod. You could also put some electrical tape on your spool instead of mono/fluoro.

The second thing you’ll want to do is make sure you spool your reel carefully. With mono or fluoro, you can pretty much put it on and be good to go. With braid, you can run into a few more issues. You’ll want to make sure you have a lot of tension on the line as you’re reeling in. You’ll also want to make sure your line isn’t digging into the lower layers or crossing in any way. That’s where the tangles and bird nests will come into play. Also, put enough line on so there’s a 1/8-1/16 inch gap between your line and the spool.

The final thing you’ll want to do (if you can) is to take your rod out in a boat and let your line out as you’re moving. You’ll then want to reel in while the boats moving. This will get your line wet and put a bit more tension on the line as you’re reeling it in. It’s more natural and you should get a much nicer spool of line by doing it.

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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