Should Your Leaders Be Stronger Than Your Main Line?

Should Your Leaders Be Stronger Than Your Main Line
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If you’ve been having trouble with your line breaking off you might be thinking about using some heavier line as your leader. In this post, I’m going to be talking about whether you should be using a strong or lighter leader compared to your main fishing line.

In 90% of cases, your leader line should be lighter than your main fishing line. The only time your leaders should be stronger than your mainline is when you’re using monofilament or fluorocarbon and are fishing by rocks, bridges, and docks or are targeting fish with sharp teeth. If you’re using braided line then your leader material should be lighter.

Obviously, this isn’t set in stone 100% and you’ll still be able to catch fish with a heavier leader. This is just my personal opinion and there’s really no need for it in most cases. Continue reading and I’ll talk about each type of main fishing line and what leader you should be using.

Monofilament Mainline

monofilament fishing line

If you’re using monofilament as your main fishing line and are fishing around rocks and docks or you’re targeting fish with sharp teeth, you’ll probably want to use a heavier leader. Otherwise, you’ll be better off using something a bit lighter (or no leader at all).

I like using something lighter as my leader because it’s harder to see in the water. 20 lb mono is pretty thick and even the clear color can be seen by some fish. Some don’t care but some fish have better eyesight than others.

Using a thicker leader will obviously be tougher to break and that’s why you’d want to use it around objects. If you’re fishing for trout near rocks and are using 4-6 lb line, it’s not going to last very long.

When it comes to what leader material to use you can either go with fluorocarbon or monofilament. If you’re using mono as your main fishing line then you’d most likely want to use a mono leader. There are a few exceptions though.

The first is when you’re fishing ultra-clear water and the fish are easily spooked. Fluorocarbon is harder to see in the water compared to monofilament and that’s why you might want to use fluoro.

The next is when your mono leader isn’t holding up to abrasion. Fluorocarbon is a bit tougher and will normally last longer when it’s rubbing up against rocks and docks.

In most cases though, I’d probably just use monofilament as my leader. I like to use as light of line as I can get away with (for my leader) and that’s why it’s normally lighter than my main fishing line.

Fluorocarbon Mainline

fluorocarbon fishing line

If you’re going to be fishing with fluorocarbon as your main fishing line then you’ll most likely want to use a lighter leader (or no leader at all). Again, there are a few exceptions but this is what I do in most cases.

Just like with monofilament, the only time you’d want to use a heavier leader is when you’re fishing around rocks and docks or are targeting a fish with sharp teeth. Otherwise, you’ll want to use something lighter (or the same thickness).

The reason I don’t like to use something heavier is that it’s easier to see in the water. You definitely can catch fish using something heavier but there usually isn’t any benefit.

When it comes to what leader material to use you’ll most likely want to use fluorocarbon. It wouldn’t really make sense to use a monofilament leader and it definitely wouldn’t make sense to use a braided leader.

If you want your bait to be suspended in the water then you’ll probably be using mono or braid as your main fishing line. Since fluoro sinks, there’s no need to have a leader material that floats. That’s just my opinion anyway.

You wouldn’t want to use braid as your leader because it’s not clear and is easily seen in the water. Also, it floats like monofilament so there’s really no benefit.

Braided Mainline

braid fishing line

If you’re going to be using braided line as your main fishing line then there’s really no reason to use a heavier leader. Braid is thin compared to the other lines and you should be using a leader with it, but it should be lighter lb test.

The reason you don’t need to use a heavier leader with braid is that you’re normally using heavier braid than you actually need. If you’re fishing for rainbow then you can normally use 10 lb braid. Using a 12-15 lb leader kind of makes no sense.

If you’re fishing for bass and are using 20 lb braid then there’s really no need to use a 25 lb leader. Sure, you could do it and still catch fish but there isn’t any benefit in my mind.

The reason you want to use a leader when you’re fishing with braid is that it’s pretty easy to see in the water. It’s not clear like fluorocarbon and can be spotted by a lot of fish. It also floats in the water (like mono) and you might want to use fluorocarbon to get your bait down.

Another reason you might want to use a leader is that braid doesn’t have any stretch. When you’re fishing for something that has a soft mouth (like kokanee) then you’ll want to use monofilament because it does have some stretch to it.

I use braid as my main fishing line most of the time and I’ll generally use fluorocarbon as my leader. I like it because it’s abrasion-resistant and is invisible in the water. If I’m fishing for trout, I’ll use 10 lb braid with a 6 lb leader. If I’m fishing for bass, I’ll use 20 lb braid with a 12 lb leader.

The one time I’ll use monofilament as my leader is when I’m fishing for kokanee. They have soft mouths and you’ll need a bit of stretch to keep the lure from ripping out. You could also use a rubber snubber but monofilament usually works.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm Jon and welcome to Backcountry Cariboo. I'm not a fishing or outdoors "expert" but I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and my goal is to educate, entertain, and promote the outdoor lifestyle.

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