Which Leader do I Use?






Like Opening a Can of Worms ;  This article will surely be controversial, as some fisherpersons say fish are not leader shy, while others prove they are.  To answer this question,  Yes and No, maybe and sometimes.   It depends on the fish, conditions, lure, bait, tide, clarity, available light, barometric pressure and "mood" of the fish.


Could it be that fisherman are in the same group of golfers -- maybe I could do better -- if I had better newer equipment, maybe I could catch more or larger fish.  And in this case the thought is lighter leader may equate to more hookups.  Yes, good equipment helps, but great skills will do better with last years stuff than poor skills with this years stuff.  In some situations, the real way to improve your game is to do so with improving your skills, and not the latest and greatest gear. 


It's been an observation that the busier a fisherperson is dragging fish back to the boat or bank, the less time he has to be "scientific" about what he is using or why the fish won't take what he is using.   Here is another observation it's more important to put the bait in front of a biting fish rather than the type of line, but if it CAN give me the fisherman a slight edge why not use it.


We should also include line/leader color in this mix also.


I guess we should separate out conditions as a factor.  Some fish may be leader shy, some water conditions may also add to this, and some specie probably more so than others.


Normally when fishing salt water, say for salmon, (at least here in the Pacific Northwest) it will make little difference if your leader is 20# or 50#.  For years commercial salmon trollers have been using 80# to 100# test mono for mainline AND leader, and this is their livelihood.  You would think that if it meant more fish in the box if they used 20# that they surely would do so.  However under their conditions, where they can not fight each fish individually, the gear has to be to where when they bring the spreads in, it is "Come or Bleed".


When trolling for tuna some of the gear is heavy tuna cord (about 1/8" cord), which obviously is visible.  Yet when the boat stops and live anchovies are chummed and used for bait, light leader seems to be a must.  But out there in the blue clear water, things may be a lot different than near-shore.


Some specie of fish may be leader shy, or more leader shy than others.  Steelhead probably the most notable.  Trout, both in lakes and rivers could also be included here.   Yes, and water clarity would again enter into the picture. 


I remember 60 years ago when my uncle took me under his wing showing me how to bobber fish single eggs for trout in a stocked mill pond.  As the summer progressed and or the fish got wiser, he went from 6# line down to 2#.  OK, me being young and innocent, I did the same, and yes we caught more fish than the other fishermen, who did not know what we had done.  I even landed a 18" sucker which fought a lot as with that 2# size line, it was not a reel it in thing this time.


Other than that, line diameter or visibility is indirectly proportional to the emptiness of a fish's stomach.  Hungry fish are dumber fish.


If they are leader shy why do they swim into gillnets?







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Originated 02-25-2014, Last updated 12-26-2014
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