5 Best Fishing Leader Lines, Fluorocarbon vs. Monofilament
Leader lines may be the most important section of your fishing line as it’s piece that ties to your lure/hook and is the closest to the fish. The leader line must be strong enough to handle the fighting fish along with the abrasion the line will receive from the fishes teeth and the environment you’re fishing. And the leader line should not spook the fish and ideally be invisible underwater.
There are a number of things to consider when choosing a leader line. This article we’ll cover the most popular leader lines and how they fit with various species and water types.
What is the Purpose of a Fishing Leader?
You may already know this but I don’t want to assume anything so let’s start with the basics. The leader line is a section of line that ties to your hook or lure and is connected to your mainline by either knot or a swivel.
The leader lines purpose is to present a lure or bait naturally. The best way a leader line can do this is being invisible underwater. If the fish sees the leader line or mainline it may get spooked, or the lure will not look as natural and the fish will be less inclined to bite it.
Leader lines with can also absorb the torque or impact on the mainline or knots by having a little stretch to them. These leaders are often called shock leaders as they absorb some of the shock or impact created by a fighting fish. By absorbing this impact it can greatly reduce the chance of a fish breaking the line or a knot failing.
Another purpose of the leader line is to get the bait to the correct depths. Lines can sink or float depending on the type of leader being used. You should have an idea of where you want your bait to be in the water column when you’re fishing. Knowing how your leader line can help with depth is very important!
What Types of Leader Line are there?
The most common types of leader lines are fluorocarbon and monofilament. There are other leaders used like steel, Dacron and other materials but I won’t be saying much on these.
Fluorocarbon Leader Lines
For most fishing scenarios, I’ll simply say it… Fluorocarbon is the best fishing leader line to use. The best qualities of fluorocarbon is that it is invisible underwater. It doesn’t reflect the sunlight like monofilament so the fish are not able to see the line and makes your lure/bait look like its naturally floating or moving through the water. It works best in clear water where the fish have a high visibility.
Fluorocarbon has little to no stretch in the line. This can be very advantageous with hook sets as stretch in the line can create slack enabling a fish to shake or spit the hook.
Lastly, fluorocarbon line sinks. Obviously this line wouldn’t be ideal for fishing topwater but for other scenarios you want to get your bait or lure lower in the water column and fluoro does this.
The downside of fluorocarbon is the higher price point. It’s usually the most expensive leader line but because of the importance of this section of your setup I recommend spending the money on good quality line.
Monofilament Leader Lines
Monofilament is very different than fluoro in a number of ways but certainly has its benefits. Mono has a much higher stretch capability than fluorocarbon, so if you need a shock leader or something to have a little give mono can be a great option.
Mono buoyancy is higher than fluorocarbon but it’s properties don’t aren’t designed to float.
Mono comes in a variety of different colors, in fact you can probably get mono in any color. The most common colors would be clear or light green variety. Clear is the least visible underwater but is not invisible like fluorocarbon line as the properties of the line are reflective underwater. If you’re fishing dirty water with poor visibility for the fish, mono can be a fantastic (and affordable) leader line option.
Speaking of affordable, one of the biggest advantages of monofilament is the price point, it’s cheap. You can get a lot of monofilament leader line for a very low cost. This is especially helpful if you’re continually fishing long leaders.
Steel Leader Lines
I won’t go into great detail on these leaders but they can be a necessity when you’re targeting extremely sharp toothy species. Their sizes are typically preset with a variety of sizes usually between 6” to 12” with duo-locks and swivels attached as well.
Leader Line Lengths
Leader lengths could be dependent on a number of different factors. To keep this simple, I’ll focus on one key factor – water clarity. The general rule is the clearer the water the longer the leader line. The reason of course is hide your mainline and remainder of your setup out of view from the fish.
One thing to consider with longer leader lines sensitivity.
If you saw the previous image of my work board which has 9 Seaguar lines hanging on it you can guess that this is my go to leader line. The toughness and quality of this fluorocarbon line has made it my favorite leader line to use. I will say out front, Seaguar does have a higher price point but when it comes to leader line (which I believe is the most important line on a fishing setup) you can’t cheap out on this gear.
Another pro about this line is the pliability in tying knots and leader boards up. I’ve found this line to be very easy to use and tie knots with, especially if you’re in freezing environment or awkward conditions where you don’t want to be fighting with the leader line to tie a lure on.
Seaguar is one of the industry’s leading fluorocarbon fishing lines. I trust their Blue Label leader line more than anything else at this point. I can’t recommend it enough, if you’ve tried it before I’m likely preaching to the choir.
KastKing has exploded in the fishing industry and continue to release a ton of fishing gear. They continually put out good products at a low price point. I remember testing their braided line when it was first released and I was shocked at the quality vs. the price and their new fluorcocarbon leaders are no different.
This line is made in Germany, has low stretch and very low visibility underwater. With the low stretch they have a higher sensitivity in feeling the bite.
The biggest pro of this product is the price. It usually sells for approximately 40% less than Seaguar’s Blue Label. That said, the leader line is not at the same quality level as the Blue Label, so it really depends on what you’re using it for and what your budget is. KastKing’s Kovert Fluoro is definitely worth checkin’ out.
I have been using this leader line for so many years. Before braid quality improved and became my go-to mainline, I exclusively used Maxima for my mainline. They make awesome monofilament lines. Reminer: this is leader line and not meant for your mainline.
This leader line is best used for lower visibility (dirtier) water conditions OR if the fish being able to see the leader line is not a problem. This line is not invisible underwater but does blend well with the ultragreen coloring.
I still use this leader line a ton. The places I most commonly use it is for lot of this for bottom fishing leaders in the Ocean, long shock leaders that tie to my braided mainline and short leaders in rivers with high water (low visibility) river conditions.
For the price point to quality this is the best bang for your buck monofilament leader line.
Yo-Zuril fluorocarbon leader line is a line that by price point sits between the Seaguar blue label and KastKing Kovert. It’s a little closer to the Seaguar pricing, slightly less.
This stuff is made in Japan and they produce a very good fluorocarbon line. The line invisibility underwater is the same as Seaguar’s, they sell it in 30yd and 100yd spools.
If you’re a Seaguar Blue Label angler, I’d recommend you trying this line as it’s very similar but at a slightly lower price point. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on it vs. Seaguar.
Well I won’t blab on about how much I love Seaguar as you can read that on my Blue Label description above. This is essentially the next step up in Seaguar’s line of fluorocarbon leaders. Their first step is the Blue Label and this is the next step up.
Seaguar Fluoro Premier is the most expensive leader line on this article. The biggest differences in this line verses the others is the line diameter. This line has a smaller diameter than the Blue Label but without sacificing the highend quality. This also has a better pliability “feel” and has a lower line memory than the other lines.
If you’re looking for top notch fluoro leader line and don’t mind paying a bit more for those advantages mentioned above this is ideal. It’s one of those lines that’s worth having when you’re fishing in those toughest conditions for the unicorn fish (e.g. maybe get 1 or 2 bites a day), in more challenging fishing scenarios lines like these make a lot of sense.
What Weight of Leader Line to use?
First and foremost, the rule is to use a leader line weight less than (weaker) the mainline. For example, if your using a 15# monofilament mainline, you’ll likely need a <= 12# leaderline. The reason being if you ever get snagged or hung up, you can break off on your leader line vs. the mainline. If you break the mainline you risk losing additional gear (floats, weights or terminal tackle).
Leader line weight should be geared to the type of fishing you’re doing. An example of this would be fishing for skittish or highly pressured fish. Meaning fish that have seen a ton of gear and presentations and are not that willing to bite much, in those cases you really want to dial down your presentation and even use a lighter weight leader line.
You can fish heavier leader lines when fishing lower visibility water (dirtier water conditions). Where possible I recommend using the heaviest possible leader line (again, must be less than mainline) but only by ensuring you’re presenting the best bait/lure as possible.
Conclusion on Best Fishing Leader Lines
As mentioned at the start of this post, the leader line is the most important piece of line on your setup as it’s the one tied to your lure. That said, I recommend Seaguar’s Blue Label Fluorocarbon as it’s worked so well for me over the years and I trust it. It does have the higher price point but for me it’s one of those pieces of gear you don’t want to compromise on with price.
If you have any questions on leader lines or other fishing lines, please reach out to me on my contact page. Tight Lines! Jesse
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Great discussion of fishing leader. I’ve been fishing for years and still learned a lot!