A question I am asked often on my Youtube channel and other Social Media outlets as well as read on the various online fishing forums is “Why would I use a leader on my fishing line instead of tying directly to hook/lure”

I have to admit to being a TV Fishing Show fan!! I watch them all, regardless of the type of fishing they are doing on a particular show. A great many of these shows feature anglers pursuing largemouth bass in various scenarios. Some of these shows demonstrate the anglers “flipping” or “pitching” jigs and lures into heavily weeded waters or areas with dense cover such as fallen trees.

I have heard the show hosts mention they are fishing heavy braided lines, (50lb test or higher) tied directly to their lures. The reason being they feel the braid will cut through the weeds and allow them to horse the fish out of the cover. While that strong line may seem overkill for the size of the fish they are targeting it does make a bit of sense to me that braid would slice the weeds as it seems to cut through EVERY thing else pretty easily.

In the world of saltwater fishing we are not really exposed to that type of heavy cover where dense weeds can “hide” heavy braid from the fish’s eyes. A more likely situation is we are drifting lures and baits across open sandy bottoms in generally clear water and having braided line tied directly to the lure or bait would be something to appear very un-natural to the gamefish we seek.

While I do not get the chance to fish freshwater often, I would feel safe in stating that you probably would not find smallmouth bass fisherman on gin-clear lakes fishing with the braid tied directly to their offering. In fact, I have seen shows where they specifically mention the need to scale down their leader size so in clear water so that it is not as visible to the fish.

Adding a shot of monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to your braided fishing line just makes sense to me by removing that possibility of my quarry spying some strange looking string hanging off that live bait drifting by.

Another reason I will always have a leader in front of my main line is the added protection it can provide against the chafing and abrasion caused by the line continually rubbing up against the fish’s body. Striped bass in particular have very large scales with the edges of those scales being fairly sharp. Add to this the SPINES in their dorsal fins that look like something out of a Mad Max movie and you can see the fishs anatomy, OUTSIDE their mouths, presents some challenges to our fishing lines. As the fish struggles against you the line will be pulled under tension up against these scales and dorsal fins.

Most of the striper fisherman I know spool their reels with 20-25lb test monofilament or 30-50lb braid for some applications. In my humble opinion these smaller diameter lines just do not offer enough abrasion protection so adding a 4 foot length of heavier ( typically 50-60lb mono or fluoro) to the end of the main fishing line provides the buffer that could be the difference between getting that trophy in the boat or just watching her slide back into the depths after the line chafes through.

Finally, having a heavier lb/test leader just makes it so much easier to handle fish as they come up along the boat for landing. Let me use a nice striped bass as an example. When I have the fish at the boat my first step in landing is to grab hold of the heavy leader and take a wrap or two around my hand. This gives me a “handle” of sorts to be able to control the fish for the net or lip grab. If you were to try this with braided line you would be in for some major cuts should that fish begin to thrash on the surface.

The heavy leader also provides a cushion should that fish suddenly throw her head. If I had my 20/25lb monofilament line direct to the hook/lure that sudden thrash could be enough of a shock to the short length of line between my hand and the hook to break it off.

There ya have why I feel adding a leader to your main fishing line can be of great benefit. Good luck out there on the water,