Anyone that has used, or is thinking about using braided line, the question always comes up, “do you have to use a leader with braided line”? After all, why would you want to tie a fluorocarbon or mono line to a braided line any way. You spend all that money for awesome fishing line, and they want you to tie mono to it. Is there really any benefit to it, or can you just tie lures and hooks right to the braided line? We are going to break down the answer for you below so you have some real knowledge before you spend the extra money on that new line.
Do you have to use a leader with braided line? Yes, it is always a good idea to put a mono or fluorocarbon line leader on your braided line when fishing. The benefits of using a leader line strongly outweigh not using it. Braided line is much stronger than your typical fishing line, so it definitely is not going to break, but it does have some weaknesses.
Here is a brief list of the benefits of using a leader, and not using it.
- Better for clear water
- Better For Snags
- Longer Wind Casting
- Saves Line
- Helps The Line Sink
We will break down each of these below and really show you exactly why we say that using a leader on your braid is the best way to go when fishing.
When casting, the one thing that might be an issue is the knot size. When you tie a leader to the braid, if you are not careful, or do not use the right knot, when the line gets cast, the knot will hit each guide and slow the line down. This can potentially make your cast go a shorter distance causing you to miss out on deeper water fish. With having no leader, your line will go smoothly down the rod, and you will get a further cast than normal because of less friction on the rod. If you are fishing in the wind however, you will have better luck with a leader because Fluro and Mono lines are stiffer than braided line, so when you cast the line is going to go straight instead of floating into the air and getting caught by the wind, which will make you cast a lot shorter than you want it, and you will have a ton of extra line just floating on top of the water that you will have to reel in. The benefits of a leader for me out weigh an extra 5-10 yards with no leader on because I live in a windy part of the state and have had trouble getting straight braided line with no leader to go where I want.
Snags and Guides
It is very important for you to get the knot just right so the line goes through each guide smoothly, and without as much friction as possible because over time, it will wear your guides out, and also the knot. When this happens, you will cast and your leader will go flying off the end of the braided line, and you will lose your whole setup, and a ton of line. If a knot hits the guide and gets stuck, it’s going to spool all that line down the rod, and eventually hit your reel causing a bird’s nest effect. If that happens, you will be spending a lot of time slowly pulling the line out to fix the problem, or in worst case scenario, cutting all the line and hopefully having enough to tie a new rigging up to.
Can The Fish See It
Yes, fish can see your line in the water, so having a mono leader that is almost clear will help you from scaring those fish away. I have found that in clear water, I do get more bites with using a leader than just with straight braided line attached, but I do not think it is an exact science. Fish are skittish in nature anyway, so if they are cruising around and see a white line shooting down, they will probably stay away from it, so if you have something that is almost clear in the water, they probably will not even notice it unless they swim right up on it. This can be especially helpful, if you are pulling a plastic worm through the bottom weeds searching for a big bass.
Braided Line does not have the weight to it like a Fluoro, or Mono line does, so it is not going to sink at all and you will have to add extra weight to the line to get it to the bottom. This can be good in some situations, but adding a leader will give you that extra weight where you won’t have to add any sinkers to it, and you will be able to feel a fish bite more. The more weight you have on your line, the more energy the fish is going to have to use to tell you it is biting, and if you have a fish that is sitting there nipping at your bait, you are not going to feel it to set the hook. If you are looking for top water only, this might be a plus for you because it will not weigh your lure down at all, and you can reel the line in a little bit slower.
Bottom Snags and Saving Line
If you get stuck in a tree, weeds at the bottom, rocks at the bottom, or any other structure, it is always a pain to try and get your bait back. Usually when one of these things happen, you have to snap off your bait setup and just tie a new rigging. When you are using straight braided line, it is not just going to snap when you get snagged on something heavy, so you are going to be forced with having to cut your braided line and lose everything. This could mean a lot of lost line if you are 30 yards out and hit a rock, so having a leader line is going to save the line on your reel tremendously. Everyone catches a tree or something on the bottom that you just cannot recover from, and losing a bait setup is going to happen. Have a leader on and only loose a little bit of line instead however much is already off the reel. If you do not cut your line and sit there and fight it, you could end up breaking your rod, or reel, and then your fishing day will be ruined.
Benefits Of No Leader
There are some benefits of having no leader attached to your braided line, so I thought I would put a list of them here in case you want to try it both ways. Even though we do suggest that you use one, you can at least see if any of these benefits might sway your decision to add a leader.
- Throwing thinner line.
- Less snags and birds nesting.
- Further casting.
- Good for top water.
As you can see, There are some good things about using straight leader, and if you really are worried about your cast distance, or birds nesting, then this may be the way to go, but I would not suggest it just on those alone.
There has always been a debate about whether braided line needs a leader attached to it or not, and to be honest, there are some good factors about having a leader, and some good factors for not having a leader on your braid. The overall conclusion is that having a leader attached is better, and it is a good idea to have it setup that way. It really will depend on how it feels to you though, and if you actually get more benefit from one or the other. Try it out both ways and see if you like it one way or the other and let us know. Braided line is very strong and durable, but it can be frayed and cut if you are pulling it along any jagged surfaces, so be careful when fishing straight braid around structures. You might also need a pair of braid cutters because a typical pair of scissors or knife might not cut it cleanly and you will have fraying that will occur. If there is a reason why you think one way or the other is better, please leave us a comment so we can add it on our list and learn something new!