Understanding Leaders and Swivels

Fishing Tips and Tricks

Understanding Leaders and Swivels

June 16, 2020

In our latest blog installment we will be discussing using leaders and swivels for light tackle anglers.  How to use them and when not to use them!  Like most topics in the angling world, many people will agree or disagree on either the definition or application of the information being presented.  We are covering the information strictly from the point of view of what works best for the gear that we make, use, and sell.  


Leaders are essentially a piece of material that is connected to the end of the mainline designed to protect the mainline from damage.  Materials used in making a leader varies from steel to mono-filament to flurocarbon.  The application of when to use leaders varies depending on the type of fishing you are doing and species you are targeting.  

Shock Leaders

Similar to a leader, a shock leader is typically a leader that is stronger in test strength than the mainline.  One popular application of using shock leaders is when light tackle fishing heavy structure that may put stress on the line by rubbing against stumps, grasses, or rocks.

Which one is best?

That depends on where you are fishing and whats biting.  If you are fishing open water or jigging above a structure than a traditional leader is fine.  If you are bottom bouncing near stumps or rocks you should use a shock leader.  This is all specific to the types of fishing you prefer or the area that you are at.  As for what material works best, again that is up for debate, but its generally accepted that flurocarbon leaders and shock leaders are best when light tackle fishing with jigs.  I personally have had success with tying jigs straight to braided mainline, but you better have your knot on point or the fish is going to swim away with your gear.  Now for the sake of simplicity, I normally use a 18" fluro shock leader.  


This is going to be very short.  Don't do it!  When casting and retrieving jigs and soft baits, there isn't any added value in having a swivel tied on your mainline.  Especially, if you are fishing structure, the added weight directly at the end of your mainline will put it into contact with the structure you are fishing.  Meaning, you are unnecessarily putting your mainline at risk of being comprised due to abrasions.

How do I connect my mainline to a leader?

Opinions vary, based on a persons knot tying ability or personal preference.  But there are three widely accepted knots that are great for tying a leader directly to a mainline.  

Double Uni-Knot

Albright Knot

FG Knot


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