Friday, February 11, 2011

Leaders for Surf Fishing

This article was originally published over on my other blog , Surf Fishing for Beginners . I think now is a good time to post it here on Something's Fishy , since I've been talking about line the past two days. Enjoy!

In my last post I discussed a few tips about fishing line used in the surf. Today , I'd like to cover some of the basics about the use of leaders in surf fishing.There are three general types of leaders that I use and they cover just about everything you'll need for most surf fishing applications.

The first and most important is the shock leader. The purpose of this leader is to prevent your main line from breaking during the cast. The heavier sinkers used to keep your bait in place , the long surf rods used and the powerful casts needed to get your bait out add up to broken lines and lost rigs without a shock leader. I use 50 pound monofilament for my shock leaders and never have any trouble. You can use 30 or 40 pound test for lighter weights , but I always go with 50 in case the surf picks up and I need to add more weight. A simple rule of thumb is to use 10 pounds of leader for every ounce of weight , but in my experience 50 pound line does well with up to 8 ounce sinkers.

To rig a  shock leader on your surf rod , you'll need a length of 50 pound test approximately twice the length of your rod. Length is a matter of personal preference because some surf fishermen like a longer or shorter leader , depending on how they cast. Most importantly , you want the leader to be wrapped around the spool at least 3 times at the start of your cast.This prevents the main line from breaking during the cast because the leader will absorb most of the stress. There are several knots you can use to attach the shock leader to the main line , but I recommend the Albright Knot because it passes through the guides during the cast better than others I have tried. After you have the leader set up , you can tie on the terminal tackle you need for your target species and you're ready to fish.

The second type of leader I use in the surf is what I call a bite leader. The purpose of this one is to prevent Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels from biting off your lures. You could use wire leaders , but they decrease the number of strikes you'll get and also affect the action of some lures. Spanish Mackerels are especially line shy if you're using wire leaders and to improve your chances , I recommend using 30 to 50 pound fluorocarbon for a bite leader.

These leaders are very simple to make. Just attach an 18-24 inch piece of heavy mono to the main line using an Albright knot and then tie whatever lure you want to the end of the leader. This is a great improvement over wire when it comes to spooking the fish , but you do have to monitor your leader closely because often Bluefish and other toothy fish will actually bite at the line. Keep an eye out for nicks and scrapes that could lead to break offs and retie as needed.

The third and last type of leader I use is single strand wire. I like size #5 , #6 or #7 for use in making King Mackerel/Cobia rigs or when rigging for sharks. These are pretty much a single use leader , because a big king or a shark will kink the wire. I normally just retie the leader after each fish , but the use of multi strand wire is gaining popularity with some anglers.

While you may not have a need for it , it's fairly easy to make wire leaders. Most people will attach a swivel to their shock leader and then use a Haywire Twist to connect the wire to the swivel and to the terminal tackle.

There are a lot of other options out there for leaders , but these have always worked for me. Most fishermen eventually find their own favorites , so don't be afraid to try something new!

Tight Lines!

Conratulations! You found the answer for the Breaking Cabin Fever Scavenger Hunt! The correct answer for Something's Fishy is The Haywire Twist. Now head on over to Bullets & Biscuits and find the answer to this question :

What's one type of mounting LB does not have in her collection of deer racks...and she grew bucks to get?

Thanks for playing and good luck!

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