Fishing Line vs Leader Line: What Is The Difference?


If you have been to your local tackle store, you might have noticed that they sell monofilament fishing lines and monofilament leader lines. But have you ever asked the why? What is the difference between these regular fishing lines and leader lines?

Fishing lines and leaders are fundamentally the same things. The major difference is that you can buy smaller amounts of leader line with different characteristics than your main fishing line to suit your specific situation.

Fishing vs Leaders

To fully understand what I mean, we need to step back and understand what a leader line is.

Braid vs Mono Fishing Line: Differe...
Braid vs Mono Fishing Line: Differences Explained [2022 Update]

What Does a Leader Line Really Mean?

A leader line is a separate piece of fishing line that connects your main fishing line to your hook or lure.

Generally speaking, your leader line will take the abuse from fish and underwater structures/rocks and not your mainline because your leader line is closest to the bottom and is in the fish’s strike zone.

This is why many anglers will use lines that are abrasion-resistant and shock absorbing as leader lines.

For example, braided fishing lines make for great mainlines, but braided lines are not great against abrasion and hard impacts from fast attacking fish.

The purpose of a leader line is to protect the mainline and make up for characteristics that your mainline is lacking.

Are Fishing lines and Leaders Made From The Same Material?

If you compared monofilament fishing lines and leader lines designed for abrasion from the same brand, you would realize that both lines are practically the same.

The base material of both lines is the same, but the type and amounts of chemical additives might be different, giving certain characteristics to the leader line that the mainline is does not have.

Leader lines aren’t supposed to be in the reel. A leader line’s length should only be between 24″ -30″ inches, which means the line can be a bit stiffer and harder to protect against abrasion.

No one knows for sure how different the chemical formula is between the regular fishing line and leaders. Manufacturers tend to keep this close to their chest and are unwilling to give up that information.

Can You Use Regular Fishing Line For Leader Lines?

So this begs the question, can you use regular fishing lines as a leader line?

You can use a regular fishing line as a leader line. Just make sure the fishing line you are using will serve your purpose based on the type of fishing you are using.

For example, if you are fishing near rocks, you can use a regular fishing line designed for abrasion or just a stronger fishing line because it will be thicker and harder for objections to cut through it.

Just be careful not to use a stronger fishing line for a leader line or run into other potential issues.

Personally, I use my normal fishing line as leader lines all the time. I’m not the only one that does this too. Many anglers do this as well.

Fishing Lines In Store

Why Do Stores Sell Leader Lines?

Many stores carry both regular fishing lines in larger spools and leader lines. But if leader lines and regular fishing are similar, what is the point of selling both products?

Well, this is a very good question. Let’s dive into this deeper!

Its A Sales Pitch To Buy More Products

It’s all about marketing!

Slapping a different label and using a buzz phrase like “Leader Line” allows the manufacturers to increase the price because it’s a “specialty” product.

This won’t fool the experienced anglers out there, but I truly think that is not their target audience.

Their target is the new anglers who are new to fishing and might not know better because they read about leader lines online.

It Will Cost More Because It’s A “Leader Line”

Because manufacturers provide fishing lines advertised as leader lines, it’s now considered “special,” allowing them to add on a premium cost.

This premium cost add-on is pure profit for the manufacturer that the stores have to pay, which is essentially passed down to the customers – you and me.

This is why many manufacturers don’t provide regular fishing lines in smaller spools that you can use as leader lines.

This forces you to buy the leader line spools unless you want a large spool of fishing line that you might not use up.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

I don’t necessarily blame Walmarts and Bass Pro Shops of the world for selling this.

They are trying to supply their customers with options for smaller spools, and since many manufacturers don’t make them without calling it a leader line, they are forced to buy it.

When You Might Want To Consider Buying Leader Lines?

Sometimes, a certain type of fishing line is perfect as a mainline but not so good against rocks, teeth, or whatever else you might expect the bait to be exposed to.

This is where you will need a leader line, but do you buy a large spool of fishing line or buy a smaller spool labelled leader line?

Yes, leader lines are expensive when you break down the cost to cost per yard. But it’s still cheaper than paying for a larger spool of fishing which would be cheaper as a cost per yard comparison.

If you purchased the larger spool and you don’t use up all the line in a timely fashion, you might be forced to throw out the line. Fishing lines don’t last forever and will eventually expire and need to be replaced.

Then you have the issue with a larger spool taking up more storage place. I don’t have a lot of room to store items, so every little bit counts.

But if you have enough storage space available, then this might not be a concern for you.

Happy Fishing & Tight Lines

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