What Is The Purpose Of A Fishing Leader And Do I Need One?

Hooks on Leaders

You might have seen fishing leaders used by other anglers. Then thought to yourself … what is the point of tying on a shorter length of fishing line to the main fishing line? Would it just be simpler if you just attach the hook at the end of the main fishing line and call it day? The shorter answer is no. That is if you want a successful fishing trip.

So what is the purpose of a fishing leader? Fishing leaders have two main purposes:

  1. To provide your main fishing line with protection against damage and breaking.
  2. To have a better bait presentation.

Leaders are essential for a successful day of fishing and should be used 99% of the time.

Before I talk about making your own fishing leader line, first, you need to know what issues your leader line is going to solve for you. 

If you’re interested in checking out the leader line that I personally use … it’s the Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon Leader Line.

What Problems Do Leader Lines Solve?

Leader lines are a great way to solve problems that anglers can face when fishing. Before you start building leader lines you need to determine what problems you are going to face.

Rocky Shoreline
Rocky Shoreline

For example, when fishing for Codfish they tend to take cover at the bottom of the ocean in very rocky terrain. These rocks can be very sharp if the fishing is rubbing against it and a high potential for getting snagged on a rock. Codfish can also have very sharp teeth that can chew through the fishing line.

Take the time to understand what possible conditions your line will be experiencing.

If you need help with trying to identify possible conditions that you need to think about then don’t worry I got you covered.

Here are some things that I tend to come across most of the time.

1. Avoiding Line Breaks

It is easy to forget the abuse your line is taking underwater. Most people tend to underestimate the number of sharp objects underwater such as rocks, barnacles, shells, reefs, etc.

Oh did I forget to mention that some fish even have sharp teeth that can cut through your fishing line.

By selecting the proper fishing line will solve many of these issues. Typically fishing lines with a higher strength have larger diameters. This gives the line “more meat” that has to be cut through.

Monofilament fishing lines have great abrasion resistance. Abrasion resistance refers to the fishing line’s ability to withstand being rubbed against a rough surface.

2. Avoiding Snags

If you are fishing around rocky areas or where there are a lot of organic growth then you will be experiencing your fair share of snags.

Most snags occurs because the hook catches a rock or organic growth and lack of experience by not jigging the rod hard enough.

There is not much you can do about the lack of experience other than keep on fishing. But there is something you can do about getting the hook out of the rocks and growth.

By making your leaders in such a way that gets your hook off the ground will greatly reduce the chances of getting snagged. A good example of a fishing leader configuration is called the drop shot.

See how the hook is higher up than the weight. This will keep the hook off the ground keeping it from getting snagged.

3. Reducing Line Visibility

Every fish will attack a bait differently. Some fish will attack anything that moves at full force. Some will investigate the bait before attacking it.

There are fish will not go for the bait if they see the fishing line attached to the bait. Therefore, when you need the best bait presentation possible then a leader made from Fluorocarbon fishing line will be your best bet.

Fluorocarbon fishing line allows light to easily pass through it while underwater. This makes the line practically invisible to fish.

For this reason, using fluorocarbon as your leader line would be the best choice if you are worried about the bait presentation.

4. Avoiding Line Twist With Swivels

If you got a fish on the hook then that fish will be thrashing around underwater resulting in twisting your line as you reel. This will cause line twist to be present in your line. In some cases, line twist can weaken your fishing line to the point where it can snap your line.

This can be solved by attaching your leader line to a swivel before tying it to your main fishing line. A swivel will allow your leader line to freely rotate without twisting your main fishing line.

How To Make A Leader

Making fishing leaders is pretty simple and does not require any fantasy equipment. All it will require is practice.

Here is what you will need to make a leader:

  1. Main Fishing Line
  2. Leader line
  3. Lure or Hook
  4. Swivel
  5. Fishing Weight or Sinker
  6. Pliers, Scissors, nail clippers, or Knife

Basic Type of Leaders

Most leaders are made from monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines. Each of these lines provides its own advantages and disadvantages.

Monofilament Leader Lines:


  • Fishing line is relatively cheap.
  • Flexible which makes it easy to make the knots required.
  • Able to stretch which will help absorb the impact of a fast-moving aggressive fish.
  • Good abrasion resistance.
  • Excellent knot strength.


  • Deteriorates from exposure of ultraviolet (UV) light.
  • Properties will change as it absorbs water.
  • Able to stretch making it hard to feel smaller bites.
  • Lower dense causes the line to float.

Fluorocarbon Leader Lines:


  • High sensitivity to feel the smaller bites because of the little stretch in the line.
  • Excellent abrasion resistance.
  • Good knot strength.
  • Low fishing line visibility.
  • Does not absorb water.
  • Does not deteriorate from ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.


  • Fishing line is more expensive than monofilament.
  • Denser than water which causes the line to sink.

Step 1: Determine The Leader Line Length

Determining the length of your leader is not an exact science. A lot of this is based on personal preferences and experiences.

Generally speaking, most leaders are about 24 to 30 inches in length. If I am using live bait then you can go a bit longer like 30 to 42 inches length. The extra length will allow the live bait to swim around more.

Step 2: Tie Swivel to Leader Line

Swivels on Leaders

Swivels will allow your leader line to freely rotate underwater with twisting your main fishing line.

Tie on a swivel to one end of your leader line using a surgeon loop.

You can use a swivel with a snap-on clip to easily remove and add weight to your rig setup.

Step 3: Tie Hook or Lure to Leader Line

There are various types of knots available to you when tying a hook. The snelling knot is an easy knot and provides strong knot strength.

Tie on a hook to the other end of the leader using the snelling knot.

Then you have just completed your first leader line. Keep practicing and you will eventually start pumping out leader lines like they are going out of fashion.

Related Question

Do you need a leader for saltwater fishing?

Leader lines are needed for saltwater fishing. Saltwater fish are generally larger, stronger, and can have lots of teeth. If you don’t pick a leader line that can withstand the punishment that it will experience then you will be losing a lot of fish.

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