Berkley Vanish Leader Line vs. Mainline [Abrasion & Knot Strength Test Results]
By: Luke Simonds on August 6, 2018
I’ve always wondered what the difference is between fluorocarbon leader line and fluorocarbon mainline and whether one would outperform the other on the water.
If the lines are the same material and the same pound test, shouldn’t they work the same on the water? I use Berkley Vanish leader line for most of my fishing rod setups and wondered whether I could get away with using Berkley Vanish mainline instead.
The Berkley Vanish leader line is about five times more expensive than fluorocarbon mainline that is the same pound strength, which can really add up if you’re buying lots of leader line all the time.
I decided to test these two Berkley Vanish line types against each other to see how they would hold up on the water.
To come to my conclusion, I tested the lines against each other using two criteria:
- Knot Strength
- Abrasion Resistance
For each test criteria, I tested 20 lb. Berkley Vanish leader line vs. 20 lb. mainline to see which line type performs better. I also tested 15 lb. Berkley Vanish leader line vs. 20 lb. mainline to see if the lighter leader line is stronger than the mainline.
My guess was that the leader line would outperform the mainline because the leader line has a slightly thicker diameter than the mainline.
Note: Salt Strong is not sponsored by any fishing line manufacturers (this all is funded by the Salt Strong Fishing Club members), so there is absolutely no bias at all in these tests.
Our goal for these tests is to see which line is the most cost-effective and best-performing on the water.
Knot Strength: Berkley Vanish Leader Line vs. Mainline [Video]
For the first test, I decided to test the knot strength of Berkley Vanish leader line against the Berkley Vanish mainline.
The first test put the 20 lb mainline against the 20 lb leader line, and the leader line won all 3 tests.
But the leader is much thicker than the mainline, so I had to get some thinner leader line that had a more similar diameter to the mainline in order to determine if the line material was stronger or if the added diameter was the driving factor.
To do this, I tested Berkley Vanish lines of similar diameters — meaning I tested Berley Vanish 15 lb. leader line vs. Berkley Vanish 20 lb. mainline.
The diameter for each line is:
- Berkley Vanish 15 lb. leader line — .38 mm
- Berkley Vanish 20 lb. mainline — .40 mm
For the knot strength test, I tied the tag end of the mainline to a white swivel using a Non-Slip Loop Knot and connected the leader line and mainline using a Blood Knot. I then tied the tag end of the leader line to a black swivel using the Non-Slip Loop Knot.
You can see how I set up the test in the graphic below:
I then attached the swivel to my scale and pulled at the connected lines to test which line broke first and what amount of force it took for it to break.
Whichever line the knot breaks on first is an indication of the weaker line.
Knot Strength Test Results
See the full knot strength test in the video below:
I tested the knot strengths of these lines three different times with a similar result each time. My results were as follows:
- Test 1 — the leader line loop knot broke first at just under 10 lbs. of pressure.
- Test 2 — the leader line loop knot broke first at about 11 lbs. of pressure.
- Test 3 — the leader line loop knot broke first at about 11.8 lbs. of pressure.
The results of this test showed that there is no benefit to Berkley Vanish leader line over Berkley Vanish mainline when the lines have a similar diameter.
Based on this knot strength test, the fluorocarbon main line is a cheaper option that performs just as well, if not better, than the leader line of a similar diameter.
Abrasion Resistance: Berkley Vanish Leader Line vs. Mainline [Video]
For the abrasion resistance test, I made an oscillation device that simulates fishing line rubbing up against a piling or some kind of rough structure. The device works by rubbing coarse sandpaper back and forth on the two lines to see which line breaks first.
I attached the lines to two-pound weights which hung below the oscillation rod with the sandpaper — making the two lines taut over the sandpaper.
You can see the oscillation device in the graphic below:
Whichever line takes more oscillations before it breaks is the stronger line against abrasion. I decided to do two different kinds of abrasion tests:
- 20 lb. Berkley Vanish leader line vs. 20 lb. Berkley Vanish mainline
- 15 lb. Berkley Vanish leader line vs. 20 lb. Berkley Vanish mainline
Click here if you want to see our original test to see if leader line is more abrasion resistant than mainline.
Abrasion Resistance Test Results
See the full abrasion resistance test in the video below:
For the first trial, I tested the 20 lb leader line vs the 20 lb. mainline. I tested the lines two different times and switched which side of the device the lines were on for each test. I then did the same using the 15 lb. leader line. My results were as follows:
20 lb. Berkley Vanish Leader Line vs. 20 lb. Berkley Vanish Mainline
- 20 lb. Berkley Vanish leader line — .45 mm
- 20 lb. Berkley Vanish mainline — .40 mm
- Test 1 — the Berkley Vanish mainline broke two oscillations before the Berkley Vanish leader line.
- Test 2 — the Berkley Vanish mainline broke four oscillations before the Berkley Vanish leader line.
15 lb. Berkley Vanish Leader Line vs. 20 lb. Berkley Vanish Mainline
- 15 lb. Berkley Vanish leader line — .38 mm
- 20 lb. Berkley Vanish mainline — .40 mm
- Test 1 — the Berkley Vanish leader line broke one oscillation before the Berkley Vanish mainline.
- Test 2 — the Berkley Vanish leader line broke one oscillation before the Berkley Vanish mainline.
The main takeaway I got from these tests is that there is not much difference between the Berkley Vanish leader line and the mainline.
The aspect that had the biggest effect on how strong the lines were for both tests had to do with how thick the diameter was. The thicker diameter lines were stronger in each test regardless of whether the lines were leader line or mainline.
So this proved that the mainline can be just as effective as a leader line as long as the mainline has the same/similar diameter as the leader line.
Berkley Vanish mainline is about five times less expensive per yard than the Berkley Vanish leader line, making it the obvious choice for me.
If you have any questions about these tests or have a suggestion about how to improve them, let us know in the comments below.
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