Why The Length Of Your Fishing Leader Line Can Be Critical


What is the ideal length for a leader for inshore saltwater fishing?

What happens if it’s too short?

Or if it’s too long?

Why do you even need a leader?

In this video, I’ll answer all of these questions and more!

Check it out below.

Ideal Leader Length [VIDEO]

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Before we get into this, know that these aren’t very strict guidelines and a lot of it has to do with personal preference.

Advantages of having a longer leader:

  • Monofilament and fluorocarbon are more abrasion-resistant than braid line, so the longer your leader is, the more abrasion-resistant your line assembly is.
  • When landing fish, a monofilament leader is easier to grab than braid, so a longer leader makes it easier to bring fish into the boat.
  • It keeps your braid (which is easier for fish to see) farther away from the lure.

Scenarios where I like to have a longer leader:

  • When I’m live bait fishing and sometimes when finesse fishing with soft plastics.

Advantages of having a shorter leader:

  • You can cast better. It’s bad for knots to go through guides (weakens the knot and makes you susceptible to wind knots) and shorter leaders make it so you don’t have a lot of extra line hanging out of your rod tip.
  • If you’re using thick leader, there’s a greater chance fish will feel a longer leader than a shorter leader with their lateral line.
  • As more line is out of the rod tip before you make a cast, it’s more dangerous for other people in the boat, so shorter leaders are safer

Scenarios where I like to have a shorter leader:

  • When I’m using topwater lures
  • When I’m using spoons

 How long should a leader be?

I typically start with a leader about 26″.

As I catch fish throughout the day, sometimes to part closest to the hook will get frayed, so I’ll snip off an inch or two and retie.

I’ll do this until I get to about 13″, then I’ll tie on a new leader about 26″ again.


ideal leader line length

Although there’s not an exact science for the ideal leader length, I typically use leaders between 13″ – 26″.

Check out this article for detailed information about how to make the most effective leader assembly for catching redfish, seatrout, flounder, and snook with artificial lures (best knots, leader material, leader strength, etc).

What is your ideal length for a leader?

Have you found anything different to work for you?

Do you have any questions about leader length?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who ties too short or long of leaders, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Sam McLamb
3 months ago

The FG has been a game changer for leaders- thank you guys for showing an easy way to tie it. A few years ago, I started using 20’ leaders for jigging offshore, using an FG knot hit with zap-a-gap to smooth the transition and protect the front of the knot. This worked so well that I started putting 6’ leaders on light spinning rods and up to 12’ on bluewater spinning rods. I have not experienced any problems with the FG since using zap a gap and do not sense any significant loss in distance. I do the same thing with surf rods now but use 30-40’ mono ‘leaders’ to avoid fraying the braid when it lays on the sand and to avoid getting cut off by the outer bar when a large fish runs.

Leon Jeffers
9 months ago

What poundage of fluorocarbon line do I need to use on 30# braid main line

Rainer Sherwood
7 months ago
Reply to  Leon Jeffers

what are you to target? will there be any structure around?

Chuck Schroeder
9 months ago

Can someone explain why smallmouth bass fishermen are so insane about using long (5-20 ft.) leader lengths? It seems like bonefish and tarpon on clear flats would be about as leader sensitive as it gets, and yet 3′ of leader gets the job done.

Also, such a long leader means you’ll have to case the knot through the guides, and do so hundreds of times when fishing small swimbaits. Introducing a weakness in a light tackle set-up (10-lb. braid to 10-lb leader) seems counter-productive.

Paul Raz
10 months ago

I know this article is pretty old but I’ll ask anyway. I ‘m going to be new to Treasure coast fishing in Florida and will be doing so from a Jetski. With that said, I’ve been watching ALOT of videos on Salt water fishing for wahoo and Mahi and notice a lot of people use very very long leaders. They reel and then all of a sudden drop the pole and use their hands to pull in like 30’ to 40’ of line by hand. Why would such a long leader be needed? Very confused?

Steven Burleigh
1 year ago

Not sure if this thread is still open but if so, my question is regarding leader length if fishing bait in the surf. It seems like surf fishing bait normally involves fewer casts, than lures, so casting longer protective mono leaders with knots going through the rod guides may be ok. Would love to hear your thoughts.

3 years ago

I bass fish with microguides on all my baitasters. Knots won’t go thru but I would use 20″ leaders if that would work. I don’t see much talk about this so I’ll be following this article. Does anyone use these short leaders a catch bass in very pressured waters? I’ve been using braid to leader knots for 15 years or so on spinning rods….the knots won’t work on my baitcasters, just sayin`.

3 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Thanks. I saw another Salt Strong video about a 6 turn surgeon’s knot. It’s marginally larger than the alberto but if it’s not going thru the guides I can tie it quick….and correct every time.

George Hartley
3 years ago

Just us an FG knot and the leader can be as long as you like.

James Crews
3 years ago

I fish the Fla panhandle where the water clarity is typically crystal clear and theres fairly heavy fishing pressure. That being said, my leader material and length depends on what im using and how im fishing it.
Topwater – 12lb mono at about 12-16″ (alberto knot)
Paddletail – 10-12lb mono at about 36-48″ (FG knot) (fast moving)
Twitch bait/Jerkbaits/soft plastics – 10-12lb fluoro at 48-60″ (FG knot) (longer in winter and when im working it slower, shorter during the summer with a moderate retrieve)

The thinner leader material works for my area because snook aren’t common and im mostly fishing away from heavy structure. It allows me to cast through the guides without as much of an impact as a heavier leader cause.

Just my 2 cents!

Matthew Navarro
3 years ago

Is there a video or article on what oz weight to utilize when free lining shrimp or any bait fish. Also when utilizing lures. Targeting reds and black drum.

Gary Morrissette
3 years ago

Luke, appreciate all your work helping us out! I use the Alberto for my flouro to braid knot. I like it because it’s easy to tie and holds up well. Your thoughts on the Alberto please?


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