Why The Length Of Your Fishing Leader Line Can Be Critical

By: Luke Simonds on January 3, 2020
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leader length

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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Matthew NavarroGary MorrissetteLuke SimondsSam SheffieldDarrell Smith Recent comment authors
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Matthew Navarro
Matthew Navarro

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

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?

Sam Sheffield
Sam Sheffield

Good stuff Luke! Appreciate the tips!

Kenneth Bement

Luke – I see in a response below that you are now using braid with a leader attached. Have you tied directly to braid in the past or had issues when tied directly to braid?
I fish in the Galveston area and have been tying directly to braid for over a year now. A key reason for the switch was due to the knot abrasion through the guides. I would try not to reel in too far, but especially when fishing at night I would do so. Another reason is that in the area the water clarity is not the same as south Texas and Florida, so I do not think the visibility issue is as great.
When I first made the change I was watching for abrasion issues or fish bite issues, but have not had much issue. I have had a couple of break-offs with lady fish and their jumping, but I do not run into them much.
I was even able to bring in a 36″ red with an owner twist-lock tied directly to 10# braid!

Rick Daniel

I found that the shorter leader (12-13″) seems to give me better control when using the skitter-walk lure.

Paul Birmingham
Paul Birmingham

Just an insight on making an Alberto to wire trace leader knot. Is there any value in adding a section of rig tube, heat shrink type , to nullify any chance of the monofilament leader, sheering on the wire under high tension, like when fighting a heavy fish that’s running in deep water.? Thank you.

Roger Edelman

Love your tips. Question, based on your years of experience and testing, do you prefer braid
over mono for inshore fishing and if so why ? Do you use both and if so under what conditions
would you choose one over the other ?


Harold Merschtina

Learning from experience, I could not explain why the inner circle of some guides were cracking causing the black “ring” to disengage from the guide itself. It did not take me long to figure out the line to line uni-knot was rubbing on the guide causing cracking and ultimately failure. So I make sure the knot is well below the tip before casting. ( I did get very good at guide replacement and wrapping.)

John Kunzman

Good video, however, it raises the question regarding line color. Have you done any studies to determine whether the color of the braid you are using results in more or less strikes? I generally throw 10 lb. braid (yellow hi-vis) with 15 to 30 inches of 25 lb. flourocarbon leader.

Gary Rankel

Really good stuff, Luke – so much more detail and in-depth info than found on other fishing sites.

Sam Craparo

Fully agree with all your conclusions. Have switched my knots due to your advice. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

Steve Thomas

Luke…a ways back you did a test on leader line vs main line on abrasion. Results were they were almost the same. Do you just use main line now or still using leader line? Any updated thoughts? Thanks!

Adam Austin

I always start with 2-3′ leader. I don’t like the knot going through the guides, but it has minimal effect using the FG knot with alternating half hitches on top of it. Hardly ever frays out on me. Using the longer leader means less lost lures in the oyster beds I fish around. The abrasion resistance helps a ton. If I do lose a lure, it’s a quick snip any frayed areas of the leader and retie.

DAVID Thornburg
DAVID Thornburg

I have learned the hard way not to allow the knot to go through the eye of the rod. about 18″ is my favorite length of leader. I use floro almost all the time but buy a full spool of 150 to 200 yards for about $5 more than the leader spools of 25 to 30 yards. Take care of them and you have leader for a very long time.

Roy Beatty

Mono floats, I use it top water and under 3′, otherwise I use Fluro which I have a lot of lol, and not prone to slow the lure sink rate

Thomas Marks

All good tips on leader length. One thing I do.. I am a novice so take for what it’s worth… I often trail a live bait rigged below a bobber as I drift. On that rod I use a long leader sometimes as much a 30 inches. The rod is not cast the line is just played out until I get my bait away from the boat.