Shock Leaders: When & How To Use Them For Surf Fishing


It’s surf fishing time!

Here’s a question we get asked often: when should you use a shock leader for surf fishing?

Shock leaders aren’t your typical 1-2 feet of mono or fluorocarbon leader that you tie on right before your hook…

They’re long lengths of heavier leader to help your line not break when you’re casting out heavy leads, as well as add a little extra protection against abrasion if you’re fishing rocky or shelly beaches.

In this video, you’re going to learn:

  • When you should use a shock leader (and when they’re not necessary)
  • How long a shock leader should be
  • How to tie it to your main line (using a simple knot)
  • And much more

To learn more about using shock leaders when surf fishing, check out the video below.

Using A Shock Leader When Surf Fishing [VIDEO]

Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts!

➡ Click here to join the Insider Club

When Should You Use A Shock Leader

You won’t always need to tie on a shock leader when you’re surf fishing — it depends on where you’re fishing and the type of equipment you’re using.

But for the most part, if you’re using light monofilament or braided line (less than ~25 lb test), use a shock leader.

If you’re using heavier mono or braid (over ~25 lb test), then you likely don’t need to use a shock leader.

Of course, that 25 lb test threshold may be increased or decreased depending on how big of leads are you using with your rig or what the bottom composition is like.

One of my reels in the video above had light mono (17 lb test) and another had light braid (10 lb test), so I use shock leaders with both of those.

On another reel, I had 50 lb braid, so I do not use a shock leader for that.

If you’re really looking for some long casting distance, I recommend using light braid with a shock leader.

This combo is great for maximizing casting distance while decreasing the chances of your line breaking (either from abrasion or tension caused by tossing a heavy lead out).

What Size Shock Leader You Should Use

Here’s a general rule of thumb to help you decide what size line to use for your shock leader:

For every ounce of lead, use 10 lbs of shock leader.

For example, if you’re using a 3 oz weight, use a 30 lb shock leader.

If you’re using a 4 oz weight, use a 40 lb shock leader.

As far as the length goes, use 2-3 rod lengths plus 4-5 rotations around the spool.

This usually averages out to about 20-30 ft of shock leader.

And finally, to connect your shock leader to your mainline, use the double uni knot as demonstrated in the video above.


surf fishing pompano

If you’re fishing with light line and you’re using heavy leads, or you’re on a beach with rocky or shelly bottom, you probably want to use a shock leader to decrease the odds of your line breaking.

Use about 20-30 feet of mono, and for every ounce of lead you have rigged up, use 10 lbs of shock leader (i.e. if you’re using a 3 oz weight, use a 30 lb shock leader).

Have any questions about using shock leaders?

Do you use shock leaders differently than we do?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who likes surf fishing, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us in the Insider Club!

Stop Wasting Your Valuable Time On The Water!

Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club.

Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join:

  • Weekly fishing reports and TRENDS revealing exactly where you should fish ever trip
  • Weekly “spot dissection” videos that walk you through all the best spots in your area
  • Exclusive fishing tips from the PROS you can’t find anywhere else
  • 20% OFF ALL of your fishing tackle (rods, reels, line, lures, and more from ALL of the biggest brands in America)

Click here to join today.

Related articles:

Related categories:

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 months ago

So i use a 10ft rod with 20lb braid as my mainline. I cast weights between 3 and 4 oz weights.
So i if i use the right shockleader connected to my mainline. Then a three-way swivel is connected to the shockleader, where the leader for my hook and that of my sinker.

So the question is if the line that is connected to the sinker should be weaker than that of my shock line or if it should be the same?

Rich Mick
1 year ago

A silly question but only because I’ve never ever used a leader.
If I go surf fishing and throw out 4-5oz. where my main line is 20-pound mono on a 10 ft. rod, do I tie on a shock leader and then tie on ANOTHER leader from the shock leader to the leader that generally goes to the hook? Or is there just one leader period?

Joshua Simonson
1 year ago

I’m using 40-pound mono on my main line, and only using no more than 10 oz at the absolute max of weights and lures, If I understand right I should not need a shock leader line for this 40 lb line if I understand right?

2 years ago

About to re-spool my rods….I use a 12ft conventional and a 10ft spinning.

I typically throw 4oz weight. I tie my own dropper rigs with 20lb mono and linked to mainline with two perfection loops.

If I use a 50lb shock leader do I need to tie my dropper rigs with higher test too? 50 seems like a lot.

What size mono do you suggest for the mainline? I historically use 20lb test but wondering if I should drop to 15 for more distance

David Yates
2 years ago

If I am using 30 pound braid do I need a shock leader 2Xs the length of the rod? I always use some sort of leader but about a foot or 2 so I am not casting a knot through my guides.

Robert Huerbsch
2 years ago

For shock leader had issues with the double uni sometimes catching when line is spooling or going through the guides. Solved it by switching to the FG knot, so much better because of the tiny profile of the knot.

2 years ago

I like to use light line for the surf, 16 or 17 test mono on a nine foot rod. Most days I can get by with a two (2) or three (3) ounce weight. I used to use 50 lb. test for a shock leader but then backed off to a 30 lb. fluoro. Getting good distance. I have landed up to 30 lb. reds in the surf without a breakoff. A little finess is needed during the fight but what the heck….Lighter test still permits me to land the small table fare. Tight lines, guys.

Kenneth Pape
2 years ago

I like the Alberto to tie leader on to braid, so much that I tried to use it for mono to mono. That’s not a good idea, though. I went back to a blood knot.

Kenneth Pape
2 years ago

I applaud Saltstrong covering surfcasting and pier fishing. I’m sure that these articles will support a larger base of anglers in a larger region.

David Baldwin
2 years ago

Since we’re talking shock leaders, I have a question that I can’t get a definitive answer to: What is the difference between the mono on a “Shock leader” spool and the exact weight mono on a regular (large) spool of fishing line? I’ve heard (read) every explanation from a marketing scheme to a different chemical make-up of the line. Can you explain?

David Baldwin
2 years ago
Reply to  Wyatt Parcel

Thanks for the confirmation… I’ve been using mainline and shock leader interchangeably with no noticeable difference seen…Thanks for all your surf fishing tips…


Do what the “SMART ANGLERS” are doing and join the Insider Club.

Here’s what you’ll receive today when you join:

Other Fishing Tips You May Like :

How To Retrieve An Artificial Shrimp Lure (For Best Results!)

Is there a trick or easier way to retrieve an artificial shrimp lure? The techniques used in the video below apply to any type of...
See Full post

Strong Angler Of The Week: Stephen Wyatt

This guy is a new member who's already active and helpful in the community. And not only that, he's making memories on the water by putting his parents...
See Full post
No comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Get Instant Access To “The Inshore Fishing Manifesto” PDF Now

You’ll automatically be emailed a private link to download your PDF, plus you’ll be added to the Salt Strong Newsletter.
(Please double-check your email below to ensure delivery.)