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

shock leader 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]

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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.

Conclusion

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!

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Kenneth Pape
Kenneth Pape
1 month 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
Kenneth Pape
1 month 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
David Baldwin
1 month 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
David Baldwin
1 month 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…

Jeremy Sims
Jeremy Sims
1 month ago

I’m glad to see more surf fishing content!

David Baldwin
David Baldwin
1 month ago

Fantastic to see more info on surf fishing! The question/comment I have, being a novice surf fisher, you said with heavy braid no shock leader is needed. I tried that with a short 18″-24″ leader on my rig, but had the line break regularly. I had 50lb. braid, throwing 4-5oz and the line would snap. I know it’s not a lot of info, but is there a trick to this, or was I doing something wrong? I fish on the Virginia Beach coast line.

STOP WASTING 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
  • Everything you need to start catching fish more consistently (regardless if you fish out of a boat, kayak, or land).
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