Whenever you get two or more muskie addicts together, you will get two or more opinions about anything to do with our sport. The use of leaders is no exception. We have knots vs crimps, stainless steel vs titanium, snaps vs split rings and on and on and on. The intent of this page is to provide a basic primer on leaders, their use, and the materials used to make them. The contents are based on extensive research, the experience of those who have been using Huskie Muskie Leaders for a number of years now, as well as my own personal preferences.
First of all, is there one leader that will do it all? Not really. That said, some people do get away with it and for those that are using only one or two rod and reel combinations, it simply isn’t convenient to be constantly changing leaders and compromises need to be reached. For example, my fluorocarbon casting leader can be use for jerkbaits but is not as good as a single strand stainless steel leader. Where possible, and if your equipment allows, application specific leaders should be used to get the most out of your lures.
There are several reasons we use leaders. Perhaps the major reason is to prevent line from being cut by a muskie’s teeth or by underwater obstructions such as rocks. Although the tensile strength of modern fishing line may be as high as the leader material we are be using, it is not very abrasion resistant and under strain can easily be cut by an edge that is even moderately sharp. Therefore we need something between the line and the lure where all the abuse is going to be absorbed. Leaders are made of materials that are much more abrasion resistant than line and will stand up to more contact with sharp objects.
The second reason for using leaders is to present the lure in the most natural way possible. This is especially true with the use of fluorocarbon leaders. The refraction index of fluorocarbon is virtually the same as water making it almost invisible under water. Therefore it separates the lure from line and makes it appear to be swimming free. The clearer the water, the more important this factor is.
The third reason is specific to the use of guide type jerk baits and walk-the-dog type top-waters. In this application the leader pushes the line away from the bait to prevent fouling. The resistance of the leader through the water will also tend to make it move in the opposite direction of the movement of the lure so that on the next jerk, the lure will move back across in its zig-zag path back to the boat. Although this is possible with a more flexible leader, the stiff single strand leader will exaggerate the action.
The last, and one of the most important reasons, deals primarily with trolling. Shortly after a muskie strikes and before the rod is out of the holder, muskies in their initial effort to free themselves, will often roll in the line. If you are using one of the newer spectra fibre braided lines, wire line or even a long wire leader, this rolling action can cause serious cuts to the body of the muskie. To prevent this from happening, a thicker, softer, high tensile strength hard monofilament or fluorocarbon leader should be used. For this reason, my fluorocarbon leaders are constructed with a heavier 150 pound strength and corresponding thickness.