Choosing a Leader

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Choosing a Leader

By Justin Willmer

A leader is the line that connects our lure or hook to the mainline, generally via a knot or a swivel. It can be the same line as the mainline, or it can be a line specifically selected because of a specific characteristic, such as thinner or thicker diameter, different breaking strain, or decreased visibility. With the increase in the use of braided lines, with their minimal to no stretch and increased visibility, leaders have become more of a necessity and in turn more technical. Let’s look at leaders in more detail, along with the range of Platypus leaders and why each has been developed.

Wire Leader

I will mention wire leaders briefly, however most anglers will advise you to use wire as a last resort. It has its place at times for trolling for mackerel and other toothy critters, however it also makes baits and lures present less naturally and can dramatically reduce the number of bites you will get, seeing many anglers running fluorocarbon or nylon monofilament leaders instead.

Wire leaders are available pre-made or you can make them up yourself from either multi-strand or single strand wire. Multi-strand is popular as it is inexpensive, easy to work with, crimp and store, however it is not as durable as single strand with the many smaller strands possibly being bitten through or broken during the fight. Single strand is often preferred for larger species and sustained battles, utilising a haywire twist for creating loops for attachment and attaching terminal tackle. If you do decide to utilise wire as a leader, many anglers advise keeping the wire section of the leader short, from several inches of wire tippet (10cm) to a foot (30cm) or so of wire leader, depending on baits and lures being presented.

Often baits are rigged on ganged trolling rigs or lures with the hooks set back in the lure, decreasing the chance of fish contacting the leader and again encouraging the use of nylon or fluorocarbon to increase the number of bites, especially in clear water and pressured areas.

Fluorocarbon Leaders

Fluorocarbon lines first appeared in the US in 1971, however it wasn’t until the 90’s that fluorocarbon started to gain momentum and the last couple of decades or so that it has become a staple in the kit of most lure anglers and some bait fishos. Fluorocarbon has several characteristics that differ from nylon and for anglers this can be advantageous, depending on technique, species and environment being fished.

Firstly, fluorocarbon is harder, stiffer, and denser than nylon, increasing its abrasion resistance. This has seen many anglers switch to a fluorocarbon if they are fishing heavy structure or targeting toothy critters.

Secondly, being denser fluorocarbon sinks. For anglers this assists them to stay in contact with baits and lures as they sink, maintaining a more direct connection and feel, rather than the line parachuting the lure or bait down or creating a large belly in the line that makes bite detection and hook set more difficult.

Thirdly, fluorocarbon has similar light refraction qualities to water, making it virtually ‘invisible’ in water. This has made fluorocarbon especially popular for finesse fishing applications and targeting finicky feeders, especially in clear water, with bream tournament anglers dropping leader sizes down to 2lb to try and encourage fish to bite.

So, with the benefits associated with fluorocarbon leaders, why do we still produce nylon monofilament leaders and why has Platypus spent time developing and manufacturing new nylon leaders in Australia?

Nylon Leaders

Fluorocarbon leader is more expensive than nylon, meaning you often receive less leader on the spool for your dollar or pay more for the same length spool, when compared to nylon. This has seen many anglers sticking with nylon leaders, unless they can utilise the benefits associated with fluorocarbon (fluoro).

The manufacturing of fluorocarbon leader is also a dirty process and one that is not carried out within Australia. After continual requests from anglers, Platypus worked with a Japanese fluorocarbon manufacturer to release Stealth FC, a quality fluorocarbon without the inflated price tag or reduced spool quantity previously associated with quality Japanese fluoro.

The benefits associated with fluorocarbon that we have discussed can also be a negative for different applications, ensuring the ongoing use and popularity of nylon leaders.

The hardness, stiffness and density of fluorocarbon, that give it it’s abrasion resistance also make it wiry and this can cause issues when it comes to knots and rigging. Once you reach breaking strains of 40-50lb upward, fluorocarbon becomes difficult to knot effectively and some anglers believe the stiffness begins to impact lure action. Nylon monofilament leaders dominate larger leader sizes, from 40lb to 600lb+, with some anglers switching to nylon even sooner. As the lure and bait presentations become larger and target species also increase in size, the fishing becomes less finesse and the leader often less of a factor.

The benefits of contact and feel, associated with density and the fact that fluorocarbon sinks, also have a flipside. Anglers’ fishing surface presentations will often use a nylon leader as they find that the sink factor of fluorocarbon can see the nose of surface lures being dragged underwater and in turn the action impaired or destroyed. Nylon leaders allow the surface lure to float freely and maintain the desired position engineered by the manufacturers when at rest, riding high and with reduced resistance when retrieved. Again, requests from anglers have driven continual developments from Platypus, inspiring the expansion of the Hard Armour nylon leader range to include 10, 12 and 15lb breaking strains for lighter topwater applications.

The third benefit of being virtually ‘invisible’ in water has been one of the major reasons that anglers have switched to fluoro and this definitely makes sense when fishing clear water conditions for finicky and spooky feeders, especially in pressured waterways. For many general use applications and especially when not fishing crystal clear waters, it is debatable whether the virtually ‘invisible’ aspect would have much impact and anglers would need to decide if they require the other characteristics of sink and increased abrasion resistance.

One example of nylon monofilament leaders dominating is the northern saltwater barramundi scene, with larger leaders, 40-80lb, commonly used to handle the raspy jaws of the barramundi, while targeting them in often murkier water conditions.

Platypus Leaders

An Australian owned and operated family business, making fishing lines in Australia since 1898, what leaders have Platypus developed and why have these leaders been developed, tested, and released to anglers.

Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader – Continual demand from anglers encouraged Platypus to work with a Japanese fluorocarbon manufacturer to bring Australian anglers a quality Japanese fluorocarbon, without the reduced spool lengths and inflated prices. Several options were trialled and tested using the Platypus in-house testing machines for breaking strain, knot strength, diameter and more, before settling on what would become Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon, in breaking strains from 2lb to 50lb to cover most popular fluorocarbon applications. This is the only Platypus line or leader not manufactured here in Australia however it was an addition that was required to complete the line and leader offering from this Australian business.

Hard Armour Leader – This was an in-house project, with our two fishing line technicians (over 65 years of combined fishing line design, development, and manufacturing experience) working with cutting edge materials and processes to create a leader that was better than the market leader… a big ask. It took many months of altering recipes and processes, while comprehensively testing the leaders, to come up with the finished product, Hard Armour Supple and Tough Leaders.

The results achieved with Hard Armour included increased knot strength and up to 20% more strength and abrasion resistance than equivalent diameter leaders from leading brands. A mind-blowing result and one that this Australian company is super proud of, especially with it being manufactured, spooled, packed, and shipped from right here in Australia.

As its name suggests, Supple is designed to have a more supple feel, maximising the action of your presentation, while also maintaining excellent abrasion resistance and knotting and handling well. Tough on the other hand has a slightly firmer feel and is all about maximum abrasion resistance for taking on toothy critters and harsh environments, again with excellent knot strength and clarity.

Hard Armour Supple 20lb to 100lb / Hard Armour Tough 20lb to 150lb

Hard Armour Game Leader – The momentum of the Hard Armour Leader project then carried into larger leader sizes for game fishing and Hard Armour Game Leader was born. Formulated to offer anglers extreme abrasion resistance, controlled stretch and outstanding knot and crimp strength, Hard Armour Game Leader is available in Clear and Ice Blue colours in hanks and larger lure bag packs, including a reusable lure bag.

This has the big game covered, with breaking strains from 100lb to 600lb.

Hopefully this breakdown of leader characteristics, features and benefits and Platypus options assists you when making decisions on leader selection. Leader selection is just part of the puzzle and your target species, technique, and fishing environment will all impact the level of importance of the leader component of your kit.

What’s in my kit?

So, with that said… what’s in my kit.

I run Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon for lighter fresh and saltwater applications and have found it to be awesome in terms of abrasion resistance, knot strength and fishability. Thankfully for the species and areas that I target I haven’t needed to fish 2lb leader, with 6 or 8lb as game as I get. I find 10lb a great allrounder for the river and estuary fishing, with the security of handling a good flathead or snapper. In my kit I commonly carry 8, 10, 15 and 20lb Stealth FC, covering most applications.

For larger offshore applications, spinning the beach and travelling north for barramundi, I have my Stealth FC 20lb in the kit and run Hard Armour Leader in 40, 60 and 80lb, with Supple my preferred option for its handling and ease of knot tying, switching to tough if structure becomes an issue. I have complete confidence in Platypus leaders and no hesitation in recommending them to anglers around the country.

I hope this article has assisted you a little with the leader piece of the fishing puzzle. All the best with the fishing and I look forward to seeing you guys getting out there and catching on Platypus leaders.

See you on the water…
Justin Willmer

A bit about Platypus…

Platypus would like to thank anglers around the world for supporting this Australian Owned and Operated Family Business, manufacturing fishing lines in Australia since 1898, making it Australia’s longest running fishing tackle business.

Platypus fishing lines was started by George Ross McPherson in 1898. George was a Scottish rope maker by trade and saw the opportunity to make fishing line in Australia. In those days fishing line was made from twisted linen fibres and was a small diameter rope. Within a few years the popularity and reputation of Platypus saw the business expanding. The name Platypus, was apparently chosen to signify the unique Australian nature of the product and just like the animal, being as good or useful on land (as a string or fine rope) as it was in the water (for catching fish).

Throughout the next century Platypus was passed through the family, before being acquired by Australian owned and operated family business, Tackle Tactics, 121 years after it began, where it is still owned, operated and manufactured in Australia. Platypus has always prided itself on innovation; producing Australia’s first extruded nylon fishing lines in the 1960’s. Realising the advantages of gel spun polyethylene braided lines, Platypus pioneered many braided lines in Australia and still operates a braiding plant in Australia today.

Recognised in the plastics industry as an authority on nylon monofilament extrusion, Platypus produces many products other than fishing line, including hi-tech fibres for mining and medical applications. The diversity of our products often allows concepts and materials used in one application to be used to create better fishing lines. We are constantly reviewing our manufacturing processes, raw materials and additives to offer the best available fishing lines to you.

Still manufacturing in Brisbane, Australia over 120 years later, Platypus Lines continues to develop a comprehensive and evolving range of fishing lines for Australian anglers and conditions.

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