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Braid with No Leader: Do you Really Need a Leader when Fishing with Braided Line?

Braided Fishing Line on a Baitcaster Tied directly to a SwimJig

Braided Fishing Line on a Baitcaster Tied directly to a SwimJig

On 90% of my setups I use Braided Fishing line; but very rarely do I use a Fluorocarbon or Mono Leader on my setup. In my opinion, there are very few occasions when a leader is even necessary. For those that think the fish are spooked by the braided line, tell me how those same fish aren’t spooked by the skirts on your swimbaits, or the gigantic unnatural weed guards on your football jigs.

I mean let’s get real; the hooks on your lures don’t look natural. Are you going to stop tying on hooks?

The fact is, unless you’re fishing crystal clear water – and even then I’m still not afraid to throw straight braid – there are very few times when tying on a leader is going to increase your hookup ratio.

If you are fishing stained waters, there is absolutely no point to tying on a leader.

Nine times out of ten I’m not going to do anything special when fishing with braid. That being said, I almost exclusively use a dark green color when I’m fishing with braided line. If the line is going to spook a weary fish, the newer dark green braided fishing lines are almost as invisible as any Fluorocarbon or Monofilament line. In fact, I would argue that because the diameter of these braided lines are so much smaller, they are probably even more invisible to the fish than a higher test weight Fluoro or Mono line.

Think about it; I can pitch out a 65lb braided line that is going to be the same diameter as a 12lb mono line. In situations where you need that higher test line, why would you not use straight braid?

Tips for Fishing High-Vis Braided Line without a Leader

If you are fishing with a bright color line, something like a neon yellow high-visibility braided line, then you might want to do something to make the line a little less visible as it attaches to your bait. To get around using a leader, grab a dark green sharpie and color the first 24”-36” of line just above your lure with the sharpie. This will camouflage the line just enough to throw off any fish that may have been leery of the brightly colored line.

Why would you fish Braided Line without a Leader?

  • You can throw a thinner diameter line, without worrying about adding a big chunky leader.
  • You eliminate one more potential weak spot. Tying on a leader, no matter what type of knot you use, adds one more potential weak spot to your fishing setup. If you are throwing Braid then throw Braid; if you want Mono or Flouro then your entire reel should be spooled with it;. Why add a weak spot?
  • You will cast farther: When using rods with micro guides, you don’t have to worry about your knot hitting the guides every time you casts. That little bit of resistance does make a difference, and overtime that knot can wear down your guides.
  • Less Backlash on Baitcasters: For those using baitcasters, that knot hitting the guides can increase your backlashes.

So what are the Benefits of adding a Leader to Braid?

There are sometimes when adding a leader makes sense, and most of the time that has nothing to do with the ability of the fish to see your line — but for those of you who can’t get over that mental block, I’ll add that to the list.

  • Crystal Clear Water: There are some who will argue that you should always tie on a leader when fishing crystal clear waters; while I’ve never noticed a significant difference in how many fish I catch, I will give them this one and say there is a slight possibility that it may improve your catch count.
  • Fishing areas where lures become snagged: If you are fishing areas where your lure keeps getting snagged, you may want to think about adding a Fluorocarbon or Mono Leader. If you are using Braid it’s almost impossible to snap the line, but if you tie on a leader you will be able to break the line right at the knot. Using a light leader will control how much line is broken off at one time.
  • Fishing in the Wind: Fluorocarbon is stiffer than braid, so in really windy condition it may help keep your bait from tumbling and twisting up in the wind. If you are chucking baits with treble hooks, and you notice the braid keeps getting wound around the hooks when casting, try tying on a Fluorocarbon leader and that should solve most your problems.
  • A leader also saves main line: Using a Leader allows you to save the amount of braid your cutting every time you tie on a new lure; since braid is pretty darn expensive, tying on a leader can save some money in the long run.
  • It acts as a Shock Absorbed: Most braids have almost no stretch; because of that hook-sets can sometimes be a problem for those who run straight braid. When fishing baits where heavy hook-sets might be a problem, adding a leader can help cushion the direct pressure on the hook, helping you nail those big bass without ripping the hook right out of their mouth.


  1. I agree with your 100%. I am using straight braid on all of my techniques. It takes a while to learn how to set the hook so that you don’t lose fish on the hook set. However on my swim bait setups I do use a leader to help land those big fish.

  2. Thanks for mentioning the part about using a mono leader when fishing areas that have a lot of snags. I’ve only been fishing for about a year (using mono) and keep reading about the benefits of braid. I wanted to switch to braid but didn’t want to lose 50 yards of braid every time my rig gets snagged. Now I know what to do and why.

    • I have been thinking about trying braided line myself but was in the same situation as you not knowing what to really do. This article really helped. Glad I’m not the only one out here that was thinking the same thing as I haven’t fished in nirely 20 yrs.

  3. I agree that you don’t need a leader in stained or murky water. The only reason I would use a leader would be for shock absorber. thanks for the input, it makes me feel good to know, I am doing something right.

    • I was using a leader, but when punching lillypads, i kept fraying my leader and breaking off fish , i think it will be ok to use straight braid in this situation ????

  4. The last two micro guides on my Rapala Snow are often snagging the FG knots and causing backlash. I’m even thinking of switching to mono. More abrasion resistant than braid if I’m doing away with leaders.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I top-shot some mono over my braid but after a few snags on the jetty, it’s pretty much all gone. I’m going to try going straight braid and see how that works out.

  6. The reason why you SHOULD use a leader when using braid is for more abrasion resistance, not so much what the fish can see.
    Here in Hawaii, we ALWAYS use a leader on braid between main line and lure.

  7. I have often wondered why the pros will use a light line leader and a heavy pound braid. What’s the point of using a light line leader and heavy braid when the light line is the weakest point and will be the first to break. Why not just use straight, say, 6lb. line all the way?

    • My guess is so the leader breaks at the knot and not half way up the main line causing you to loose more braided/more expensive line quicker.

    • by using a heavy line (like 65lb braid) and a leader- you get to change leaders to change the lb test of the whole rig without respooling the whole thing. Simply changing the last 10′ of line lists them switch a rod from 6lb to 12lb… whereas if you’d have just run “6lb the whole way” as you asked, you’d have to restring the entire spool to step up to 12# test, because you couldn’t just add a 12lb leader to a spool full of 6lb to increase it. Seewhamsayn?

      • I’ve got another rod spooled with whatever lb test I would also like to use, forget leaders. I agree with Ron, if you had 30lb braid and use a 10lb flouro leader, you might as well just use 10 lb and eliminate the middle man.
        One thing about breaking off with braid..If you have 30lb or more test braid, you can straighten alot of hooks enough to get lures back.

  8. Good tips.

    Once I switched to dark green braid, I pretty much abandoned leaders all together. Exactly due to the points outlined in this article. The reasons to use a mono/flouro leader where I fish is to reduce loss of line when snagged. Fishing in urban areas often leads to catching a variety of underwater debris. Not only do you quickly learn where/when to cast to avoid getting snagged, you learn that no matter what you do, eventually that light leader will help save money/tackle. Using a sliding weight above a swivel tied to leader can help reduce tackle loss as well. Also using a weaker knot to connect the leader can help ensure breaking in the preferred spot

  9. This may be true for bass. Fish like trout and carp are much more sensitive to the braid especially in the daylight. I have noticed HUGE differences in hookup rates with straight braid vs. a mono leader… I do not fish for bass normally. Perhaps this is the difference, and you should take into consideration there are other fish out there that actually DO get spooked by braid! Think about it — the fish is look upwards toward a light sky background. The moss green will stick out like a sore thumb. You would probably be better off with white or sky blue.

  10. I spool my Pacific Northwest surfcasting rig with 15 lb. braid, and a 30 lb. mono shock leader, long enough to wrap around the spool five or six times. The 30 lb. mono allows me to safely throw a 3 oz. sinker while the 15 lb. braid casts further than a spool full of 30 lb. mono.

    • I have used that same method for casting heavier weights into rough surf… its imperative to get a couple wraps on the spool to prevent snap off when casting but after that is off the lighter braid allows it travel that much further … its a bit upside down to most methods but it’s effective

  11. If you ever seen a braided visibility test under water you will change your mind.. Dark green moss was one of the most visible of all the lines.. Google braided line visibility tests.. Even in stained and muddy waters dark green moss showed the most.. Think about it what colors do you use the most in stained and muddy waters so fish can see better?? Darker colors can be seen better in murky waters like blue/black purples dark green. So if your drop shotting or ned fishing or even using swim baits basically finesse fishing panicky fish its going to make a difference.. With that being said i believe the fish that been caught and released a couple times will be harder to catch so a lot is factored in


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