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Choosing Tannic or Clear Water Search Leaders

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On: Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 9:51AM | By: Captain Ron Kowalyk


Choosing Tannic or Clear Water

There’s a trend today to favor fluorocarbon leader material over simple mono. Both have their place in your tackle box.

In very gin-clear water fluorocarbon gets the nod. Fluorocarbon has a lower light refraction factor, therefore it’s considerably less visible to leader-shy fish. In my region, Southwest Coast, there are rare seasonal periods of very clear water on the shallow grassy flats; it's even more a factor fishing the Gulf beaches. Snook and Tarpon in particular won't tolerate being lined, cast over with the mainline proper, and can be otherwise very leader-shy.

There are two ways to deal with leader-shy critters: one is to opt straight away for fluorocarbon or, two, down-size your nylon mono. Fluorocarbon, although less visible, has several characteristics that should be taken under consideration. One is cost; flouro is much more expensive then premium brand name monofilament by a factor of 20 or 30 times. As a flats guide, I never skimp when conditions dictate stealthy clear water presentations. Flouro has a higher density than mono and stinks faster, good if you’re sinking a fly or light jig. Sink rate generally isn’t a factor on the shallow flats but may be around reefs and schooling on the Gulf; we’re splitting hairs here, sports fans.

Flouro stretches as much or slightly more than mono. No big deal, accept that fluorocarbon does not recover after stretching, thus recovering to its original diameter and lb. test. This results in what is called an hourglass leader: original diameter at the fly or hook, a thinned, stretched center section, and a typical diameter at the main line connection. Thus 20lb. test flouro, after a protracted fish fight or one of those “rock bass” snags, may be stretched to perhaps 10- or 12-test diameter. This is an appreciable loss in strength and, if overlooked, can cause the loss of that fish of the day. Stretched, nicked or fray mono will be more likely be replaced upon inspection simply because of the low cost factor.

Flouro can be more difficult to tie up because of its inherent density and hardness. Mono will compress and rebound after knot tying pressure is released, making for a tighter very secure knot. Therefore flouro requires careful knot choice and close attention to tying procedures. This may sound nit-picky but it’s very worthwhile considering. A uni-knot, main line to leader connection works well with flouro and mono. An improved clinch knot is a simple secure leader to hook connection for both materials.

Lucky us, we who fish the tannin stained whiskey waters of grassy flats and meanders of our local estuaries, where the “homeboy mono leader” is more than satisfactory.

I carry 300 yard spools of 20lb, 30lb and 40lb mono on my boat. I still have a place for my high-dollar flouro leader in 30-yard spools for those beach Snook runs, and a couple of 30-60- 80lb. spools for spooky Tarpon and maybe even that reef cruising Permit. You can always tie in a couple of feet of flouro shock leader to your cost effective “Homey Mono”, it’ll do the job just fine! Hope to see you on the water!




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