Is using a thicker braid leader a case of me missing something blindingly obvious, or is it just overcomplicating things?

If there is one thing that makes my day as regards doing this blog it’s when I get feedback and ideas from you people, and yesterday an angler from South Africa left a really interesting comment on a blog post I wrote last year when I got back from some mainly striped bass related stuff in the USA - have a look here at that blog post, but in summary it was how this awesome Cape Cod Canal specialist angler I have been privileged to fish with a fair few times now manages to put his mainly surface lures out a frigging country mile on some light braids.

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I am not going to repeat how he does it when you can easily go back and read that blog post, but this comment left by a South African angler really got me thinking, and I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote the entire comment here: “Hallo Henry. Here in South Africa most of us make use of a Braid Leader PE 2.5 (35lbs) that we joined to our main casting braid PE 1.5 (20 lbs) on our medium Spinning setups. In my case the Major Craft N-One 1062 (30 - 60gram). Contrary to some opinions that braid leaders reduce casting distance, I have found the opposite. The FG knot that I and most Spinning guys use to join the braid leader to the thinner casting braid travels silently and effortlessly through the Fuji concept guides. The braid leader protects the first few meters of casting braid, which removes the fear of snap-offs during casting from one’s mind. This in the long run improves casting rhythm/consistency, which benefits distance. I also find that the slight extra weight of the short braid leader (about 3.5 meters) travelling behind the lure stabilises the lure during flight, reducing lure tumbling and tail-wagging through the air, similar to the feather effect behind an arrow or a dart. With the lure doing less unwanted movements through the air (poorer aerodynamics) casting distance is increased. These individual elements add up to increase overall casting performance.”

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Now if there is one thing that I have found over the years is that there are some scary-good rock and surf anglers plying their trade in southern Africa, and they are often dealing with conditions and locations and often fish of the sort of size and power that we ain’t going to get anywhere close to here in the UK or Ireland. So when a South African leaves such a detailed comment like that (and a big thank you to this angler by the way), firstly I am going to make sure I really read it properly, then I’m going to read it again, and when I did just that was when my brain clicked into gear! As per the title of this blog post - “Is using a thicker braid leader a case of me missing something blindingly obvious, or is it just overcomplicating things?”

If we take into consideration the fact that a lot of the warmer water species of fish fight a lot harder than our colder water fish, then one could quite simply dismiss this information as being over the top for the fish we might catch and so on - but to me that would be a remarkably ignorant thing to do, indeed surely fishing teaches all of us to never say never……….

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OK, so in reality we don’t need really strong braids for the fish we catch, but of course the mainline debate goes beyond that - we might be casting some heavier lures really hard sometimes, most anglers don’t know that their drag knob can actually be tightened up, and a lot of the time we are putting our lures and the ends of our mainlines into and through some pretty foul ground. I don’t really need more than say a good quality 10lb 8-strand braid can give me pure strength wise if we are talking only about the bass I might connect with, but on the flipside I would not feel remotely comfortable fishing with a braid that light into some of the ground I happen to fish.

So I really got to thinking about this lad’s comment and how they are putting a decent length of heavier braid on the end of their regular braid mainline via the FG knot - which in its most basic form would give me that length of thicker braid near the business end. Together with my fluoro leader I reckon I’ve now got the potential for an increased dollop of abrasion resistance which to me can only be a good thing when you’re really fishing in the bricks especially. I know bass aren’t dirty fighters like wrasse, but sharp spikes of rocks and reef edges can and do get in the way of tight mainlines as I am sure some of you know all about. I do. In some respects I can see the logic behind fishing say a 50lb braid into the really rough ground, but do I really want to be fishing lighter soft plastics on a mainline like that? This braid leader method could well be the best of both worlds.

OK, so if you were still to use a fluoro leader with this lot you’re now talking about two knots, but with how stupidly strong the FG knot is I don’t see this as a problem save for the time it takes to tie them. If and when I pull for a break with a snagged lure, nine times out of ten with this FG knot it’s the fluoro knot to my Breakaway Mini Link lure clip that’s breaking and therefore I don’t need to tie a new leader on. I wonder if that might happen with this longer braid leader setup?

I could simply use a much longer fluoro leader to my mainline, and yes, although the FG knot does tend to go fairly well through the guides on most lure rods, in truth the knot does catch sometimes and then the braid can wrap around the tip etc. The sound of the knot going through the guides also freaks me out a bit, hence I use leaders that are of a length that I can keep the leader knot outside the rod when I am casting.

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So I read the comment, got to thinking about it, and then I went rummaging around to find some heavier braid. I went and tied a roughly 3m length of 40lb braid onto the end of my 20lb Sufix 832 mainline, and then tied my usual length 20lb Sufix Invisiline leader on the end of that 40lb braid “rubbing leader” as such. I grabbed the rod and a lure and took Storm for a bit of walk that involved water and a bit of casting, and for the life of me I couldn't feel let alone hear that tiny little braid to braid FG knot going through the guides. There are plenty of turns of heavier braid around the reel to act as a shockleader if I was to drop right down in mainline strength to see how that goes.

For me there’s only one thing to do here - try it out for a while and see how it goes. I know that some lure anglers don’t like using a leader at all - and I do wonder if this extra, heavier braid leader might negate the need for one - so this way of getting some tougher braid near the business end might be worth exploring for you guys. I also wonder if I could drop down to say a 10lb or so Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid mainline and then have that long braid leader on the end to firstly cushion my casting and then to get some thicker line near where it’s most needed - and then the benefits of an even thinner mainline cutting through wind and current might sometimes be useful.

Anyway, I hope that might be some food for thought. Thanks to the lad who left the comment and got me thinking about all this. I am open to trying it and I am also happy to admit that if it does end up as a part of armoury in the future then it’s something so obvious that I can’t believe I never thought of it before - but then isn’t a lot of fishing like that? It might not work out for me, but the idea of this braid rubbing leader makes a lot of sense and I want to see how it goes.

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