Choosing the right leader can make all the difference when landing your fish. Experienced saltwater angler Paul Lennon explains the difference and how to choose the right leader for your target species.

Depending on what species you’re targeting, what size they are and where you’re fishing will impact your leader choice, regarding size and material.

There are two types of leader material to choose from – monofilament (often called mono) and fluorocarbon.

Mono is supple and soft with more stretch, while fluorocarbon is a stiffer material giving it greater abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon sinks faster and absorbs light, making it virtually invisible in the water.

The attributes for each type of leader will benefit certain types of fishing but are not so great for others, so it’s important to choose the right one.


Because of its higher abrasion resistance, fluorocarbon often makes a great choice for any kind of fishing where you’re likely to encounter structure. It’s ideal for fishing for bream off break walls, for drummer near oyster racks, and for groper off the rocks, but also for locking up on big kingies or snapper heading for nasty terrain.

It’s also perfect for those fish with raspy mouths that can wear through softer leaders of the same weight during long fights. This can be anything from big flathead in the estuary, to tailor on the beaches, through to marlin.

Many standard knots that work with mono don’t work well when using fluorocarbon. For braid to heavier weight fluorocarbon leader, connection knots like Albright and Uni knots can become quite bulky and it can be difficult to get the knot tight.

A slim beauty knot, PR or FG knot are better alternatives, however when tying a PR or FG knot with fluorocarbon, you’ll need to take extra care to make sure the knot is tight as it’s much harder for the braid to bite into the tougher material.

When it comes to terminal connection knots, try doing a few less turns then you would normally do for mono especially in fluorocarbon weights over 60lb.

A simple blood knot without being locked like you would with mono will tie heavier fluorocarbon nicely and never slip.

Mono leaders

While on paper fluorocarbon has many advantages over mono, there is still plenty of fishing where mono is the preferred choice.

The suppleness of a mono leader will make lures swim more naturally, especially in heavier sizes where the stiffness of fluorocarbon becomes more evident. It’s also the better option when running more than a rod length of leader, which is often the case for finesse style fishing situations, like targeting spooky trout in a lake system or bream over the flats with ultra-light leaders.

Mono leaders are also best for surface lures, whether you’re targeting bream, whiting, bass or stick baiting for tuna. Mono leaders have a slower sink rate than fluorocarbon, which makes the lure easier to work and it will swim better too.

Knots like the PR and FG are better with mono, and mono also behaves better when casting longer heavier leaders through rod guides.

Pink mono leaders were introduced over recent years, as pink is the first colour to disappear in water, especially in low light or murky water.

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