Do You Need to Use a Leader When Using Braid?

Over the past few years, I’ve been experimenting with braided fishing line and have been using it as my main line for a lot of baits and techniques. I’ve realized braided fishing line is much more durable, helps me make longer casts and is much more sensitive. I’ve also learned when and when not to use a leader, which is a common question many anglers have.

When using braided fishing line, you should add either a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader the majority of the time. Adding a leader to your braid will make your line less detectable in the water, provide better bait presentation, help with shock absorption, and ultimately help you catch and land more fish.  

With that being said, there are also certain situations where not adding a leader to your braided line can be more beneficial. In this article, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about braided fishing lines and leaders. Including when to use a leader, b

Let’s get started.

Using Leader for Braided Fishing Line

What is a Leader?

Before we dive into the specifics on when you should use a leader and when not to, let’s first define what a leader is to make sure we are all on the same page. 

A fishing leader is a short piece of fishing line that anglers attach between the end of their main fishing line and to their lure or hook. The two lines are typically connected by tying the two lines together with a knot or by using a swivel. 

Leaders are popular to use when using braid as the main line both in freshwater and saltwater fishing because a clear leader will be less visible to the fish and will result in more strikes. 

Should You Use a Leader for Braided Fishing Line?

A common question that I hear from many anglers is whether or not they should run a leader line when using braid and if so how long should it be? The answer to that question is simple. 

When using a braided line as your main line on your spinning or casting reel you should almost always run either a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader. Most fish can easily see braided lines resulting in line shy fish and less fish catches. 

In my experience I’ve always had more success when I add a leader to my braided main line. However, there are a few expectations where I don’t think a leader matters as much. 

Here is when you should use a leader and when it might not matter as much based on my personal experience. 

When to Use A Leader With Braid

  • Clear water
  • Whine the fish are line shy
  • When the bite is tough
  • And in most fishing conditions 

When You Should Use a Leader With Braid

  • When fishing super thick vegetation
  • Muddy water

When using braid as your main line I add a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader about 90% of the time. If you aren’t sure whether or not you should add a leader to braid then I would recommend just adding one. The only time where I don’t think it makes a difference is when I’m fishing around thick vegetation and muddy water there is low visibility in the water. 

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and downsides of using a leader with braid. 

Benefits of Using a Leader with Braid

  • Better bait presentation
  • Less line visibility 
  • Increased strike rate
  • Easier to switch lines
  • Better Shock absorption
  • Fluoro or mono leaders are less abrasive 

Downsides of Using a Leader with Braid

  • More knots
  • More re-tying 
  • Connection knot can get caught in rod guides and reel

As you can see with the list above the benefits or using a leader with braid far out weights the negatives. The extra time it takes to tie a connection not is well worth the effort. It gives you the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to get the distance, sensitivity and have to change your line less often with a braided main line. While also getting the positives of a clear line. This is an awesome combination. 

How Long Should a Braided Leader Line Be?

man near the lake prepares for fishing tackle

The length of your leader can be extremely important and can have a big impact on your overall fishing success. Too long of a leader can result in line management problems, while too short of a leader can prevent you from getting bit. So, you might be wondering what is the best leader length to use with a braided line?

For most fishing situations, the length of your braided leader should be between 24 to 30 inches long. The length of your leader may be shorter or longer than this, depending on the water clarity, main fishing line, light conditions, fishing style and personal preference. With that being said leaders can be anywhere from 12” long to over 20+ feet long depending upon the situation and targeted species. 

As a general rule I like to run my leader about twice as long as the length of my fishing rod. I’ve found that having your leader this long makes the connection knot sit just outside of your reel. Not having the knot in your reel makes for very easy and smooth casting. This length also helps when you break off or get knicks in your line so you don’t have to re-tie your leader each time this happens. 

Best Leader Lines for Braid

The two most common types of leader lines are fluorocarbon and monofilament. There are also other leaders used like steel, Dacron and other materials. However, most anglers will either use monofilament or fluorocarbon. 

In my opinion the best leader line to use is fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon is more sensitive, sinks faster, has less stretch, and is more abrasion resistant than standard monofilament of the same diameter. A fluorocarbon leader makes it easier to detect bites, is tougher and is my preferred choice when using a leader. 

With that being said there is certainly a case to be made that using monofilament is better and is many anglers preferred choice. 

Here is a look at the benefits of these two main leader lines. 


The fishing line I probably use the most as a braided leader is fluorocarbon. It has a smaller diameter when compared to monofilament it also has less stretch and sinks.

Fluorocarbon is also nearly invisible in the water which makes it a great choice in clear water situations. The only downside is that it’s not as forgiving as monofilament as a leader and is a bit more expensive. 


Monofilament has been the original fishing line material and has been around for what seems like forever. It has the largest diameter when compared to the other fishing line types and also has the most stretch. Monofilament is also a floating line and is pretty good at abrasion resistance.

Monofilament is an all-around great option for most fishing applications. It’s super affordable, easy to find and works great in most fishing rigs, lures, and techniques. The main benefit to mono as a leader is that it’s more forgiving than fluoro and will make it easier to land fish and cover mistakes. 

Recommended Leader Lines

Alright by now you already know adding a leader to braid will improve your fishing game overnight. But, now you might be wondering what are the best lines to use as a leader. A lot of line companies will actually make specific leader lines. For me I prefer to buy my regular fluorocarbon or monofilament line and use it as my leader material. 

In my experience the best leader lines to use for braid are the Sunline Assassin or Sunlines Sniper. Both of these fluorocarbon lines are extremely durable, sensitive and are super high quality. 

Why You Should Use Braided Line

There was a time where I didn’t understand why everyone was switching from using straight monofilament or fluorocarbon line to braid with a leader. I thought the hassle of tying another knot was overkill in most situations. Man, I was sure wrong and wished I understood the benefits of it a long time ago. 

Braided fishing lines are extremely responsive, will give you more distances on your casts, and its sensitivity is unmatched. Using braid as your main line will allow you to feel more bites, set the hook more easily and work baits with less effort. Braid is ideal for finesse fishing application on spinning setups or for power fishing situations with a baitcaster. 

Benefits of Braided Fishing Line

  • More responsive
  • Better sensitivity 
  • Longer casting distance
  • Smaller diameter 
  • Lasts longer
  • Zero stretch
  • Visibility 

If you haven’t fished with braid before, making the transition can seem intimidating at first. It is a lot easier than you realize. I’d recommend just choosing one of your rods and trying it out. You’ll notice the benefits and can feel the difference right away. It will also save you a lot of money in the long run as well. 

How to Attach a Leader to Braid

If you are planning on using braid as a main line you’ll want to learn how to quickly tie on a leader. Making sure you tie the right connection knot is a critical step and will ensure you don’t break off or lose a fish because of a bad knot. 

Here are some of the most popular knots to tie to braid to fluorocarbon or braid to monofilament. 

Popular Connection Knots to Tie

  • Blood Knot
  • Bristol Knot
  • Improved Albright Knot
  • Double Uni Knot 

Here is a quick tutorial you can utilize to learn the double uni knots which is one of my favorite connections knots. 

Braided Fishing Line Tips

Don’t Tie Braid Directly to Your Spool

If you are getting ready to spool on braid to your fishing reel make sure to first tie on monofilament or add electrical tape before you spool on your braided line. Braid tends to slip and dig into your reel. By adding a mono backing or electrical type this will help prevent issues in the future. 

Use Sharp Cutters

If you are new to fishing with braid one of the things you’ll learn is that braided lines can be more difficult to cut when compared to other line types like monofilament and fluorocarbon. You’ll want to make sure you use really sharp blades or a dedicated braid cutting tool. This will give you a clean cut and it will make things a lot easier. 

How to Spool on Braid

Here is a video tutorial on how to properly spool a spinning reel with braid. This video will help you avoid common mistakes and have better line management. 

Best Fishing Line Storage

One of the great things about using braid as your main fishing line is that you can easily swap out your leader without having to respool new line each time. This makes being able to match the type and size of your line super easy.

The only downside to this is you’ll end up taking all of your leader’s line with you and it can be a mess trying to organize, travel and ensure your line is protected from the elements. 

That is why I really like using a spool box like the Plano Spool Box found on Amazon. It’s a simple, yet effective way to keep all of your leader line organized and protected. You can just throw it in your car, boat or backpack and it will keep your line all in one place. 

If you’re anything like me and like to be prepared for whatever condition will be thrown at you on the water then I recommend picking up a spool box of some kind. It will protect your line and help you stay organized and more efficient. 

Other Fishing Line Resources

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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