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Building A Light-Line Leader System

To consistently land fish, you must be proficient in many different facets of tackle rigging. Of all that knowledge, perhaps the single-most important aspect is making sure you use a leader system that will offer you maximum benefits while minimizing any negatives.

Fishing light leader system

In this tip, I’ll describe the leader system that I’ve been using on all of my trolling, live-bait and spinning outfits for at least 25 years. I learned it from experienced captains who were using the set up long before that. This system works extremely well for all monofilament lines under the 80-pound class. When fishing line above 80-pound, the knots get too bulky so we use Dacron splices to make true wind-on leaders.

The setup consists of a Bimini Twist in the main line and then a blood knot to a long monofilament leader. The only restraint on length may be IGFA rules that prescribe allowed lengths of leader applications.

IGFA rules state: “In all line classes up to and including 20-pound, the double line shall be limited to 15-feet. The combined length of the double line and leader shall not exceed 20-feet. The double line on all classes of tackle over 20-pound shall be limited to 30-feet. The combined length of the double line and leader shall not exceed 40-feet.”

Fishing light leader systemTying a Bimini Twist does take a little practice, but the double-line loop we are tying does not need to be long, which simplifies the process. We double the main line so we can use the two legs of the lighter line to intertwine it with the heavier leader. If the leader is the same pound test or thickness as the mainline I would skip the Bimini altogether and go right to the Blood Knot.

To connect the doubled main line to the leader, we treat the loop from the Bimini Twist like one line and join it to the leader with a Blood Knot. The main benefit of the Blood Knot over other line-to-line connections is the fact that the tags can be trimmed very close.

Once the Blood Knot is fully cinched, (don’t forget to wet the knot with saliva!) you can trim the tag ends super close to the barrels of the knot which make it easier to reel the knot through the guides on the rod.

You have to use nail clippers to trim the knot in a timely fashion and be able to get in close for the snip. Cut the tag ends close, but make sure you don’t nick the side of the knot.

When finished you will have a smooth knot that will easily pass through the rod guides during the cast, retrieve and fight.

I like to keep the length of the double line around one to two feet, and the mono is as long as legal or practical. On charters I will often make the mono leader 20-feet long. Then we attach it to the bait leader by a snap or barrel swivel or direct connection.

The leader can be long because it comes and goes off of the reel so smoothly. It won’t catch during a cast and throw off your accuracy.

Using a longer leader also comes with several benefits. It offers maximum protection against the line coming in contact with objects such as a fish’s tail, other fish, or various objects on the boat and motors. It also lets you cut and trim the leader several times before the leader gets too short, requiring a change out.

For example, if I am bailing dolphin, we quickly box the fish, cut the leader and retie a hook. This insures we maintain a good pace while everyone in the boat is safely out of harm’s way. We can land a lot of dorado this way before the leader gets too short.

When it comes time to replace the leader portion, you can snip the leader away from the double line that you created with the Bimini Twist and tie on a new leader with a Blood Knot. You do not need to retie the Bimini because you do not need a loop like some other knots. Just use the two lines as one when making the Blood Knot.

Fishing light leader system

Take the time to learn the knots and you will reap the benefits of this dependable system.

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Capt. Scott Goodwin started fishing in the lakes of Kentucky where he grew up. A move to Florida, however, brought him into a whole new realm of fishing. After receiving a bachelor's degree in biology from Eckerd College, he decided that he liked catching fish more than studying them and thus began his career as a captain. Scott began working as a mate on a charter boat and worked his way up to captain. He has been fortunate to fish in some of the top locations on the globe, including Florida, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Bahamas. Scott has learned from some of the best captains in the sport and has more than 27 years experience as a professional fisherman. He openly shares his knowledge and fishing tips on BD. Scott is now the editor of BDOutdoors.