Working with Wire

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Without wire leader, fish like this kingfish will chop right through your line.

If you’re targeting toothy critters, you’ll often need to work with wire leader. And, this stuff can be tricky. In fact, many anglers simply hate the stuff. If you know how to work with wire, however, it’s no tougher to use than any other sort of line. The next time you have something with sharp teeth in your sights, remember these tricks and tips.

kingfish on wire leader

Without wire leader, fish like this kingfish will chop right through your line.

  • When attaching wire leaders to hardware, always use a haywire twist. Every other form of connection leaves a sharp end (ouch!) or is ineffective. Speaking of which, never clip the end of the wire with pliers because that leaves a sharp burr (ouch again), and instead, bend then rock the tag end back and forth until it breaks off on its own.
  • Never attach a wire leader directly to the mainline; you need a shock leader above it when fishing for gamefish or any real size. Otherwise, some species can tail-whip or wrap on the mainline and cause a breakoff. As a general rule of thumb for most large saltwater species, two to three feet of wire capped off by 15 to 25 feet of shock leader is the norm.
  • Consider going to titanium as opposed to standard-issue wire, especially in very clear water on bright sunny days. It has less diameter and is less visible than other types of wire leaders.
  • If your wire is shiny, consider using an emery cloth the dull its appearance.
  • Any time you attach a wire leader to a wobbling spoon, be sure to put a ball-bearing swivel between them (not a cheap barrel swivel). Otherwise, twist in your mainline is a sure thing.

BONUS TIP: You find yourself surrounded by toothy fish, and don’t have any wire aboard? Attach a spoon to your line with two swivels clipped inline above it, to keep the teeth away from your mainline.


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