How to Attach a Lure to a Leader

Attaching a lure to leader line is one of the more advanced methods of rigging a fishing line, but it is a technique that is well worth learning. Leader lines allow fishermen to benefit from the use of multiple types of fishing line at once. 

Attaching a lure to a leader is accomplished by tying one of several knots specific to fishing, such as the following: 

  • Trilene knot
  • Palomar knot
  • Nanofil knot
  • Berkley Braid knot
  • Eugene Bend knot
  • Uni knot

Each of these knots is beneficial for different kinds of fishing line and for different fishing scenarios. Read on to find out more about how you should tie fishing lures onto a leader line and why leader lines are used for lure fishing to begin with.

The Function of Leader Lines

In fishing, a leader line is a section of line secured at the end of the fishing line that contains the terminal tackle, the lure, and the bait (if applicable). Leader lines are constructed from a separate piece of fishing line to the fishing line that is spooled onto the fishing reel. 

The reason leader lines are used are varied. Here are a few of them: 

  • Aggressive fish: Some fishermen go after aggressive species of fish such as sharks, tarpon, or redfish, and these fish will bite through a fishing line and get away if they get the chance. To avoid losing lures in this way, fishermen will attach a leader line to the end of the fishing reel that has a strong form of fishing line such as fluorocarbon to resist biting and fighting fish.
  • Rocks/Surf abrasion: In stream, river, or surf fishing, leader lines are used because they are dragged along the bottom by the currents or tides, which is very abrasive and can damage weaker lines to the point that they fray and snap. Stream and surf fishermen will attach a leader line that is made of abrasion-resistant material such as fluorocarbon or braided line.
  • Reduce line twisting: Using a lure on monofilament can lead to line twisting, snagging, and rat’s nests on the line. Many fishermen will use a leader line of a stiffer line material in order to resist tangles and keep the rod’s rig neat and organized. Leader lines are stiffer than monofilament and are less inclined to hold their spooled shape.
  • Reduce costs: Running braided or fluorocarbon line on an entire reel can be expensive, as these fishing line types are much pricier than regular monofilament due to the materials used. To reduce the cost of using these stronger fishing lines while also benefiting from them, fishermen use them as leaders instead of spooling the entire reel.
  • Invisibility in the water: Fluorocarbon is rendered almost invisible in the water, which makes it a good choice as leader line for fishermen who plan to be working in clear waters where fish can easily see the line attached to a lure. In clear waters, fluorocarbon leaders reduce the chance that a fish will become spooked and increase the chances that a bait is taken without suspicion.
  • Absorb impact: A monofilament leader line stretches easily and helps to absorb impact from striking fish, offering a different benefit than braided or fluorocarbon leader lines. This absorption of impact prevents the line from being drawn to the point of snapping when fishing for stronger game fish with an aggressive strike.

How Do You Tie Two Pieces of Fishing Line Together?

Knowing how to tie two pieces of fishing line together might seem simple, but it’s an important skill to know for serious fishermen. This is because if you use a leader line and a lure without knowing how to tie fishing line properly, your knot could slip either during casting or when a fish bites the lure. 

This will lead to the loss of your tackle, rather than a caught fish. For those fishermen who invest in serious lures, losing tackle as the result of bad knot-tying is not an option. Even for fishermen who only use cheap or easily accessible tackle, it isn’t worth the hassle of having to stop your fishing activities and re-rig your line after losing everything. 

If you know the proper knots to tie two pieces of fishing line together, it allows you to experiment with using different kinds of leader lines with your terminal tackle to determine the best results for your particular fishing situation.

Line to Line Fishing Knots

Line to line fishing knots are important because they keep two pieces of fishing line from becoming separated while casting, reeling, or hauling in a catch. Because both pieces of line are under significant pressure during these processes, it’s important that the knot be strong to keep either piece of fishing line from coming loose. 

Which fishing knots you use depends on what kind of fishing line you’re using, its diameter, and how stiff it is. So-called “superlines” are usually stiff lines that need to be knotted correctly in order to work like they’re supposed to with a lure. 

Regardless of how much work you’ve put into selecting your tackle, all of that work will be for naught if your knots fail during an inopportune time and cost you your catch. Learn the most effective line to line fishing knots to securely attach a lure to a leader, and you’ll also know the best knots for attaching lures to leaders. These knots are equally effective for both rigging goals.

Best Knots for Attaching Lures to Leaders

Every fisherman has his or her favorite kind of knot for attaching lures to leaders, but there are certain knot types which are considered stronger and more resistant to breaking or pulling free than others. Here are the best types of knots for attaching lures to leaders, and also for attaching leader line to spooled line. 

  • Trilene knot: The trilene knot was developed in the 1970s and is a multipurpose hitch knot used in fishing to attach monofilament fishing line to tackle and lures. Here’s a video tutorial on tying a trilene fishing knot.

  • Palomar knot: Palomar knots were designed by Berkeley fishing specifically for use with their high-strength Fireline fishing lines. These knots are sturdy and considered easy to tie by the standards of most anglers. Here’s a video tutorial on tying a Palomar fishing knot. 

  • Nanofil knot: A Nanofil knot, also known as a double Palomar knot, is a doubled version of the Palomar knot that is designed to secure Berkley’s Nanofil high-strength line. This double knot helps mitigate the thin diameter of the fishing line. Here’s a video tutorial on tying a Nanofil knot.

  • Berkley braid knot: The Berkley braid knot was designed by Berkley Fishing as a way to secure their braided fishing line but can be used with either fluorocarbon or monofilament lines as well. Here’s a video tutorial on tying a Berkley braid knot.

  • Eugene Bend knot: The Eugene Bend knot, also known as the Eugene slip knot, this knot has the benefits of being both simple to tie and very tough. Here’s a video tutorial on tying a Eugene Bend knot.

  • Uni knot: Uni knots are considered a good versatile multipurpose knot for securing a wide variety of tackle and lines. This kind of knot is best used for tying together two kinds of fishing line that are approximately the same diameter, however. Uni knots are a good option for adding a leader to a mainline. Here’s a video tutorial on tying a uni knot.

All the above knot types can be used to either tie separate pieces of fishing line together, tie them to a swivel, or attach lures and tackle to leader lines. 

Practicing these knots in your free time when you’re not actively fishing can lead to more efficient and faster rigging when you do get out on the water, so don’t be shy about repeating these knots until you are comfortable with them and confident they’re secure. 

What Is A Wire Leader in Fishing?

Another kind of leader line used in fishing is wire leader. Wire leader comes in several different types and is typically used when big game fishing for fish such as sharks, bluefin, and mackerel. Wire leaders are too tough for these aggressive fish to bite through, but they can also be tough for fishermen to tackle and rig as well.

For attaching lures to wire leaders, you’ll need a different knot than you would if you were using regular types of fishing line. Here’s how you can attach lures to wire leaders:

  • Haywire twist: A haywire twist knot isn’t a proper knot at all, but rather a technique of twisting wires together to form a strong unbreakable bond that fishermen borrowed from hay balers. When performed correctly, a haywire twist will prevent even strong fish like sharks from ripping a lure loose from the leader line. Here’s a video tutorial on the haywire twist. 

When using a piece of wire, you don’t want to attach the wire directly to your main line. Instead, attach the wire to a piece of leader line (either braided or fluorocarbon). You can also attach a swivel for increased motion in the water for more dynamic dead bait.

Barrel Swivels and Leaders

Barrel swivels are often used together alongside lures on a leader line in order to allow the end of the line to have more movement in the water. When using monofilament line, barrel swivels also help prevent the line from becoming tangled. This is especially a problem when using certain lures which cause the line to twist in the water. 

The twisting caused by lures being reeled in leads to both bird’s nests and a weaker line overall, as this twisting motion eventually weakens the line to the point that a break is inevitable given a strike by a large fish. To prevent this, especially in fishing where large fish are the norm, barrel swivels are incorporated. 

A barrel swivel is used between the mainline and the leader line, with the mainline being tied to one end and the leader line being tied to the other. This allows the leader line to twist—or swivel—independently of the main line as it’s being reeled in. 

This gives the leader line more movement in the water and allows the lure more free action, helping it to compensate for the lack of liveliness in a dead scent bait. It also prevents bad hook sets caused by a twisted line.

Do I Need a Swivel with a Lure?

Swivels are particularly good when used with certain lures that are more inclined to cause lines to twist up, such as: 

With lures like these, it can be beneficial to attach a barrel swivel to the end of your mainline, and then from there, attach 2-4 feet of leader line. This will allow the worm lures movement while preventing that movement from twisting and breaking the line under pressure. 

Stream and surf fishermen can also benefit from swiveled lures since the tossing of the currents can lead to the same twisting action that damages fishing line when used with worm lures. 

A swivel lure is a good idea for leader lines in general since it allows you to attach each piece of line to a piece of tackle rather than tying line to line. This is beneficial for almost all current-based fishing where conditions are abrasive and necessitate a leader line made of strong material or has to be replaced more frequently. 

Using Line Combinations for Efficiency

For many kinds of anglers, combining monofilament as a mainline with a stronger leader line can offer advantages of both worlds, especially for those who are fishing on a budget. Water-invisible lines like fluorocarbon may be too expensive to use as an entire spool of fishing line, but when attached as a leader to monofilament, it provides a cost-effective solution for clearwater fishing. 

By using leader lines as accessories, fishermen can adapt their rods to several different kinds of fishing environments, ultimately leading to a more versatile rod. This knowledge makes for more efficient line rigging, and more time spent reeling, casting, catching, and celebrating those catches. 

Between the different kinds of line available and the different fishing knots that can be used to secure them, there is a combination suitable for just about any fishing scenario you can imagine.

Other Tackle to Use When Attaching Lures to Leader Lines

Along with barrel swivels and the lures themselves, there are other things that can be attached to a leader line in order to increase the chances that a fish will be interested in the lure. Here are some of the things you can add to your leader line to increase fish interest or make your fishing more successful in general:

  • Sinkers: Depending on the fish you’re trying to catch, sinkers can help ensure that your leader line stays near the bottom of the body of water. Sinkers come in a variety of shapes that are determined by where they are used—Sputnik and pyramid sinkers are popular in surf fishing, while snagless sinkers are used in heavy cover.
  • Bait: Along with a lure, anglers can also use live, dead, or cut-up bait in order to provide an attractive scent along with visual interest. Regardless of what lure you use, a piece of bait can usually be added to give the lure a little extra zing and attract species that hunt both on sight and scent.
  • Hooks: What kind of hook you use with your leader line and lure will be determined by what kind of fish you’re going after, and also whether you intend to keep the fish or catch and release. Circle hooks are most often used for catch-and-release as well as fish that tend to gulp their prey, such as trout. 

Having the right combination of fishing lines, lure, and other terminal tackle can mean the difference between coming home with a creel full of fish and coming home with nothing, so it’s worth doing a little bit of research into the specific kind of fishing you’re trying to do in order to come up with a strategy for the best tackle setup possible.

Keep Track of Your Rigs

Learning which fishing line setups work and which don’t (and in what conditions) is one of the things that separates a mediocre fisherman from a great one. In order to keep track, it can be beneficial to mark down which lures you used on what days, with what fishing line, and in what weather/water conditions. 

To remember which leader lines and lures work best, keep a journal, and make an entry each time you go out. Along with recording your catches, this can also be a good place to note down anything interesting you see on your trip. 

Knowing which leader lines and lures work best is just as important as knowing how to properly attach them, so keep a record, and you’ll be able to develop a great homespun resource that is customized to your own fishing geography and style.

Using Leader Lines is Advanced FishingConsistent and effective use of leader lines is one of the marks of an experienced fisherman versus an amateur, mostly because of the extra knot-tying involved and the background knowledge necessary to make proper use of multiple fishing line and lure types.

It might seem tedious to learn all of these different knots and types of tackle, but doing so will ultimately make you a more effective fisherman in the long run.

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