by Gordon MacDonald •
For anglers specifically targeting species with razor sharp dentures, wire is necessary to avoid high tackle losses. There are several types of wire that can be used for various fishing applications and each can require differing ways to affix or secure them to your tackle. Additionally, there is a lot of confusion as to which type of wire is best suited for what application. To address this, let’s have a look at some of the different wires and the best way to use them in our rigging applications.
Many anglers overuse wire in their rigging, even in situations where they don’t actually need wire. If you are simply bait fishing in the estuaries targeting the usual suspects such as bream, flathead, whiting, mulloway and the like, you do not need wire leaders. Sure, you may get bitten off on occasion by a small whaler shark or big toadfish, but you don’t really want to land them anyway. By using wire you’ll greatly decrease your chances of enticing and hooking the desirable species you came to target in the first place.
The same can be said when fishing in more open bay waters and further offshore, especially when fishing for demersal species such as snapper, sweetlip, pearl perch, red emperor, teraglin and the like. You do not need wire leaders; monofilament or fluorocarbon is a much better option.
All up, it is doubtful that you need wire in your rigs unless you are targeting toothy critters such as mackerel, sharks, wahoo, large tailor, dogtooth tuna and the like. In some circumstances, such as when you are aiming to catch tailor, school mackerel and spotted mackerel, wire is desirable however it is likely to decrease your strike rate. Therefore many anglers will not use wire and will sacrifice the occasional lost fish in lieu of an increased initial strike rate.
For situations where you do need serious bite protection, there are numerous varieties of wire to choose from. Let’s look at each wire and how it is best used in your rig.
SINGLE STRAND SOFT WIRE
This is probably the least used wire in the fishing arena but it does have its applications, mainly for bait rigging. This shiny stainless steel wire is very pliable and is pretty much like a thinner version of fencing or tie wire. It is often used when you are rigging baits for securing hook rigs or head weights to the baitfish. Additionally, for the home lure maker it can be used for forming towing eyelets in minnow lures or for the wire that runs through chromed slugs cast from molten lead.
It can easily be twisted but has a relatively low breaking strain for its diameter so it’s generally not used for leaders. This single-strand wire is available in quite high breaking strains and diameters yet most fishers wouldn’t have use for anything over 80lb.
HI-TENSILE SINGLE STRAND
Often called piano wire, this single-strand, hi-tensile wire is generally a dark brown colour, which reduces its visibility in the water. It is commonly used as a leader for rigged trolling baits and some lures.
Due to its hi-tensile nature it is generally not used in long lengths as it can kink easily and will snap if kinked and straightened a couple of times. Those anglers who do persist in using piano wire in longer lengths, such as for leaders on rigged trolling baits for targeting Spanish mackerel and the like, will generally use it only once or twice and then replace it, to avoid the risk of it snapping.
Piano wire is relatively cheap and has a fairly thin diameter for its breaking strain. Due to its hi-tensile nature it is a little harder to work with than soft wire. The best way to secure it to a swivel or hook is to use a haywire twist. This can be achieved by hand, with many brands of wire displaying instructions on the back of the packaging on how to complete the haywire twist. Additionally, there are tools to help complete this task. Du Bro and American Fishing Wire companies both make tools to easily do the haywire twist.
To complete a haywire twist you fold the wire back around itself and then make 3 or 4 loosely spaced wraps before doing 8 to 10 tight wraps with each wrap hard against the last. Ensure to initially leave a long enough tag end to make it easier to complete this task. When all your wraps are done, you remove the remaining tag end of wire. If you cut it off with a pair of side-cutters you’ll find there is a sharp end remaining, which can be dangerous. A better way to remove it is by rocking it backwards and forwards a few times. It will snap off clean without leaving a rough or sharp finish.
Some good uses for piano wire are for short traces on chromed slugs and trolling lures or rigged trolling baits. It is also ideal for adding a stinger hook to a bait, especially for live bait rigs for tailor or mackerel. Single-strand wire is the stiffest and hardest wire and is much less likely to be bitten through than multi-strand wires, yet it lacks flexibility. Breaking strains up to 120lb are commonly available.
This multi-strand wire is often referred to as 1×7 as it is made from 7 individual strands of wire which are twisted together to form a single, reasonably pliable wire. Some brands of these wires are heated to darken them and make them a copper brown colour, which is believed to be less visible in the water than silver wire. They are a lower grade of stainless than some other wires on the market but will still last a decent time if washed in fresh water after use.
The main uses for 7-strand wires are leaders for lures and large trolling baits and some hook rigs. To secure multi-strand wire properly you should use a crimp. This is basically a tubular metal sleeve (generally copper or brass) that is reduced in diameter with a swaging tool. The benefit of multi-strand wire is that it is fairly flexible, therefore it will not snap as easily as single-strand wire when repeatedly flexed. Commonly available breaking strains for 7-strand wire go up to 135lb.
As its name suggests, 49-nine strand wire is made up of 49-nine individual strands of wire. The individual strands are much smaller in diameter than those found in 7-strand wire. It is made up of 7 lots of 7 strands twisted together to make up a single length of wire, which is why it is often referred to as 7×7.
The stainless content is generally higher than 1×7 wire and it is a lot more flexible and pliable. As such, it is used for a variety of applications including leaders on larger trolling lures (especially metal headed skirted lures) and for attaching a second hook in a shackle rig used in resin-head skirts. Crimps are used to secure 7×7 wire, which is used in breaking strains up to 875lb for various fishing applications, especially when rigging heavy tackle marlin lures.
Generally used for short term situations, such as shark fishing leaders, nylon-coated wire lacks the durability of many of the other wires. It is basically a multi-strand wire with a nylon coating. Once the nylon coating is torn or broken, saltwater can penetrate onto the low grade stainless wire underneath, which will rust fairly quickly.
The nylon coating makes it nearly impossible to wash the wire effectively. As a result, it is best to only use this wire once or twice. It is not recommended for lure leaders or applications where the rig is used repeatedly.
This wire is ideal for making bait fishing leaders and snelled-hook rigs for shark fishing because the nylon coating decreases the amount of electrolysis that is created in the water when saltwater meets metal. Sharks have sensitive gel-filled glands around their snout area called ampullae of Lorenzini, which are exceptionally sensitive to electrolysis. Therefore, nylon-coated wires are better than any other wire for shark fishing applications.
Nylon-coated wire can be crimped to secure with brass, copper or aluminium crimps. It is fairly pliable in lighter breaking strains (up to 135lb) and can be snelled onto hooks with a basic snell. For heavy tackle shark fishing it is often used in breaking strains up to 600lb. When crimping this heavier wire (which has a thick coating), you are best to remove the coating so the crimp is hard against the wire, otherwise the connection may slip.
As you now aware, there are many types of wire that can be used in various fishing situations. However, if you don’t specifically need wire in your rig then don’t use it, because it can deter some fish from biting your bait or striking your lure. A monofilament or fluorocarbon leader is a better option in most situations than wire.
However, if you definitely do need wire, choosing the correct one should now be fairly easy if you can actually remember the contents of this article! You can save this article for future reference or, if it becomes fish and chip wrapper, head down to your specialist tackle store for advice on which wire when.
There is a broad array of wires used for fishing applications and each has its own attributes, uses and method of affixing.
Multi-strand wires are crimped to secure them. It is best to remove the coating from heavy nylon-coated wire when crimping to ensure the strongest connection.
Crimps are metal tubes, which are constricted around the wire using a swaging tool
Lighter nylon coated wire can be snelled onto a hook if necessary.
The haywire twist is the best way to secure hi-tensile piano wire.
There are haywire twist tools available to make the task of securing hi-tensile wire a lot easier.