Black Magic Master Class – Learning about leaders

Leader choice will play a big role in your fishing success.

by Paul Lennon •

Last month we talked about hook choice and how it’s one of the little things that often gets over looked by anglers but greatly increases your chance of success.

       This time I want to go into another critical but often over looked element, and that’s selecting what leader you should be using.

       Depending on what species you are targeting, what size they are and where you’re fishing as well as leader length should all greatly impact your leader choice, in regards to size and material.

       The two types of leader material to choose from are mono and fluorocarbon. Mono is supple and soft with more stretch, while fluorocarbon is a stiffer material giving it greater abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon sinks faster and also absorbs light, making it virtually invisible in the water.

       The attributes for each type of leader will benefit certain types of fishing but are not so great for others, so it’s important to choose the right one.

Learning the FG knot will greatly increase your success. Not only is it far stronger, but it is about a third of the size of your typical Albright knot (above) making it perfect for casting longer leaders through rod guides.
There is nothing worse than tangled leaders. It pays to have all your leaders ready to go, as you never know which one if going to produce the fish.
Black magic leader storage systems are the best way to keep your leaders in order and ready to go at all times.


       The greater abrasion resistance fluorocarbon often makes it a great choice for any kind of fishing where you’re likely to encounter structure. It’s ideal for fishing for bream off break walls, for drummer near oyster racks, and for groper off the rocks, but also for locking up on big kings or snapper heading for nasty terrain.

       It’s also perfect for those fish with raspy mouths that can wear through softer leaders of the same poundage during long fights. This can be anything from big flathead in the estuary, to tailor on the beaches, through to marlin.

       My favourite choice of fluorocarbon to use is the black magic Tough FL. This stuff is available from 4lb through to 120lb and is quite stiff, even by fluorocarbon standards. This stiffness gives it a decent abrasive resistance.

       Many standard knots that work with mono don’t work great in fluorocarbon. For braid to leader connection knots in heaver fluorocarbon, Albright and uni knots become quite bulky and it is difficult to get the knot tight. A slim beauty knot is a better alternative, or even better is the PR or FG knot. When tying the PR and FG in fluorocarbon, you’ll need to take extra care to make sure the knot is tight as it’s much harder for the braid to bite into the tougher material.

       When it comes to terminal connection knots, try doing a few less turns then you would normally do for mono especially in sizes above 60lb.

       A simple blood knot with out being locked like you would with mono will tie heavier fluorocarbon nicely and never slip.

Mono leaders

       While on paper fluorocarbon has many advantages over mono, there is still plenty of fishing where mono is the preferred choice.

       The suppleness of a mono leader will make lures swim more naturally, especially in heavier sizes where the stiffness of fluorocarbon becomes more evident. It’s also the better option when running more than a rod length of leader, which is often the case for finesse style fishing situations, like targeting spooky trout in a lake system or bream over the flats with ultra light leaders.

       Mono leaders are also best for surface luring, whether you’re targeting bream, whiting, bass or stickbaiting for tuna. Mono leaders have a slower sink rate than fluorocarbon, which makes the lure easier to work and it will swim better too.

       Knots like the PR and FG are better with mono, and mono also behaves better when casting longer heavier leaders through rod guides.

       Black Magic Tackle has two ranges of mono leaders, tough and supple, so they cover all bases. They also make a pink coloured version, which although relatively new is proving to be a real hit. Pink is considered to be the first colour to disappear in water, especially in low light or murky water situations. I noticed a difference when using pink leader for the first time against the clear while live baiting for mulloway in deep estuary holes. The pink noticeably out-fished the clear on several occasions, and for this type of fishing this is all I use now.

      Another handy leader device Black Magic do to make life easier is a leader dispenser that holds and organizes five spools of line. This keeps everything in order with only a small tag end of each line poking through that can be pulled out and cut to the desired length when required.