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December 03, 2013

The Bitter End

Wire leaders take the bite out of toothy game fish.

Heavy Metal

A popular way to bypass tying or twisting wire is to crimp loops into the leader via copper or brass sleeves. The loop generated from the crimped sleeve allows live baits and lures to swim naturally, similar to a loop knot tied in fluorocarbon.

One leader that always needs crimp connections is heavy-duty multistrand cable. Because of its strength and rigidity, it’s often the best option when targeting truly heavyweight species.

“For shark fishing and big wahoo, you have to go with the 49-strand cable,” says Steve Carpenter, a sales executive at American Fishing Wire. “The way sharks fight and twist around the leader, 49-strand is best at resisting kinks and breaks.”

Cable is usually packaged as 7-strand or 49-strand. As the name implies, 7-strand is assembled from seven individual wires twisted together. Multiply that, and American Fishing Wire’s 49 Strand is made up of seven T-304 ­stainless-steel 7-strands.

“Cable gives you more flexibility with live baits,” agrees Marshall. “Shark fishing is getting more popular, with bigger fish available near shore. Because sharks have the ability to detect electrical currents in the water, some fishermen use nylon-coated wire.”

To describe proper crimping ­techniques for cable would require its own column. Still, remember these tips: Match the right-size sleeve to the appropriate-diameter line; include a thimble inside the loop to keep the loop’s shape under pressure; and make a solid connection by not crimping the edges of the sleeve. Proper sleeve sizes for specific leader diameters are listed on the package or on the ­manufacturer’s website.

Stainless Steel Reborn

Wire Leader Contacts

Manufacturers continue to improve on stainless-steel leaders as they adjust to feedback from anglers. For Malin, that meant introducing Premium Alloy Hard-Wire at this year’s ICAST fishing-tackle-industry trade show. Made from 316L stainless steel, Premium contains higher nickel content for a more pliable feel, plus increased corrosion protection against salty conditions. The different grade of stainless steel is also less likely to kink, though don’t plan on bends and twists going away completely.

“Kingfishermen wanted leaders that were going to last in the salt, stored on the boat,” says Marshall. “That’s why we introduced the Premium Alloy. It’s slightly softer, and it won’t stain or mark the boat.”

And what about anglers who want to use multistrand leaders without having to use sleeves and crimps? American Fishing Wire produces two lines of stainless-steel leader — Surflon and Surfstrand — to give anglers less-kink options when targeting bluefish, mackerel, flounder, stripers and other species.

Available in 7-, 19- (Micro Ultra) and 49-strands (Micro Supreme), it’s your choice how pliable a leader you want to tie — the higher the strand count, the more threadlike the leaders become. Surflon Micro Supreme is so flexible, and has such little memory or stretch, that anglers can tie common monofilament knots like the nail, surgeon’s loop or uni with ease.

“Surflon’s nylon-coated for added protection, plus it’s an extra barrier from fish teeth, and easier on your hands,” says Carpenter. “Surfstrand’s uncoated, so it’s a bit easier to handle.”

When it comes to tying wire leaders, Carpenter is right: It’s all about what you can handle. Prices vary according to leader material, but it pays to rig comfortably.