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October 25, 2001

Straightening Shock Leaders

Use a piece of PVC tube to leaders in top form.

When chasing tarpon, snook, billfish and the like on fly, a monofilament shock leader (also called a trace) is required ahead of your line-class tippet. In order to present the fly in a natural manner, the shock leader must be straight and free of coils. Here's an easy way to get the kinks out of monofilament leaders.
You'll need a length of 1/2-inch electrical conduit or copper tubing with end caps equal in length to the section of leader material you want. To be IGFA-legal, fly shock leaders can't be more than 12 inches long, but you should make the tube 16 1/2 inches long to allow enough room for the extra material required for tying and trimming knots. Cut your leader material into 16-inch lengths and pack them tightly into the metal tube. Cap the tube and place it into a large pan or sink and pour boiling water over it. Allow the tube to cool, remove the end caps and check the results. If any curls remain, repeat the heating process. Transfer the straightened shock leaders to a 1/2-inch PVC pipe for storage.
If you need different weights of shock leaders, straighten each batch separately and store them in their own marked PVC tubes. You now have a season's supply of shock tippets in just a few minutes.
Capt. Bob Rodgers
Tavernier, Florida