Stealth Tackle Leader Tips From Steve Heiting

Steve Heiting

Following last week’s tip a question was asked about the leaders I use, so I cover that in this week’s musky tip. The video discusses why it’s important to downsize leaders along with your baits.

Musky Leaders Explained

Because muskies have big, sharp teeth, it’s a given that fishermen should always use a leader. Never skimp on this piece of equipment — thrashing muskies place a lot of stress on leaders, and the cheap components of an inexpensive leader will fail.
Believe it or not, I use seven different styles of leaders. Leader weight and bulk can have a dramatic effect on a lure’s action, so I match my leaders to the baits I plan to use. Following are my seven leader types and their applications:
1. Fluorocarbon, 130-pound test, 13 inches long — The reasons for using fluorocarbon are its near-invisibility under water and its flexibility. It’s not completely bite-proof like wire, but 130-pound test seems to be almost infallible. I prefer to use this leader with all large bucktails (size 9 blades and larger), crankbaits and minnow baits measuring eight inches and longer, and soft plastics.
2. Solid, 174-pound test wire with a ball bearing swivel, 12 inches long — If you’re leery of the potential for a bite-off with fluorocarbon, this leader style can be used for all the lure types mentioned above. Its weight makes it a poor choice with small baits. I use this leader type when fishing with most topwaters and diver jerkbaits (Suicks and Bobbies).
3. Solid, 174-pound test wire without a swivel, 12 inches long — If your bait doesn’t spin you don’t need a swivel. Going without a swivel reduces weight and the occasional fouled cast when the swivel binds against the wire. Simply tie your line to the wire loop on the end opposite the snap. I use this leader type with glider jerkbaits (Hellhounds, Phantoms, etc.) and walk-the-dog topwaters (Jackpots, One-Eyed Willies, etc.) because it cuts water better than fluorocarbon, producing better lure movement.
4. Solid, 124-pound test wire with a ball bearing swivel, six inches long — A few years ago I had Stealth Tackle custom-make these leaders for me and they turned out so good the company now offers them to the public. All of the components are of the same brand and quality as those used in the 174-pound test leaders, but are smaller which makes the leader lighter. This makes them fantastic with small baits whose action is diminished by a big, bulky leader. I use them with bucktails with size 8 blades and smaller.
5. Solid, 124-pound test wire without a swivel, six inches long — Small minnowbaits, crankbaits and jerkbaits have so little buoyancy their action will benefit from eliminating the swivel’s weight. Again, you don’t need a swivel if the lure does not spin.
6. Solid, 240-pound test wire with a ball bearing swivel, 12 inches long and weighted — If you want a lure to achieve extra depth, leaders that are pre-weighted with up to an ounce of lead get the job done. Weighted leaders also produce tremendous action when attached to diver jerkbaits.
7. Fluorocarbon, 130-pound test, 48 inches long — There are two reasons why longer leaders are necessary for trolling: 1.) Hooked muskies tend to roll and a four-foot leader prevents the line from being cut should it get into their gills; and 2.) If your crankbaits bang bottom at some point, a longer leader will prevent your line from damage.
You may not be as picky about matching your leader selection to your lures as I, or maybe more so. But this is my list.

Original article found at

Gregg Thomas

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