Secure Sufix Pike Leader
When fishing for toothy and strong predators like the Northern Pike there are many details and parts of your equipment that need to be customized for success. A chain isn’t stronger than its weakest link so all the way from the spool of the reel to the point of the hook should be dimensioned and suitable for the target species.
Today I will talk about pike leaders and which solution is in my opinion the strongest and most safe to make sure that once hooked that dream fish will follow all the way to the net. Since we put so much time and effort in our beloved hobby to get those bites, don’t we want to make sure we don’t lose the fish to material failure?
The Road to the Perfect Leader
I´ve fished pike my entire life, starting off with that standard setup used in the 1980´s. Listening to the elders stories about big fish cutting lines, cracking rods and straightening hooks. I was thrilled by the stories and remember always asking if they have seen and lost many big pike in their long lives? The answer was often no, only a few ones and almost all of them always got away.
This made me nervous, always dreaming of that big fish and fishing for so many hours. What if I finally one day get that big bite and the line breaks? It can´t be like that, it’s too cruel.
Of course I kept fishing with the gear I got at that time, I used what was provided. And later on in life I also experienced the same old stories, big fish that ripped my gear and was gone.
Growing older I started to think about my equipment, what can be done to prevent material failure and defeat the big fish? I started using heavier rods, big nets, high quality hooks always kept sharp, good split rings and so on. These details aren’t too tough to figure out and didn’t need too much of testing and trying. I also gave some thought and training to use the net properly, how to fight the fish, going thru the crucial parts of the fight in my head and perfected the skills. All these small details, or links in the chain we may call, add up. Adding up those small percentages here and there will together make a huge difference in your efficiency and that means more successful fishing and more fish.
The leader was trickier though. There are so many options and ways to make them. And so many materials to choose among. And I have tried them all.
I have spent a good amount of time, money and testing to find the perfect leader. One that doesn’t break, get cut or get loose from the lure. One that doesn’t affect my fishing and swimming action of the lure.
I have tried single strand titanium, piano steel, 7-strand steel, titanium, coated and uncoated. I have used crimps to lock them and tried knot-able wire. I have tried all kinds of snap locks also.
The problem with wires are that they are sneaky. Sometimes you just can’t see that they are damaged or kinked and suddenly they snap. At other occasions you see the kink and you better not continue using them, it's asking for trouble. Same goes with crimps, sometimes they get loose or broken and you can't tell that beforehand. Soft steel wire get torn up and need to be replaced quite soon.
Snap locks can and eventually will open fighting the fish. Not only will you lose the fish but also the lure. There are better and worse snaps but even the best ones can open, that have happened to me.
A steel or titanium leader is also heavy and can affect the lures swimming action. And when using the stop and go method the leader will immediately start sinking and hanging under the lure. This gives you a sharp V angle from the lure to the main line. It will also make lures head dive. A fluorocarbon leader attached to the main line with a swivel also add some weight up front making it sink fast.
So what is the solution?
Finally we found a leader we are very happy with and been using now for some 7-8 years and it's still the one we use. It's actually so good so I haven’t been looking for options for years.
It´s a Fluorocarbon leader that is directly attached to the main line without any swivels or added weight thus making it almost suspending when stopping the retrieve. And instead of a snap lock we use a heavy duty split ring to attach the lure. In theory a split ring could also get loose but when using a strong one and making sure to replace it when it gets worn out and having a gap I imagine it will never open. At least it haven’t for me for those years I have used it.
Fluorocarbon is a superior material in my opinion since its soft and flexible suiting all types of lures. It doesn’t kink nor get weaker when tangled up around the fish in loops.
FC is also an “honest” material. You will see when its damaged and can take precautions before failing. You might think it isn’t as durable against sharp teeth as steel or titanium? That is correct but what we lose in durability we gain in security. Being able to see when the material is damaged and fixing the issue instead of a surprise snap will give you far less snaps than a more durable steel wire that suddenly breaks.
What we need to do when choosing our Fluorocarbon for pike fishing is to pick one that is thick enough. If you use FC below 1,00mm even a fresh one can be cut off in one bite if unlucky. Using 0,90mm or below is really asking for trouble, they will snap quite often. I have found that 1,10-1,20mm is the perfect balance. Not too thick and heavy but will hold against pike teeth. Although heard others got that thick FC cut off it have never happened to me or my friends that use the same leader. And if it would happen once or twice in 10 years i'm ok with that since nothing in life is 100%.
Two other great features of Fluorocarbon leaders are that they are less visible and since they have just a little stretch to them they will give you some chock absorption when setting the hook with max drag and a braid that isn’t stretching.
I create my pike leaders of Sufix Invisiline® 100% Fluorocarbon. I use the dimension 1,17mm (175lb/80kg) and I have been doing this for long. Super happy with the material, very dependable!
I make the leaders 80cm long. Why so long?
First off, when a big pike inhales you lure some 10-30cm of leader may be inside its mouth. And when the pike twist and turn and even roll the leader might go around its neck and suddenly now the braid gets in contact with the teeth and breaks immediately. I have seen this way too many times with people using too short leaders.
Secondly we want to make the leader extra-long so that every time you had a bite you check your leader. Are there any damage from the teeth? If yes, then we just cut of the damaged part and shorten the leader and very seldom we need to take off more than 5cm. This way we can retie the swivel and the split ring on the same leader many times before the leader need to be entirely replaced. It's done very quickly and you will always be able to see with your own eyes that it's all good. Once the leader is shorter than 50-60cm I tie on a brand new one.
It’s the perfect leader that will always keep you confident your gear is fit for fight! So let's make one.
Before we start we need some items.
- Sufix Invisiline® 100% Fluorocarbon in dimension 1,17mm.
- Heavy duty VMC Split Ring
- Heavy Duty VMC Swivel
- Split Ring Pliers with cutters like the RAPC6 Aluminum Pliers
- Scissors for braided line like the RCD Precision Line Scissors
- Flat plastic surface like the Sufix FC package or a tackle box to shape melted Fluorocarbon
Start by cutting off 80-90cm of your Sufix Fluorocarbon. Tying the knots and melting the end will shorten it some so we want some extra length.
In the end where we will attach the lure well tie on a swivel. Use the Clinch Knot and make only two twists before going through the loop. Wet the knot for less friction before tightening it very hard with the help of a plier holding the swivel.
Now cut of the excess part but leave 1cm so we can melt the end with a lighter so the knot can't slip through.
Now we go to the other end of the leader where the main line will be attached.
Melt the very end of the leader with a lighter. Hold the leader vertically downwards and the lighter under it and do this until you have a shape of a drop. As soon as you got the drop quickly but gently press it against a plastic surface to flatten it out before it hardens. Please use a plastic surface to not damage your table or anything, the plastic surface will also not stick to the Fluorocarbon. This part might take some tries and training but you will learn fast. When done properly you will have like a nails head at the end of the line with smooth edges. You will also notice it gets very hard when cooled down.
If there are sharp edges around the head just trim them with scissors.
We have now created the stop for the main lines knot which allows us not to use a swivel.
Now we are ready to tie on the main line which is braid in this case.
Make a loop of the braid and keep the crossing and the Fluorocarbon between two fingers and perform a Uni Knot around the FC.
When the knot is done drag it against the stop we melted and pull tightly to lock it.
Cut off the excess part with a pair of scissors and we are done connecting the lines.
Only thing left to do is to attach a heavy duty split ring of suitable size for the lures you are using on the swivel we already tied on and we are done.
Changing lures require a split ring plier but it doesn’t take more time than with a snap and its far more secure and actually easier since you don’t need to cut your fingers on tight and tricky snaps.