Fishermen use a variety of leaders on their fishing rigs for several purposes. Each type of leader will have different characteristics and will be beneficial for different reasons. Wire leaders are used for specific reasons and when targeting certain fish species, so how do you know when you should use a wire leader when saltwater fishing?

Using a wire leader will limit the risk of losing the lure, hook, or the fish in some circumstances. The main reasons for using a wire leader for saltwater fishing are:

  1. Fishing for species with sharp teeth.
  2. Using certain lures and baits.
  3. Fishing near sharp-edged obstacles.
  4. A deep hook set.

Fishing is a strategy game that requires knowledge of the fish you are targeting, the environment the fish is in, and knowledge of the best gear to use for different species and different environments. A wire leader could mean the difference between landing the fish or waking away empty-handed.

When To Use A Wire Leader When Saltwater Fishing

There are several sensible reasons for using a wire leader on your line when saltwater fishing, but it is important to use the right leader for the right circumstances and fish types.

Essentially, a leader is a line of different material to your mainline that you attach to the hook and then to your main fishing line. There are many different types of leaders, from fluorocarbons to types of braided line leaders and various types of wire leaders.

When it comes to wire leaders, the reason for choosing a wire leader, irrespective of the type of wire leader, will generally be for the same reasons.

Let’s take a look at some fishing circumstances that would call for the use of a wire leader on your line.

1. Use A Wire Leader Fishing For Fish Species With Sharp Teeth

Many of the game fish that are targeted by anglers in saltwater environments are fish with large, sharp teeth. Many of these teeth have razor-sharp edges, which will allow the fish to easily bite through traditional line types such as monofilament, fluorocarbon, and even braided lines.

If you are specifically targeting a toothy species of fish, a steel leader at the end of the line that the hook is attached to will give you a better chance of hooking the fish and keeping it hooked while it fights you all the way to the surface of the water.

You may want to consider a wire leader if you are targeting any of the following fish species.

  • Spanish Mackerel.
  • King Mackerel.
  • Wahoo.
  • Barracuda.
  • Bluefish.
  • Any species of shark.
  • Tarpon
  • Sailfish
Wire leader use in saltwater

2. Use A Wire Leader For Fishing Certain Lures Or Baits

Fishing with a wire leader can disguise the mainline from the fish, which may get a better strike rate on some lures.

Heavy lures and baits often benefit from a wire leader to enable further casting with the heavier lure or bait at the end of your line. The wire leader takes the stretch out of the line, which is especially useful for surfcasting.

On some lures, the way that a wire leader cuts the water will make the movement of the lure seem more realistic or allow the lure to move the way it is intended to move. Some lure manufacturers will specify if they recommend that their lure is fished with a wire leader.

3. Use A Wire Leader For Fishing Around Rough Obstacles

If you are fishing for species of fish that live in rocks or under shelter, the fish could grab your lure or bait and try to retreat back into its shelter.

This could cause the line, especially the line near the hook, to rub on the rough surfaces such as rocks or other surfaces where the fish has taken shelter. This abrasion of the line on rough surfaces can result in the line being cut or wearing through.

The seafloor can have any number of obstacles that could potentially cut your line, from sharp corral to manmade obstacles in the water. If you are fishing areas where these underwater obstacles are known, you can choose to use a wire leader to protect your line.

4. Use A Wire Leader For A Deeper Hook Set

A wire leader has no stretch or springiness to it, which means it reacts much faster and harder when your strike with the rod to set the hook in the fish’s mouth.

Leaders made from other materials that have stretch to them could have a delay from when you pull up the rod to set the hook in the mouth of the fish, which could give the fish time to escape the hook.

The quick, hard reaction of a wire leader line will also set the hook deeper than a leader of a softer, more elastic material. This is important when fishing for fish that have hard, bony mouths and thick skin, such as sharks.

Wire leader in Freshwater

What Type Of Wire Leaders Should I Use?

There are essentially only two main formats of wire leader; single strand wire and multiple strand leader wire, where multiple thinner strands are woven or twisted together to make a wire “rope,” so to speak.

We use Facikono as they come with swivels and snaps and they have never let us down yet. It is not needed to spend a fortune on this, but it is important to get quality products, the other end of this leader will be your fish and an expensive lure!

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There are also two materials mainly that are chosen for wire leaders, and they have different characteristics.

Single strand wire has the advantage of being thinner and, thus, less visible to the fish, whereas the multiple strands in a braided wire leader make for a larger diameter leader, which is more visible in the water.

Multi-strand leader lines are, however, more flexible and easier to tie than single-strand lines, which makes rigging swivels, hooks, and lures to the line much easier. You will most definitely need a pair of pliers when tying knots on single-strand wire leader lines.

The most common wire leader material is stainless steel, which makes the leader resistant to corrosion from saltwater, and the other material is titanium. The titanium wire is a lighter material, but its resistance to bending makes it more difficult to work with, especially in the single strand form.

Wire leaders can come with coatings to change the color of the leader to be more suitable for the conditions you are fishing. There are clear coatings that allow the silver of the wire to shine through, and there are lighter and darker colored coatings and even camo coatings that will help to disguise the line from the fish.

Titanium leaders also have a cost implication and are more expensive than the more common stainless steel varieties.

Should I Use Wire Leaders for Freshwater Fishing.

Although this requires an article on its own, and we are in the process of writing one at the moment. If you are targeting toothier freshwater fish like pike, musky or even large perch then a smaller gage or strength wire leader would help you keep hold of those lures (and fish) easier.

We recently started targeting Pacu up in Hong Kong Happy Fishing lake and in our naivety we went through a few lures before we put a trace on it.

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Pacu are a species closely related, and looking a lot like, Red Bellied piranha. Their teeth look remarkably similar to Human teeth which is a little un nerving when you first go to pull the hook out. However these teeth back a bite to them and wire traces stopped them biting through. Mono just couldn’t hold on to them.

Pacu Fish


Wire leaders can be a valuable strategy to use when saltwater fishing. The practice not only gives you a better chance of landing large fish with large, sharp teeth but has other benefits as well.

Protection from rough obstacles such as rocks, corral, and other debris that is under the surface of the water. In some instances, a wire leader will even improve the performance of certain lures in the water.

Some fishermen will use a wire leader as a matter of course when they are fishing saltwater because of the large number of sharp-toothed fish that could potentially take your lure, even a species you are not specifically targeting.

A wire leader is certainly recommended for the situation we have described, and the only way for you to become familiar with their use and the feel on your line is to try it out!


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