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Steel leaders or heavy mono line?

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Just started this year running tip-ups.  I've caught several pike and bass now.  However some large pike I loose because i run a 20lb mono leader line.  Should i run a steel leader or heavier mono leader line?   I think i have more hookups with mono likely because can't see but i cant stand to break off either.  Thoughts on how i should setup my rigs?

I wouldn't use mono line, rather flourocarbon leader material, which is a bit different from regular flouro line.  I used to make my own pike/musky leaders for soft water fishing and used 80lb.  I noticed this was a bit overkill for ice fishing and the heavier line has a memory and tends to coil.  I've since went to 40lb flouro for winter fishing and now trying 30 lb flouro, since one of the lakes I fish is really clear and I've seen pike turn away from my presentation and people around me have caught the same pike on their panfish/walleye setups, with a shiner rigged.   

What I've noticed is the minnows tend to be a bit more free on a flouro leader, where as a steel leader tends to immobilize them a bit more. I've seen it where passive fish may favor minnows on a steel leader because they can't swim up and out of the way when a pike is approaching.  These tend to be the larger pike that act like muskies or pressured walleyes, that come in for a look but don't bite. 

Another thing to consider with the flouro leaders, is when you catch a fish, check it for nicks and replace it if there's any.  But what I like about making my own leaders, I can tie various hook sizes and other baits, like the larger jigging raps.  For the raps, I don't use a leader sleeve, I just tie it directly to the bait, because aggressively jigging it, the leader won't go below the hooks and get caught. 

This season I've gone the fluoro route with my leaders for Pike. However, that may change this weekend as the lake I'll be fishing holds some rather large Muskie and Sturgeon. A little undecided but might have to throw on the heavy artillery and go with the steel.

I tried the 7 strand wire 2 seasons with no pike.this year i went back to 25lb mono and catching northerns not sure what it is the wire is thinner than the mono but i get no flags.

The pike leader rabbit hole again...


First, a mono leader would be a distant 3rd choice for me. #1 would be a thin, flexible wire and #2 would be fluoro in an appropriate # test. Any superline (aka "braid") is a big mistake just waiting to happen. And yes, the recommendation to use an actual leader material (whether mono or fluoro) is good advice. There is a big difference between spooling line and leader material.

For wire, #20 test is plenty. Very thin, very flexible (more flexible that an equal test of fluoro/mono) and pretty cheap. Still not a horse 'em rig. I've seen a few snapped when the fish comes out of the hole and thrashes it's head but not a single one cut. Ever.

Fluoro is a different cat. Normally I wouldn't recommend anything under 50# test but it's stiff and challenging to tie. I've seen #60 cut so that's why my minimum number is 50#. There are some highly regarded (by me) sources that are promoting the use of 20# with surprising results. The one caveat is use for open water only (as opposed to heavy cover - weeds, wood, etc.) is recommended. I may play with that at some point. I am currently experimenting in rigging dead baits with 20# fluoro with a short wire strike at the business end. So far I'm 2 for 2 with no lost fish and no leader damage so it's interesting.

I believe that the thought that fluoro/mono allows more action from the minnow is (mostly) wrong. If you're using a dime a dozen wire leaders from the store with stock heavy snap and swivel I'll agree. But very thin wire tied direct to small hook and small swivel is really very stealthy and supremely limp. On the flip side of that there are times (possibly more than we think) that overactive bait can be a turn off. That can, perhaps, explain some of the difference between more success with fluoro as heavier tests actually limit bait movement more so than wire even in same pound tests.

@Iceassin: Muskies do have teeth so if you want to land an incidental catch wire is a fine choice. Sturgeon, on the other hand, have zero cutting teeth (if any at all) so you could fish them with a superline leader and be confident.

@DR.SPECKLER: I'm in a bit of a slump myself. Not just ice fishing but my last two musky seasons have been absolutely horrible. It'll come around. I've got too many good experiences to blame it on anything other than happenstance. Last time on the ice I did bang out a limit of 10 nice 'gills in less than an hour (including sorting) and a coupla pike though one was on the jig rod.


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