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Leader length varies with type of fishing

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Apr 15, 2021

Capt. George Tunison

Those new to the sport of fishing often ask about leader length for inshore lure casting. Leader length will simply depend on the type of fishing you plan on doing. Typically, short leaders are more accurate to cast with but I believe longer leaders help catch more fish. On my boat you’ll find an assortment of spinning and bait casting outfits with different leader lengths.

I don’t like passing the line to leader connection knot through the guides as I feel it can weaken the knot so it’s always outside of the eye when I cast. On some rods you’ll find 5-foot leaders because I enjoy underhand pitch casting around heavy cover with both spinning and bait casters. (The rod is in one hand and the lure is next to it in the other, then released, swinging down then up and forward, towards the target). For skipping soft plastics under docks and mangroves, shorter 18-2-inch leaders work best.

Fluorocarbon leader material gets the nod for most of my underwater presentations but because it sinks. I like floating monofilament for top-water lure use. Many tarpon anglers like mono as well for it’s forgiving stretch during those strong head shakes.

For inshore gamefish I tie and use 8 to 9-foot leaders for most fly rod applications sometimes going up to a 12 foot in winter’s clearer waters.

What pound test leader? Depends on species sought, tackle used, time of year (water clarity), angling pressure and even your angling skills. For open flats fishing for trout, I’ll go down to 15 but 20 to 25-pound test is a good starting point to target open water reds and snook. As you get closer to cover; roots, docks, branches and you’re looking for a big snook, 40-pound is safe. Clear, open water tarpon, 50-60, and up to 125 pound for night-time, heavy cover, bridge battles.  

The Southwest Florida humidity is cranking up so do yourself a favor and save a ton of money by remembering to start your summer boating season by replacing your fuel/water separating filter. I can’t think of any other, easy to do, 15-minute home maintenance chore that could possibly save the thrifty boater more money.

Each year nearly 50% of expensive repair shop visits are caused by ethanol related fuel problems. Boats that sit for long periods with a quarter-tank of untreated gas are asking for trouble as moisture is drawn into the fuel tank through the vent, eventually building up in the fuel, attracted by the ethanol and eventually creating a sludge that clogs up tiny passageways in your engine. In some cases a badly contaminated fuel tank may have to be pumped out and cleaned.

If your engine is hard to start or runs rough, that’s a possible sign of fuel contamination/clogging problems. Besides changing filters, try keeping your tanks as full as possible during down time and use an ethanol fuel treatment product at every fill up.

Properly dispose of the old filter and then put the new filter box on the shelf with the change-out date marked on it and on the new filter.

Buying and using a filter wrench makes life easy especially when the old filter was over-tightened. When installing the new filter, make sure to always coat the rubber O ring with engine oil before screwing the filter on. Hand tight only. Do not over-tighten! After getting the engine started, always inspect for fuel leaks.

If you don’t have a filter wrench, you can often substitute your waist belt as a tool. If your filter is in a spot that requires you to stand upside down or twist pretzel like to change, then consider having it relocated to a more practical spot.

Outboard motor giant Yamaha recommends replacing its 10 micron water separating filter after every 50 hours of running time. At the very least, replace them twice a year to keep your engine happy.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.