Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my latest post as we discuss why use a shock leader for surf fishing. Now, as we know when it comes to surf fishing, there are a few pieces of equipment that are absolutely essential. A good surf rod and reel are key, as is the correct tackle and bait for the local conditions.
However, should you need to cast just that little bit further or use a really heavy sinker or lure, then a shock leader may just form another useful addition to your kit. Let’s check it all out below.
What is a shock leader?
Shock leaders are specialized leaders that are used specifically for saltwater fishing in the surf. They have a higher breaking strength than ordinary leaders which allows you to use heavier tackle without fear of breaking your line. Some also feature a special knotless construction that helps prevent line fraying and breakage.
I personally have not used them a lot in my fishing exploits on the beach as we don’t tend to cast too far, rather looking for a good gutter along the beach. However, as is their intended purpose, a shock leader is a good option should you need to cast further with heavier tackle or lures to reach where the fish are.
Hence, with a shock leader, a surf angler can cast further and more accurately without worrying about breaking or damaging the line.
Regular leader vs shock leader
As mentioned above, I do not use a shock leader very often due to the local conditions at the beach that we regularly fish from. I do however always use a leader on my line. In general terms, a leader is a length of mono or fluorocarbon line that is attached to the braided mainline that I have spooled on my reel.
The reason for this is that braid, whilst strong, has no stretch meaning it can snap when the extra pull and strain of a cast is evident. Leaders give that little bit of stretch meaning they are able to absorb that extra pressure and protect the braid as the line is cast. Other advantages of a leader include:
- Greater protection against rocks, corals etc.
- Improved line invisibility (braid can be highly visible to fish).
- Less susceptible to twisting and tangling than braid.
When it comes to shock leaders then, the real difference here is to provide greater protection from line snaps and tangles when long casting or heavy tackle weights (when currents are really strong etc.) are required.
Shock leaders are usually a stronger strength than general leaders and more is placed on the line so that there is still leader around the spool once the line is cast to fully protect the braid on the reel.
What do you need to consider?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a shock leader for surf fishing. Let’s check them out below:
The first consideration here is strength. You’ll need a leader that is strong enough to handle the biggest fish you might encounter as well as casting strain you might need. When it comes to a normal leader, I personally like to go for a strength one measurement larger than my main line – i.e. 10lb line – 12lb leader. If you are in a high snag area however then some like to go a size under so that if the line snags, the leader will snap and not the main line.
For a shock leader, most of my research measures the line strength against the size of the sinker you are going to use based on 10 lb for every ounce of lead attached to your rig. So for example if you are using a 3oz weight, then you will want a 30lb shock leader.
Without boring you with all of the reasons for using a shock leader again, we have hopefully been clear that we are using them to protect our line when using heavier weights. When it comes to general leaders, I usually use around 2 or 3 metres (9ft) from the mainline to either a swivel or hook if free floating on the open sea.
When it comes to shock leaders however, most recommend an even longer length so that there is definitely still some spooled on the reel as the rod is cast. This provides extra protection for the braid as well as the fact that as there is more distance between you and the fish, a longer leader will assist in reducing tangles and snags as well.
There are a variety of different materials that can be used for a shock leader including mono, fluorocarbon or even steel if you are chasing sharks etc.
Fluorocarbon however tends to be the most common and recommended material for shock leaders as it is stronger and more abrasive resistant than traditional monofilament line. It is also considered to be nearly invisible to fish making it best in environments where it is important that the fish cannot see the line.
And finally, as you will need to tie your leader to your mainline, you will need to ensure that the diameter is as close to matching as possible. The issue is that braid is usually a lot thinner than mono line (one of its advantages) however this does make it hard to hold the knot if the leader is too thick.
This is another reason for the use of flouro as a leader as it is also quite thin. They don’t have to be an exact match, but the closer the better.
And there it is – my take on why you should use a shock leader for surf fishing. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them. I would love to hear why you love one over the other below!
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time