Your Musky Own Leaders
Craig Sandell © 2009
|As most of you have read in printed periodicals
and books, you should always use a solid wire steel leaders when you fish for
our Musky friend. With the advent of Spectra line, some anglers are foregoing
Leaders can be bought over the counter in all
sizes with and without swivels and with a variety of snaps. There is nothing
worse than to be in some remote location fishing for Musky only to discover
that you are short on leaders or that the leaders that you have are not quite
what the conditions dictate. In this article, I will show you the tools you
need to be able to make good quality leaders anywhere.
You can't make leaders without wire. Wire that is 174 pound test (.029 gauge)
is a very good choice. It will not weigh down your lures and will provide that
strength needed during a Musky encounter. Some folks like a leader that is
more beefy. To me, it makes no sense to have a 200 pound test leader when you
are using line tested at 35, 40, 50 or 80 pounds. The heavier leader will also
impede the action of your lure in the water.
You can pick up a package of 30
feet of this type of wire (shown here) for around $3.00. This amount of wire
is usually enough for most Musky anglers for a season, however, it is cheap
enough so you might want to get a couple of 30 ft. coils.
You will need snaps and swivels. A #5 snap is a pretty good choice since it
has good strength and will not add a lot of weight to the leader. You can get
#5 snaps from almost any fishing catalog. Swivels are an item that deserve a
little thought. A swivel is not a solid piece of metal and represents the
potential to be a "weak link" in you tackle. If you are convinced
that you need a swivel, buy a good one. A good one will cost about $1.50 each,
however they are made very well and worth the price.
are the next order of business. In addition to round nose pliers and wire
cutters, you will need a method to wrap the wire evenly to close each end of
the leader. You will also need a good tool to twist the tag ends of your wire
like the one pictured here.
Why should you make your own leader? You can
always buy a couple if you need them. Well, that is not always true. Sometimes
the local resort does not have leaders available, sometimes the local tackle
shop may be out of stock or may not have the exact configuration that you have
come to regard with high confidence. There is no substitute for being able to
make a leader on the spot that is exactly what you want to meet a specific
You use a leader board to make it easy for you
to make leaders that are consistent in size and configuration but it is not
necessary. Leader boards are very simple to make. You need only have a length
of 2 x 4, four 2½ 8 penny nails, three 1 inch finishing nails, a hammer and a
compound bolt cutter.
The leader board that we will make can be used
to make a leader that is 7 inches, 9 inches or 11 inches. The length of 2 x 4
that you will need will be 31 inches. You don't have to have a leader board to
make a leader; the board just makes it a little easier.
|Take an 8 penny nail and
hammer it into the 2 x 4 approximately 2 inches from one end of the 2
x 4 so that about 2 inches of the nail remains above the board.
Measure 7 inches from that nail and hammer in another 8 penny nail in
line with the other. Using your compound bolt cutter, remove the head
of the nails that you have just hammered into the board. (NOTE:
You may want to file the cut head of the nails to remove irregular
|Now, cut a 10
inch length of leader wire. Using your round nose pliers, make a loop
about 1½ inches from the end of the wire. Slip the loop over the
first nail that you installed and place the non-loop end of the wire
next to the second nail that you installed. Holding the non-looped end
of the wire against the left side of the nail, position one of the
finishing nails as shown here. (Note: This
finishing nail will stabilize the wire when the second leader loop is
made.) [I have placed a piece of white
paper under the wire so it can be seen better.] Now,
take your round nose pliers and form the tag end of the wire around
the nail as shown at the right.
Remove the wire from the leader board. Using
your round nose pliers, make a loop in the tag end to match the loop that you
made previously. Your leader should now look like the leader shown below:
You now have a leader that is 7 inches from
eyelet to eyelet and you are now ready to finish it up before we finish the
leader board and make the 9 inch and the 11 inch leaders.
Placing the # 5 clasp onto
one of the eyelets, hold the eyelet and clasp with the round nose
pliers. Position the DuBro tool per the tool instructions and close
the loop by twisting the end of the wire.
Do the same with the other
eyelet installing the swivel rather than a clasp.
Trim any excess tag wire
and you now have a finished 7 inch leader (See Below).
You have now made your first leader using the 7
inch section of your leader board. The rest is easy. Just measure 9 inches
from the last large nail you put in the leader board and then add the
finishing nail just as with the 7 inch section of the leader board. Do the
same for the 11 inch leader section of the leader board.
Remember that you MUST
ad 3 inches to the desired leader length to be sure that you have enough tag
wire with which to work. (For 7 inch leader cut 10
inches of wire, for 9 inch leader cut 12 inches of wire, for 11 inch leader
cut 14 inches of wire.)
A word of encouragement. Most people mess up
the first couple of leaders so don't get discouraged. In reality, the only
thing that you are wasting is a little very inexpensive wire and some of your