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Outdoors: Understanding pike and musky leaders

Anyone who has encountered the northern pike or musky has also encountered the dreaded “bite-off,” so common when these fish come unglued on a bucktail, jerkbait, jig or spoon.
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Anyone who has encountered the northern pike or musky has also encountered the dreaded “bite-off,” so common when these fish come unglued on a bucktail, jerkbait, jig or spoon.

Combine a bone jarring strike with a mouth full of dagger-like teeth and it’s no wonder anglers everywhere have openings in their tackle box where their favorite lures used to be.

Not only do pike and musky have a major case of overbite, they can bite through just about any fishing line short of steel wire. No doubt this is why the common coated steel leader is considered standard equipment by many anglers who venture into Esox country.

Wire leaders prevent bite-offs, but they can also prevent a lot of strikes from happening in the first place.

If not using a leader means fish lost to bite-offs and using a leader means no bites, what’s an angler to do? The answer depends a lot on the lure type and presentation involved.

For certain pike and musky fishing methods, a leader isn’t necessary, and for others it’s almost mandatory. Understanding when to use leaders and what types work best with various lures and fishing presentations is the fast track to Esox fishing success.

- Mark Romanack

Read more about Pike and Musky Leaders.