Wire Leaders

Make Your Wire Leaders
Invisible To The Fish

Two kinds of wire leaders are usually used for fishing: the single-strand wire and cable wire. The single strand is made from either tinned piano wire or stainless steel wire. Tinned piano wire is suitable for freshwater fishing but stainless steel wire is best for saltwater leaders.

In fact, stainless steel wire is so inexpensive that it can be used for most of your wire leaders. You can buy it from the mail-order supply houses or in most fishing tackle stores, in coils of 25 feet or longer.

Stainless steel wire comes in various diameters and strengths, from No. 2 which tests about 27 pounds on up to No. 18 which tests about 325 pounds.

The lower numbers are used for freshwater fishing and light saltwater fishing; the higher numbers are used for surf fishing and big saltwater fish.

To make wire leaders from stainless steel wire you'll need diagonal cutting pliers, flat nose pliers, and round nose pliers. For thinner wire, use the smaller jeweler's round nose pliers. For the heavier leaders the larger round nose pliers are required.

The whole secret in making wire leaders is learning how to form and twist the eyes on the ends properly. It's surprising how few freshwater or saltwater anglers know how to make a neat, secure eye on a wire leader.

Most of the wire leaders are sloppy and often insecure. Many surf anglers and mates and captains on charter boats know how to make good wire leaders.

If you can get one of these men to show you how to form and twist the wire leaders you'll soon learn how to make good leaders. By following the instructions and drawings given here, however, and with a little practice, you can learn how to make neat, secure wire leaders.

The first step when making a single-strand wire leader is to clip off a section of the stainless steel wire. When doing this, you must make allowances for the length of the wire used to form the eyes and the twists.

In other words, if you want a wire leader 12 in. long with an eye on each end you will have to start with a section of wire at least 17 or 18 in. long.

The longer the end you allow the easier it will be to work with. Experiment at first to see how long a piece you will need; after that, cut all the wire pieces the same length. Use diagonal pliers to cut the wire into the proper lengths.

Wire Leaders - Forming The Eye

To form the eye, grab the wire about two inches from the end with round nose pliers (A) and twist the pliers to the right to form a loop (B). Refer to illustration above.

Next, grab the end of the loop or eye with a pair of flat nose pliers (C). Hold the wire or shift it so that the short end overlaps the main wire on your side.

Now, using the right thumb and index finger, hold and twist the two wires at the point where they cross to the right (away from you), as shown in (D). Keep twisting the wire so that both of them interlock for several turns (E).

Then make several straight twists of the wire so that it looks as in (F). The remaining short length of wire should be at right angles to the main wire. To break it off, simply bend it sharply toward the eye, then back, then once again and it will break off clean.

This is important, because if you use pliers to clip it off it will leave a short, sharp stub which will cut your fingers.

Instead of using pliers to form the eye of the wire leader you can make up a small, handy jig to do this. Just get a dowel or broomstick handle or similar round wood and cut off about three inches.

Then drill a hole in one end so that you can drive in a nail. The thickness of the nail will depend on the size of the eye you want. For small eyes use a thin nail, and for the larger eyes use a thicker diameter nail.

In fact, it's a good idea to make up two or three jigs of various diameter nails for making different-sized loops. After this nail is driven into the center of the wood, take a small screw and screw it in next to this nail, about 1/16 in. away.

To form an eye in a wire, simply place it between the nail and the screw and twist it. The jig and how it is used is shown in the illustration below. Of course, the jig does only part of the job.

Jig For Forming Wire Eyes

After you remove the wire from it you complete the eye by making the twists described above.

The other kind of wire used for making wire leaders is the cable type, usually twisted or braided from many fine strands of stainless steel. This cable wire is very flexible and doesn't kink as readily as the single-strand wire.

It comes bare or covered with nylon. To use this wire for leaders you need special crimping pliers and brass or copper sleeves, both of which are shown here.

Special Crimping Pliers For Crimping A Sleeve

To make a loop or eye, slip the end of the wire through the sleeve until it protrudes about an inch and a half on the other end. Then double the end of the wire back through the sleeve to form the loop or eye.

The sleeve is then pinched or crimped with the crimping pliers. When using nylon covered cable it's a good idea to remove the nylon at the point where the sleeve covers it.

If you want a swivel or snap on the end of the leader, slip it on the loop or eye before you double the wire into the sleeve. Such wire leader kits with the pliers, sleeves, and cable wire can be ordered by mail, and can also be bought in many fishing tackle stores.

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