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Lead Core Lines Go High Tech

By Mark Romanack

Lead core line has been on the fishing scene a long time, but recently
new lead core lines produced with thinner braided and fused coatings
are starting to catch on among open water trollers.
Lead core line is a popular choice with a growing number of walleye, trout and salmon anglers. This sinking style fishing line has been around for decades and is made of a soft lead wire surrounded by a protective covering of Dacron. Useful for reaching significant depths, various lengths of lead core are commonly used either as flatlines for structure fishing or fished in combination with in-line boards like the famous Side-Planer by Off Shore Tackle when targeting suspended fish.

If you haven’t noticed lead core lines have experienced some rather important, yet subtle changes in recent years. The Dacron/Nylon products that have dominated this fishing line category for decades are now slowly being replaced by lead core lines featuring both Microdyneema and Spectra fiber coverings. Microdyneema is a fused line type and the same stuff Fireline is made of. Sprectra is a true braided line that is exceptionally strong and super thin in diameter. Commonly used when fishing diving planers Spectra braids are marketed under a number of popular line brands including Maxima, Vicious, SpiderWire, Power Pro and others.

Both Microdyneema and Sprectra Braid make for thinner, stronger and more importantly deeper fishing lead core lines. Because lead core lines sink, they are exceptionally speed sensitive in terms of how deep they will fish at respective trolling speeds. The new thinner Microdyneema and Sprectra Braid lead cores are much better able to achieve deeper depths because the reduced diameter reduces friction or drag in the water when trolling.

Some manufacturers of these “super premium” lead core lines are claiming their product dives up to 30% deeper. According to some extensive testing conducted by Precision Trolling Data, LLC, it’s more realistic to expect increased diving depths of about 20%. Still, an extra diving depth of 20% without having to slow down or to deploy copious amounts of line is a huge advantage in almost all trolling applications.

Another feature of Microdyneema and Spectra Braid lead core lines is these products have greater abrasion resistance compared to garden variety lead core produced with a Dacron coating. What that means is the newest generations of lead core line are going to last longer and fail less often.

Historically lead core line has been produced in a number of break strengths including 12, 15, 18, 27 and 36 pound test. The new super lead core lines are not necessarily available in all these respective sizes yet. No doubt as these new products gain in popularity, additional break strengths will hit the market.

Another advantage of the super lead cores is because they are thinner, it’s easier to put more line on a smaller reel. This advantage should not be underestimated as a normal 45 size trolling reel will hold a full core or 100 meters of the new lead core lines plus plenty of room for leader and backing. By comparison the same size reel will only hold about seven colors of Dacron lead core and a small amount of backing line.
Lead core line is often used early and late in the season to fish deep
 for species like this walleye taken from Saginaw Bay using a stickbait 
and three colors of lead core line.

Last but certainly not least, the new generation of lead core lines are affordable and very user friendly. Because these products fish deeper they are increasingly more attractive than fishing with twist copper lines which are anything but affordable or user friendly.

While copper line is still a deeper fishing option, many anglers have come to the painful conclusion that the high cost of copper line and the rigging and fishing headaches associated with fishing copper give considerable reason for pause.

One of the most popular way for adding leaders and backing material to traditional lead core line involved removing about six inches of the lead wire and then slipping the leader into the Dacron sheath. A simple overhand knot secured the leader inside the Dacron sheath nicely making for a very clean and small lead core to leader connection.

This style of lead core to leader connection is not possible with either Microdyneema or Spectra Braid style lead core lines. Instead the best way to connect these lead core lines to leaders and backing materials is by using the Double Uni Knot.

If you don’t know how to tie a Double Uni Knot, there is a great illustration at It takes a little practice to master this knot, but it creates a very strong and very small connection that easily flows through the rod guides and the reel level wind guide.

Perhaps the best trick to understand about fishing lead core line is understanding how nicely these lines fish in combination with in-line planer boards. The OR12 Side-Planer by Off Shore Tackle will easily handle 10 colors or more of lead core line. For longer leads of lead core line the new SST Pro Mag board by Off Shore Tackle will handle literally anything an angler has in mind including copper line, lead balls, diving planers, magnum Tadpoles and more.

The best set up for fishing lead core with in-line boards is to set up the lead core line with a 25-50 foot leader of fluorocarbon line and then to spool on the desired amount of lead core followed by 200 yards of monofilament or super braid line as backing material.

Let out a favorite lure, the leader and all the lead core line on a particular reel. When the backing material reaches the rod tip, place the OR12 on the line at that point. For fishing with monofilament backing lines the factory supplied OR19 (orange) release that comes on the OR12 board works perfectly. Simply bury the line to the back of the release on the tow arm and also the release at the back of the board.

Anglers who rig their lead core set ups with super braid lines as the backing material will need to replace the OR19 release provided with the OR12 board with an after market clip called the OR18 Snapper Release. This cam operated line clip is designed to hold super braid and fused lines securely. A small set screw on the Snapper Release allows the cam operation to be adjusted for any diameter of super braid line or trolling speed.

The high tech lead core lines currently available are vastly stronger and fish significantly deeper than traditional Dacron lead core products. No doubt as anglers discover the many advantages of these super premium lead core lines, the good word will spread rapidly.

Compared to copper line the new lead core lines still aren’t as deep, but they certainly are gaining ground in that department. All things considered, the new lead core lines are well worth using.