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Why Leadcore Works


Fishing lead core line doesn’t put a smile on the face of all anglers,
 but in this case it’s clear to see reeling in a lot of lead core to land a rainbow
 trout like this was a winning combination. Note the reel in the picture
 has the notion 10 on the reel. That’s to indicate this reel has
 10 colors of lead core line spooled on.
By: Mark Romanack

            Sometimes it’s not high technology that catches fish, but rather “old school” tactics that put them in the box. Modern lead core fishing lines hit the market right after WWII when the new at the time magic fabric Nylon was first introduced. Essentially, lead core line consists of a thin lead wire covered with a coating of braided nylon to give the line strength.
            Like other fishing lines lead core is rated using a “break strength” notification and the most common sizes are 12, 15, 18, 27, 36 and 45 pound test lines. Interestingly enough all of these line sizes do not have their own unique lead wire. The size 12 and 15 share one wire size, as does the 18 and 27 and the 36 and 45 pound test lines. In other words, there are three different diameters of lead wire used to manufacture all six common sizes of lead core line.
            Obviously lead core is a “sinking” style fishing line that helps take lures to greater depths than they would fish on normal line types. Getting deeper with the help of lead core is a big part of what fishing sinking lines is all about, the benefits of lead core go much deeper.... no pun intended.
            Before we talk about the other benefits of lead core, it’s important to note that a number of manufacturers are producing lead core lines using Spectra Braids for the exterior coating and also a similar fiber known as Microdyneema. Both of these high tech fibers are thinner and much stronger than nylon, allowing modern lead core lines to be thinner in diameter and also deeper fishing than the traditional lead core lines made using nylon braid.
            How much deeper these modern lead core lines fish is subject to opinion and manufacture biased propaganda. Some manufacturers are claiming that their lead core lines fish up to 30% deeper than traditional lead core lines. Precision Trolling Data took a in-depth look at these new lead core lines and concluded that they indeed run deeper, but on average the increase is closer to 20%.
            Most anglers who fish lead core line favor “segmented” rigs that consist of 25-50 feet of fluorocarbon leader, a pre-determined amount of lead core line and finished with an adequate amount of monofilament or braid backing line. Anglers commonly set up segmented rigs in pairs, for example a pair of “one color” set ups, a pair of “two color” set ups, etc.
            Segmented lead core rigs are commonly fished in combination with in-line boards like the famous Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side-Planer. The angler simply puts his lure of choice on the terminal end, lets out all the leader and all the lead core line, then attaches the board to the backing line and sends the whole set up out to the side.
Most anglers who fish lead core prefer to set up “segmented”
 lengths of lead core line sandwiched between a leader and backing line.
 This set up allows all the leader and lead core to be deployed and a
 planer board such as these Off Shore Tackle Side-Planers to be used
 to stagger lines and cover the maximum amount of water. 

            To enable anglers to fish multiple “segmented” lead core rigs at one time shorter segments are fished on the outside lines and longer and deeper running segments are fished on inside lines. Rigged in this manner a fish can be hooked on the outside board and reeled in over top of deeper running inside lines without having to clear any lines.
            The best way to set up multiple board rigs fishing segmented lead core is to fish set ups that cover the water column throughly. For example, a common set up would be to run a three color on the outside, a five color on the middle board and a seven color on the inside board. This effectively saturates the water column with lures and separates the lure depths enough that pulling one line “over top” of another poses no tangle issues.
            Depth is obviously a critical advantage of fishing lead core line, but there are some other equally important features of lead core line worth examining. Because lead core has little or no stretch, the hook up ratio when fishing these lines is exceptionally good. To compensate for the low stretch in lead core, most knowledgeable anglers compensate by fishing longer rods or softer action rods that build in a little cushion for fighting and landing fish.
            When trolling with traditional lines like monofilament, most of the lead length is floating at or near the surface. Only the line closest to the lure is actually pulled below the surface. This creates a distinctive “bow” in the line which is counter productive to achieving quick and positive hook ups while trolling. Essentially the fish grabs the bait and must hang on for several seconds until the bow in the line is pulled taunt. During these critical seconds a fish can easily decide to drop the bait and swim off unharmed.
            Lead core line helps to reduce this “time lag” associated with traditional lines because the bow in the line is reduced when fishing lead core. Because the weight of lead core is evenly distributed throughout the line, lead core runs in more direct path to the lure, reducing the bow in the line and enabling a faster hook up when fish bite.
            Think of it this way, when a fish bites a lure fished on lead core, that fish has less time to change it’s mind and reject the lure. As a result, fishing lead core helps anglers catch a higher percentage of the fish that bite.
            Not all the features of lead core line are sunshine and rose petals. There is a down side to using lead core line anglers must wrestle with. Because lead core is much thicker in diameter than traditional lines, it takes larger reels to handle significant amounts of lead core line. Often the reels needed are so large they become not only expensive, but awkward to fish with.
            Also, to achieve any significant depth fishing with lead core line requires using very long trolling leads. Long trolling leads are not a major issue unless fishing in traffic with other boats. Because the other anglers don’t realize how far behind the boat a lead core angler is fishing, tangling lines with other fishermen becomes a constant threat.
            The third and equally important down side to fishing lead core line is the speed dependence issues. Lead core sinks so trolling speed influences on the fishing depth dramatically. It only takes a modest change in trolling speed to create a significant depth change.
            Obviously with sinking devices the slower an angler trolls the deeper the set up is going to fish. Conversely when trolling faster, set ups are not going to dive/fish as deep. In terms of lead core fishing at faster trolling speeds negates the ability for lead core to fish deep. At trolling speeds above 2.5 MPH, lead core sacrifices so much depth, fishing with it becomes questionable.
Lead core is commonly used to get diving lures like this Mag Lip
 from Yakima deeper than they would normally dive. Useful
 for targeting deep water salmon, trout, walleye and even striper,
 lead core is a “niche” product that helps countless anglers
 catch an equal number of fish.

            The moral of the story is that lead core has a defined “niche” in the trolling scene. Used at slow to moderate trolling speeds, lead core is a huge aid in fishing the common depths trout, salmon, walleye and striper fishermen encounter commonly.
            The hook up ratios associated with trolling lead core are a clear advantage over traditional lines. Lead core set ups can easily be fished in combination with in-line planer boards making them even more versatile.
            A host of anglers feel these advantages more than make up for the fact fishing lead core requires setting out copious amount of line and also investing in a lot more rod and reel set ups.

Mark's Mailbag: Fishing Lake Nipigon for Brook Trout & Pike

This brook trout from Lake Nipigon is typical of the
 fish an angler can expect when fishing at or near the
 spring ice out. Nipigon is a barbless fishery and
lures can only be equipped with one hook.

                      Message Mark, I watched both of your episodes (pike & brook trout) fishing on Nipigon Lake, and am very interested in going in May/early June 2017. I have done some research and from your show, it looks like Pasha Cabins is a great place to stay. Just some questions: we are tentatively planning a trip sometime w/n a few weeks of ice off. At that time of the year, can we target both species? Any tips, suggestion, etc. I know it is a huge lake, and don't mind exploring, but would also appreciate narrowing it down a tad. The barbless rule and one hook rule, does that apply to everything in your tackle box, or just the lures that are in the water? I am a real C & R fisherman, only keeping a and there for dinners. Just looking to really have a chance to hook into some giant pike and brook trout. Thanks... PS I have my own 16 ' Mirrocraft w/ 40 tiller


Glad to help. Brook trout and pike are both open early in the season and it’s possible to target both species right at or soon after ice out.

The brook trout are found around all the islands of Nipigon and typically close to shore where points and or boulders provide ambush sites. Shakespeare Island is a good place to start, but all the small islands surrounding this area are also good brook trout water. I’d recommend covering the shorelines as quickly as possible casting ahead of the boat with small spoons and in-line spinners. We’ve had exceptional success casting Yakima Rooster Tails and Vibric Rooster Tails in the 3/8 ounce size. When you catch a fish, slow down to work the area more throughly. Brook trout are going to be found in small schools, so when you catch one, others are nearby and it’s not uncommon to pull half a dozen fish from one small spot!
Lake Nipigon harbors some amazing northern pike.
 The spring ice out period is a good time to find
adult fish in shallow water. Weedless jerk baits
and spoons are good lures for targeting pike in shallow water.

The pike are sometimes found chasing the trout along the rocky shorelines, but more often we encounter them in protected bays or the back end of bays. Usually the pike are relating to soft bottoms, areas with dead cattails and bullrush. Soft plastic jerkbaits rigged Texas style with no weight have been our best producing lures for fishing pike among dead vegetation.

The barbless hook rule applies to the lure you are fishing. A lure can have a treble hook as that is considered to be one hook, but lures with multiple hooks (crankbaits) are not allowed unless you remove all but one of the hooks. So long as you use a pliers to firmly pinch down the barb, you’re in compliance with the Ontario laws.

Your 16 foot boat is big enough to fish Nipigon on calm days and on windy days, no one is fishing regardless of the boat they have.
Lake Nipigon is a huge body of water (Ontario’s largest inland lake)
 that demands respect from those who venture out. The author
 recommends fishing Nipigon out of multi-species boats in the
18-22 foot range. This Starcraft Freedom 180 has served the
 author well on Nipigon many times.
We watch the weather very closely and that’s one of the great things about staying at Pasha Lake Cabins is Chad has daily weather reports he shares with all his guests. Lake Nipigon is a great fishery, but a lake you have to respect and avoid when the weather is threatening.

Best fishes,

Mark Romanack

Cheap Sunglasses??

The author feels strongly that avid fishermen
 should own and use high quality sunglasses.
 Good glasses will last a lifetime with care
 and most manufacturers of high quality
 fishing glasses also offer service programs
 designed to keep their customers
 looking good on and off the water.
By: Mark Romanack


               Do you remember the song “Cheap Sunglasses” by ZZ Top? You bet and back in the day looking cool only cost a few bucks at the discount store. A lot has changed in the world of sunglasses, especially those designed for fishing. You can still buy cheap sunglasses from the dollar store, but functional and good looking fishing shades are going to set you back a bit more.
            Sunglasses designed for fishing have seen some amazing advancements over the years. Remember those boxy shades that looked like safety goggles your grandpa wore over top of his eye glasses. Are you old enough to remember flips and clip on glasses and what a pain in the back side those turned out to be?
            Modern fishing sunglasses are not only good looking, they are more functional than the predecessors our fathers and grand fathers wore. Picking functional fishing glasses isn’t just about finding a pair with polarized lenses. The color of the lenses and the material the lenses are made of both play a major role in how sunglasses function.


            Polycarbonate is often confused with plastic, but these lenses are actually a much more impact resistant material. Polycarbonate lenses are lightweight, they meet all impact standards for safety glasses, they can be polarized, built to prescription Rx standards and they come in a host of colors.
            The biggest knock against polycarbonate sunglasses is the lenses can be scratched if the glasses are not taken care of. Setting the glasses down on the lens is a “no-no” if you own polycarbonate shades. Also, when cleaning polycarbonate glasses it’s important to use alcohol wipes designed for the purpose.


            Glass lenses are heavier than polycarbonate but they are also more durable for the angler who wears sunglasses day in and day out. Glass lenses are very difficult to scratch and an excellent choice for anglers who need a Rx prescription glass. Glass lenses are also polarized and come in a host of colors suitable for all fishing situations.


            The color of the lenses in sunglasses is something not a lot of anglers completely understand. In bright sun the best lens colors include blue mirror, green mirror and silver mirror, which do a great job of eliminating glare and eye strain. On cloudy and overcast days gray, copper, amber and  sunrise do a good job of controlling surface glare while providing more contrast.
            Avid anglers usually opt for two pairs of sunglasses, one for bright light and one for overcast conditions, to insure the best possible performance on the water.


            Believe it or not most sunglass manufacturers not only produce a host of frame designs, the majority produce three different frame sizes including a small, medium and large option. This helps to insure that everyone can find a frame style they like in a sunglass that fits their face properly.
            Because sunglasses come in so many different lens colors, frame colors, frame designs and sizes, the only practical way to purchase sunglasses is by visiting an authorized dealer and trying on a few pairs to be sure you’re investing in the perfect sunglass.


            Most manufacturers of fishing glasses also produce models with “reader magnifiers” at the bottom of the lenses. This allows the fisherman to enjoy his sunglasses for normal wear and also to look down and use them for detailed work like tying knots. It takes a little getting used to when wearing “cheater” style sunglasses, but those of us who are getting older are used to adaptation.

Wearing your sunglasses on the top of your cap is a problem
 waiting to happen. This stretches out the frames and
 over time causes them to lose the ability to hold
 firmly on your face. Most high quality glasses can
 be returned to the manufacturer to have the frames tightened.

         If you’re going to fork out $150 to $300 for a pair of sunglasses it’s important to know how best to take care of high quality shades. When not wearing the glasses keep them in the hard case they came in. Use alcohol wipes designed for camera lenses for cleaning high quality sunglasses. Most of the major brands of sunglasses also sell cleaning kits designed to keep their glasses 100% functional.
            A neck strap may look a little dorky, but hanging your glasses around your neck when not in use is the best way to keep the glasses both handy and safe.
            Putting your glasses above the bill of your fishing cap is a bad idea for many reasons. First off this stretches the frames and over time the frames will not fit your face properly. That means the glasses will slide down your nose constantly and will need to be returned to the manufacturer to have the frames tightened.
            Also carrying your shades on the top of your ball cap is asking to have those glasses slip off and fall overboard. The next most likely way quality sunglasses get lost or broken is by placing them in a front shirt pocket.

Sunglasses are just as important to ice fishing
 as they are for open water fishing applications.

            A few years ago only a handful of companies produced high quality sunglasses aimed at the fishing market. Today that list includes a host of brands, but the dominate forces are Costa DelMar, Oakley, Smith, Ray Ban, Native and Maui Jim. All of these brands make serious sunglasses for the serious fisherman.