Working With Wire

The use of wire traces or leaders is one of those necessary evils that anglers must occasionally embrace when targeting “toothy critters” that could otherwise easily chop through their lines. Here’s the best way to tackle the need for a little bit of bite insurance (watch the video by clicking here):


There are quite a few Australian species of fish equipped with teeth sharp enough to slice, chew or chop through an angler’s line or leader. Obvious contenders in this category are genuine “razor gang” members such as Spanish and spotted mackerel, wahoo and tropical barracuda. Down south, tailor, barracouta and even pike and snook all have sharp teeth and, of course, most sharks are well-equipped in this department. Big flathead, barramundi, Murray cod, queenfish, mahi-mahi and the like also have hard enough jaws or sufficiently rough scouring pad teeth to damage finer leaders, and billfish like marlin and sailfish have sandpaper bills that do the same thing.

Jo got lucky this time, but wire-free encounters with the aptly named chopper tailor often end in tears.

Jo got lucky this time, but wire-free encounters with the aptly named chopper tailor often end in tears.

In many instances we can hedge our bets against these fish by upping the diameter and breaking strain of our mono leaders. Moving from 6 to 10 kg nylon or fluorocarbon may be all that’s required to prevent regular chew-offs from big flatties, while a 30 to 40 kg leader or bite tippet will usually cope with all but the very biggest barra. However, tropical mackerel, wahoo, big tailor and many sharks will continue to easily cut such leaders. If this starts to happen on a regular basis, fishers are likely to reach for the wire.

Faced with these chop-off challenges, many anglers choose to buy a couple of factory-made traces. These are usually constructed from 30 to 40 cm lengths of plastic-coated, multi-strand wire with a barrel swivel at one end and a snap clip at the other. Shop-bought traces do a good job of preventing bite-offs, although it can pay to choose more expensive brands fitted with quality hardware over the “cheapies”.

As useful as pre-made traces are, they rarely display much in the way of finesse. Most are thick and obtrusive, often carrying bright, shiny fittings. There’s absolutely no doubt that the use of any form of wire leader will reduce the number of bites you get, especially when targeting fussy, sharp-eyed species in heavily fished waters. This phenomenon is especially evident when running thick, factory-made traces.

Many tropical and sub-tropical fishers who regularly pursue mackerel and the like make their own wire traces, and this is my preferred approach. Rolling your own allows the use of thin, dull-coloured, single-strand wire and also means you can customise the length and fittings to suit your needs and optimize the end product. Strong connections are created in this material using a combination of haywire twists and barrel rolls, as shown in my accompanying instructional video, which can be accessed here, or by going to: