If so, you have probably questioned if the rods you use (or want to use) are able to effectively pass leader knots. I know this is a question that we get asked a lot with our rods.
We have seen a big increase in the number of bass fisherman who use leaders and an evolution as to how they use them for various techniques. 10 years ago we saw braid used for flipping/punching line. Bass anglers witnessed the performance increase of main line braid and adopted it into other techniques which require the use of leader material. Some of the most popular uses for leaders are finesse techniques like drop shot and neko rigs and feel techniques like jigs and shaky heads.
To ensure our rods perform better, we specifically design the guide trains to be compatible with leader knots regardless of the intended technique. How do we accomplish this?
Guide Size – The smallest guide we use on any rod is a 5mm guide (5mm is the measurement of the ceramic ring inside the guide). We call this a “mid-micro” guide. Micro guides are 3 or 4mm and a standard guide is 6mm or larger. We have found this size ring gives the best balance between being lighter in weight while being large enough to handle the variety of knots our customers use. We have found leader knots will hang up easier in micro guides on the cast – especially if the angler uses a shorter leader - so we do not use them.
Tip Size – We upsize our rod tips to 5.5mm rings. With careful study, we found longer knots – like the FG – don’t bend while going through rod tips. They stay stiff and straight. The larger ring size accommodates long knots extremely well. This is most easily seen when reeled in under load (like with a fish on). The knot passes smoothly, doesn’t hang, and there is also less wear on the knot as a whole.
Ring Material – We use a cobalt/aluminum based ceramic (called Coalite) which is typically only seen on higher priced rods ($250+). This material can be polished to a smoother finish. The smoother surface is less abrasive - putting less wear on your line. Coalite ceramic is harder than other rod guide ceramics, allowing it to withstand impact better. Anytime you reel a leader knot through the guides with a fish on, that knot bangs against each guide as you reel in.
A few helpful set up tips:
Longer leaders will always cast better.
Try using a leader long enough to have the knot on the spool when reeled in. You will find the knot passes through any size guide faster and smoother. When we hear a customer mention a knot hanging on the cast, they are almost always using a short leader (a couple feet long) or their knot is not tied well. I typically run leaders in the 10-15’ range. I see great performance and always have plenty of leader material to get through a day of fishing,
Regardless of the size of rod guides, leader knots still rub anytime the rod is under a load. This puts additional wear and tear on the front and back of the knot. Many people say the cast puts wear on the knot, but it’s reeling back in that cause the most impact and abrasion to a knot.
Knot choice is a personal preference. The FG, double uni, and alberto knots seem to be the most popular knots our customers mention. Ability to tie the knot is a big deciding factor, but all three perform well on the water. All offer great performance. A quick search on YouTube gives a ton of options, variations, and tying styles for each. Universally, the most agreed upon knot fact is… tie it right and tie it neat. A bad knot will fail, a messy knot will give you issues in the rod guides. I personally use the FG knot most of the time with excellent results.
I hope this shined some light on how we design rods to be used with leaders and provided a few things that will help you on the water!
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