I’ve been using Black Magic Leader for a long time, much longer than I’ve been working in fishing media. It’s my leader of choice for many applications and that’s because I’ve never known it to fail and the fact it offers three distinct leader styles for different applications.So I was stoked when Black Magic phoned to ask if I’d be keen on doing a review of their leader range. It’s not often you get to review products that you’ve been using for such a long time. So with me already providing a testimonial about the leader, this will be somewhat of a review, but more of a guide about the differences between the three distinct leader types that Black Magic offer.
I can imagine some people thinking “who cares about the packet”? But honestly, it is without doubt the best packet you could ever pull line from. I am pretty rough with my gear and leader is one of those items that gets thrown around, stuffed in side pockets, squashed in bags and stood on. The black magic leader packet can handle all manner of abuse. It doesn’t break no matter how rough you are with it. It’s very durable and manageable and it seems to drain water well if you get it wet. Most other packs have all sorts of systems to keep the leader on the spool, from elastic bands to plastic sleeves and clips. None of them works as well as the Black Magic packet; it’s the best and the most imitated packet in the business.
Black Magic Leader is a broad term as it comes in three different styles: Supple Trace and Tough Trace, which are monofilament, and Tough Fluorocarbon.
Supple Trace, as the name suggests, is suppler and therefore easier to tie certain knots with. It has more stretch than the Tough Trace so there are certain applications where it’s the best leader to use. I use Supple quite a lot and one of my favourite applications is when snelling hooks for snapper fishing. It snells well and easily and the shock resistance it offers when I strike hard on a fish makes a good balance to the fast action of my rods. I also use it as a shock leader when surf fishing for sharks. It comes in breaking strains of 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120 and 200lb.
Tough Trace offers other attributes to suit certain fishing applications. For starters, it is clearer than Supple Trace, which is great if you’re fishing for finicky species or in clear water. Black Magic claims it has better knot strength but I haven’t really had either fail on me at the knot. It has higher abrasion resistance and if you’re after something that’s halfway between a mono and fluorocarbon this would be it. Any fish you target that may provide a long fight or have your leader chafing either from the fish’s mouth, skin or the bottom structure is a good candidate for Tough Trace. So if you want something that is going take some punishment but you do not want to move to a fluorocarbon, this is the leader for you. It’s a good leader to use when trolling for pelagics and makes a great shock leader when targeting sharks. It has a good mix of abrasion resistance with a bit of stretch, which is what you want in many situations. It comes in a few extra breaking strains to Supple Trace and is the same diameter to breaking strain.
Black Magic Tough Fluorocarbon offers all the attributes of fluorocarbon at an excellent price. It’s very clear and near-invisible in the water. It offers the best abrasion resistance of the three, has the highest density and the least memory, which enables it to transmit greater sensitivity to the rod. It is therefore great for a whole different style of fishing. I use this the least of the three but it does have some excellent applications. I use fluorocarbon religiously when targeting estuarine species in sizes of 4 and 6lb, but Tough Fluorocarbon comes in breaking strains of 15lb through to 120lb. The 15-40lb range is ideal when targeting snapper with soft plastics. The low refraction makes it stealthy while the almost zero memory provides a quick and solid hook-up, while the abrasion resistance will stop any snapper from munching through your leader. In higher breaking strains it can be an excellent leader for targeting big kingfish in shallow water over nasty reefs, GT’s or while bottom bouncing for northern species over coral reef.
Fluorocarbon built its reputation in light-line fishing styles where sensitivity was paramount, but it also offers some significant advantages in heavier breaking strains.
Bang For Buck
At the end of the day all three lines offer excellent bang for buck: they knot well, are easily managed and I’ve successfully used them for many years. So while this is a review for those that haven’t used Black Magic Leader, I hope it also serves as a product guide for those that are familiar with it but were unsure which of the three lines to use.