When it comes to leaders there are two primary leader types – monofilament and fluorocarbon. Both have their pros and cons but as a simple delineation, ‘mono’ is a suppler option that ties down on knots better, while ‘fluoro’ is harder and more abrasion resistant.
I seem to oscillate between both types when I am chasing an array of freshwater species, but for most of my gnarly big cod work I lean towards a fluoro leader, due to its tough, rigid nature and structural integrity. This is to counter the row of razor-sharp teeth a big cod possesses when its bucket mouth swallows your 10-inch swimbait in one gulp, as well as the snag laden country most of them live in.
With that in mind, I was more than happy when I got the call from Kosta at Hooked Up HQ to test out a few rolls of the YGK X-Braid FC Absorber Slim and Strong Leader, which comes in a 30m spool and carries an RRP of $49.95. I opted to cover two types of cod fishing, my medium and large bait work, so out of the 4 available sizes – 52lb, 66lb, 77lb and 88lb – I chose a roll of 52lb and 77lb.
My first impression when I ripped both rolls out of the post pack and unfurled a length or two of each was the somewhat contraindicatory name, chiefly the liberal marketing use of the term ‘slim’. While I did think it felt like a supple fluoro, it just didn’t feel super slim.
I compared its diameter of .620mm with two other popular FC’s I use. Due to the unique 52lb breaking strain of the YGK, it’s hard to get an exact comparison, but you get a fair indication when compared to 50lb Sunline FC Rock (.570mm) and Daiwa J-Thread FC (.555mm) So, while it may say slim in the name, its not as slim as some, however, slim isn’t exactly what I’m looking for when it comes to a leader.
One nice touch with the YGK leader are the grooves and slits that are present at even intervals all around the spool, meaning you can easily secure your leader when you’ve finished tying your knot. This might sound like a small superficial addition, but it’s exceptionally handy and effective at stopping your leader unexpectedly unravelling in the boat and you accidently nicking and cutting it.
The next test was to sit down and tie two FG Knots. One with the 52lb leader on 60lb braid and one with the 77lb leader on 80lb braid. I must say, the braid bit in nicely to the leader, creating a relatively smooth and compact knot for both bulky breaking strains.
Next stop was heading out onto the water and testing the leader in several on-water fishing scenarios.
From a castability standpoint both the 52lb and 77lb fluoro leaders flew through the relatively generous guides of my rod.
The next test was its abrasion resistance, and this took less time than expected, as my swimbait was woofed down by a sizeable greenback. Due to the deep hook set of the bait, the leader was inevitably exposed to the raspy row of teeth of this gluttonous goodoo.
After smiling for a few pics we quickly inspected the leader and found it had coped a fair beating in the fight. The good news is its hardened fluorocarbon exterior soaked up the pummelling with ease, leading to no weak points in the overall fishing system. A huge tick!
Next up was the customary deep snagged dance you do when you foul your bait at the bottom of a strangle of sticks and stones. To make the manoeuvre extra tricky was a persistent 30km/hr wind.
This meant I was leaning extra hard on my entire system, under close to full strain, before, in a bittersweet moment, the 60lb braid broke before the 52lb leader. A good attribute of the leader, but bad for my hip pockets and the $80 Japanese swimbait that now lives in a watery grave at the bottom of Googoong dam.
The final inspection was its level of visibility in the water. An important component for any leader as you look to present your bait in the most natural manner possible. While it is a little thicker than other comparable sized FC’s, it does perform a pretty good Houdini act by disappearing quickly when it dips a couple of feet below the surface – even in the 77lb test.
It has now been a few months since my first cast with the YGK X-Braid FC Absorber Slim and Strong leader and I’ve been really impressed with its durability, toughness, lack of visibility, and knot holding ability. Once I get to the end of this 30m roll I’ll no doubt be back on the blower to Kosta to see if he needs any more of it ‘tested’ as it’s a bloody good leader to have at the pointy end of your big bait system.