Best Fluorocarbon Leaders for Walleye (For Lures and Baits)


a fisherman on a boat holding a long walleye that he has caught on a fluorocarbon leader and a crankbait

Walleye aren’t the easiest of fish to catch, as they have very good eyesight and are fairly line shy. That’s why using a fluorocarbon leader is so vital when it comes to walleye fishing. With the right leader type, you significantly increase your chances of catching both more and bigger fish!

The perfect fluorocarbon leader for walleye is as invisible as possible underwater and has an 10-25lb test. When lure fishing, you will want to use a somewhat stiffer leader material. When fishing with smaller live baits, your leader should instead be softer and have a little stretch to it.

If you want to find out more about the best fluorocarbon leaders for walleye, all you have to do is keep reading.

Pro Tip: In a hurry to get fishing? No problem! You can head over to Amazon and check out my favorite fluorocarbon leader for eyes right here.

Best Fluorocarbon Leader for Walleye Fishing with Lures

When it comes to lure fishing for walleye, the fluorocarbon leader material you will want to use should be somewhat stiffer and have a lower stretch than other leader lines, especially when casting or trolling in deeper water.

The classic Seaguar Blue Label is the perfect example of such a leader and your perfect pick for when lure fishing for eyes.

That’s because of the following three main reasons:

  1. A stiffer leader will significantly improve your lure presentation underwater, especially when coupled with a thinner braided mainline. That’s because it will give you a more direct and sensitive connection to your lure that allows you to control and present it with much more finesse and feel.
  2. The lower stretch of the Seaguar will also give you a superior hook-set that is way more precise than that of stretchier leaders. When fishing deep or far out, you won’t have to set your hook as hard and will still be able to securely hook most walleye you’ll get on.
  3. A stiff leader will prevent air- and water tangles of your lure when casting out or retrieving it. This will save you a lot of time and nerves while fishing!

I recommend using a 10 to 12-pound test for waters with a low risk of pike bites and a 20 to 25-pound test if there is pike around or if your fishing close to snags, like log structures or rock piles. This holds especially true when trolling classic walleye crankbaits like the Storm Hot’N Tot, as such lures will dive extra deep and have a wild searching action.

Of course, you’ll always want to go as thin and invisible as possible, but when there is a risk for bite-offs or snags, it’s really wise to step up your leader strength somewhat, in order to preserve your lure and take better care of the fish you’re after.

The Seaguar Blue Label has got you covered on that front as well, as it has an extremely low visibility underwater and extremely high strength and abrasion resistance, even at lower diameters.

All in all, the perfectly stealthy walleye leader that will also manage the occasional pike bite.

Check out the awesome Seaguar Blue Label on Amazon here

Best Fluorocarbon Leader for Walleye Fishing with Live Baits

When fishing for walleye with smaller live baits, such as minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers, you will want to use a somewhat softer and more flexible fluorocarbon leader. This holds true for both static fishing and slow trolling behind a boat using slip bobbers.

The Yo-Zuri H.D. Fluorocarbon leader is your perfect pick for walleye fishing with live baits.

The reasons for using a softer leader material are the following:

  1. As you are not actively retrieving your bait, you do not need to have as much control and feel over it while fishing, which renders the need for a stiffer leader obsolete.
  2. Instead, you will want to present your live bait in the most possible and natural of ways when it is in the water. Especially minnows, which will be moving and swimming around a lot once you cast them out, can be presented in a much better way by using a soft fluorocarbon leader, as it will allow them to move and swim about freely and in an unhindered manner. This will give you a far more natural presentation that is likely going to result in more bites.
  3. As softer fluorocarbon leaders have a little more stretch to them, they will act as a buffer cushion when setting the hook, which is actually advantageous when fishing with live baits. As you don’t really know how the walleye has picked up your bait and how shallow or deep the hook sits in its mouth, you will want to avoid striking too hard, as this might fail to set the hook accurately or simply cause a hook pull.

When nightcrawlers or leeches, an 8-pound test will be the perfect leader strength for walleye, while you will need to use a 10 to 15-pound test when fishing with live minnows.

Once again, that would be because of possible pike bites, as they don’t say no to a delicious minnow when they see one. So, up the leader strength a little bit if you are fishing in waters that hold both walleye and northern pike.

Using a slightly thicker leader is not a problem with the Yo-Zuri either, as this leader material is unbelievably invisible underwater and, thanks to its softness, the walleye won’t even feel it when they bite. It’s a really superior fluorocarbon material!

Take a closer look at the super soft Yo-Zuri H.D. Carbon Leader on Amazon here

Things to Remember When Using Fluorocarbon Leaders

a fisherman on a boat with a nice walleye that he has caught trolling
Courtesy of Andre Charron

As always when it comes to fluorocarbon, there are a few things to keep in mind when fishing with them. If you remember them when you’re out on the water, you will be able to further optimize your fishing and catch more fish.

Invisibility

While fluorocarbon is said to be almost entirely invisible underwater, this is only true in lower light conditions or murky water.

If exposed to strong and direct sunlight in clear water conditions, fluorocarbon material can actually become more visible, almost to a point of glowing. I have investigated that phenomenon myself during high summer when diving in open water and checking my own lines while slow trolling. I can tell you for a fact that this claim is absolutely true!

On the other hand, I don’t think walleye, or any other predator for that matter, care all too much about the leader being more visible, as it is still fairly thin and as they’ll see the mainline above it anyway.

It’s just something to keep in mind when fishing on a sunny day in very clear water. If you don’t manage to get any bites, try to fish again on a cloudy day and see if that makes any difference.

Weak Points

This is another crucial thing to remember when using fluoro leaders; they can develop weak points and eventually break.

Several factors can cause this to happen. The most obvious one would be a pike bite. Its ultra-sharp teeth will definitely put your leader to the test and it is advised to closely check it after each and every pike you catch.

But even when only catching walleye, it’s never a bad idea to check the health of your fluorocarbon leaders. While walleye have pointy teeth that usually do not manage to bite through your fishing line directly, they can be quite abrasive, especially during a hard and wild fight.

And thirdly, snags, shells, and rocks. If you get snagged or if your line and lure get in contact with sharp rocks or mussel shells, your leader will develop weak points, no matter how strong and abrasion-resistant it may be.

So, always check your leader, and if you spot any weak points or abrasion on it, simply put on a new one. It will most certainly be worth that little extra effort!

Tight lines!

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Featured image courtesy of James Worden

Max Loesche

Hi, I'm Max, the founder and CEO of Strike&Catch. I have been a passionate fisherman since 1997 and spend as much time as possible near a river, a lake, or the sea.

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