Leader length

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by shortbus, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. shortbus

    shortbus New Member

    Messages:
    459
    State:
    indiana
    I was out lastnight having no luck at all so I started looking for things that might be causing problems. I was looking at how I had my poles settup and noticed I had one of my leaders way to long. I use basically a carolina rig with a live gill. I run a 1.5 ounce egg sinker on the line, tie a hook on the end and then put a small splitshot about 24" above the hook so the egg sinker can't come down to the hook. If I have a 24" leader, this lets the gill swim in a 4 foot circle around the wieght and 24" from the bottom. It seems to me that the frisky little gills are faster swimmers than a big flathead and are maybe outrunning them. Are these leaders to long??? should I not use a splitshot and let the egg come all the way down to the hook? I know its hard for me to catch a live gill with my hands when they are in the cooler!!
     
  2. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    I don't think the flats will have much problem catching those baits. I use various lengths of leaders, depending on conditions, but 2' is about average for me, and I don't have problems with them. When I fish in close to logjams or such, I may shorten up to as little as 1', or when drifting, I may go to 3-4'.
    I would think 18-24" is adequate in most cases, from my experience.
    One thing you may want to do, if you aren't already, is to trim the tail and dorsal fin, making it harder for the baitfish to swim, and causing more disturbance, therefore (hopefully) attracting predators.
     

  3. barbel

    barbel New Member

    Messages:
    486
    State:
    Somewhere
    I use lengthy leaders every time that I go fishing, and I dont think that would be the problem. Flatheads are actually faster than you may think, and with their big mouths, I dont think it would be a problem. It could just be the area that you are fishing in, and that maybe the flatheads werent hungry or something (yeah right, lol). But the leader is most likely not the problem. I get into the same delima sometimes, and it is usually just a matter of time before I catch a flatty. They are usually the smartest and hardest to catch of the North American catfishes, so keep on trying.
     
  4. shortbus

    shortbus New Member

    Messages:
    459
    State:
    indiana
    I've heard about other people in my area doing this also but didn't know if it would really help or not. Do you use a knife or scissors and where do you trim them at?
     
  5. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Messages:
    188
    State:
    abilene, tx
    OK, here goes. Let me see if I can get this right. If you trim the bottom part of the tail. the fish will tend to swim downward. If you trim the top, it will rend to swim upward. If you trim a fin on the left side, it it will list in that direction and will continually try to stabilize it's self, until it gets tired. Same goes for a right fin. On the other hand, this will cause the bait fish to wear it's self out sooner, but it may also attract something sooner. You can trim them with a knife or scissors. Scraping off some or a lot of the scales, will release more scent to attract a cat.

    As far as terminal tackle goes, it's mostly a manner of preference. A 12 to 18 inch leader does seem to be some kind of norm. If you fish for Flats, and you use a the tight line method, you may have noticed that many times a Flat will refuse to run off with your offering, but may merely munch on it for a moment, before spitting it. Even with a tight line, you may never know when this happens. Like the loose line fisherman, you may never know there was a Flat mouthing the bait, until you recover it to find squashed or scaled. This mostly happens after the "bite" has dropped off. Maybe the fish is full. Maybe it's not that hungry to start with.

    No leader at all, will give these light biters, no room to mess around. Having your slip sinker right up against the eye of the hook, leaves no play in the line for a fish to mess will, and you will detect the bite sooner. It's also harder to hang this rig up in snags. In have seen some BIG cats caught on this rig, but most folks don't like it. They like to have swivels and longer leaders for one reason or another, and I'm not saying the reasons aren't good ones. It just seems to me, the more bells and whistles you have in your terminal rig, the more chances you have for a knot or something to fail or get hung up.

    As far as tight line vs. loose line, I don't believe catfish are put off by the tight line, too many have been caught on trot lines stretched tighter than a bow string. I don't believe the size of the line has much to do with it either, too many have been caught on heavier lines, some as large as a rope. I believe more catfish have been caught on a tight line than have lines with slack in them. Although that was my favorite method in small rivers and creeks, when I was a kid. Sometimes, no matter what we do, we just can't catch 'em.
     
  6. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    I use a sharp knife (or shears), lay the bait on a cutting board & trim the tail up close to the flesh. You can trim the dorsal or not. Then I hook the bream behing the dorsal fin. Works for me.
     
  7. CaTFiSH1346

    CaTFiSH1346 New Member

    Messages:
    12
    State:
    Clinton, Iowa
    If fishing with live gills, you really dont even need a leader, sometimes i let my weights slide all the way down to my hook and the flatheads dont seem to mind it...I know other guys that do the same thing and have seen them catch lots of 25-30 lbrs doing this. If you are fishing snags you also do not want a long leader because you do not want the bluegill getting into them.
     
  8. thunderchicken

    thunderchicken New Member

    Messages:
    769
    State:
    Yuma Az
    As far as catching gills in a cooler, I use a live bait net. It's a little easier to run em down that way and I don't accidently squeeze em too hard trying to catch em. In terms of leader length, I heard a very knowledgeable guy named Doug Stange say that he varies the leader length according to how fast the current is he will be fishing. If it's fast, he shortens the length so the bait will not sway wildly back and forth. If it's a slow or no current situation he likes a little longer one. As was said, I think it's a matter of preference. One thing I might suggest and I haven't heard anyone mention it yet is to use a spray on bait attractant like Baitmate or similar product not so much as to attract a fish but more to mask human scent that is transferred when baiting up. It does seem to work for me. Hope it helps you.
    :cool:
     
  9. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,181
    State:
    Triadelphia, WV
    Name:
    Walter Flack
    I usually dont go over 16-18 " when I have to cast a long distance. If you ever have casted with a slip sinker you will notice that the longer the leader will shorten your cast some. On the cast when the line is going up and out, the sinker will slide toward the pole and causing the bait to land short of your target. As far as affecting the bait and how the bait moves around on the bottom, I dont think it matters how long the leader is. After all dont the flatheads catch these live baitfish naturally without a hook ran through them?
     
  10. shortbus

    shortbus New Member

    Messages:
    459
    State:
    indiana
    Thats good thinking right there!! I guess it wouldn't really matter how long the leader is but I think if the bait is pinned in one spot the fish could get it easier maybe.
     
  11. Flyingpig

    Flyingpig New Member

    Messages:
    124
    State:
    Lakewood, Illinois
    I've tried using lengths of 12" and 24" and seems to work really well. That way I can run my bait two foot off the bottom while drifting.
     
  12. Bacardipr05

    Bacardipr05 New Member

    Messages:
    1,424
    State:
    Pennsylvan
    i agree with wolfman seems the more longer leader you use the shorter the cast also more of a chance to get snagged on something i usually go with 9" or 12" pre-made leaders although the other day i used 6"( store ran out) and was landing more fish dont know if it was the bait or the shorten leader
     
  13. Catfight

    Catfight New Member

    Messages:
    56
    State:
    Summerfield N.C.
    I use a double rig with a 3 way, one leader about 18" baited with a live gill and a 2" leader on the other side with cutbait. I feel this gives 'em a choice depending on what they're in the mood for. I love a good Catfight.
     
  14. TOPS

    TOPS New Member

    Messages:
    4,099
    State:
    Cabot,Arkansas
    12 to 18 inch leader works well for me. Longer leader hinder my casting ability.
     
  15. bigcathunter

    bigcathunter New Member

    Messages:
    25
    State:
    great bend,kansas
    how do you know say if you are using bacon or cut bait if it is floating up off the bottom the length the leader should provide,my concern is always is my bait lying on the bottom or floating,thanks
     
  16. SilverCross

    SilverCross New Member

    Messages:
    1,562
    State:
    Fairbury, Illin
    I'm sure glad I looked in on this one for sure. This year I had one of my worst years for fishing that I can remember. Maybe it was the hot dry weather or maybe because I changed the way I alway did my leaders. I have always used the Carolina rig, my favorite, but I always used about a 12" leader, and this year I have been using longer ones. Will have to do some experimenting this coming fishing season. Got way to much Author-itus to think about winter fishing. lol Dick