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Why I Dont Use A Shock Leader Anymore

Surf Casting

First I Want To Explain Why I Prefer Braid Rather Than Monofilament

Personally I prefer to use braid rather than monofilament. Although it does cost more I like the fact that it doesn’t stretch.  Especially when you have a lot of line out. I want to know I will get a good hook set. Take Tarpon for example. They have a very hard mouth. With the stretch factor in monofilament you might not get a hook set at all. Can you imagine the disappointment. You hook a large Tarpon and it jumps once. It’s the fish of a lifetime. Then your line goes slack!

I used to spool my reels with 30 lb. braid. As you’ll see in the chart below that 30 lb. braid is equivalent to 8 lb. monofilament. The diameter of 30 lb. braid allowed me to put a lot more line on my reel should I need it. I liked that.

With 30 lb braid and a 3 oz. pyramid sinker you do not need a shock leader. However, because it’s so thin, if you put a lot of force into a cast you will slice your finger without even realizing it.


So even though you wouldn’t need a shock leader you do want to have some finger protection for that size braided line. I’ve tried a lot of different things but never found anything I really liked. I even made a custom protector from a piece of inner tube and had it attached to my rod in such a way that it was ready to slip between my finger and the line for a cast.

For Me There Are Three Main Advantages In Using Braid Line

  1. It doesn’t stretch so you get better hook sets.
  2. You can spool on more line.
  3. Depending on sinker weight you can eliminate the need for a shock leader.

The two disadvantages for me are that it costs more and sometimes it requires finger protection.

In Order To Hold The Bottom In High Surf You Need More Weight

Where I fish it’s not uncommon for the surf to be so strong that I would need a 6 or even an 8 oz. sinker in order to hold the bottom. Otherwise the surf would wash my rig back towards the beach. Now in order to prevent a break off, a 6 oz sinker should have a 60 lb. shock leader attached to the main line.

Even when using the smallest knot to tie the shock leader to the main line I never liked the way it felt when the knot went through the eyes of my rod. It always bothered me.

Why I Don’t Use A Shock Leader

65lbPowerProOne day while waiting for a strike, it occurred to me that there was a simple solution that would solve all my problems. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. What if I just spooled my reels with 65 lb. braid. 65 lb. braid is equivalent in size to 16 lb. monofilament. So I get just as much line on my reel as if I was using mono. A shock leader wouldn’t be required because it’s strong enough to use a 6 oz. sinker if I need it to hold the bottom. And I don’t need any finger protection because it’s thick enough to cast without cutting into my finger.

After figuring that out all I could think of was Duh!

Not only that but I could change out my regular rig with a shark rig and be good to go.

There is one other thing I needed to change though. It wouldn’t make any sense to use 65 lb. line with a 20 or 30 lb. fluorocarbon rig.  So I made up some new dropper loop rigs using 60 lb. fluorocarbon leader.

Dropper Loop Rig

19 Responses to Why I Dont Use A Shock Leader Anymore

  • I like the idea of increasing the 30# braid to 65#, but hesitate to use the 65# leader because I always thought the thinner the better so the fish will not see it… I wrong? If not using a shock leader then just use the 30# or 40# fluorocarbon for less visibility.

    • If your using a Fluorocarbon leader for your rig it’s supposed to be more or less invisible. With that being said, your rig leader should never be weaker than your shock leader. That’s the whole point of not breaking off your rig when casting. Make sense?

    • If you do decide to use the 65lb leader, be sure it’s fluorocarbon for less visibility.

  • I will try that line change. My main surf pole 15′ has a shock leader, I will reline it with some 60# braided

  • Randy, thanks for all the good tips! Do the face book thing if you have the time. Catch em up!

  • Hi Randy, and thanks again for this enlightenment. It was for the very reasons you mentioned that I have been avoiding using shock leaders for some time now. I figured I would just settle for shorter casting distances, and fish when the surf wasn’t too rough. I too have been using 30lb braid and stretching my luck with up to 4oz sinkers. Your proposal makes sense to me, as long as the dropper loop rigs are made using fluorocarbon, not mono, for less visability.

  • Hi randy I fish 65 lb power pro with a 50 lb flurorcabon leader of about 8 ft then what ever rig I use I attach a barrel swivel with an egg sinker ahead it’s worked for me I’m from Ohio so I only get to surf fish one week a year I go to topsail beach North Carolina thank you for all your info keep it coming

  • Hi Randy, I like all your articles, videos and info. I live in north west oregon. I love to surf fish, but there is not very many peaple here that do. I try to find a spot where there is a little water running into the surf, this is usually a good spot. Mostly just surf perch. Very delicious. Keep them coming please.

  • I also use 65# braid. My reel is a Penn 7500 SS an oldie but goodie mounted on a 12 ft Shakespeare Ugly Stick. Makes a good surf outfit and enough backbone for those occasional sharks and tarpon. Keep coming with the tips, Randy. All are appreciated.

  • 28.08.15
    Hi randy it is nice to see the wonderful & effective fishing technique with the braid instead of the shock leader. The dropper loop rig is very impressive. Good on you. My fishing in India, the catch rate has improved from better to good, but I put myself in to misery & deep trouble. Hasty is nasty.

    On some angler’s advice I reeled up my Fin Nor Lethal 100 with Stern 40lb Braid & 3 oz Pyramid sinker, it was the first & last cast off the Braid.

    It cut my index finger so deep and 5 stitches were put in to my finger. My right index finger hurts & is still unusable. Hats off & good bye to Braid.

    Weather stretch or no stretch the mono is pleasant, safe & comfortable. You fish to enjoy not to buy the pain. This is my personal view.Thank U.

  • Hi Randy, I use 17 lb. mono line with a 65 lb braided shocker works good for me on my 11′ with a Okuma baitrunner. The issue I have with the braid which I have set up on another rod is if it’s rough surf at times when reeling in i’ll have a nice birdes nest, not fun trying to unwraveling it. Thanks for your info.

  • New to surf fishing and doing it in the Caymans(very clear water). My concern is over the visibility of braid line. Could u comment please? I assume becuse your using flouro o the rigs your not concerned.

    • Holmes, I also use a 60# Fluorocarbon dropper loop rig which is attached to my 60# braid main line. If I need to make a rig using hooks with eyes that are too small for the 60# then I make a mortician rig. The Mortician rig is made with 60# Fluorocarbon but the hooks are attached with 30# Fluorocarbon.

  • i always use mono the stretch is needed in fishing. hooksets should not be a thing in the ocean with circle hooks. if you are catching and releasing you should not use anything besides a circle hook. i even crimp all my barbs off my hooks on jigs ect. braid snaps a lot easier and to me if you are overfishing the fish with ton higher line weight then fish then how much fun is it to horse crank a fish on the top of water. 100+ lb tarpon maybe braid is needed to not get spooled but idk capt jeff from the mulletrun takes tarpon with 20# mono 50# mono leader. on video lots of fish. ive never used anything besides ligher mono then target weight fish my entire life. never used leaders and still dont either. to each his own. but i dont sport braid. it has its uses and ill back the legit uses but thats about it.

  • I’m thinking of running with 40# braid, not sure if I need a shock leader or a leader at all. What would you guys recommend? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the topic and all the posts…. Chad

    • You won’t need a shock leader as long as you don’t use a sinker larger than 4 ounce. The rule of thumb is 1 ounce of sinker for every 10# of line strength. So you will be using 40# test so 4 ounces. If you go to 60# test then you could use 6 ounce sinker without a shock leader.

  • With regard to getting cut by braided line during the cast, it dawned upon me one day to wrap a piece of duct tape wide enough to cover the first joint of my index finger. you do not need much. Two wraps is sufficient. The tape will deteriorate after time but sufficient to last a day of fishing. Haven’t been cut on my index finger since.