littlelogo.gif (2160 bytes)

Ontario Fishing Network
Volume 4,  Issue 11 -  Nov. 2004

Making Your Own Wire Leaders
Tim Allard

The transition between open- and hard-water fishing can be a painful wait for anglers. We sharpen hooks, tie flies, and organize our tackle boxes. Why not add making wire leaders to your list of things to do. In this article I discuss how to make single-strand wire leaders. Although leaders are nothing more than a section of wire with loops holding snaps and swivels, it is the forming of the loops that is crucial. To help me explain the proper technique and to point out pitfalls, I contacted two experts, Captain Spike of Leadertec Ltd (  ), a terminal tackle and rigging supply shop, and Brian Bychowski of DuBro Products (  ), a producer of leader making tools.

Tools and Materials
You'll want to have some quality Longnose and Lineman's pliers to properly manipulate the wire when making leaders. Wire cutters are also handy to get a clean cut when selecting lengths of wire. DuBro's E/Z Twist is a great tool for tying haywire twists. You may also want to wear a pair of work gloves when tying leaders, as the point of heavy wire can be. Single strand wire comes in various strengths from 30 to 200 pound-test, and it's best to have a selection of leaders tied in various lengths and strengths for different fish species and lures used. You will also need quality snaps, ball bearing swivels and steel rings for leader end components.

Types of Twists
Securing the loops of single-strand wire leader can be done using either a barrel wrap or a haywire twist. A barrel wrap is formed by wrapping the tag end of wire around the main shaft that remains straight. A haywire twist is formed by twisting wire around itself so that the two strands are interlocked within each bend. The haywire twist is a stronger connection. DuBro's Bychowski explains, "In pull tests, the barrel wrap has been known to pull-out under high stress levels, whereas with a haywire twist, the wire would break before the wrap would pull-out."

To properly form the twist Captain Spike explains, "You have to ensure that each wire is twisted evenly around the other rather than just wrapping one around the other, and that a haywire twist should be followed by a barrel wrap." (See photo and caption for steps) The number of turns will vary depending on the thickness of wire used. Spike provided the following example, "When using #9 (108 pound-test) wire I will make six to eight haywire twists followed by four or five barrel wraps."

 A haywire twist (right) versus a barrel wrap (left) leader

Three steps to the haywire twist: 1) Form the desired loop size and wrap both pieces of the leader around each other, 2) Continue to wrap the wire six to eight times, 3) Secure the twists with three to four barrel wraps, bend the remaining tag end in the shape of a crank handle and rotate to break off excess wire.

Bending Wire
You can use pliers to manipulate the wire, but DuBro's E/Z Twist tool is specifically designed to tie haywire twists and barrel wraps. Bychowski explains, "Muskie fisherman use wire with diameters ranging as low as .011 (27-pound-test) all the way to .031 (195 pound-test)," and adds that the E/Z Twist will "accommodate this entire range of wire sizes." The first twist in heavy wire can be tricky and straining to your wrists. To remedy this, position the E/Z Twist about six inches from the top of the loop when starting the first twist. Following the first 180 degrees, push the E/Z Twist and the wire cross-over forward to form the desired loop size, and then complete the remaining twists.

The Finish
After completing the barrel wraps, finish the leader by removing the tag end. "The tag end of wire should always be broken off," Captain Spike explains. "You will always be left with a sharp end when you cut it." Spike removes the tag end as follows, "Hold the leader vertically so that the tag end is pointing back at you. Bend about one inch of the tag end 90 degrees to the right, for a right handed person, so that it looks like a little crank handle. While holding the leader in your left hand take the little handle between your finger and thumb on the right hand and rotate it upwards and forwards continuing around in a circle. If you've done it right it should break off cleanly before you've completed one revolution."

Making leaders for fishing is a simple and easy thing to do if you have the proper tools, materials and an understanding of the process. Yet, wire leaders are not indestructible. Check your leaders often and replace them if the wire is nicked. Give it a try this winter and you may be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to stock your tackle box with leaders for all fishing situations.

Swim Baits Below the Ice
Making Your Own Wire Leaders

Slip Bobbers at Slush Time
Lake Temagami - October Lake Trout Spawning Observations
Temagami Angler's Journal Project for 2005
Fishing Cartoon
Fishing Photo Gallery
Fishing Lodge Classifieds
Downloadable Lodge Guide
Free Fishing Classifieds
Upload your Fishing Pictures

Our Fishing Video Site is up and running.
If you have hi-speed internet access click here to see some great short fishing video clips