ANDY HAHN                    
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Anatomy of a Wind-On Leader

With time, patience and the right materials, you can make your own wind-on leaders. Most Anglers, however prefer to buy them. Differences among commercially available wind-on leaders include the brand of leader material, type of splice (single or double), total length of splice, type of serving at the leader-to-Dacron (or Spectra) juncture and size of loop.

1.   Look for leader material and brand of your preference, such as Jinkai, Momoi or Ande. If you can't find your favorite and don't want to switch brands, remember that some manufacturers custom-make leaders according to client specifications.

2.   Loop size is important but not critical. A loop of about 4 to 6 inches makes it easy to coil the entire leader and pass it through the doubled main line when forming the loop-to-loop connection. A small leader loop proves more difficult to thread through the loop in the main line but doesn't result in a smaller knot.

3.   Check the splice. a double splice normally runs slightly thicker but shorter than a single splice; overlapping sections of braided line in double splices provide a more secure grip. If unsure whether a leader contains a single or double splice, ask at your local tackle shop or call the manufacturer.

Winding an extra 20 feet of heavy leader onto the spool means less room for main line; exactly how much depends on splice type and length as well as thickness of leader material. (A double splice normally takes up less space than a single splice.) Distribute line evenly, and leave as much room on the reel as possible to prevent the leader from bunching up and binding against the frame. "Freezing up" the reel like this could force you to wire a fish, thus defeating the purpose of a wind-on leader. Worse yet, grinding cable leader against the frame quickly ruins a reel.

4.   The serving should be as short and strong as possible and not render the wind-on too stiff. Most manufacturers apply wrappings or half-hitches at this point to tightly secure the Dacron or Spectra to the leader material; Braid Products uses a type of shrink tubing (not heat-shrink tubing but cold-shrink tybing that has no adverse effect on monofilament). bulky, long or rough servings encounter difficulty going throught the guides and wear out prematurely.