This article first appeared in the 'Tips & Techniques' section of the September '96 issue of Marlin Magazine and is reprinted here with permission. Be sure to check out for other outstanding sportfishing articles!


It seems that every time you pick up a copy of a magazine covering saltwater fishing, you find an article about wind-on leaders. The articles cover all of the numerous advantages of these leaders for both inshore and offshore game fishing. They also correctly state that, whether you fish from a 20-foot center-console or a 60-foot canyon runner, you should be using wind-on leaders because they make sense.

Yet take a walk on the docks during a major tournament, such as the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 -- the richest tournament in the world. Out of approximately 150 boats, if you look into the cockpits and check out the tackle, I doubt you'll see more than 10 using wind-ons. Why is something that is written about so frequently and touted as so important not being used?

I think the answer lies in all the magazine articles. They do a good job of covering the advantages, materials and ways to apply wind-on leaders, but when it comes to the part on how to make them, something happens. The reader looks at all the various steps illustrated, tries to read the instructions for each step, and even some of the most experienced fishermaen say, "Forget it -- it's too confusing and time consuming regardless of the advantages."

Over six years of constructing and using wind-on leaders, I have found a method which I feel to be the easiest. Using this method, a wind-on can be made in minutes with the least amount of splicing, gluing, wrapping, etc., and the result will be an extremely compact and reliable wind-on.

With this simple method you are creating a splice over a splice. This double splice results in a extremely strong wind-on that can be made much shorter than most others I've seen. On the Out of Bounds a 41-foot Viking out of Cape May, New Jersey, every outfit, from 12- to 80-pound-class has this style of wind-on. We have never lost a fish due to a wind-on failure.

When Constructing the wind-on leaders as illustrated at right, keep the following in mind:

  • To prepare mono for splicing, squarely cut the end you are going to splice into the Dacron with a sharp knife. With a lighter, lightly heat the end to soften and then tap the end with a finger to form a slight rounded edge or mushroom effect. This will make splicing much easier.
  • It is not necessary to scratch or sand the mono leader before splicing, and it is not necessary to splice more than 12 inches.
  • Use very little Superglue, as the substance dries very hard, and if you apply too much the wind-on will be quite stiff-- making it difficult to get through the rigger release clips.
  • When finishing off the Dacron/mono connection with half-hitches, only do enough to cover the joint, and make them as neat as possible.
  • Wind-on leaders do not have to be changed with each catch or after each day of fishing. Treat them as you would any other leader or tackle. Check them for signs of wear and tear and replace if required.
  • When bringing a fish alongside, do not grab the wind-on where the Dacron covers the leader (actual splice). If grabbed here with enough pressure, the leader will slip out of the Dacron and everthing is gone.
  • Danger! When bringing a fish alongside, there is potential for serious injury with wind-on leaders if the fish is so close to the boat that there is no line or leader in the water to create some resistance. If at this point the fish decides to take off and you pull the hook -- watch out. You have a bent rod and a reel probably in full drag. If the hook pulls, it's all coming back at you like it was shot from a crossbow.