Top Shot vs. Leader- What's the difference and why it's important!
Top Shot is a highly debated subject within offshore fisherman. Top Shot is typically confused with leader. However, as they both serve similar purposes they are not the same (in our opinion). Top Shot, depending who you ask, is a Monofilament line attached to your braid mainline that is anywhere from 50'-150'. Again, depending on personal preference. The Top Shot's main purpose is to act as a shock absorber for when a fish strikes. This is extremely important if you use braid because braid does not stretch at all! IFGA has their own set of rules if you fish in tournaments that follow IFGA rules make sure to read the rules. We typically run about 100'-150' of 50 LB Top Shot connected to our braid using a Double Uni Knot on our Mahi reels. For High Speed Trolling (HST) or large game such as Marlin 100 LB Top Shot is recommended connected to 80lb Braid.
Leader is a vital key in catching fish offshore! Leader is different from Top Shot as it is usually heavier LB Monofilament or Fluorocarbon line than the Top Shot. Because the Leader is heavier LB test it offers more abrasion resistance to teeth and break offs. Leader, unlike the Top Shot, is not used to provide shock resistance but instead be more durable to prevent break offs. Typically most offshore trolling lures for Mahi use 5' of 80 or 100 LB Mono. Tournament Anglers usually use 80 LB Fluorocarbon to increase hook up ratio as it is nearly invisible in salt water. However, fluorocarbon leader is a lot more expensive than Monofilament so most anglers will use Mono. This 5' Leader typically has a loop on end and is then connected to your Top Shot using a high quality Ball Bearing or Barrel Swivel to prevent line twisting.