Follow The Leader

Will you adapt or resist change?

FSF Staff September 14, 2012

Listed on the periodic table of elements as Ti, Titanium is extracted from principal mineral ores and features 22 protons in the nucleus of a single atom. If you didn’t fare too well in chemistry class the only thing you need to know is that titanium is incredibly strong, super lightweight, corrosion resistant and widely used across aerospace, industrial, military and medical fields.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

First discovered in 1791 by William Gregor, titanium isn’t a modern breakthrough, although recently anglers have been looking to this high tensile alloy for an added advantage when creating bite-proof wire leaders. But Florida fishermen have been successfully catching wahoo and mackerel for years without the use of titanium, so why fix something that isn’t broken? While the question of new school vs. old school is one that will never be put to rest, confidence is the key ingredient to your continued angling success.

…the biggest drawback may be its price, as titanium leader is substantially more expensive than typical stainless steel wire.

With evolving manufacturing techniques, technologies and materials, fishing tackle is continuously progressing, however it’s safe to say that many anglers are slow to adopt the changing mentalities. Even though developing tackle and gear isn’t projected to relax, there’s one thing that remains constant—connections from line to leader and leader to hook are critical components in successful fishing.

For anglers, there are a few exciting qualities of titanium wire. First and foremost, titanium wire is thinner than single strand stainless steel wire of the same breaking strength. This enables anglers to fish heavier wire without compromising stealth. Another aspect that might put single strand wire in the dark ages is the fact that titanium wire is rustproof and kink-resistant to a certain degree. You can twist and turn titanium leaders and they will typically spring back to their original shape with practically zero memory. Additionally, you may want to switch due to the fact that titanium leaders offer controlled stretch upwards of 10 to 15 percent. While there are certainly beneficial features of titanium leader material, the biggest drawback may be its price, as titanium leader is substantially more expensive than typical stainless steel wire.

Single strand wire has been around for a long time and has helped many anglers subdue countless tournament winning king mackerel. It’s versatile and extremely easy to tie with a simple haywire twist, unlike titanium which requires a crimp or knot. When executed properly, a haywire twist results in a connection that’s stronger than the breaking strength of the wire itself. During an epic battle you can be sure that your haywire will be the last element to fail. Conversely, improperly crimped connections are susceptible to slippage or breakage.

Even though single strand wire can be kinked with relative ease, this isn’t such a bad thing. After each catch, anglers know that more often than not traditional wire leader must be re-rigged or discarded because kinks and damage are noticeably visible. On the other hand, titanium wire doesn’t show signs of destruction and you may inspect a leader and think it is fine, only to lose a quality fish because the titanium had unnoticeable damage.

When big toothy fish are in the crosshairs is it better to rig with titanium or single strand stainless wire leader? That’s the $25,000 question, and the answer is that neither provides the end all answer with both exhibiting noticeable pros and cons. You may second guess your approach when a smoker king cuts through your wire, but instead of taking the initiative to re-rig and change your whole outlook, take the loss with a grain of salt. You can’t win every battle, and that’s what keeps us coming back for more. If fishing wasn’t a challenge it wouldn’t be any fun. The bottom line is that when you have confidence in your rigging you will fish confidently and as a result you will catch more fish. In reality, bad connections are the leading cause of lost fish, so whatever approach you take make sure it is up for the challenge.

Haywire vs. Crimp

While a growing number of professional kingfish crews have made the switch to titanium wire (right), the way you attach this high-tensile alloy doesn’t sit right with many anglers. Most recommend a clinch knot since a haywire twist isn’t an option, but the result is an ugly, loose knot that doesn’t cinch tight, even though it has incredible holding power. To overcome the sloppy appearance anglers often use a combination of knot and crimp in various configurations.

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