IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) Rules Explained

Leadering With No Leader?


Leadering with no leader

When chunking or livebaiting for wary tuna or billfish our preferred set-up consists of gel-spun braid backing – tested to break under 24kg – connected directly to a 50 to 75m topshot of 24kg fluorocarbon. By eliminating unnecessary terminal tackle (swivels, crimps, etc.) we’ve significantly increased the number of bites. I know the backing/top-shot set-up I use is IGFA-compliant, but how are we able to legally assist the angler by ‘taking the leader’ in the final stages if we’re not using a leader?


This question addresses an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent with the application of backing/topshot rigs in offshore fishing. First of all, you are correct in stating that this set-up would be IGFA-legal. Just keep in mind that when backing is used, your catch is classified under the actual breaking strain of the heaviest of the lines on the reel (leader not included).

The IGFA rules state that “the length of the leader is the overall length including any lure, hook arrangement or other device, and is measured to the bend of the last hook. The leader must be connected to the line with a snap, knot, splice, swivel or other device.” Additionally, IGFA rules allow only the leader to be touched, once it is within reach – not the mainline. Therefore, if a set-up like the one described is used, the act of someone other than the angler touching the topshot would disqualify the catch, regardless of how close to the hook or lure they grabbed the line.

If you want to ‘leader’ or ‘wire’ the fish, you have to use a leader. So instead of tying a hook directly to the end of your topshot, simply attach a legal-sized length of leader to the end of your topshot (which could be more of the same fluorocarbon) via a knot or swivel.

IGFA Rule Book: Rules Explained:

Leadering With No Leader?

Answer supplied by: Jack Vitek
Position: IGFA World Records Coordinator

This question ran in ISSUE 111 of BlueWater magazine: AUGUST 2015

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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