What is a Lead Core Fishing Line? Things to Know!

Thomas Krik

Written by

Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

what is a lead core fishing line

In the angling world, many tools and technologies give anglers an edge over the elusive fish. The lead core fishing line is one such equipment that has surged in popularity. It has a history, though, that predates the invention of downriggers.

A lead core line works similarly to your typical lines. However, this specialized marvel has superior benefits over its monofilament or fluorocarbon counterparts.

To help you understand this equipment and how it works, we have put out this article on “What is a lead core fishing line?” Thus, stay with us for helpful lead core tips and insights!

What is Lead Core?


Are you looking for a specialized line that can take your fishing game to new heights? It could be the lead core fishing line!

Contrary to ordinary fishing lines, a lead core is a specialized creation that helps users reach fish at more extensive depths. Simply put, a lead line fishing setup can give you total control to navigate your bait to the target water level.

The power of this fishing line lies in its unique composition. Encased in a durable braided Dacron or nylon fiber, the inner core is made of thin, flexible lead wires.

They come in varying lefngths and thicknesses, allowing you to customize them to your rod’s specifications.

This lead material imparts higher density for the line to sink by itself. Meanwhile, the braided Dacron sheath offers strength to endure the pull of trophy catches.

Many anglers call this a lead core trolling line due to its efficiency in bottom-bouncing or casting deep-dwelling species. They enable your baits to reach deeper water columns where skittish big game fish thrive.

An unusual yet resourceful feature of a lead core line is its color coding. Every 10 yards of lead line changes color. This feature helps anglers determine how deep they are fishing. It is like having a built-in depth control system at your fingertips!

Understanding Their Sink Rates

You might be surprised, but lead lines can sink like a rock while being virtually invisible underwater. With a length of lead weight running through its center sleeve, the fishing line can quickly plunge any lure (attached behind it) into various water depths.

Realistically, you can expect a 5′ or more per color sink rate when trolling at a speed of 2.0 mph. It would be less if your speed is 2.5 miles per hour (mph).

For your reference, take a look at this lead core depth chart:


Color Segments 2.5 mph 2.0 mph
1 2′ 4′
2 7′ 8′
3 9′ 12′
4 11′ 18′
5 14′ 24′
6 18′ 28′
7 21′ 33′
8 24′ 38′
9 29′ 43′
10 37′ 49′

Benefits and Drawbacks of Lead Core

lead line fishing setup

Lead core for walleye anglers emerges as a popular and versatile tool. As noted, this line stands out for its ability to reach elusive depths. However, like other fishing lines, lead cores have their fair share of strengths and weaknesses.

To help you determine if lead core lines are suitable for your situation, take into account these advantages:

  • Can pull lures into the deep
  • Great for trout, walleye, bass, and for salmon angling
  • Incomparable strength against abrasion and wind
  • Often 10 to 40 feet long
  • New designs with Dyneema and Gore fibers are thinner and more sensitive to vibrations.
  • Visual indication of how much line you have let out
  • High accuracy when casting around structure

While lead core is a popular option for experienced open-water trollers, it also has some drawbacks that may make you think twice. These are:

  • More expensive than other line types
  • Reduced sensitivity if you use traditional designs with Dacron, nylon, or polyester
  • Visible in clear water without added fluorocarbon leaders
  • Requires finesse to use
  • Prone to tangles

Tips for Using Lead Core Fishing Line


Considering the following tips and tricks is paramount for effective results. Let’s start by knowing the primary guidelines of lead core fishing.

1. General Lead Core Rules

  1. Depth indication: Every color increment indicates how far your lure has gone deep into the water. You can achieve the desired depth by adjusting the length of the line you let out.
  2. Choice of bait: Any bait that you would commonly troll with a regular fishing line can be used with a lead core line. Examples include crankbaits, stick baits, and spinner baits.
  3. Size reel for lead core lines: Lead lines have larger diameters. Thus, we suggest using oversized lead core reels that can fit 350 to 475 yards of strings.
  4. Trolling speed: This is crucial in controlling the bait and maintaining proper depth. Typically, slower speeds allow the lead line to sink further, while faster speeds keep it near the surface.
  5. Backing lines: Lead cores are thicker than ordinary fishing lines. Hence, have at least 200 yards of monofilament or super braid as your backing line.
  6. Rod requirement: There may be no such thing as a perfect rod, but longer, medium-action rods with shock absorbency provide a distinct advantage.
  7. Fishing spots: The lead core isn’t used for shallow waters. Instead, they work well in deep lakes and the ocean.

2. Lead Core Rigging Tips

  1. For a leader line, tie the lead core to a mono line. Professional anglers suggest using a 10-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon.
  2. Utilize at least a 12-15-foot leader fishing line to mitigate visibility.
  3. Do lead core line knots like the nail knot and Albright knot, especially when tying your rig to the leader and mono lines.
  4. A 27-lb lead core is perfect for all trolling situations.
  5. Before rigging a lead core line, check local regulations for any restrictions about lead-related tackles.

3. Tips When Trolling with Lead Lines

  1. Maintain a consistent trolling speed to keep your lure at the desired depth.
  2. Regular adjustment of depth and variation in speed can entice the fish’s attention.
  3. It may take longer to spool a lead core line due to its heavier weight. So, be patient.
  4. Utilize fish finders or depth finders to locate fish and monitor the depth of your line.
  5. Try fishing lead core with boards to help get your lures to different sides of the boat.
  6. Keep your spool loaded with enough colors of lead, so your lure can descend further into the water.
  7. Keep your line tight, and be forceful when dragging a hooked fish to your box.
  8. Refer to the dive chart to master the color increments and gauge the depth of the line you let out.


Lead core fishing lines are not for every situation. However, they offer remarkable depth control advantages that could differentiate an empty boat from a gratifying catch. Indeed, they are a versatile tool for every angler to learn and explore.

We hope this post, “What is a lead core fishing line?” has helped you unlock new depths, chase diverse species, and reel in the big fish. So, why not try lead cores on your next fishing escapade?

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