While leadcore leaders have been a staple in the tackle box of carp anglers since the nineties, lead-free leaders have gained a lot of momentum over the last decade.
While there really is no contest regarding which material sinks faster, lead-free leaders are an essential item for every carp angler (especially at venues that impose a leadcore ban) and boast many benefits over their heavier rivals.
With many new products being launched in the hope of gaining market share from their long-standing competitors, let’s take a look at some of the best lead-free leaders available.
Avid Carp Pin Down Lead-Free Leader
Pin Down lead-free leader from Avid Carp is manufactured from an extremely supple material which makes easy work of lying over any terrain that it may find in its way.
While this certainly isn’t the fastest sinking of the lead-free leaders on this list, it does sink at an acceptable pace and lies perfectly over any debris on the lakebed. I found this material among the easiest to splice.
Whereas I personally prefer a fast-sinking leader, this lead-free material has gained an army of fans around the world as it almost flutters down through the water column before coming to rest nicely.
Available in 50lb breaking strain with colour choices of weed or silt, this really is one of the best lead-free leaders on the market today.
Bank Tackle Lead-Free Leader
I have been using Bank Tackle for a lot of my carp fishing terminal tackle for as long as I can remember and have found very few (if any) products that have disappointed me.
When I saw that Bank Tackle had started stocking a lead-free leader, I just had to take advantage of their rapid shipping service and see what their latest offering was like.
I found this relatively easy to splice due to the larger-than-average diameter and noticed that it sinks faster than many of the choices on this list. It is very supple and presents nicely over any below-surface obstacles.
Both the weedy green and brown options are available in 45lb breaking strain and come in 10m spools.
Fox Camo Submerge Lead-Free Leader
Fox are a behemoth in the world of carp fishing with an enormous range of quality products.
Their Camo Submerge lead-free leader is one of those products, combining a tasteful camo pattern with a diameter that makes it perfect for splicing.
This is one of the fastest sinking lead-free leaders, which may be partly due to its larger-than-average diameter giving it some extra weight.
Although it does have a greater diameter than a lot of its rivals, it is extremely supple and lies over any kind of debris that you may encounter without any risk of kinking.
The Camo Submerge lead-free leader from Fox comes in fleck-camo colour, is available in either 30lb, 40lb or 50lb breaking strain and is supplied in 10m spools.
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Gardner Camflex Lead-Free Leader
Gardner Tackle needs no introduction to the world of carp fishing and has been creating market-leading products since its inception in 1980.
I am an admirer of many of their products (not least their Mugga range of hooks) and their Camflex lead-free leader is definitely one of the finest options available on the market today.
It is constructed from very strong PTFE fibres, making it extremely heavy and also very resistant to abrasion from snags, gravel bars etc.
This is definitely one of the larger leaders on this list and, unlike many manufacturers, Gardner lists their Camflex lead-free leader as having a 0.60mm diameter (which does give an indication as to why it is so strong and heavy).
Weedy green and muddy silt are the colours on offer, available in 10m spools with a breaking strain of 45lb.
Nash Cling-On Lead-Free Leader
Out of all the lead-free leaders on this list, the Cling-On leader from Nash Tackle is my personal choice for my own fishing.
It is constructed from an extremely heavy blend of PTFE and Dyneema fibres, meaning it really does “sink like a brick” and hugs the contours of the bottom when it reaches it. (Claims have been made that this material is heavier than leadcore, and I can almost believe it!)
Super-abrasion resistant and ultra-strong, the Cling-On lead-free leader from Nash fills me with confidence that it is never going to let me down.
It is available in weed or gravel colours and is supplied in 10m spools. The standard breaking strain option is 40lb, while a 65lb version is available for extremely snaggy venues or for visits to the continent.
PB Products Silkray Lead-Free Leader
PB Products often fly under the radar with anglers who get heavily targeted by the bigger names in the industry and their seemingly bottomless advertising budgets.
I have used many items from the PB Products range over the years and have always been massively impressed by the quality.
Their Silkray lead-free leader is another item that is straight out of the top drawer and a front-runner in the market. It is extremely easy to splice, very heavy and possesses some of the best abrasion resistance of all the leaders on this list.
There are 3 colours to choose from – gravel, weed and silt – all of which are available in 10m spools with a 45lb breaking strain.
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Prologic Supercharged Hollow Lead-Free Leader
Prologic’s supercharged hollow lead-free leader is constructed from a very durable material and definitely ranks among the strongest leaders on the market today.
Its dense loading ensures that it is extremely heavy and sinks rapidly, while its ultra-supple nature guarantees that it clings to the lakebed or any debris that it may be resting on.
Like many of the other options on this list, the supercharged hollow lead-free leader from Prologic boasts a larger diameter, making it among the easiest to splice.
Supplied in 10m spools with a 45lb breaking strain, the only available colour option is camo brown.
Ridgemonkey Sub-Zero Lead-Free Leader
If you are looking for a lead-free leader that is inconspicuous to ultra-wary carp, then the Sub-Zero lead-free leader from Ridgemonkey may well be what you are looking for.
While the exact diameter isn’t supplied on the spool, I estimate this leader to be around 30% thinner than most other lead-free options. While the downside of this is that it makes it more difficult to splice, the upside is that easily-spooked carp won’t even know that it is there!
The low profile of this lead-free leader doesn’t compromise the strength in any way, though I might not recommend this leader to anglers who are fishing venues with mussel beds, deep-rooted snags or savage gravel bars.
A single camo colour is available in 10m spools with 50lb breaking strain.
Solar Tackle Contour Unleaded Leader
Contour unleaded leader from Solar was, I believe, the first lead-free leader to hit the market and is still regarded as the best by many carp anglers.
This is one of the heaviest lead-free materials available (I would say that Cling-On from Nash just edges it) and is also one of the strongest.
It boasts a very round profile, making it extremely easy to splice and its high fibre count ensures that it is resistant to even the harshest of underwater nasties!
Supplied on 10m spools, the sediment black and khaki camo colour choices make sure that there is something to suit every situation, while the 40lb and 80lb breaking strain options are clearly aimed at UK and continental fishing respectively.
Vardis Downfall Lead-Free Leader
Last but not least, we have Downfall from Vardis. This is probably the best lead-free leader that you have never heard of!
Having been on the market for the best part of a decade, this is an excellent product that deserves more attention than it gets. While it is still an extremely popular product, I personally feel that it should be mentioned in the same breath as some of the more well-known rivals on this list.
The PTFE and Dyneema fibres ensure that this is an extremely heavy leader with fantastic abrasion resistance. It is also very easy to splice.
It is supplied in 10m spools with a colour choice of camou green or camou brown, both of which boast a 45lb breaking strain.
Lead-free leaders are fast becoming the go-to alternative for leadcore. While they aren’t as heavy, they are most definitely more supple and, arguably, allow for a safer situation in the event of a snapped mainline.
In my own fishing, I always use lead-free options as I believe that the positives far outweigh the negatives.
What leader materials do you use? Do you use leadcore? Or have you arrived at this article with the intention of swapping over? Please let me know in the comments.