Making wind-on leaders that don’t suck – A Complete How to Guide

If you fish for big game like swordfish, marlin, tuna, or shark – a well-made wind-on leader is a critical component of your rig. Not only does the wind-on serve as a shock absorber for aggressive bites and blistering runs, it’s the heart and soul of your leadering efforts once you get the fish to the boat.

Having worked at several tackle shops through the years, mostly behind the rigging counter, I’m amazed by the number of anglers who come in looking to have a wind on spliced into their line.  While it’s a time intensive process to get it done right, with a little practice you can get good at rigging wind-on leaders quickly. I’m a fan of the “tie your own rope” approach to fishing and as any digitally inclined angler tends to do, I research how other sport fishermen around the world are building their rigs.

While there are dozens of resources on youtube and google for making a wind-on leader, I thought i’d consolidate a few of my favorites here.  As a starting point, be sure to build a wind-on leader that is specifically made for the type of fish you’ll be chasing.  A wind-on leader for swordfishing is very different than a wind on leader for shark.  While you can get away with a heavier rig in most instances, I encourage you to rig specifically for the gamefish you will chase most often.

Regardless of the wind on you plan to make, there are several critical ingredients you will need:

  • Pack of Mamoi or LP leader line (I keep an inventory of 150#, 200#, 250#, and 300#)
  • Stainless crimping sleeves (assorted sizes)
  • Industrial crimping tool
  • Splicing kit
  • Heavy Dacron line
  • Wax thread
  • Rigging needles
  • Zap a gap
  • Bottle of Zacapa 23 (keeps the nerves calm)

Any decent tackle shop in your area should have these items in stock (less the Zacapa 23) but you can also order them online at Capt Harrys or

If you’re like me and prefer to read about the process before watching an instructional video, here’s some of the better “How to” editorials i’ve found:

…and once you’ve thoroughly confused yourself reading tutorials, here’s the official IGFA video tutorial for making a wind-on (this is my favorite style).

There are literally dozens of videos on youtube which highlight how to make a wind on leader, but i’ve found the IGFA video to be the best so far. It’s perfectly fine to be creative and modify the wind-on leader system to your specifications.  In sportfishing, there is no “perfect” way to rig your gear…everyone has an opinion and everyone fishes differently.  Ultimately, you should learn the basics and stick with what works for you.  Just bear in mind that you may find yourself hooked up with the fish of a lifetime when you least expect it…so rig right the first time and make sure you trust your rigging 100% before sending it over the side!


Capt. Charlie Ellis

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Captain at Miami Fishing Charters LLC
Capt. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Bluefin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks. Capt. Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur.
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