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How to hook your leader to your rod without putting it in the guides

I am one of many anglers that guilty of hooking my line to my guide on my rod. It's right there and just begging you to put it there, right? I mean, if they wanted me to put it somewhere else, they would have just put something on my rod that I could anchor to, right? Maybe? No…. well then, here we are!

We know that it isn't a fabulous idea to hook our hooks or leader to a guide on your rod. The damage that could come from it might not seem like it could happen, but it does. I would hook it to the lowest guide on several of my rods, but off the rounded edge so I didn't damage the eye. It was all good until I started noticing that I was scratching off the paint, and some rust had begun to develop on the bare metal. From my previous life in Marine Corps Aviation, corrosion is the enemy, and I have a slight twitch when I see it. I determined that there had to be a better way to store this, so I went looking.

One of my first stops was Salt Strong. I am one of the members of this online website fishing club and have learned quite a bit since joining last September. A recent video showed one of the most straightforward ideas on how to hook my leader to my pole that I cannot believe that I didn't think of it. All you need is a zip tie and a split ring. You hook the zip tie around your pole in a position where it will not move, and you're good to go. BRILLIANT!

I grabbed my 12' Okuma Longitude and started planning this out. I found a solid point beneath the reel seat that would be out of my immediate grabbing area and attached the zip tie. I made a minor adjustment to the ring so that it was where I wanted it and synched it down. Successful landing! I next took my mortician rig and hooked it right up to the ring—no issues at all thus far. Finally, I tightened up the slack in my line, so it was taut, and there my line sat perfectly in line with the rod and no more damage to the guide eye. I repeated this process on my 10' Over The Bar rod and my 7' Shimano FX. All with great results and no movement. My 8' Penn Battle 3 has a ring already on the rod, so I got a freebee there (though I don't know why I didn't see it earlier).

However, I did need to consider my hook placement method after the line was tightened down. Though they were attached, they would still move around and bump into the rod itself. I added some cork from old wine bottles to the hooks, and that fixed the issue. Full disclosure, though, I don't put the cork on all the time. I know, I'm lazy.

A second option is if you have a casting cannon installed on your rod. I still have one on my 11' Sea Striker Beach Runner and use it from time to time. I wrote about this piece of gear, and you can check it out here. I still say it is an excellent tool to help with casting. Ok, back to the point at hand. Attach your leader where the sinker connects to the cannon top portion. It does the same thing as the zip tie and ring.

A third option is to take your leader and hook it up to the reel where it attaches to the seat. I do not love this option however as it is setting up your reel to have the metal scratched up and possibly invite corrosion into that section. Another disadvantage I feel with this method is that you're putting undue stress on the leader right above the knot. I do not want to put any kicks or knicks into my leader as it is a recipie for watching my sinker go flying off on its own without my stuff attached. It is an option, I just don't love this one.

A fourth option is to pick up an actual leader holder and attach it to your rig. I didn't know that these existed until I had a conversation with Ninja Tackle's Matt Poole one evening when we were discussing gear. He sent me some to try out, and they worked out pretty well. My only issue with them was if you overtightened your line, you broke right through the ring, and it was pretty much useless. When I did break it, however, I was putting WAY TOO MUCH pressure on the ring. I told Matt that I was pressure testing it, and he said, "How much pressure were you putting on that thing, man?" An accurate and fair question, but the funny thing is I have only broken 1. The others have held up just fine on several road trips and being jostled around in the surf cart.

The rings are one size but fit all of my rods except my Shimano FX rod. It was a bit loose at the lowest I could get it, but it did its job when I put tension on the line & ring. I fully trust those rings now, and they are relatively inexpensive to get your hands on.

How do you attach your hooks or leader line to your rod for transport? Please let a comment or picture for us to see and learn from you. If you'd like to request something to be investigated or written about, please send me an email to, and I will get on it. Thanks again, now go forth and do good things!

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