"Some guys don't use it. They use mono or braid, and that's all good," Howard said, "but I aways use a 10- to 15-foot 80-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. It's a visibility thing. Tuna are very leader- and hook-shy, so I just don't put huge tackle out there for tuna. They just laugh at you if you do that."
But why fluorocarbon leader and not plain old mono? According to HI-SEAS VP of Sales and Marketing Mike Shields, it's all about having your line disappear underwater.
"Take our Quattro Fluorocarbon line for example," Shields said. "We took our 100-percent fluorocarbon and added the Quattro coloring process that adds a new level of invisibility to your line. Alternating lengths of scientifically selected colors mask the last remnants of the line's visual footprint."
For Howard, all that means is that he can use a line that blends in with the water enough that he can fish with a 60- or 80-pound-test leader that line-shy tuna just can't see as well.
"I mainly use 80-pound-test fluorocarbon Ande leader this time of year, but I will drop down to 60-pound-test on those days when I just can't seem to make the fish bite," Howard said. "Some days you might see fish and do everything right and you put out 80-pound but they won't eat. Drop to 60-pound-test, though, and — BOOM — fish on!"
Howard isn't saying that tuna can't be caught on heavier tackle because it has happened, but overall he tries to scale down and doesn't want to fight fish with a heavy drag. With the smaller leaders, he sets his drag at 15 pounds.
"I might change through the fight once the fish isn't so green," Howard saidd. "I might come up a little more then, but you don't have to fight these tuna like you're trying to get them in two minutes. Let the fish do what it's going to do, and land the fish on its terms rather than yours."