Peacock Bass are relatively new to Florida waters, the first being placed there in the fifties, with the current population of a Central American strain of the amazingly colorful fish having been placed there in the mid-eighties by the Florida Wildlife Commission. Choosing where to catch them (southern Florida drainage canals and connected waterways) is one thing; picking the right lure (go topwater for some incredible action) is another, and determining the details, like the best line and leaders to use, is important if you want to catch them consistently. And if you catch one, we can assure you it will not be the last one you try to catch and release. The fish – a Cichlid subspecies – does not boast sharp teeth like our saltwater Mackerel, and are unlikely to slice a line with incredibly sharp gill plates like a Snook will do. You can catch a Snook on one cast and a Peacock on another in many of the canals that connect to open ocean, but you are safe figuring that the line and leaders that work for Largemouth Bass in the same waters will work perfectly fine for the Peacocks with whom they share the water.
Best Lines for Peacock Bass
The basic three families of materials used to manufacture fishing line are monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid. These three lines all have unique pros and cons, each of which we will describe here in regards to catching Peacock Bass. Picking line is a personal preference.
Monofilament Line for Peacock Bass
Monofilament line works well for Peacock Bass. It cost less than the other lines, has some stretch and forgiveness, is less visible than braided line, and more abrasion-resistant than braided line. It sinks some and absorbs water and is a good choice for all reels, especially for less experienced anglers and children. It should be replaced every six months to a year depending on how heavily it’s used. The downside is that it deteriorates faster than other lines.
Fluorocarbon for Peacock Bass
Fluorocarbon line is virtually invisible in the water and has nearly zero stretch. It also is more abrasion-resistant than monofilament and braided line. Fluorocarbon is dense and sinks the most. When fishing the gin-clear waters of the southeastern Florida canal system, you will encounter water so clear you can easily see the fish and shadows of the fish. This clarity can often lead to spooking fish that will ignore a lure attached to braided line (braided line is visible if not using leader). Fluorocarbon and monofilament lines can actually be fished without a leader; not so with braided lines. We say actually because you should always use some type of leader. Leader material is going to be of a higher pound test and specially processed for more abrasion resistance than your regular monofilamnet and fluorocarbon line made for the reel.
Braided Line for Peacock Bass
Braided line is what most anglers use today. It has no stretch so you feel every bite and nibble from a fish. Hook sets are instantaneous. It is also very thin. Because it is thin you get longer casts and more line on your spool. It is more expensive but not as abrasion resistant as monofilament or fluorocarbon line, and is very visible and intrusive in the fish’s world. To offset that, you can use a piece of invisible fluorocarbon leader, which is also very abrasion resistant. Braided line does float and does not deteriorate as fast as the other lines. The new braided fishing lines are well-made and have taken over the world of fishing. They work well for Peacock Bass.
Go with light line. A 15 to 20lb braided line is all you need for Peacock Bass. If you're using braided line, buy fluorocarbon leader; it makes the otherwise visible braid invisible where it counts – at the hook end.
Flyline for Peacock Bass
Fly line: Although you are not going to have to cast 100 yards in hard wind to catch a spooked skinny water Tarpon or the elusive permit, it's still a good idea to use a weight-forward line. Flylines come in three categories: level line, double taper and weight forward, also known as Torpedo flyline. It has the weight and diameter thicker and heavier towards the front end of the line, and once the heavy part is out, it effectively pulls the line behind it and makes for better reach.
Leaders for fly line come in two kinds; pre-made and custom tied. A fly leader – often eight feet long – is tapered down so the tip of the line is thinner than where it connects to the main line.
A custom leader could have four or more sections, each diameter reducing in size from where it connects to the fly line to where the fly itself is tied on at the tip. Fly-fishing for Peacock Bass has proven very effective and has a strong following. If you want to try fly fishing for Peacocks, it’s easy to buy a knotless pre-made leader/tippet usually in the 2x to 3x range.
Leaders for Peacock Bass
Simple, use a fluorocarbon leader all the time for Peacock Bass, no matter what fishing line you are using on your reel. Fluorocarbon leader is made differently than fluorocarbon line. Make sure when you make your purchase, the package states that it is Fluorocarbon Leader.
15-pound, 20-pound and 25-pound fluorocarbon leader are the sizes you should use. If you’re in open water, use the 15-pound. Around heavy structures use the 25-pound. The 20-pound is the happy medium. Have all three and be prepared.
Summary of Lines and Leaders for Peacock Bass
Peacock Bass live in the same waters, eat the same food, and other than their tendency to be more topwater oriented, strike the same lures and baits as their native neighbors, the Largemouth Florida Black Bass. There are not nearly as many books out there specifically focused on teaching you Peacock tactics as there are Largemouth tactics. With the sole exception of their lack of willingness to pick up a plastic worm fished on the bottom like a Largemouth will do, they act, behave, and eat the same. Learning about Largemouth fishing taught you a lot about catching a Peacock and if you're good, you can land the trifecta: a Snook, a Peacock, and a Largemouth all on one trip.
Tight lines, and if you catch fish after reading our suggestions, make sure you let us know. You are TheOnlineFisherman.com, after all.