Musky America Magazine

Leaders And The Titanium Myth! By Craig Sandell There has been a buzz in the Musky community for a few years about the indestructibility of Titanium leaders... Nothing is indestructible! The failure of a Titanium leader came up during a recent discussion with a Musky angler at the Wausau Musky Expo. He commented that he thought that the darn things were indestructible and that he would not have to buy leaders again until his leader broke. He went on to say that the leader did not show any sign of cracking until it just broke in the middle (a solid wire Titanium leader). He asked me if I could explain what happened…I couldn’t, but I told him that I would research the matter to see if I could discover a reason. I got a hold of a couple of metallurgical engineers that I know from my Aerospace days when I was a director of Quality Assurance to see if they could shed some immediate perspective on the matter of Titanium metal fatigue. My question to them opened a flood gate of information about Titanium and its characteristic assets and short comings. I could have written a doctoral dissertation with all of the information that I received. Distilled down, the information stacks up this way: The greater the mass of the Titanium metal product, the slower the rate of metal fatigue…that is to say that a solid sheet of Titanium used as skin for an aircraft will fatigue at a slower rate than a single strand of Titanium wire that is .018 - .025 of an inch in diameter. The reason for that is related to the exaggerated bending and twisting associated with the wire. The matter boils down to a question of confidence. When you use a traditional steel leader, you can tell when it is time to replace the leader based upon evidence of bending and the stress of use. Unlike the steel leader, the Titanium leader does not display any indication that a problem exists regarding the fatigue of the metal. The illustration shown here demonstrates that metal fatigue can exist in the sub-surface of the metal without any external indication of failure.