Sometimes I forget. Forget that you have not spent as many
hours on stream as I have. Ok, some of you have, but there
are many who have not. I actually feel I should apologize
to you for my attitude somehow. Maybe that is part of why
we fly fishers are called snooty and elite and stuff. Maybe
it is because we (I) have forgotten how it is for you to be
excited over some of the little things some of us take for
I guess I am writing this mostly for you new fellows or those
just getting into fly fishing. You may still fish some with
a spinning rod, troll for things that need trolling for and
in general fish with whatever method it takes to get fish.
Neat, I sure don't have any problem with that. I have done
all of that and actually would still do it if it was the
better method. But let me give you an example of something
I do not even pay any attention to any more. I just do what
Let's take leaders for an example. I remember using a section
of mono tied from the fly line to the fly. For the flies I was
using it worked great, and still will for some applications.
You may be at that stage in fly fishing right now. Please do
not get upset with some who are trying to encourage you to
spend three or four bucks for a 'tapered leader.' They really
have your best interests in mind. For what you are doing right
now though mono is probably fine.
It's when you want to expand your methods the problems will
arise. The mono will not lay out a dry fly worth a poop. The
thick, (compared to the nice slim end of a tapered leader)
will make a dry fly plop down and even maybe sink. It is
thick enough to be seen more by a fish and may cause refusals
too. Lots of good reasons to step up to a tapered leader if
you are going to try new things in fly fishing. Presentation
can be important at times.
But, if you are going to just sling big bass bugs, hey, back
to the old mono, it will get the job done. However all sorts
of variables can enter the situation. Tippet material is one
of them. It's the section of non-tapered straight mono that
you tie onto the end of a tapered leader. Confused now? If
not you should be. These things are just part of what fly
fishing is about. Learning the mechanics of it. Discovering
the many ways something can be done. How perhaps to do it
better, smoother, faster, farther quieter, quicker; best. Oh,
you tie on about eighteen inches of tippet, sometimes five
feet of it, to the end of your leader for at least a dozen
or so reasons.
At this point I guess you are not yet using tapered leaders
and do not see any reason and you are right. You are very
happy just thinking about fishing and of how you are going
to get out there. That you will have the right fly, that you
will not make the same mistakes you made last time, that you
will use what you learned and put it to good use this time,
that you will get the job done and will feel pleased with
yourself at your success. That is of course, until you get
back from the next trip and vow to never make those mistakes
Back to leaders. Someday you will consider tying your own.
I mean it, making them for yourself out of sections of mono
(special good stuff you will discover) so you can have
exactly the right leader and save a lot of money by making
them yourself. This is a big time in a fly fishers life.
A plateau of sorts. A little like tying your own flies.
But, I am not even going to mention that here.
The day will come to when you give that up too because it
is not novel anymore, you get lazy, most of yours didn't
work very well, your knots came apart, they did not save
you big bucks, the knots caught on grass or moss when you
retrieved them and you lost the fish of a lifetime when
one of the knots got caught on a stick and the fish got
off. (To those still tying your own. Keep at it; it's great
fun.) See how much there is to leaders? But wait, there's more.
These things can be made of all types of stuff. I can't
begin to list them but, mono, fluorocarbon, and 97 different
mixtures of the two just for starters. Do you want yours to
be abrasion resistant, non-stretchy, really stretchy,
invisible, disappear in deep water, strong, stiff, limp
or what? Still not convinced? How long should your leader
be? And how long should the tippet be? And what the heck
is a furled leader, a poly leader, a gut leader, a braided
one or a saltwater one or a freshwater one?
Just look. I have written a whole column on leaders and
for the most part only asked questions. No real answers,
but that is the way fly fishing is. There are always many
more questions than answers. And just when you think you
have the answer, someone will come up with a new question.
So, welcome to fly fishing. Get excited at each and every
step along the way. There is no right and wrong to any of
it. There may be some things that most will agree seem to
work better and let's hope you discover them in your travels.
The important thing is to keep on the road. Stick with it.
It is great fun and will pay you grand rewards over the rest
of your lifetime.
Looking back; it did for me.. ~ JC