J. Castwell Congradulations Castwell - ya made it!
August 9th, 1999


This is not a definitive treatise on leaders. That would take a full volume. It is intended to only make things a bit easier for the guys just getting into fly-fishing. I have known some to omit them altogether and tie the fly to the end of the fly line. That is not a good thing to do. The leader should be used every time.

A leader does many things for you, all of which improve your chances of catching fish. Leaders are usually tapered, but not always. There are times when a single length of regular monofilament is tied to the end of the fly line and then to the fly. Usually they are short (three to five feet) and are used in heavy water conditions. With the tapered leaders you tie the thick end to the fly line and the thin end to the fly. It is still possible to buy tapered leaders which are made up of level sections of mono tied to each other forming a tapered knotted leader. Many fly fishers make their own to 'secret' formulas to get the just right transfer of power and to deliver the fly exactly as they want it to. Such leaders offer the possibility of knots coming loose and the knots catching on grass in the stream. This can cause a ball, or bunch to form on any, or most of the knots and reduce your chances of landing a fish.

While some of them do deliver the fly close to perfection, I do not usually use them due to the grass problem. I prefer the knot-less tapered ones. And they come in several kinds too. Some are about three dollars and are made of monofilament; some are made of fluorocarbon and cost a lot more. I would think if you are just starting out, you may be better off with the cheaper ones as you will probably tangle them up and go through several while just learning. Remember, fluorocarbon is rather new; many fish have been caught on monofilament leaders.

If you tie your fly directly to the end of the leader you will eventually shorten the leader as you change flies, or tangle the leader due to knots and such. It is best to use 'tippet material.' The stuff is high-grade monofilament and costs more than regular spinning line, but it is worth it. Tie on about eighteen inches or so to the thin end of your new leader. Then tie the fly to the end of the tippet. As you change flies or mess up the tippet and it gets too short, tie on a new piece to the end of the leader. This makes your leader last longer.

You may fasten the leader to your fly line by any of several methods and knots. All seem to work, it is just personal preference as to which you chose, and a great subject if you want to start an argument with your buddies. One of my columns here explains the knot I like.

Learning about leaders and the knots for them can be a fun and rewarding part of fly-fishing; you will change your mind many times over the years about how ong, what weight, how heavy the butt section should be, hard or soft mono, to loop' or not to 'loop,'and monofilament or fluorocarbon.

You may like to read another column on the subject also, it gives more detail. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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