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Leaders.....stiff or supple?

Michael T

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After making a number of furled leaders, I got to thinking about the physics of a leader. The material and construction can very greatly from one fly fisher's rig to the next. So as long as your cast is reasonably efficient, does the leader really matter? Is it splitting hairs to dwell on leader type and construction? Of course, this discussion should focus on river smallie fishing or the variables increase (toothy critters, sharp gill plates, etc). I want to eliminate any hurdles to fly casting and if selecting the proper leader/tippet rig assists my cast, then what are the facts?


Here's a snippet from a Lefty Kreh article on leaders that made me pause and think: "Nylon can be manufactured in many degrees of stiffness. For years, it was maintained that leaders needed stiff nylon in the butt section and then a limper section forward of that. A fly line and leader deliver the fly to the target by unrolling. At the end of the forward cast, the line starts unrolling at the rod tip and continues to unroll until the leader straightens. The stiff nylon butt section actually defeats the unrolling process. Nearing the end of the cast, the energy is diminishing and the line is slowing. Since a stiff butt section actually doesn't unroll as easily as a softer one, this often results in a spoiled cast.


There is also the problem of a butt section being too limp to carry enough energy forward through the leader to properly present the fly. The answer is to have a heavy butt section of nylon that is neither too stiff or limp. Many leaders today have a butt section that is too limp. A butt section with a heavy mass (a thick diameter) but one that is not too stiff or limp, is the answer."


Well that cleared things up for me! Now I have to find the Baby Bear's leader; one just right. :blink:

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Thinking too much about leaders makes my head hurt. I have been using Cabelas bass leaders in either 10 or 15 pound versions with a flourocarbon tippit since I started fly fishing for smallies. These leaders work well and are inexpensive as leaders go, so I haven't had a reason to switch to anything else.

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