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Fly Fishing Leaders?


Mike G
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As Jonn gets into fly fishing, he will find that the leader is an important link in the chain. So your response to this will help us both.

 

Let me begin by saying that my bigest SM Bass was on a fly, 4.5#, 20". The leader was 7 feet of 10 lb. test mono nail knotted to the end of a WF 6F line. Nothing fancy there though it was a while back. In some fly circuits yesterday and today, there is quite a bit of "lore" around leader length and design. A lot of that comes from the trout side of fly fishing.

 

I was wondering what, everyone else is using for bass these days. Tailor made name brand knotless? Home made tapered? Formulas like 4, 2, 1? Level monon or FC? Do you change up for sinking vs floating flies?

 

Just wondering?

 

 

 

 

 

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After trying virtually everything that there is, I opt for the pre-made, tapered leaders. The furled leaders are expensive...and absolutely unnecessary. The object of a leader is to transfer the energy from the cast, through the line, and then on to the tippet. Level mono cannot do this effectively. Yes...you can MAKE it work, but if you are going to mess with that, you might as well use a level piece of 30lb mono (2 1/2ft), blood-knotted to an equal length of 20lb mono. Then blood-knot a 2ft piece of 16lb. To that, make a perfection loop at the tip. Tie a perfection loop to a 3ft piece of 10lb mono. There you have a crude, but effective "tapered" leader. BUT, hand tied leaders have knots. Knots pick up weeds. Unless you like removing weeds from your leader every cast, stick with the knotless tapered. I usually make a leader last for a whole season. So, cost is not an issue for me. A knotless tapered leader is only around $4.

P.S.-I have never found flourocarbon leaders to be necessary for smallmouth. You MIGHT use fouro, if you are going to Sylvannia. That's about it.

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I second Greg's motion. But I do use flourocarbon leaders (actually just a straight 3 to 6 foot piece of floro) on sinking lines. Flourocarbon sinks so it adds to my straight line connection in aiding strike detection along with minimual stretch. But for floating lines there is a reason to the madness of tapers and it's called energy transfer. It all varies with what you are trying to throw. Actually that would be "have follow" because you really throw the fly line, not the leader or the fly itself.

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Guest rich mc

i also use tapered store bought leaders . nail knot them on.and add tippet or even a middle section if it gets worn or knotted. i also find that a loop knot to the fly makes abig differance when using streamers but not for poppers, sliders . rich

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While I agree with Greg that flouro is probably not necessary for smb and use mono leaders I do use flouro tippets just in case it might benefit fishing subsurface in clear water like the Dupe.Flouro is allegedly more abrasion resistant also and being less visible allows for going up 1 tippet size.When using it I always tie loop knots as other knots including the improved clinch tends to come apart with flouro due to slippage The unimproved can be used but is an inherently weak knot.Since the loop can break from wear caused by aggressive casting and by flies sliding along it I insert the tippet thru the hookeye a 2nd x to anchor it to the fly stopping the sliding and also spreading the strain on the tippet over 2 points ala the dubl improved clinch.Admittedly all this fuss has done me no good lately having lost 4 big smallmouths to breakoffs.But that's fishing. I usually use 1 or 2x tippets for smb.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the comments.

 

Craig's comment made me realize that I asked too simple a question for the 21st Century. Sinking lines (sink the line: float the flie) make 3-6 ft leaders a real consideration. There's more.

 

Back when flies were fur and feathers a single type of leader might do. Now we have the fur and feather kind and a bunch of other models that come with various amounts of lead, brass, plastic, synthetics, and glass built in. Add absorbent materials like bunny, wool, and Bohemian Chenille. I reckon some of these creations weigh close to 1/16 oz. soaking wet. Mine seem to carry a lot of momentum on their own. And the subtleties of a tapered leader may be lost on these projectiles.

 

So I gues for day to day fly fishing a 9 foot tapered leader will alow me to cast the widest range of flies though if I am going into a non-traditional application a level leader might serve as well.

 

PS Clouser's Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass, page 174, made interesting reading on the topic.

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With floating lines I start with tapered 9' 1x or 2x and use until the tippet is gone then add 1x florocarbon 18" to 30" & repeat. Eventually I will build in a section of 0x to keep some taper as the mono is used up. One leader per reel & line is good for the year. Sink tips go straight to tippet 36" or less. I agree with Ron 1x,2x are the start occasionally 3x. Sometimes in clear water I will cast 10' leaders most of the time 7 or 8' is a good working length.

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Leader lengths?

When you peruse a tackle/fly shop, there are so many lengths to chose from.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of,

9ft

8ft

7.5ft

6ft

 

Thanks for your inputs.

 

Ken,

 

This is kind of like picking a fly rod. Do you want a 6' 1 wt or a 10' 10 wt or something in between. The answer is similar too. Start with the fish you are going after, the waters you are fishing, and the flies you will be using.

 

Example 1: SM Bass in small creeks. You choose a 7' 4 wt rod to get in under the brush and avoid spooking the fish in skinny water. 6 or 7.5 ft leaders will be in order because your casts will be short 20-30 feet. you need a little line out to get some load on the rod.

 

Example 2: SM Bass in a large river. You choose a 9' 9wt to throw larger bugs and get some distance. 8-9 ft leaders with an additional 1-3 ft of tipit will be in order for clear water. If the water is weedy or dark you could go to a shorter 7 ft leader since it is easier to cast and visibility is not a big issue.

 

We have already seen examples of using short level leaders with sinking lines and sink tips.

 

Bob Clouser boils it down to this, "Start with the flies you are going to use."

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If I am fishing with a floating line, I use often use Cabelas' bass leaders in either 10 pound or 15 pound test. 0X or 1X trout leaders also work fine for bass. The Cabelas brand leaders are very reasonably priced. I use 8 or 10 pound fluorocarbon fishing line for tippet. This set up works for situations where I will be switching back and forth from surface and sub surface fishing. The fluorocarbon line is cheaper than buying tippet material and it is more abrasion resistant than mono. The fluorocarbon tippet also sinks which makes it easier to fish flies under the surface. Most of the topwater flies that I use are pretty buoyant, so the fluoro tippet works fine for surface flies. If I am using a sink tip line or sinking leader, I also use the fluoro fishing line for tippet. Most of the time my leader/tippet length is from 8 to 9 1/2 feet long. About the only time that I shorten up the leader is if I am tossing larger wind resistant poppers.

 

I have experimented lately with 20 pound saltwater leader material which comes in wide diameter 50 yard spools. Six feet of the the 20 pound leader material and three feet of 0X mono leader material seems to work well for tossing floating flies.

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Hand tied leader formulas are about as diverse as the flies we fish.

 

I think I offered this previously to all my fellow Bass Buggers. I have an Excel based program that I could email to anyone who wants it that shows the formulas for all types of fishing and across the spectrum.

 

Send me an email and I fire it off to you.

 

Mark

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I would like more information on furled leaders. It seems they would be great as there is a loop on the end to tie your leader material. I know one fly fisherman who likes them. What are the advantages/disadvantages? I know they are expensive but it seems they would last a long time due to the fact that you can just keep continually adding leader material? What do you experts think?

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Furled leaders are of a more traditional nature. They were the predecessors to the modern knotless tapered mono leader. They are not bad, as leaders go. However, they are more expensive. AND, totally not necessary for smallmouth fishing. A good tapered leader will work as well for casting a popper, or streamer. Add to that, the furled leader will "fling" water. That is, it will hold a small amount of water, and as you cast, it will throw that water ahead of the false cast. So, if your target is twenty feet away and you pick up to make your presentation again, it will fling that water both forward, and back until all the water is expelled. This means that you MIGHT disturb calm water where a big smallie might be hiding. Admittedly, this is nit-picking. But, it's something to consider.

 

Jonn, if you want to keep your store-bought knotless tapered leader longer, make a perfection loop in the end of your leader. AND, make perfection loop in any tippet material you add to this leader. You can either get a 7 1/2 ft leader, and add 2 ft of tippet...for a 9 1/2ft leader. Or, you can add 2ft of tippet to a 9 ft leader for an 11ft leader. I generally use a 9 ft leader, and attach 3 ft of tippet....but, that's just me. I will get a 0x, or 1x leader, and add tippet of around 10-12lb. It should last you all year.

 

I had a furled leader once. It worked, but it didn't last as long as the knotless tapered. And, it cost me $14, vs $4.

 

Since you're down for the rest of the season, maybe I can get you up to speed on what you might need (based on how I do it), at the first winter meeting.

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Thanks for the information Greg. I think I will go with your suggestions for now. Guess I will have to start learning my knots.

 

 

Who said I was down for the season?! ;) I plan to be fly fishing in no more than three weeks after my surgery. That puts me fishing right during the prime fall bite in mid October.

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Furled leaders are also bulky and likely more visible to the fish.Better to use a use a regular leader and when it's time to add more tippet cut off whatever tippet remains and add a loop in the leader with a dubl surgeon's loop which is just a fancy name for a dubl overhand knot.Then put a loop in the tippet and attach it to the leader loop to loop.The loop in the leader will last for multiple tippet changes.

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