Posted on December 08, 1999 at 12:53:05:


By Gary D. Scavette

Fly tying is a great way to pass the winter away in anticipation of Spring's arrival. Don't forget to make sure that you have the appropriate leaders to present those feathered wonders! Leaders are generally accepted as being expendable and just like flys you should have a variety.

Trout Leaders

My freshwater leaders are most often commercially purchased knotless tapered leaders. Although it is possible to make your own smoothly tapered leaders by bloodknotting several pieces of monofilament leader material together, I'm a bit too lazy for this. Today's commercially made leaders are of very high quality and can be purchased in a variety of different lengths, tapers and configurations.

I tie a surgeon's loop in the butt end of all of my leaders. Since I change leaders quite often I prefer the loop to loop connection afforded by having a braided end loop on my flyline and the surgeon's loop on the leader. I have never had this system fail me and have grown to really appreciate its convenience. At the tip I use a blood knot to tie on the tippet

A good selection of leaders for Maine trout water can be found below. This selection of leaders will allow you to throw anything from streamers to blue winged olives in a variety of conditions.

3X7.5ft, 9ft

4X7.5ft, 9ft, 12ft

6X7.5ft, 9ft, 12ft

Sinking Butt leader-5-8ft

Sinking leaders are starting to gain in popularity. As a result of this there are several sinking leaders manufactured today that are a pleasure to cast. Years ago sinking leaders often contained sections of lead or were level instead of being tapered and were very miserable things to cast. Look for a quality sinking leader to be consistently tapered and to be similar in density throughout. This will assure its castability. The best sinking leaders that I have used are manufactured by Airflo. Sinking leaders are a must if you're an early season fly angler! Be sure to try one.

Saltwater Leaders

Unlike my trout leaders I hand tie my saltwater leaders. They are very simple and consist of a three step taper from butt to tip. The butt is 30-40lb mono, mid section 25-30lb, and tip 18-20lb. Both the butt and tip contain end loops. I attach my tippet(usually 12-18lb) loop to loop. The tippet may be mono, fluorocarbon, or wire. This system works well and is very versatile. I use a variety of lengths from 5 to 10 feet. If using a high density sinking line keep the leader very short. I often fish no more than four feet of leader in this situation.

Choosing a Leader

Choosing a leader for a particular condition is easier to do if you understand the physics of how a leader works. It is the job of the leader to allow the energy transmitted through the flyline to gradually dissipate before it reaches the fly. It does this by having a gradual decrease in mass from but to tip. The lower the mass of the tippet the less energy it can carry to turn over the fly. In addition, the distance from the end of the flyline to the fly also influences how much energy is transmitted to the fly. The longer the leader the less energy it transmits to the fly. In summary, as leader length increases the energy at the tippet decreases, and as leader mass decreases energy at the tippet decreases. Energy at the tippet translates in the ability to turn the fly over. This simple understanding can really assist you in diagnosing presentation problems or adjusting leaders to fit a particular situation. Problems that are associated with leaders that are too long and or too small at the tippet are things such as, poor turnover, poor accuracy, and leader twisting. Leaders that are too massive and or too short often cause problems with the fly hitting the water too hard, dry fly's sinking, or spooking fish.

If you have any questions regarding leaders please feel free to contact me at : gary@northeastanglers.com or (207) 338-3741. Until next time, check your supply and be sure that you start the millennium with all the right stuff!

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