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Leader Preferences

Joined:
12/28 19:12
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Ive been fly fishing for only about six weeks. But I must confess the obsession has taken over and I find any reason to get on the water. I started with a nine foot leader but have shorted to about 6-7 feet and feel I have better control. Im I wrong in this thinking? What are advantages or longer or shorter leaders? Thanks in advance.

Posted on: 4/23 22:11


Re: Leader Preferences

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2014/7/26 12:37
From Mill Hall
Posts: 127
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You certainly do have more control with a short leader, however longer is normally better, except for streamers in most cases. The longer leader has more of the thin tippet material which makes the leader more subtle and harder for trout to detect. A shorter leader can work with larger flies in most circumstances. stick to your shorter leader for a while and just keep adding length as you go, and in no time you'll be turning over size 18bwos on a 12ft leader.

Posted on: 4/24 4:14


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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It's a balance. Better control and accuracy with shorter leaders. Tighter loops too, so less snagging on overhead stuff, and you can squeeze casts in tighter places.

The drawbacks are getting a drag free drift is harder, and getting deep is also harder. So I tend to think of it as big stream dry flies or deep nymphing favors long. Tight brush or shallow nymphing favors short.

I tie my own leaders and honestly, if I got my heart in it, may adjust my leader dozens of times per day. Tricky currents and can't get the right drift? Or really deep spot and gotta get it down? Lengthen it. Gotta tuck one under that branch and get it right against the bank? Shorten it up. More often I'm lazy and go with a shortish taper, but then add or subtract tippet length as needed. Same effect, but you sometimes end up with a short taper and long tippet, which is less than ideal.

Frankly it's pretty rare that I'm over 10 feet total, so I guess I'm mainly in the "short" camp. Maybe midging in frog water, but I tend to avoid that. For the most part I'm somewhere between 6 and 10 feet for leader plus tippet. Typical for me would be a 5 or 6 foot main taper and then constantly adjusting between 1 and 4 feet of tippet. A brookie leader may be more like a 4 ft taper and then 1 to 4 ft of tippet.

You can also play with stiffness of leader materials, and there's a whole world out there with furled leaders, flat leaders, dropper configurations, etc. Learn to cast first, this is probably too deep for you to dive into at the moment. But as you advance, learning leader adjustments to do what you need at the moment are probably more important than fly choice and all the other stuff we tend to focus too much on. For the time being start short, get on target, and then lengthen as refusals, rather than accuracy begins to become your main problem.

Posted on: 4/25 20:29

Edited by pcray1231 on 2017/4/25 20:54:26
Edited by pcray1231 on 2017/4/25 20:56:52
Edited by pcray1231 on 2017/4/25 20:59:48


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
4/24 10:41
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This is where I'm at in my learning process and I've been trying a lot of weird stuff so I'll share what I know. Pcray said it already, but the short leader means you've got more fly line out on the water pulling your fly around where the lighter tippet material is forgiving to sagging and current screwing with your presentation. I've tried super long all mono Euro leaders that you just lob around and shorter leaders that cast very nicely, but spook more fish and is hard to manage drag.

My current experiment, for now, is double taper competition fly line that's .022" which is only 2 thousandths away from what competition guys are running on those 18'+ leaders. It doesn't cause a lot of sagging or drag and with DT, you've got a nice taper down to your fly so you don't have to lob nymphs so blatantly and you can still cast a dry fly if you want to.

I also agree with you, Pcray, about changing lengths of the leader given the water conditions and this is another place I take a nod from the competition guys and use a tippet ring so I can easily modify the length of tippet. Now I can imagine what you mean by the short taper and long tippet, but how crazy of ratios are you talking about exactly? I'm currently running a really chopped back 9 foot leader with 3-5' of 5x tippet and it casts very nicely. I wish I could say exactly how long the whole thing is but I can't right now.

I've got 7.5' 3x leaders on the way and will be fishing this next week on my vacation. I'm not sure exactly how much I'm going to take off, but I'm going to chop off a good bit and put a tippet ring on the end, running 2'< 5x tippet depending on water conditions. I'm also going to color the end of the leader with an orange sharpie and some black stripes for a sighter. No idea how well it's going to work, but all together I'm shooting for a full length line to fly of around 7-9' depending on water conditions. The lighter fly line, plus the shorter tapered leader will cast very nicely and be easy to detect a strike without having to deal with the drag of heavier weight forward fly line.

I'm still learning myself for sure, so I'd love to hear some critique on this theory.

Posted on: 4/25 23:07


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
2006/9/9 11:22
From New Castle, PA
Posts: 281
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Quote:

Talio wrote:
The lighter fly line, plus the shorter tapered leader will cast very nicely and be easy to detect a strike without having to deal with the drag of heavier weight forward fly line.

I'm still learning myself for sure, so I'd love to hear some critique on this theory.


Uh, well, on the other hand, a heavier line will let you more easily cast a longer leader... ...which will help with drag.

You mention a competition nymph style line. Are you using this as your go-to rig/style of fishing and wishing to make dry fly fishing easier with this set up? I can understand the motivation in that case, but I cannot understand moving towards a competition line and short leader in order to gain any advantage for dry fly fishing.

The whole concept just seems like a backwards way of fishing a light line. Why not just move to a conventional 3wt set up if you are worried about a "heavy" fly line? Frankly, the whole thing sounds like a solution to a problem that doesn't exit, or at least can be solved by carrying a few spools of tippet material.

Posted on: 4/26 6:38


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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Mostly agree with PennKev.

WF vs. DT: fine. For the most part, there is really no difference in the front taper, and many of us in PA don't even use the rear taper too often.

If you got fly line drag, then you have loads and loads of leader drag. I never even really consider fly line drag. It's easy to take care of with casting and mending. It's the micro drag from leader and tippet that drives me bonkers. Weight of fly line doesn't even really enter into the drag question for me. The only thing fly line needs to do is load the rod, shoot, and float. As such, for weight, it's all about what properly loads it at the distances fished. Typically heavier lines for short distance, lighter lines for long distance.

For leader ratios, the old adage of 1:1:1 butt:taper:tippet has some merit for optimum castability. I tend to lean towards longer tippets. So that's probably about my minimum. But I don't much exceed 1:1:2 either, which is when half the total leader is tippet.

Except dedicated deep dredging days. If I know I'll spend all day rolling bottom with lots of weight, honestly I'll use basically all tippet. 5 to 8 ft of 3x, depending on water depth. Then a foot of 4x or 5x. The thin diameter helps it sink and lessens the drag from current. It also enables keeping a tighter line without inducing drag. More sensitivity. This follows the theory of the Euro nymphers. It's not really "casting", per say, more lobbing or water hauls. But when you got a rosary of shot on there, that's true regardless of leader set up. I don't recommend tying on a dry with this rig, though!

Posted on: 4/26 7:27

Edited by pcray1231 on 2017/4/26 7:43:24
Edited by pcray1231 on 2017/4/26 7:45:15


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
4/24 10:41
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Pcray, those issues are exactly what I was trying to combat. I fished a lot of variations of the Euro rig including 30' of 12lbs test to a tippet ring and what you've said is a perfect description of what it's like to fish that rig.

The competition line prevents the sag that causes the drag when tight lining and the shorter, traditional leader still allows you to perform traditional casts and maintains the versatility to cast a dry fly. I was never looking for dry fly advantage because I only ever fish dries if a big hatch is on and nymphs just won't hit. That is rare. If I had to say there was any goal it was to eliminate strike indicators cause I just can't stand them. I wanted something that was easy to high stick, but could still be false and rolled cast. I'm not done experimenting, but it worked really, really well this weekend. 90 minutes on the water I picked out 7 stockers. I still need to tweak it a bit, but I'm pretty close. I'm not sure I understand the reaction to the light fly line.

Posted on: 4/26 8:51


Re: Leader Preferences

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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Well, I'd estimate that deep nymphing like that is only 10% or 20% of my fishing.

Yeah, there are days where it's like that. Winter, early season. But by late April/May, there are hatches. I'm timing and placing my outings around them. It's not all dries. But I may swing wets up in the water column during a caddis hatch. Or float nymphs waiting for sulphers to start up for the day, on a dry dropper rig typically. Then of course emergers, duns, and spinners, and all that fun, on a non-stop parade of various mayflies that collectively happen daily from late April through summer and into early fall. Late mornings in summer maybe terrestrials against the bank. If I get some high brown water I'll work a streamer. On late spring/summer brookie outings it's attractor high floating dries. Toss around big pusher patterns at night.

If you're just drowning lead all the time, not that there's anything wrong with it, but IMO you are focusing on only one piece of what the sport has to offer. And missing what most consider the good parts!

I can't disagree with you're approach for that application, but it doesn't work well for others. I'd encourage you to be ready to switch over in a heartbeat. Being versatile is extremely valuable. Don't have a hammer and take the approach "this is what I do". Be ready to do what the situation calls for. And seek out new situations. It's a heck of a lot easier to hit a hatch than you think, for instance. Just have to adjust when and where you go.

And if all you do is roll lead on the bottom, a spinning rod is a better tool. The advantage of a fly rod is versatility.

Posted on: 4/26 10:13


Re: Leader Preferences

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4/24 10:41
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I totally respect where you're coming from Pcray and someday I may get into it a little more. I think the rig I'm using has a lot more versatility than you want to give it credit, but I will concede that it is not the ideal rig for either of the other two presentations nor a versatile approach. However, I just find that nymphs catch them better. I start with them and so rarely can I not find a nymph that doesn't have me on 4 or 5 fish an hour. While I can respect your overall approach and very much admire the full spectrum that you've been able to explore, I just don't think I'm there yet. I'm still enjoying keeping things simple, catching fish and exploring different waters. Either way, lots of different things work and it's confidence that catches fish, right?

Posted on: 4/26 16:05


Re: Leader Preferences

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You know I wanted to add that I've done some extensive work with bouncing nymphs on the bottom with spin rods even to the point of investing in Joe Robinson's thread lining system. It works better on streamer presentations because you don't have the reach, line control or distance casting that you can get with a fly rod and with my comp line tapered leader system I can do it with literally no weight at all. The other problem is that without a strike indicator, you can't really see the fine line you need to toss tiny little nymphs the way you can see a fly line and leader.

With my system I can cast any size nymph anywhere I want up to 50 yards with perfect accuracy and lead the line through the water with great visibility and sensitivity so a strike is a multi-sense attack. Plus I can still strip streamers and cast a dry fly if nymphs don't work.

Again, I totally respect how you see the sport, but at this point I'm still experimenting with what's working for me and what isn't. In 3 days I may be on something completely different.

Posted on: 4/26 16:15


Re: Leader Preferences

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2006/9/9 11:22
From New Castle, PA
Posts: 281
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Quote:

Talio wrote:
With my system I can cast any size nymph anywhere I want up to 50 yards with perfect accuracy and lead the line through the water with great visibility and sensitivity so a strike is a multi-sense attack. Plus I can still strip streamers and cast a dry fly if nymphs don't work.


Are you saying you cast and fish effectively at 150 feet? I just don't see it being realistic. That's long range for pinner's let alone any other gear, fly or otherwise.

50 feet is far, 50 yards is way way way out there.

Posted on: 4/26 18:19


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 2344
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And if he fished that far, with nymphs, on his Lyman Run trip above the lake I'd be really impressed!

Talio, whether the distance is an exaggeration or not, it sounds like you got the whole nymphing thing down. And that's great, it will serve you well. My advise is still to not avoid new situations. In fact seek them out. And have another spool and leader to be able to handle them.

Whether you like it or not, fate will hand you new situations. Streams are different from one another. What works on the Delaware is a world of difference from a brookie stream, which is a world away from the Letort. Even the same stream varies from early to late spring, high to low water, and even morning to evening. I've seen a lot of guys expertise at one thing, or one place. Yeah, they get good at that. But overall they don't become very good fishermen. When nature sends a curve ball, they strike out.

We all are guilty of backing off to our comfort zones now and then. But IMO you're better off resisting that human tendency.

Posted on: 4/26 18:57


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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Come to the jam in a couple weeks. Fish good water with good guys. See some different approaches at the height of hatch season.

Posted on: 4/26 19:15


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
2011/5/3 12:22
From Morgantown, PA
Posts: 949
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Fair warning...not all of us at the Jam are good FFerman. Some of us can hold our own at drinkin' beer though. So that's good.

Posted on: 4/26 20:50


Re: Leader Preferences

Joined:
12/28 19:12
Posts: 26
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Thank you all for your responses. I got a lot of great info and. will experiment in the river. Regardless I heard a good word I will take to heart versatility! Im open to learn new ways.! Ive been a rod and reel guy in salt and fresh for 36 of my 42 years and thought I would simply pick up a fly rod and be a wiz. It has not been the case.Ive been,frustrated,annoyed, and at the point of chucking my rod my first trip out. But I haven't given up and continue to try and watch videos. I'm thinking of maybe hitting one of your fish jams. when I can cast a little better. I dont want to look like a complete idiot(still have some pride)

Posted on: 4/26 21:43



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