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An Introduction to Fly Fishing by Tony Scott


In essence, the leader is a length of either monofilament or fluorocarbon of a length that is suited to the style of fishing that you are undertaking on any particular day or for any particular situation.

A lot of people use a leader loop fitted to the end of their fly line and simply attach a length of monofilament to this using a clinch knot (see section on knots).

As an alternative you can fit a tapered leader using a nail knot (see section on knots) and if necessary add a shorter length of monofilament using a four turn water knot (see section on knots) known as a tippet.

Fluorocarbon I have found is an excellent material as it is almost invisible to fish and has the added advantage that for its diameter it is somewhat stronger than standard monofilament.

Therein lies the paradox that afflicts all flyfishermen and women. To present a fly with the least chance of the trout seeing the leader, we need a very thin leader, however if we are fishing for larger trout we also need the peace of mind that our leader will take any strains put upon it, thereby encouraging us to use a stronger and therefore thicker leader…………………………..I’ll leave that one with you.

Choice of breaking strain will depend on your anticipated quarry. As a guide 4lb will deal with fish of up to around 6lb as trout can race off at a rate of knots and with some force. Once again it can be worth spending a few shillings extra on a good leader line with optimum strength to diameter ratio.

Leader length will come with experience and knowledge of the water that you fish.
If you are fishing a small stillwater, you may get by fishing the dry fly with a short, 6 foot leader. As your casting abilities improve you will be able to cast leaders of up to 14 feet with ease. Equally small brooks do not suggest long leaders. However if you are fishing, shall we say, a small lake of 12 foot depth and the fish are feeding predominately on the bottom, you will need a leader of at least that depth to reach them, or use an intermediate or sinking line with a shorter leader.


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