Fly fishing leader design
- the finer points

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Choosing and designing fly casting and fly fishing leaders.

The permutations of leader materials, lines, flies and purposes make it possible to design millions of different leaders. Fortunately, you don’t need to do that all you have to do is to remember the basic time proven rules that will allow you to produce a workable leader quickly when required. Of course you can avoid the calculations if you wish by looking at the many leader formulae that are on the internet.

steve rajeff distance leader
Steve Rajeff's distance casting leader originally tied with Maxima monofilament

I have provided as an example of leader design one of Steve Rajeff’s designs. This is a superb leader for casting demonstrations or for doing APGAI and FFF instructors exams, the comparatively heavy butt works very well with the suggested taper and tippet on lines around AFTM 7 and 8. Steve recommends Maxima nylon for this but I have used a variety of materials and so far I have not been disappointed with the results. The tippet section can be extended if the wind is favourable. The illustrations show some typical leader designs, the first is a simple knotted leader and the others are continuously tapered manufactured leaders.

light tapered trout leader
Knotted three section leader for general purpose use.
Tapered leader for trout
Long point and light tapered leader for excellent dry fly presentation.
salmon fly fishing leader
Leader with a long stout butt and short tapered point for turning over large flies.

If making your own tapered leaders is too much bother or you dislike the necessary knots there are lots of continuously tapered leaders available to suit most fresh water and salt water fly fishing purposes.

Typically you can choose from copolymer, nylon or fluorocarbon monofilament and these are normally rated by the “X” sizes of the finest part of the leader, that corresponding to the tippet of a hand built leader. After use when the leader tip may be shortened a tippet section can be added to them or if for instance you wish to have a longer or finer leader the same solution can be used. Materials carefully are chosen by the manufacturer to suit the purpose and ensure that within the expected temperature range the leader will straighten easily and deliver the fly well. Like hand made leaders, continuously tapered leaders comprise a butt section, taper and tippet, the lengths, diameters, strength and characteristic of each being chosen for the use in mind. Presentation is paramount and the correct choice of leader to make casting easier, present the fly better and hopefully hook a few more fish.

Fly fishing leaders

Fly casting leader
Fly leader knots Fly leader design
Sinking leaders Salt water leaders
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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.