Specialist leaders for delicacy and salt water game fish
- contrasting requirements

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Fly fishing leaders for delicate presentation and salt water types in accordance with IGFA rules.

Silk line extension
Braided tapered silk line extension.

At the other end of the scale and to ensure the most delicate of presentation anglers have developed braided silk line extensions and furled leaders both of which are designed to make the fine tip of even an AFTM 3 fly line alight more gently. Typically these are around 4 or 5 feet long, very light and have a fine tip and excellent energy dissipation qualities. They effectively reproduce the delicate presentation once achieved with silk lines. A fine tapered leader can be used in conjunction with them and this combination makes it virtually impossible to make a clumsy, splashy cast. These are intended for use with small dry flies, less that size 14, and are lovely to fish with when added to AFTM #5 or smaller lines.

There are some special rules for leaders if you wish to qualify for an IGFA International Game Fish Association) record. IGFA maintains and publishes world records for fly fishing in salt and freshwater and has been recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since 1939. They became responsible for world freshwater record keeping in 1978.

Salt water leader
Typical design of a salt water leader to IGFA requirements.

IGFA fly fishing leaders must conform to generally accepted customs and include a class tippet and, optionally, a shock tippet (a shock tippet is a short piece of material that will resist fish teeth, sharp scales etc). The butt or taper section between the fly line and the class tippet is considered to be part of the leader and there are no limits on its length, material, or strength.

Sea bass
Sea bass the favourite quarry of the Uk sea fly fisherman.

Class records depend on the tippet strength used and for fly fishing these are 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16 and 20lb class (and metric equivalents). Class tippets must be at least 15 inches long and made of non-metallic material and either attached directly to the fly or to the shock tippet if one is used. With respect to knotless, tapered leaders, the terminal 15 inches determines the tippet class. There is no maximum length limitation. A shock tippet, not to exceed 12 inches in length, may be added to the class tippet and tied to the fly. It can be made of any type of material, and there is no limit on its breaking strength. The shock tippet is measured from the eye of the hook to the single strand of class tippet and includes any knots used to connect the shock tippet to the class tippet.

The importance of using a good combination of leader line and fly should not be overlooked. Rarely is a level piece of monofilament the best solution and I hope that this piece has helped to explain why and will help you to achieve better presentation of the fly. The three most important contributions to success are the three “Ps”, presentation, presentation and presentation.

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.