Sinking leaders for fly fishing
- a handy addition

fly fishing tuition and instruction letsflyfish

Fly fishing sinking leaders.

Tapered high density sinking leaders are very useful, normally a monofilament tippet must be added to them but many have factory made loops to make attachment of both tippet and fly line easier. It is important to note the breaking strain of the leader to ensure that a suitable tippet is used and to avoid leader breakage it is normal to use a tippet of lesser strength than the leader.

Sinking leader with monofiliment tippet
Example of a sinking leader with a monofilament tippet attached.

Sinking leaders are made by coating a monofilament core with mixture of polyurethane or PVC containing tungsten to produce a range of different densities from intermediate through to extra fast sinking (equivalent to Type 5 sink rate or higher) and are classified by sink rate, length and purpose such as light trout, trout, salmon, Spey, saltwater, bass/pike, tarpon and bonefish.

steelhead on a heavy fly
Multi-tip lines are perfect for steelhead and salmon.

Apart from the highest density types which contain so much tungsten that dying the substance makes little difference to the shade of gray that is inevitably produced, they can be distinguished one from another by their colour. Intermediate density are often clear and the sinking types get progressively darker as the sink rate increases.

Sinking leaders are a useful addition to floating fly lines as they convert them to sink tips. They are also very useful with sinking fly lines which, unless they are density compensated tend to sink belly first. A faster sinking leader can compensate for this and prevent the line belly (which otherwise would sink faster than the tip) from dragging bottom and snagging. Sinking leaders are commonly available in a range of lengths from around 7 feet to 15 feet.

Rio Power Spey Multi-tip fly line
The Rio Power Spey Versi Tip one of many lines with tips.

Multi-tip fly lines offer practical alternative to sinking leaders for getting the fly down to fishing depth and they are preferred by some anglers because the mass balance of the line is maintained and consequently they are easier to cast than a floating fly line with a heavy sinking leader attached which may be out of balance with the line. Attaching a tip that is too heavy and or too long makes casting quite difficult or in extreme cases well nigh impossible. Multi-tip fly lines with floating, intermediate, slow, medium and fast sinking tips are favourites with salmon anglers. Of course you can also extend the multi-tip lines by using a sinking leader as well and so the permutations are endless. Multi-tip fly lines are available for single and double handed rods in a range of head lengths and with the latest smooth loop connections there is little of the criticism that these lines once attracted. Popular brands are Royal Wulff, Scientific Anglers and Rio Products .

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.