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RiverBum Fly Fishing Blog

​Choosing the Correct Leader

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The advances in leader and tippet materials have been amazing over the past several years. I have so much respect for our forefathers that used silk or horse hair….now that must have been a huge challenge. We’ve got it much easier.

On that note though, many angles mis-match the leader/tippet to the type of fishing they are doing. Many just buy one size and that’s it. Leaders and tippet are not one size fits all. Following is a bit of a guide.

  • Dry Fly Fishing: I’m a dry fly guy. I love it. You catch less fish typically, but the anticipation of the bite in gin clear water gets my juices flowing. I generally use either 9 or 12 foot tapered mono leader between 4X and 6X. As a rule of thumb, the clearer the water and the slower the flow, the longer the leader and the finer the diameter. So, in summer flows where the water is gin clear and moving slowly, I’ll put on a 12’ 6X leader. The tippet material I use is always that of my leader or finer.
  • Nymph Fishing: Fluorocarbon is the way to go here. They sink much faster than mono and are less visible. Leader length is largely determined by the depth you are fishing. Since you are using fluoro, which is much less visible than mono, you can go a bit heavier than you would in similar water speed and clarity conditions in dry fly fishing. This will help you out with your inevitable snag!
  • Hopper Dropper Rigs: If I’m fishing two flies, it’s mono to mono. If I’m fishing a dry and a nymph it’s mono and fluoro. Just follow the principles of 1 & 2 above.
  • Streamer Fishing: If I’m using a sink tip or sinking line, I don’t use leader at all. I just use tippet, and not a lot of it. I’ll typically peel off about 4 feet-5 feet. A lot of folks say you only need 3’ but 4’-5’ works for me.

I hope you found this informative. That’s it for now my fishy friends…until next time…..

Tight Lines and Screaming Drags

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