1. The Purpose of a Leader
    • Transferring and dissipating the energy of the cast towards the fly.
    • Aiding in the proper presentation of the fly.
    • Allowing the fly to respond in a lifelike manner.
    • Providing a nearly invisible connection between you and your offering.
  2. Tapered Leaders
    • A properly designed line will have just the right amount of energy left at the end of a cast to turn over the leader and deliver the fly.
    • Continue the dissipation of casting energy.
    • Lines are designed to be cast with leaders.
    • Line will “kick” without a leader
  3. Types of Tapered Leaders
    • Dry or Spring Creek
    • Long, limp, wispy, thin
    • Stillwater
    • Nymph
    • Streamer
    • Needs to straightens very rapidly for an active retrieve and offers immediate control of the fly.
    • A short, large diameter design made with tough, stiff materials is the ticketBass/Panfish
    • Relatively short and stiff
    • Pike/Muskie
    • Made for toothy fishes
    • Steelhead/Salmon
    • Durability and strength are key
    • Saltwater
    • Stiff, strong and abrasion resistant, transparency is less of an issue
  4. The Connector
    • Connector should be 12-inches long.
    • Perfection Loop should be ¾-inch.
    • Should not slip or hinge at the joint
    • A lightweight connection is essential to preserve the integrity of the fly line’s taper.
    • Provide a smooth transfer of energy from line to leader
    • Be as small and unobtrusive as possible
    • A big awkward joint has more of a chance to catch on the guides, pick up weeds, get caught on snags in the water, and increase the air resistance of the tip of the line.
  5. Bad Connectors
    • Braided loop connectors.
    • Braided nylon, which is heavier than water, can cause line tips to sink.
    • These connectors should be dressed with Green Mucilin. Be sure not to coat the tip of your fly line as well; some fly floatants are harmful to fly lines.
    • Metal No-Knot barbed eyelets that insert into the end of the fly line.
    • Whipped loops made with bobbin by folding back the end of the fly line.
    • Epoxy splices made with Zap-a-Gap or CA glue.
  6. Taper Section of Leader
    • The Taper section must continue to convey the loop toward the fly while slowing the fly down so that it does not spin into a spiral or snap like a whip.
    • May not be as long as the other two sections, yet it may have a series of shorter segments with more knots to tie.
    • By reducing the diameter in a series of segments of progressively finer material, the energy transfer becomes less and less efficient.
  7. Properties of Monofilament
    • Nylon
    • Extruded nylon and co-polymer nylons comprise the best leader materials today.
    • Stiffer mono, such as Maxima or Amnesia line offer great material as butt and taper sections.
    • Co-polymer, being softer materials, such as Orvis SuperStrong, Umpqua, Dai Riki Velvet and Rio PowerFlex, make for great taper and tippet materials
    • Fluorocarbon
    • Will sink faster than standard monofilament leader material.
    • More abrasion-resistant; which makes it a better choice for streamer leaders, nymph leaders and saltwater tippets.
    • Near-transparent nature – more so than standard mono.
    • Use a Surgeon's knot with three loops versus the standard two.
  8. 9’ Knotless Tapered Leader
    • Size 14―Tungsten Bead Head Nymph
    • 3X tippet; fluorocarbon or stiff nylon
    • Size 14―Parachute Adams
    • 4X tippet; medium nylon
    • Wind resistant pattern that can twist a smaller size tippet.
    • Size 14―Emerger Pattern
    • 5X tippet; soft nylon
    • Produces slack line “S”’s for a drag-free drift.
  9. Short Cast ― Short Leader
    • Using long leaders for short casts of, say, less than 25 feet, is futile.
    • If you have short casts, where there will be very little fly line to load the rod, there will be very little energy to turn over a long leader.
    • WF-4F fly line has 30-foot head
    • With 15-feet of fly line beyond the rod tip; then you are effectively casting a 2-wt. fly line.
    • The solution is to tie your own leaders!
    • A 4’ to 5’ leader may be best in the Smoky Mountains.
  10. Charles Ritz Leader
    • 60-20-20 Formula
    • General purpose leader attributed to Charles Ritz.
    • Published in 1950 printing of A Fly Fisher’s Life.
    • 60% idea has persisted, although Ritz was working with silk lines and gut leaders.
    • 40-20-40 Formula
    • May be more appropriate for modern fly lines.
    • Designing a leader begins with defining its job.
  11. Designing Leaders
    • Dead-drifting―the leader should not interfere in any way with the path of the imitation in the currents.
    • Active retrieve―the leader should straighten on delivery and provide instant contact between fisher and fly.
    • Bottom-bouncing―leader should withstand a great deal of abrasion & might have to be extremely long to allow a small fly to sink easily, or it might have to be quite short to allow for a particular casting methodology.
  12. Turning the Fly Over
    • Once the leader’s job is identified, ,the angler must consider the way energy flows from the line, through the butt, taper, and tippet sections, to the fly.
    • Energy flow is a function of the cross-sectional area of the leader material, its stiffness, and its overall length. A) the larger the cross-sectional area, the more energy that can be carried; B) the stiffer the material, the more energy that can be carried; C) the shorter the section, the more energy it will transfer forward.
  13. How to Eliminate Drag
    • Slack in the fly line and leader in the form of “S” curves significantly reduces the impact of drag.
    • Drag can be further reduced by minimizing the number of current lanes your line and leader crosses.
    • Leader material should be flexible enough to bend with the cross-currents in the water.
  14. Harvey-style Leaders
    • The Harvey-style Leader is the dry-fly fishers most potent weapon against drag. You can’t fish dry flies effectively without it.
    • George Harvey concluded that slack in the leader in the form of S curves significantly reduced the impact of drag.
    • Famous experiment using live insects threaded with short segments of leader materials and allowing them to drift freely in the current over feeding fish.
    • No significant difference between the number of free-floating bugs taken with no leader material and those with even relatively large-diameter segments of leader material attached, provided their drift was unaffected.
  15. Harvey Leaders―Advantages
    • Designed to minimize the effects of drag and provide the most delicate presentation possible for dry flies and small nymphs.
    • The ultimate goal of these leaders is to induce a series of S curves, rather than simply transfer energy to get the fly as far from the line as possible.
  16. Harvey Leaders―Disadvantages
    • Necessity of tying all those knots!
    • Tendency of knots to pick up dirt, algae, moss, and debris in water.
    • While Harvey-style leaders help produce S curves, it also makes casting difficult in windy conditions and makes longer casts harder to control.
  17. Lg Nymph & Streamer Leaders
    • Require a stiffer leader that can turn over the extra weight and maneuver wind-resistant flies during the cast.
    • Must also be capable of manipulating streamers or weighted nymphs underwater without twisting.
    • Leader must be more abrasion resistant.
    • Underwater snags, rocks, or the teeth of larger fish.
  18. Straightening the Leader
    • Hold it in the stretched position for a few seconds (long enough to say, ”Now you have a new memory” ) and then release it.
    • Do not pull it through a piece of rubber or leather
    • I normally stretch butt section and connector first then taper and tippet components.
    • Replace leader if it has lost its memory.
  19. Braided Leaders―Advantages
    • Greater flexibility than conventional leaders.
    • Tend to cast smoothly
    • Straighten out readily
    • Do not tend to kink or develop memory problems
  20. Braided Leaders-Disadvantages
    • Hollow center changes size as the leader flexes.
    • This traps water in the core of the leader and the casting spray is a difficult obstacle to overcome on glass-slick water.
    • Difficult to mend.
    • Point of hook prone to embed in leader.
    • Flotation is difficult to maintain.
  21. Furled Leaders―Advantages
    • Easy turn over; Straight-line presentations
    • Best suited for lake or stillwater fishing.
    • Less likely to pick up water
    • Line dressings adhere well
    • Not as prone to glare as monofilaments
    • No memory
  22. Furled Leaders-Disadvantages
    • Expensive ~ $15 each
    • A 10’ furled leader may take up to 50 yds. of line.
    • Difficult to mend
    • Drag-free presentation difficult
    • Over-power the cast to get “S” curves
    • Other specialty casts include: Wiggle Cast, Puddle Cast and aerial mends.
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