Monday, May 6, 2013

Leader Formulas for Fly Fishing


It's the time of the year to start thinking about retying my leader.  "The time of the year" can more accurately defined as "it's the 5th trip of the year, and man my leader sucks...Is this 0X or 3X at the end of it?"  I like to tie my own leaders for a number of reasons:

  1. It's less expensive,
  2. I can look at my leader and I can figure out the diameter easily compared to knotless leaders,
  3. They perform better than store bought tapered leaders, and
  4. Vonnegut wrote that the purpose of life is to fart around, and tying leaders in the spring seems like a pretty good way to positively waste some time.

Here are a few good leader formulas that I have used that work well:


From the Way of the Trout by MR Montgomery
Inches                             Diameter
36                                   .021
16                                   .019
12                                   .017
6                                     .015
6                                     .013
6                                     .011 (0X)
6                                     .009 (2X)
20                                   .007 (4X) tippet

From Trout Tactics by Joe Humphrey, leader formula attributed to George Harvey
Inches                             Diameter
10                                   .017 stiff
20                                   .015 stiff
20                                   .013 stiff
20                                   .011 (0X) stiff
12                                   .009 (2X) soft
18                                   .008 (3X) soft
22-28                              .007 (4X) soft tippet

Remember that the tippet length should be adjusted depending on the fly you are using.  For example, if you cast a dry fly and the fly falls back upon the tippet when it lands, the tippet is too long.  Also, if you cast the fly and the tippet straightens out, the tippet is too short.  What you are looking for is the leader to fall on the water in soft curves, which should should help give you a drag free drift.

Also, some people like to use stiff mono for the first part of the leader, and then softer mono for the rest.  The stiffer monofilament allows for the energy to travel more efficiently down the leader when casted, and then the softer mono should help reducing drag.