Leaders Made Simple

In my series of blogs I want to help give you the basics of fly fishing and make it a little less overwhelming. This blog  will be about simplifying leaders for you.

Many of my clients are new to fly fishing and find this very confusing.  Often times they will fish for different species when they are home and are often asking me for advice.  We have all been there, I was there and I am there when it come to fish that I don’t usually fish for.  One thing I found is the same techniques I used for bass and stripers were very much the same for musky. I have also found the way I fish for steelhead in NY is the same as I nymph here in Maine. The only thing that might change is the fly. I have always tried to keep my own fishing and what I teach, very simple.

So lets simplify leaders. When fishing dry flies, for trout and salmon, there are many different choices and opinions… but why? I think we as fly fisherman get bored so we think of a better way and then that gets passed to the world which then confuses the crap out of the new fly fishermen and in return keeps people from getting into the sport.

Here is my dry fly leader. A tapered 9 foot 3X leader tied to your first fly, you can use anything from a size 16 caddis up to a size 8 stimulator. Next I tie 5X tippet to the bend of the lead fly using a improved clinch knot, then I tie my next fly. I can add anything from a size 16 caddis down to a size 22 Griffith gnat. Nothing fancy, nothing confusing, this works for 90 % of fishing in Maine. As time goes on you will read and learn about different size leaders but to start with this will work and make it simple.

When I fish streamers, most of the time I use a 6 weight  or 7 weight rod with 150 to 200 grain Airflo Streamer line. My leader is simple. I tie a surgeon loop knot on one end of a 3′ 1x flouro line then I tie streamer on. It’s that simple.

My nymphing leader is also basic. I use a 3′ length of 20 to 25 lb  mono to small barrel swivel then a  6′ length of 3X flouro tippet to the lead fly which is always a big stone fly nymph. Next I tie 5X tippet off the hook bend of lead fly to a smaller nymph of your choice. I add split shot about 18 to 20 ” up from lead fly.

You will find there are many different ways to fly fish. You can make the sport your own and often times there is no right or wrong way to do things, just your way and there is nothing wrong with that. This is just to help you get started and make it less frustrating.