What is a Fly Fishing Leader?
Most people just getting into fly fishing ask us , “What is a fly fishing leader?” We thought this fly fishing leader article might be helpful.
A fly fishing leader is a length of thin, transparent line that is attached to the front end of the fly line and to the rear end of the tippet material, forming an important component of a fly angler’s terminal tackle. Fly fishing leaders, whether hand-tied by an angler or pre-packaged and sold at a fly shop, are generally tapered, consisting of a thick level butt section, a tapering midsection, and a thing level terminal portion called the tippet.
Fly fishing leaders perform two basic functions. First, their taper allows energy to travel seamlessly from the weighted fly line to the terminal tackle, preserving the power created by the casting stroke and delivering the relatively weightless fly to the target as efficiently as possible. A well-balanced fly fishing leader is responsible for that sweet unfurling action at the end of a perfect cast.
The fly fishing leader’s second function is to create a length of lighter, transparent line between the heavier, opaque fly line and the fly lure itself. This section of “hidden line” will help minimize the impact of a heavy fly line on the water’s surface near the target fish and will help mask the conspicuous presence of a colored fly line in the target fish’s feeding lane.
An effective fly fishing leader must be strong and flexible to perform its basic functions and accordingly, there are a variety of durable and supple synthetic materials employed in leader construction. The two most common leader types are fluorocarbon fly fishing leaders and nylon fly fishing leaders.
Fluorocarbon fly fishing leaders work well when presenting your fly below the water’s surface…as they sink. They’re best used when nymphing for trout or saltwater fishing. They’re abrasion-resistant and almost invisible in water. However, they are relatively expensive and bad for the environment, as they they degrade extremely slowly. Best to just use nylon fly fishing leaders, or at least use fluorocarbon fly fishing leaders in very limited situations.
Nylon fly fishing leaders are considerably less expensive than fluorocarbon fly fishing leaders and are much more supple than their heavier counterparts, making them an excellent choice for dry fly fishing for trout. Delicate presentations and high floatation are almost guaranteed by today’s modernized and improved nylon fly fishing leaders. Blended of a special mix of copolymers, the nylon fly fishing leaders available today are of nearly the same density as water, making them excellent for surface fishing with dry flies in a favorite spring creek.
As a general rule, when fly fishing for trout, use a freshwater fly fishing leader. When chasing bonefish or striped bass, us a saltwater fly fishing leader. Following manufacturer’s recommendations as to what leader to use for what fish makes the process of choosing a leader simple.
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