Best Fly Fishing Leaders

Many fly fishermen concentrate on several important elements within the flycatcher equipment, such as sugarcane, the line, and even the reel. But sometimes we forget that one of the most critical elements is the leader. If not well cared for or armed, can make the day fail. Even more, despite being using the same fly, practically in the same place and with the same trout, an angler manages to deceive several trout. In such situations, it is very likely that the leader – that thin nylon that joins the line to the fly – is the culprit.

What role does the leader play?

The first function is almost obvious: it is a piece of translucent nylon, between 2 and 4 meters long, that joins the line with the fly, but invisible to the fish. Without the leader, it is impossible to tie the fly directly to the line: it is too thick to pass through the eye of a fly, and it is also ridiculous to try to present a delicate imitation of a natural insect, which is attached to a thick wire.

The second function, as important as the first, is to transmit the energy of the moving line, gradually to the fly, so that it finally falls delicately at the end of the launch. This transmission has the keyword: “gradual”. The leader has to have a graduated thickness, that is, thicker towards the end that connects to the line and thinner towards the end of the fly. This thickness difference allows the efficient transmission of the launch energy forward.

The ultimate property of the leader is to maintain the union from the fisherman to the fly – and ideally, the fish that stung – without cutting, even though its thinner end, which goes with the knot to the fly, is the most delicate link Of the whole fishing fleet. If it is to be cut somewhere, practically in all cases, it is cut in the final stretch, in the knot of the leader to the fly

What types of leaders are there?

Nowadays, they are practically produced only from monofilament. That is, the leaders come from the factory in a package that identifies the total length of the leader (between 7 and 12 feet, that is, between just over two and almost 4 meters long). It is probable.

Also today, there are intermediate models as far as tradition, since instead monofilament leader, they are armed by hand with several pieces of nylon of different thicknesses. That is to say, taking the piece of greater thickness. Then the one that has a degree less thickness.

Anatomy of a Leader

Perfection Loop

Most tapered leaders will have the perfection loop already tied into the butt of the leader. This is a loop that will marry to the loop on your fly line and make attaching and detaching your leader a snap.

Butt Section

The butt section of a leader is a stiff, heavy part of leader closest to the fly line.


The taper forms a gradual decrease in the diameter of the leader, bridging the gap between the thick butt section and the tin tippet.


The tippet section is the level portion of the leader nearest the fly. The diameter of the tippet is what classifies the X factor of the leader.

What’s the deal with fluorocarbon?

Most leader and tippet is made out of nylon. Standard nylon leader and tippet have worked well for decades, but these days fluorocarbon has come on the scene and become the preferred type of leader material for many anglers fishing subsurface. Fluorocarbon refracts light at the same index as water. This just means that fluorocarbon becomes nearly invisible once it enters the water. This has obvious benefits when fishing to spooky fish or areas where angling pressure is high. With more anglers on the water than ever these days, fish see a lot of leader floating past them. With fluorocarbon, you can virtually eliminate the possibility of fish seeing your tippet. So why not just fish fluorocarbon all of the time? For one, it tends to be denser than normal nylon and therefore sinks. This is another added benefit when fishing subsurface with nymphs or streamers, but it is a problem when fishing floating lines with dry flies. It also can be three to four times more expensive although prices have really come down recently.

So what’s the bottom line? If you can afford it, buy fluorocarbon for fishing sub-surface. You’ll eliminate one more variable as you begin fly fishing, and reduce the chance of fish seeing your leader. Although buying full-length fluorocarbon leaders is a plus, it’s adequate to simply buy spools of fluorocarbon tippet and attach it to your normal leader. Buy normal nylon leader, and tippet for fishing the surface with dry flies is a good idea. I always have both styles on hand.

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