Best Fly Leaders of 2019 – Compete Overview

As any experienced fly fisherman knows, you can’t overlook a great fly leader.

Fly leaders play a major role in contributing to overall angling success, and there is no shortage of them to choose from.

In this article, we’ll walk through some of our top picks for any angler looking to add to their collection.

Comparison Chart of the Best Fly Leaders

Product

Our Rating

Price

​Bozeman FlyWorks 5 Pack - 9' 7.5' 12'

Bozeman FlyWorks 5 Pack - Fly Fishing Tapered Leaders - 9' 7.5' 12'

Best Overall

​Piscifun Tapered Leader with Loop-9ft (5 Pack) 7.5ft 12ft (6 Pack)

Piscifun Fly Fishing Tapered Leader with Loop-9ft 5 Pack 0X

Runner-up

​M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Tapered Leader Line

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Tapered Leader Line 6 Pack -Pre-Tied Loop- Tensile Strength- Abrasion Resistance- Low Memory 7.5ft/9ft/12ft/15ft, 0X-6X (7.5ft 3X(2pcs)+4X(2pcs)+5X(2pcs))

Best for the Money

​Rio Euro Nymph Leader - 2 Pack

Rio Euro Nymph Leader - 2 Pack

​SF Pre-Tied Loop Fly Fishing Tapered Leader

SF Loop Fly Fishing Tapered Leader Nylon(6 Packs) 7.5ft 9ft 12ft 0X 1X 2X 3X 4X 5X 6X 7X

What is a Fly Leader?  

A fly leader is a piece of fishing equipment used to avoid spooking a fish. It’s basically a clear, thin fishing line which connects to the heavier, colored fly line. The fly attaches to the leader, and because of its clear design, it comes across as invisible to the fish below. Generally, they are around nine feet in length, and function to provide a delicate fly presentation at the front without compromising the structural integrity of the thicker fly line at the butt section.

Types of Fly Leaders  

There are three main categories of fly leaders that you will run into when shopping at your local sporting goods store or browsing online. They include:

Monofilament 

Like the traditional fishing line, this is the most popular style of line leader. They are super thin and clear, easy to knot and tie. They are also pretty strong in general and are often generalized for specific flies. However, they don’t recover easily from wind knots. 

Fluorocarbon 

These leaders are very similar to monofilament— thin, clear, easy to use. They have the advantage of extra strength and abrasion-resistance but usually come at a much higher price point than a mono leader. They’re also quite dense, so they sink slowly which could be a pro or con depending on your angling style. 

Braided 

Some anglers love braided leaders because they are virtually unbreakable, which allows them to last season after season. However, their design is pretty heavy and can slap the water when used, which is not ideal when targeting shy fish.

What Makes a Great Fly Leader?  

When looking to buy a new fly leader, it can be tempting to pick the first one off the shelf to save time. But do yourself a favor and think through all your options thoroughly. All great fly leaders will have a couple of things in common:

Knot Strength 

As a fly angler, you’ll be tying lots of knots with your fly leader. Because of this, it is very important to get a leader that offers a material that can hold a knot throughout a day. Some leaders are also easier to tie than others, so try to go for one that will enhance the overall ease of use. 

Abrasion Resistance 

To avoid having to buy a new leader over and over again, finding a product that is abrasion resistant can make all the difference. Fluorocarbon is known for being abrasion-resistant, but many other leaders are durable as well. 

Clear in Color 

Fish that spook easily will not bite if they see a brightly colored line attached to your fly. Because of this, a clear line leader is the best option. This will prevent losing shy fish because of an easy fix. 

Review of the Best Fly Leaders

If you’re in the market for a new fly leader, take a look at our favorites list! We’ve compiled some of the top picks in the angling world. 

Bozeman FlyWorks 5 Pack - Fly Fishing Tapered Leaders - 9' 7.5' 12'

Pros

  • Suple
  • Sturdy and Strong
  • Easy To Knot and Tie
  • Doesn’t Hold Memory
  • Nice Value For the Price

Cons

  • No Tippet Ring
  • Begin To Sink After Several Uses
  • Coiled a Little Too Tightly For Storage

What Recent Buyers Report

Fly anglers who gave the Bozeman Flyworks leaders a shot had many nice things to say about the value of the product. The majority of buyers were happy with the strength and suppleness of the leader, with some minor complaints about various aspects including the lack of a tippet ring. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Bozeman Flyworks earns the winner’s spot on our favorites list because of its awesome value and usability. This is a high-quality leader on the cheaper end of the price scale, a rare occurrence in the fly fishing world. We love the strength and reliability it provides and the lack of memory it holds. 

Who Will Use This Most

This leader is a great choice for anglers who are fans of monofilament. The Fly Works leader is the perfect combination of strong and stretchy so it ties really well. It’s also super clear so an angler need not worry about spooking any shy fish that may be around. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

There were various complaints among reviewers who used this product. One thing that came up more than once was the lack of a tippet loop, which isn’t necessarily an industry standard, but some anglers prefer it. One user also claimed that despite the buoyancy coating, his leader began to sink after several uses. 

Bottom Line

Aside from some minor issues, the Bozeman Fly Works fly leader is an awesome product that you should feel confident in using time after time. This is a great monofilament option if that is your bag. 

Piscifun Fly Fishing Tapered Leader with Loop-9ft 5 Pack 0X

Pros

  • Good Value
  • Conveniently Packaged
  • Fairly Abrasion Resistant
  • Wind Resistant Features
  • Stretchy and Easy To Work With

Cons

  • Hold a Bit Of Memory
  • Weight Rating is Lighter Than Expected
  • Knots May Not Hold as Well Without Testing

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers of this Piscifun leader were pleased with its fly fishing performance, citing several aspects of the product that made it super convenient to use, including thoughtful packaging, wind-resistant features, and its stretchy, pliable material. Buyers who were unsatisfied were unhappy with a lack of knot strength in their leader. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Piscifun leader makes an appearance on our list because we love the work the company put in to make it as convenient for fly anglers as possible. From a thoughtfully packaged coil down to the stretch of the materials used to construct the line, this is a design that was made with ease of use in mind.

Who Will Use This Most

Because these tapered leaders come in a multi-pack, are easy to work with, and effective in use, this would be a great choice for beginner to intermediate fly anglers. Piscifun is a company committed to affordable angling, so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank with these leaders.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One thing that could be improved about the Piscifun leaders which was brought up by several users is the quality of the knot strength. One buyer warned anglers they should test each knot before jumping in to avoid the loss of flies and fish. 

Bottom Line

As long as you’re testing your knots, the Piscifun tapered leaders have the potential to give you great success on your next fly fishing trip. With convenience being the primary draw to this product, these leaders are sure to make your angling journey a little smoother. 

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Tapered Leader Line 6 Pack -Pre-Tied Loop- Tensile Strength- Abrasion Resistance- Low Memory 7.5ft/9ft/12ft/15ft, 0X-6X (7.5ft 3X(2pcs)+4X(2pcs)+5X(2pcs))

Pros

  • Supple and Stretchy
  • Super Reasonable Price
  • Good Action On the Water
  • Nine-Foot Length is Great For Versatility
  • Longer Butt Section Allows For Fast Turnover

Cons

  • No Tippet Ring
  • Hold Some Line Memory
  • Average Overall Performance

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers who took a swing with the Maxcatch tapered leader were overall pretty satisfied with its performance as a backup or budget leader. Although some reviewers said they wouldn’t use it as their primary leader, they appreciated the reasonable price and the action it provided on the water thanks to its thoughtful design.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It wouldn’t be a comprehensive favorites list if we didn’t include a great budget pick. We loved the design of this Maxcatch leader, which is why it earned a spot on our list. It measures nine feet in length and has an elongated butt section, a perfect combination for quick and easy turnover. 

Who Will Use This Most

Because this isn’t the highest quality leader on the market, expert anglers may not want to use this product as their primary fly leader. However, the price and design make it an awesome pick as a backup or a primary leader for an angler brand new to fly fishing. It’s easy to work with and effective.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Although this line leader is pretty supple and stretchy, it does hold some line memory which can be an annoying impediment to a day of fishing. It also doesn’t have a tippet ring, which can be inconvenient for some anglers. 

Bottom Line

Although this may not be your primary leader, it’s a great choice to bring along with you to the river or lake for those “just in case” situations. This leader comes at a great price for beginners or any angler looking to save some money. 

Rio Euro Nymph Leader - 2 Pack

Pros

  • Tippet Ring Included
  • Strong Knot Strength
  • Thin and Lightweight
  • Durable and Long-Lasting
  • Strong Nylon Construction

Cons

  • A Little Stiff
  • The Colored Section is a Little Short
  • Tippet Ring Could Be More Strongly Tied

What Recent Buyers Report

Fly anglers who purchased the Euro Nymph leader seemed to be pretty well-acquainted with Rio and believed this product lived up to the company’s high-quality standards. They were happy with convenient features like a tippet ring and the two-toned visibility but wished it was a little more flexible for tying. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This leader earns a spot on our list because, like buyers, we appreciate Rio’s quality standards when it comes to fly gear. This leader is a great example— it is constructed with high-quality nylon, has excellent knot strength, and is durable enough to last season after season.

Who Will Use This Most

We’d recommend this Rio line to any fly angler. It is a great basic leader that provides versatile action for a variety of fly angling styles. It also has some convenient features like two-tone visibility that make the fishing process a little bit easier. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

There were some complaints about the pre-tied tippet ring not being as strong as it should be, resulting in lost flies and fish. If you’re worried about this, you may want to reinforce it before use to prevent any potential mishaps on the water. 

Bottom Line

Overall, Rio is a company that can be trusted to give an angler a great fly fishing experience. This leader is a great choice for a wide array of skill levels and angling styles, which makes it a very easy recommendation from us. 

SF Loop Fly Fishing Tapered Leader Nylon(6 Packs) 7.5ft 9ft 12ft 0X 1X 2X 3X 4X 5X 6X 7X

Pros

  • Reasonably Priced
  • Lays Flat On the Water
  • Very Clear On the Water
  • Super Durable and Strong
  • Loops Are Sturdy and Well-Tied

Cons

  • Twist-Prone
  • Taper is Subpar
  • Stiff Out Of the Package

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent purchasers of the SF fly leader were impressed by the durability of the product. Buyers commented on the strength during performance and appreciated that it was reasonably priced. Others were not so impressed with the tapered design, which they said should be more dramatic. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This fly leader ends up on our list for a couple of different reasons. First, we thought this list wouldn’t be complete without a fluorocarbon leader included. Second, this particular product is abrasion-resistant and durable, a major plus for fly fishing. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great option for anglers who are fishing in areas with lots of shy fish or fish that tend to get spooked easily. This line is virtually invisible and very light so potential catches will not be frightened by a bright color or an unintentional slap on the water. 

What Could Be Improved and Why

As mentioned before, some anglers were unhappy with the tapered design. A tapered fly leader is pretty standard today, but users of this SF leader say that the design isn’t dramatic enough to be effective (the butt section is not thick enough). 

Bottom Line

Although there are better-designed fly leaders on the market, this SF leader shouldn’t be overlooked as a suitable option for your next fishing trip. Virtually invisible and super durable, this is a great pick for a wide variety of anglers. 

How to Tie a Leader to a Fly Line  

One of the first things you’ll have to learn once you’ve bought a fly leader is how to attach the leader to the fly line. It’s a fairly simple process; here is a step by step accompanied by a super helpful video as a visual aid. 

  1. Identify which end is the butt and which is the front; the front will be thinner, the back will be fatter with a loop. 
  2. Uncoil the leader, avoiding tangles. Straighten it up by running it through your fingers. 
  3. Nearly all fly lines will have a loop at the end, so you’ll be connecting the fly leader loop to the line loop.
  4. First, insert the line through the leader loop.
  5. Insert the leader, through the line loop and pull it all the way through. It should resemble a square knot. 

The video below is a great visual aid to walk you through the process; watch it! Be careful, because if you do this process backward, you risk damaging your fly line loop. 

Conclusion 

With new knowledge of fly leaders in your hands, you’re ready to take the next step in your fly fishing journey. Leaders are a small, but important, aspect of fly fishing that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Hopefully, this article gave you some great options for your next buy. Happy fishing! 

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