How to Extend the Life of Your Fly Leaders

Your leader is arguably the most important part of any fly fishing rig you cast. A properly tapered leader is often the difference between a good cast and a pile cast that spooks the fish you are casting at. While leaders don’t necessarily break the bank, they can get expensive if you are having to replace them multiple times during your fishing trip, so we’re here to show you a few ways we make our leaders last as long as possible!

Check Your Leader Every Cast

The first, and simplest way to extend the life of your leader is to check it after every few casts. Often times you can catch a knot forming, wind knots in your leader can both cause you to lose a big fish and will mess with the way the leader turns over your flies. You should also check your leader for abrasion or knicks which will also lead to more break-offs if you don’t pay attention.

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Tippet Rings & Barrel Swivels

Tippet rings and barrel swivels may be the best 2 pieces of fishing technology that will benefit your leader the most. Simply tie one on to the end of your new leader, and attach your tippet to it. This way you will only break off at the ring or swivel and not somewhere higher on the leader. It will also make switching out tippets much quicker on the water. To learn more about using these 2 tools, check out our blogs: “How to Use Tippet Rings” and “How to Set Up a Zero-Twist Leader“!

Make Sure You’re Using the Correct Knots

The knots you use to tie your leader up need to be the right ones. Whether you’re connecting Fluoro to Mono or 2 sizes of material that are different diameters, knot choice can be the difference between staying tight to the fish of your dreams, and a snapped leader. When attaching 2 leader materials of different diameters we’d recommend utilizing the Blood Knot, and when attaching 2 different materials (i.e. monofilament to fluorocarbon), you should be using a Double Surgeons Knot. If you need to tie a loop for the butt-end of your leader, the perfection loop should be your knot of choice!

Reduce Your Wind Knots

Photo by Holden Asmus

Wind knots are a fly leader’s worst enemy, primarily caused by casting errors, they can appear seemingly out of nowhere and cause you to either lose fish or mess up your presentations. They can also cause drag on the surface when fishing dries, which will cause trout to avoid your presentation or spook. To prevent wind knots, we’d recommend practicing your cast in different conditions to ensure you can handle whatever wind Mother Nature sends your way.

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One thought on “How to Extend the Life of Your Fly Leaders

  1. Rick B October 27, 2019 / 9:33 am

    You overlooked the best tippet/leader splicing knot available: The Infinity Tippet Knot is easier, faster, more reliable, and stronger than the three traditional knots mentioned.

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