Leaders are basically what connects your fly line to the flies and eventually to the fish. Therefore, it is another vital piece of the jigsaw of fly fishing.
You will hear many things about the Monofilament, Copolymer and Fluorocarbon being the makeup of material that they are made up of.
I have covered some of these in a previous post, a fly fishing kit: a beginner’s guide to essential tackle. So I don’t wish to repeat it in this post. You can check the post about the tackle here.
In this post, I intend to talk about some basic setup of the different fly fishing leaders.
There is a lot written about the thickness. And a chunk of it is talking about the diameter advantages of hundreds of millimetres. Granted, this can be key sometimes. But generally, when we are fishing nymphs, buzzers or stripping lures, this is not a major factor.
Because I know some on the competition scene who use 12 lb or 13lb and catch plenty. So don’t get stressed about this matter too much.
On dry flies, it can be critical on those still days, when you may need a bit more stealth to go lower re diameter.
We now have plenty of competition and mass manufacturing along with research that delivers a consistent spool of fly fishing leaders that you can rely on. We have Wychwood, Fulling Mill, Rio, Hardy, Drenan, Seagur and Grand Max to name a few.
Dry Fly Set up
- One Fly Set up
Some may not find casting easy, as you may be starting up on the road of fly fishing so it’s easier to use just one fly also it will help you in not getting knots, casting etc. This should also enable you to fish and improve your confidence.
I would recommend anything from 5ft to 7ft max for a single dry fly, using anything from 5lb Fluoro to 8lb fluoro. This should give you the strength too, but if you are on 5lb remember you have to be gentle with your takes and play the fish a bit more delicately.
- Two Fly set up
As it says two flies, the dropper just tied on using about 10″ of the same material using two turns of both bits of the line (see below link re knots) where you want the dropper. I would say dropper to be about 4ft from your fly line and the point fly 6 foot, or a simple 5 ft apart each for the flies. Dropper or droppers refer to flies attached nearer the fly line, and point fly speaks for itself.
Poundage and diameter as above, you could taper it from say, 8lb to 6lb, this means using two different line poundages. The first one to the fly line is the heavier one. And the line from here to the point fly the lighter line of the two, you can check this on youtube. There are really good videos there. Or you can check the post on how to tie fly fishing knots here.
Does it make a difference? Not a great deal in my experience, I use 6 or 8lb when fishing dries and just stick to fluorocarbon.
- Three Fly Set Up
Just add another 5 ft to the two flies set in other words, 4ft, 5ft, 5ft giving you a total length of 14 ft, this is long enough, or you could go a straight, 5, 5 and 5ft, making it a 15-foot leader. But 10 foot from the first dropper, this allows you 10 or 11foot to land the fish at the end.
Poundages as above 6 or 8lb are my recommendation.
- Four Fly Set up
Just repeat the three fly set with another 5 ft, but beware you are now getting into a tangled area and also the length of the leader from first to fourth fly 15ft from the first fly to the last. This is key as you will be stretching to play and bring the trout to the net, it can be a battle.
Nymphing, Buzzer, Washing Line, Wet Fly
- One Fly Set
Similar to the dry fly set, 5 ft or more.
Poundage I would recommend is 8 to 10 lb or even 12 if it’s single. But I would stick with 8 or 10lbs.
- Two Fly Set Up
Again just mirror the dry 2 flies set up, I use 5, and 5, meaning 5ft to 1st fly, and 5ft to second. On days when the trout are really spooky and finicky, I would go longer to the first fly, maybe 6ft or even 8ft and then 5ft to the second.
Poundage as mentioned above 8, 10 or 12 lbs.
- Three Fly set up
Once again just add, another 5ft from the above two flies set up.
Poundage same as above.
- Four Fly Set Up
Same as three but adding another 5ft. This is if you are good at casting and fishing three or four flies as it gives you more options and chances. But I feel more it increases tangles in casting on windy days, and when you catch fish on any of the droppers. Also when you get a double or treble hook up, it can make a mess of your leader.
Poundage as above.
Pulling or stripping
1. One Fly Set Up
Again just repeat the single dry or nymph set.
Poundage 10 or 12lb.
2. Two Fly set up
Repeat the set as above equivalent, but you can go longer 6ft and 8ft apart, or 8ft and 8ft apart if you are comfortable.
I use several variances dependent on wind, flies, water that I’m fishing on e.g. high winds and big fish water. I would go 12lb.
3. Three Fly Set up
Again mirror the Nymph and dry 3 flies set up but I go min 5 ft to fly but generally anything up to 8ft the, 5ft and 5ft.
You can longer, but that will be your personal choice and what you can handle.
You could even go 5ft, 4ft and 4ft if you struggle with long leaders.
Poundage as above
4. Four Fly set up
Add another 4ft or 5ft to the three flies set up of your choice.
When I fish 4 flies I go 6-8 ft to the first fly, then 4ft, 4ft and 4 or 5ft to the point fly.
Poundage of line 10 to 12 lb.
There you have clear I hope and not muddied the water I hope.
This is basically fishing with an indicator that come in many shapes and forms but can be a deadly method to fish, the leaders are simple.The leader is dependent on the depth of the trout, you can have a 12 foot or 10 foot leader, use a sliding bung that can be bought from ebay and are easy to fit on line.
If you are fishing one fly you just slide the Bung un to the various depths till you find the fish.
If you fish two then as above use a dropper of around 10inches at where you want the first fly e.g. 3ft and the point fly at around 5ft or 6ft. If you want to fish 3 flies then you just add another fly line piece for your point fly e.g. 4ft or 5ft. I have found 12ft to be the deepest and safest bet for the point fly but 10ft is the norm although on the usul days 3ft and 6 or 7ft with two flies is a killer.
Key Pointers for Fly Fishing Leaders
- Fish what you are comfortable with, e.g. one fly, two flies. Don’t be put off if you can only fish one fly. We have all started there.
- Pick the leader poundage carefully and look for a good consistent one e.g. recognised manufacturer, airflow or fulling mill.
- When tying the droppers on, use spit or water to wet the knots and test the knots to ensure they are tight.
- Use a good knot, water knot or grinner knot. They are easy and quick.
- Change leaders after an active day of fishing, as a damaged leader, will result in fish loss.