Image above: 12ft Power Strike 4x Leader, 5x Egor tippet, size 16 LDO Cdc Nohackle, 3,2lbs of beauty and one happy Norwegian doing demo in Cumbria a couple weeks ago.
In the northern hemisphere, the winter has finally started to resign after one of the longest and snowiest winters for decades. Reports from other places in Europe also shows a slow start to the season. Here in Norway the season has started in the western and southern parts along the coast, but it is still a few weeks until it really kicks off in the eastern and central parts. So still plenty of time to tie those early season midge- and mayfly patterns and to fill up your inventory with “bread and butter” products such as leaders, tippet material, line dressing and floatant. In this article I would like to share a few leader setups I like to use for dry fly and nymph fishing in lakes and rivers. Maybe you’ll like them too.
General Leader physics
Selecting the correct leader for your type of fishing is of utmost importance when it comes to presenting the fly the way you want it. There are loads of leaders on the market and they might look the same at first glance. When you read “9ft and 4X” on the package, you might think it’s just the packaging the brand name that is the whole difference? That is not the fact. The length of the butt section, taper and tip can be very different. A long butt and taper section will give a good transfer of power, and a smooth transition forward. It will have good turnover and will give you the possibility to use long tippets. A short butt, short taper and long tip will not have the same turnover and the possibility to further increase the length of the leader and customize it after your preference.
Tapered Leaders – POWER STRIKE
Our Power Strike Leaders are made of the finest Japanese Copolymer materials and are super for building up long leaders that present well. Beginners can use them as they are straight out of the package or tie a short extra piece of tippet on them. I think you should experiment with longer leaders and get used to them, it will most likely give you more fish! The further we can distance our fly from the fly line, the better it is. Longer leaders mean added distance from the impact on the water when you lay down your fly line. You can have more slack in your leader when downstream river fishing. You can present- and false cast upstream with less risk of spooking the fish. These leaders have supreme turnover and are easy to cast.
For my dryfly- and nymph fishing I use the 3x, 4x and 5x version of these leaders. Moreover, I build them up after my preference. Here are my favourite setups.
9ft Power Strike Trout
Beginners, Small Rivers, tight spots and Nymphing
If you are a beginner the 9ft leaders are your preferred choice. If you add about 70-80cm of tippet you will have a leader that turns over very easy. Remember one thing: If you have a 5X leader you should not add a stronger tip to the leader unless the 5X part of the leader is worn out after changing tippets. You have to add the same dimension or thinner. I like to use the 9ft leader when I fish in smaller rivers, overgrown lakes (fishing from shore) and when I am upstream nymphing.
Above you see the leader in grey out of the package. The blue part is a wear and tear part that I tie to the leader with a surgeons knot for keeping the taper intact when I change tippet repeatedly. This part is normally the same diameter as the leader or one step down. The red part is the tippet and the length is adjusted to what- and how I’m going to fish. For dry fly fishing I normally tie on 1-1,5 meter with tippet material. If I fish upstream with a strike indicator I use from 70-100cm depending of river depth, speed and size of nymphs. If you are casting heavy nymphs upstream you might want to have a 3X leader for better turnover. A good general tip for dry fly fishing is to buy 4X leaders, tie a 4x wear and tear part on it and then tippet of your choice 4x to 6x. If you want to go below 6x you want to tie a 5x part to the leader and then 7x or thinner.
12ft Power Strike Trout
Rivers and Lakes – My favourite
This is my all-time favourite leader. I like to fish it in larger rivers and lakes. With a 3x or 4x leader of this type I can build up leaders that are over 20ft long and still manages excellent presentations with ease. If it is a bit windy and I want to use big flies and thicker tippet diameters like 3x and 4x I go for the 3X leader. I do the same if I fish in places where the trout is big and not spooky. But my go-to leader for my normal fishing is the 4X version tied up as below with tip diameter after the conditions. Normally I manage well with 4 to 6x tippets for my fishing and can have 4x in the blue part.
The Polyleader Setup
Polyleaders offer a lot of flexibility, more powerful turnover than mono leaders and the possibility of using even longer leaders if you like. They are also a very good option for beginners that struggle with presenting the leader nice and straight on the water. Polyleaders also are a good option for both nymph- and lighter streamers on your dry fly rod.
For my dry fly fishing with a #4 or #5 wt. rod I like the 8ft Light Trout leader. I start by making a loop in the front end monofilament core or tie in a tippet ring. Then I will tie on a wear and tear part like on the other leaders. If you like, you can actually make a front taper to the leader. Start with 50-60cm 3x and then 30cm 4x before you tie the tip to the 4x piece. The tip can be long, 1,5m is no problem. My friends and I use this kind of setup a lot when we do upstream dry fly presentations in a very hard-fished river. We build leaders up to 25ft. The long leader allows us to cast straight over the head of the trout and present the fly a long way upstream and we never have the flyline flying back and forth over the fish’s head when we are false casting.
So which option will you try out? They are all good and this article is meant as guidance for the beginner and maybe new inspiration for the more proven angler.