Re: line to leader connection.
If the loop on the end of the fly line is too big, you may just have to cut it off and add a new, smaller loop yourself. The welded loops on newer fly lines are incredibly compact. You can use store-bought loops or tie your own, but I think this depends on the type of fishing your doing and the stress that will be put on the loop. The option, which some people use though I do not, is applicable if you make your own leaders or find yourself using the same leader all the time, though with any number of leader changes it starts slowly trimming down your fly line's length. That option is to nail-knot your leader to the fly line, then coat this connection with some sort of glue/epoxy or heatshrink tubing to make a smooth football to run through the guides. This is probably your smoothest possible option but certainly limits on-the-fly leader changes.
Working out a way to convince my university to allow me to hold my TA office hours on the nearby creek...