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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 08-28-2012, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: Leader building

I agree with Nickle and Dean Montana, too much frictional heat (like pulling through leather or rubber) is potentially weakening. Stretching by hand and slowly releasing is fine but here is one more method for perfectionists: Take your leader, tie a perfection loop in the butt end and tie a weight like a good sized nut on the tippet end. Soak in luke warm water for 15 min. or so (nylon is porous and, left long enough, absorbs water), then hang the leader by its loop high enough so the weight dangles. When dry and cool it will be straight as an arrow.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: Leader building

Or, and this isn't sarcastic, keep your gut leaders in your leader book between the damp felt pads. When you need one at streamside, take one out, soak it in the stream for a minute as a precaution, and it will quickly straighten right out.

Leonard M. Wright still used gut leaders into the 1970's, IIRC. I haven't tried them because with my poor casting, it would be polishing a turd.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Leader building

The New York Worlds Fair at which DuPont introduced "NY"lon, made angling accessible to all. If we were to rely on gut leaders, most of us would not be fly fishing and non of us would be pursuing large saltwater species. Nylon, I would suggest, is the seminal modern material making fly fishing available to us all. Just draw your knots tight and eschew leather/rubber leader straighteners.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:10 PM
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Default Re: Leader building

I also use the method of drawing the leader through my hands creating enough friction to warm the material up. The extra step I use is to hold the stretch until the material cools. This doesn't take much extra time at all and seems to work quite well.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:50 PM
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Default Re: Leader building

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Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
I agree with Nickle and Dean Montana, too much frictional heat (like pulling through leather or rubber) is potentially weakening. Stretching by hand and slowly releasing is fine but here is one more method for perfectionists: Take your leader, tie a perfection loop in the butt end and tie a weight like a good sized nut on the tippet end. Soak in luke warm water for 15 min. or so (nylon is porous and, left long enough, absorbs water), then hang the leader by its loop high enough so the weight dangles. When dry and cool it will be straight as an arrow.
But unless you are fortunate enough to be living streamside where you fish, you have to do something with that straight 9' leader to get it to the river...which usually involves coiling it up tight. Or I guess if you could leave your rod rigged then it would stay straight. Maybe a "leader tube" is needed, like a 9' long case to hold them rigged taut on the way to the river...ooo, I might be onto something!

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Old 08-29-2012, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Leader building

I hate having a crooked leader when on the water! I find it especially necessary to have a straight inline cast when fishing technical waters where presentation is paramount. Part of it is mindset knowing my leader isn't perfectly straight (just bugs me) the other part is functionality, I like my presentations to be good when I'm fishing dries and emergers.

I like sweetandsalts idea of hanging my leaders with enough weight on the end to straighten em out. I have this pictured in my head; leaders lined up on my garage wall straight as an arrow. I'm actually thinking of purchasing the Vac Rac combi short haul external magnet for my truck to keep my rods lined when I'm running and gunning a certain river I fish where theres four different access points all by vehicle. I have broke two tips just putting my rod in the back of my truck because I'm to lazy and excited to break it down to get to the next river access.

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Old 08-29-2012, 10:57 AM
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Default Re: Leader building

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Originally Posted by nickel View Post
I hate having a crooked leader when on the water! I find it especially necessary to have a straight inline cast when fishing technical waters where presentation is paramount. Part of it is mindset knowing my leader isn't perfectly straight (just bugs me) the other part is functionality, I like my presentations to be good when I'm fishing dries and emergers.
It's often better to have some slack curves in your tippet to help eliminate drag. If you have a "perfect" cast and arrow straight line, leader to fly it would be impossible to get a natural drift across multiple currents.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: Leader building

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Originally Posted by dean_mt View Post
It's often better to have some slack curves in your tippet to help eliminate drag. If you have a "perfect" cast and arrow straight line, leader to fly it would be impossible to get a natural drift across multiple currents.
The problem I am referring to with coils and a crooked leader is the butt section of a tapered leader. This is the more difficult section to straighten as it is of thicker diameter. Multiple currents don't always attest for a stealthy presentation. A lot of times an S-curve cast, puddle cast, reach mend, parachute cast, or basic curve cast are necessary to get your fly to the right landing zone across multiple currents to give your fly more time drag free. Technical waters I am referring to in my post are rivers or sectons of a river that has slack water or gin clear water 3-5 feet deep slow moving. An example would be Fall river CA, Hat creek CA, or sections on the Stanislaus river. This is where it is of upmost importance to have a stealthy presentation. Laying your fly down on the water like an old dog next to the fire.
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Old 08-30-2012, 08:19 AM
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Default Re: Leader building

Nickel and Dean, Of course a straight leader enables the caster to articulately generate the controlled deviations from straight requisite for technical presentation purposes. The spool memory coils in larger diameter mono (on a newly built leader) when effectively straightened in the warm water, hanging with weight concept will not return by being wound on your (large arbor) reel overnight in anticipation of angling the next day, though leaving your rods rigged sure helps maintain their straightness.


To put a finer point on this leader thread, I'll refine my leader use discription by saying I use a hand built mono leaders in fresh water from 6-weight north and a more steeply tapered, hand knotted fluorocarbon leader in the salt. For my technical floating fly presentations (which is 99% of my trout fishing) in spring creek or spring creek like tail waters, be they in the upper Delaware, upper Snake or upper Missouri watersheds, I prefer an Orvis braided butt leader system. This involves a 5 -6' tapered braid, loop cut off, Zap-A-Gap spliced to the tip of an extended head, long rear taper line (also loop severed) matched to form a uniform parabolic curve at its apex. This assures uninterrupted flow of casting energy from line into leader, the braid effectively acting as an extension of the taper of the line. Incidentally, my extensive experience with this system concludes that Orvis miss matches the recommended braid to line weight thus a 5-weight line requires a braid rated for 6 -7-weight line! I take a hank of 0X mono and nail knot it to the tip of the braid, also checking for uniformity and lack of hinging, and blood knot down to a 5' tippet. The braid has virtually no memory and the smaller diameter mono of the knotted sections is less prone to memory than larger diameter material. This system does involve a bit of craftsmanship and angler maintenance. It also lasts the life of the fly line in many instances. I am perpetually experimenting and have used (least effective mentioned first); polymer leaders (too much mass), extruded mono (junk tapers, lousy control), furled leaders (poor transition of energy from line to leader due to generally softer butt to line tip parabolic curve test and the necessity for loop mounting them), hand knotted leaders ( still very effective and powerful turnover in the wind with larger flies, if straight) and my preferred braided butts, which I first used in West Yellowstone in 1982 and have refined the rigging of ever since (increased surface area of the braid sprays more water on false casts, requires perpetual re-building on mono sections but provides maximum control during reach, mend and wiggle presentations). I should reiterate that I use this leader design for presenting emerger, dun and spinner imitations dead drift and it might not be ideal for hopper-dropper or bobber fishing where its complexity would offer little advantage.


Many of our fellow forum members are dedicated to the use of furled leaders which offer similar advantages, however, a side-by-side comparison and critical comparative evaluation of their similar merits reveals the rigging and performance advantages of the tapered braid design.
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Old 08-30-2012, 09:13 AM
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Default Re: Leader building

The leader can be the weakest, and most overlooked, link in our fishing tackle. A great rod, reel and line can be defeated with a poor leader. Of course a straight leader is important for technical presentation. Not to change the subject, but a strong leader is also important. I prefer to build a trout leader. It is important to test the leader before a day of fishing by firmly pulling on each section. The blood knots will often weaken over time and break during the test. For Steelhead fishing with a dry line I use a 15 ft manufactured leader and tie on an additional 3 ft. tippet (the long leader is used to achieve a proper casting anchor.) A few days ago when setting up in the dark for morning Steelhead session my leader had become bound and tangled in the reel. Finally, after getting the reel and rod rigged i forgot to test it. After a few casts an the fly, fortunately got caught in a tree. As I pulled on the leader it broke as the leader had become weakened in the tangle. A few minutes later I was into a hot fish with a strong leader...
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