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Old 03-04-2013, 03:36 PM
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Default Leader Lengths

From talking to a few people I know that leader lengths and preferences depend on what you're throwing and where you're throwing it but for a newbie it can be a little overwhelming. It looks like the common lengths are 7.5", 9", and 12" when are these lengths preferred for you experienced anglers? I know a lot of experienced fly fisherman will tie their own leaders and not buy the tapered ones but until I learn a lot more I figured the tapered route was much better for starters. If you could share with me a little knowledge on what lengths you prefer and in what situations, that would help me out immensely!
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:48 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

I'm a little unordinary as I fish a lot of stillwater, but I do dabble on moving water as well. Most of the time I just use the standard old nine foot 4x tapered leader on both lakes and streams/rivers. But when I am on high lakes in the mountains, I quite often loop on a twelve foot 4x leader to a floating line in order to enhance the sink rate of weighted scuds and wooly worms. I've found when I want to go deep quickly without a sinking line, the extra length on my leader works well.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

First assuming that you're bass fishing, bass aren't particularly leader shy and you can keep it pretty short. I usually go with 6' of straight mono for poppers and an 8' tapered leader otherwise. (7.5' would be fine)

For trout fishing the general rule of thumb is to use a leader approximately the length of your rod.
Beyond that you might use a 7.5' leader for sub-surface and the 9' leader for dries.
The 12' leader would be less frequently used for the better educated fish or on calmer water.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

I plan to fish a lot of species but I do plan to target Trout in moving water a lot off of the bat (even thought my name suggests otherwise - it's my name for all my forums).
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

Look up "leader" on the search function and you'll hit a million threads identical to this one.

I'm an "outlier" but I use nothing but fairly long, level leaders of 4, 6 and 8 pound monofilament for everything I target. I don't have any issues with turn-over or presentation and I catch plenty of fish. I don't use fluoro b/c I don't care.

If you fish trout in moving water, my take is that a tapered leader matters even less...since the supposed negative of a level leader is the "harsh, conspicuous *splash*" of your level leader smashing into the water and spooking fish. I've never found this to be the case, and if it were I would advise your to work on your forward cast instead of your leader. I use a 9-12' section of 4 pound test -- there's nothing easier and it casts fine.

I agree with Rip that for warmwater you often won't need a long leader. A 6' leader works great, but I often use 9' leader.

I see no benefit to using a tapered leader of any kind, and definitely wouldn't with a sink tip or full sink line. "Taper tiers" really get irritated when you say this though -- and will usually respond with something like "Uh, whatever Turbine -- you can use your crappy level lines but all the books from the famous dudes say to tie this 60-20-20, biblical formula....so, obviously your advice is far inferior to my own because mine meshes with these books from Barnes and Noble and therefore is better!".

Actually, I feel the heavier line used for the butt section, if anything, makes the leader more visible to the fish....though this probably doesn't make much difference.

This is not the typical advice though, so try whatever you like. Certainly tying a lot of your own tapered leaders will hone your knot tying skills .

Oh, and hand-tied leaders, though useless in my experience, are really good for catching green algae/diatoms in each individual "knot" and making your leader more apparent to the fish. Bluegill sometimes bite them too, which is a lot of fun.
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Last edited by turbineblade; 03-04-2013 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

Leader Length Best suited for…
6 foot Sinking fly lines of all types, panfish, bass, trout in tiny, brushy streams

7.5 foot Trout in streams from 10-20 feet wide, intermediate and sinking tip lines in lakes and saltwater conditions where the fish are not terribly spooky. Also streamer fishing for trout with big flies or with heavy nymphs and big indicators
9 foot Trout streams larger than 20 feet wide where the water is mostly riffled, or else the fish are not spooky. In salt water, fish in shallow water under bright, clear conditions.
12 foot Trout in most lakes with floating lines. Trout in streams with flies smaller than size 16 when the water is flat, low, or very clear
15 foot Spooky trout in extremely clear water in both lakes and rivers.

This is general info provided by Orvis to help get you started.

For warmwater sun fish I use just 6 to 8 ft of 6 to 8 lb test mono your choice.
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbineblade View Post
"Taper tiers" really get irritated when you say this though -- and will usually respond with something like "Uh, whatever Turbine -- you can use your crappy level lines but all the books from the famous dudes say to tie this 60-20-20, biblical formula....so, obviously your advice is far inferior to my own because mine meshes with these books from Barnes and Noble and therefore is better!".
Seriously ?
It's your opinion that your "months" of fly fishing experience trumps centuries of collected knowledge from the hundreds of thousands of true fly fishermen that went before you ? Unbelievable.
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:48 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

Ya, start with a 9-foot tapered leader and go from there. There's all kinds of leaders that work well for a given situation, with the possible exception of a 9-foot piece of straight line. Tapered leaders help you present your fly. I often fish leaders of 12-18 feet with dry flies to achieve long, drag-free drifts to "spooky" or "selective" trout. Those are not needed for other places, like faster moving free stone streams and rivers. For bass fishing in murkier water and around cover, 6 feet might be plenty. Same for fishing wets/streamers on a sinking line. Use a basic leader, and with some trial and error you will find what works best for you, your style, the waters you fish, and the fish you catch.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

I am being as newbie as anyone can be, really hate to use the factory made tapered leaders because they coiled and $$$. I know that we can use that leather thingy to straighten the leader but that isn't for me.

And being the best newbie that I can be, I make the best newbie mistakes, and newbie mistakes is basically expensive. Therefore, I twisted my own leaders from 6-10lbs Mono Spiderwire 220yds ($4.99) for dry/top water and 8-10 Flurocarbon Sunline sinking leader to make lead 7.5-8 FT. I don't really follow the 60-20-20 formula. I go 2/3 butt and 1/3 body and use my Bimini twist tippet for the final tapering.
I found out that 7.5-8FT leaders suit my very well and turn any right size flies that I use in straight line. I have a BPS leader wallet filled with my own furled leaders and only bring 2 SA and 1 Orvis leader which I bought on the day I was born into this fly fishing world (which about 3 months ago).
I would dedicate a night to twist my leaders and to burn my fingers in doing so, but it would be very satisfying.

Now, the web is my teacher and I do hope someone would yell at me for my ignorance.

by the way, to me 8FT is my leader length.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:14 PM
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Default Re: Leader Lengths

Quote:
Originally Posted by runningfish View Post
I am being as newbie as anyone can be, really hate to use the factory made tapered leaders because they coiled and $$$. I know that we can use that leather thingy to straighten the leader but that isn't for me.
You don't have to use that "leather thingy" to straighten a leader. Just pulling it tight with your hands/arms usually works. Stretch it a little. If that doesn't quite do it, pull it slowly between your thumb and index finger a time or two. Works just as good as a leather thingy. Takes about 15 seconds to straighten a 12-foot leader. Just don't pull too fast and burn yourself.
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