Cutthroat Nylon Furled and Orvis Braided Butt Leaders

sweetandsalt

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Though I suspect Cutthroat Leader’s thread furls with tippet rings are their most popular, I have been experimenting with Mike’s Nylon Furls with shorb loops at both ends. My first one is called Big Bug and is olive colored Nylon and the Furl is 50”. By looping monofilament to the terminal loop and flexing it in the Parabolic Loop test, I determined .013 - 015” diameter monofilament was the optimal transferor of casting energy. I then built down with Blood Knots to a 5’ long tippet section. This leader, in its third season of use is mounted on a 6-weight RIO IT Gold line.
This season I have added a clear Nylon Furl which is mounted on a Cortland Omni-Verse #4. I fished both of these line/leader combinations beside other #4 and 5-weight lines featuring both looped on and spliced Orvis Braided Butt Leaders.

With the now ubiquitous welded loops standard on most floating fly lines, looping leaders on is just so easy and affords the flexibility of switching from one type to another. Are they as smooth as a splice in which the angle cut tip of the fly line is inserted into the hollow core of the Braid about a ½ inch and permanently locked in place with a sparse coating of slow setting, gap penetrating Zap-A-Gap? No, not hardly but as long as one does not reel the tip to leader juncture into the tip-top, this is not a big issue.

Fly Line Permanently Spliced into Orvis’s Braided Butt; size Medium is Mass Matched to #’s 4, 5 and 6-Weight lines​

T19 050 Parabolic Test vs.jpg


As a life-long inveterate experimenter, recognizing the crucial importance of leader design I have eagerly tried everything available to enhance presentation techniques. Switching from hand knotted to Braided Butts in 1983 was a revelation assuring a far more positive and memory free extension of the fly line taper-like leader experience. Sure well designed hand knotted leaders can and do work well and I continue to build them for my heavier line weight outfits which are not usually employed for dry fly use.

My first foray into Furls did not work well for me. They were constructed of thread and did not perform seamless transfer of energy from line to leader due to poor mass matching; only worsening when they were wet and limper still. Cutthroats Mike Morin proposed I try his Nylon Big Bug and subsequently his newest Nylon Furls. And here is my report on how they compare to my now long standard Braided system.

First and foremost, these Nylon Furls are mass match-able to #’s 4 – 6 floating fly lines. For any leader of any design or material this is my first concern as it is essential for seamless transfer of energy from line to leader to tippet. This is easily tested via the Parabolic Test.

Parabolic Test of Furl’s Shorb Loop to Nail Knot Reinforced Welded Loop of Gold​

T19 052 Parabolic Test vs.jpg


Secondly, like Braids, these Furls are essentially free of coiling memory, so common in the thicker diameter sections of Nylon monofilament leaders whether hand built or commercially extruded. Memory robs the leader of smooth accurate turnover.

With a little experimentation, the optimal diameter monofilament to extend from the terminus of the leader butt, be it braded or furled, is readily determined, again employing the Parabolic Test. With the Orvis produced Braids it is typically either 0X or 1X and with the Cutthroat Nylon Furls it seems .013” is about right. I like the transfer section to be about 14” to allow for cutting back a few times when necessary during rebuilding as these types of leaders can potentially last the life of the fly line. Then I build down in short sections to the tippet which can be longer than with ordinary leaders as both Braids and Furls turn over more positively and efficiently. For dry fly presentation purposes I usually favor a tippet of about 5’.

.013” Nylon monofilament Surgeons Looped to the Furls Shorb Loop​

T19 046 Parabolic Test vs.jpg


Besides these notable and important similarities there are fundamental differences between Braids and Furls. Braids are hollow and Furls are solid. Therefore there is a bit more mass in Nylon Furls. Also, being hollow, Braids loops can be spliced while Furls utilize “shorb” loops which are a little bulkier. Both are strong however. Both leader designs share a minor disadvantage in that, having more surface area; they retain more water which sprays off during false casting. All leaders do this but Furls and Braids more so. This characteristic has had me develop the habit of false casting away from the rising trout so as to not to potentially disturb them with water droplets; a good habit with any leader actually.

I am aware that some users of both of these leader systems take a shortcut and simply affix the desired diameter and length of tippet directly to the terminal end of the Braided or Furled section. At least for adroit control of dry fly techniques, I discourage this practice. Attaching your dry fly tippet directly to the end loop or, in some cases, a tippet ring, disrupts the seamless transfer of energy that these leaders excel at, creating a hinging effect. I personally go to whatever lengths necessary to preclude any hinging in my line and leader assembly to assure maximum loop stability and line/leader control.

So, having fished these leader systems in the same habitats and employing the same techniques, how do I compare them? Importantly, they both perform compound dry fly presentation involving reach casting, controlled aerial amplitude dialing and on water mending of the drift better than any other type of leader. Where they differ most substantially is in feel during turnover. Being solid and constructed of heavier denier monofilament, the Nylon Furl is more aggressive, almost generating a kick as it straightens in air. The Braid has a lighter touch. Also the Furl transitions to Nylon monofilament at a diameter of .013 to .015” whereas the Braid goes to monofilament of 1X, .010. Usually I affix this first section with a multi-turn, 12 – 15 wrap Nail Knot to the Braid, thinly dressed with a coating of UV resin and a loop-to-loop for the Furl. I employed a Surgeon’s Loop rather than a Perfection Loop as it is stronger. I do use the Perfection Loop in heavier diameter monofilament and it would undoubtedly work fine in this application too but I used the Surgeon’s anyway. Having observed these distinctions, I never-the-less fished one of the two Nylon Furls on a 4-weight mostly with size #16 – 18 PMD patterns extremely effectively and precisely. And the intentionally aggressive “Big Bug” I fished on the powerful 6-weight, I also fished pleasurably with mostly small dry flies.

I will continue to fish both leader types on all size dry fly outfits but I envision a bias toward Braids for maximum delicacy with #’s 4 and 5-weights and Nylon Furls when greater distances, wind and perhaps larger, more wind resistant flies are being fished on #’s 5 and 6-weights. Further water time will undoubtedly refine my comparative experiences with both of these excellent leader systems.
 

k_e_v

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S&S, I think the answers to my problems encountered having tried furled leaders in the past are in your post. Although it will require rereading several times as I am a very untechnical fly fisher and need to understand the terms and concepts above. I have always suspected that the answers were available as 50% of the Time I used the furled leaders my results were spectacular and 50% disappointing leading to a quick transfer back to conventional leaders.

Thanks for your another thoughtful and helpful post

Regards, kev
 

osseous

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The issue I have encountered with nylon furled leaders is tangles- specifically, when you hang up on something, the energy of the cast, or your effort to free the snag- unwinds the twists which formed the furl. That gets transferred into the tippet- often creating a tangled mess, and requiring a complete re-tie from the furled section down. Braided butt sections do not do this.

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sweetandsalt

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osseous, At one point I errantly cast an overhand knot into the middle of the Furl and did not immediately realize it. Then I caught a fish tightening it down to the max. Observing the knot I chastised myself then, back in camp, I sat down to try to undo it. I wound up un-furling the leader resulting in an extremely unacceptable hinge. I cut the damaged area out to the furl and tied the two halves together with a three turn Blood Knot. My repair may be just as bad as the casting knot, requiring replacement. Nylon Furls definitely generate strong energy transfer facilitating long leader, positive turnover but a tailing loop resulting in a knot, tangle or barbed hook penetrating the Furled section is potentially problematic. No bad casts allowed (listen to yourself s&s).
 

johnnymaltby

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"Switching from hand knotted to Braided Butts in 1983 was a revelation assuring a far more positive and memory free extension of the fly line taper-like leader experience. Sure well designed hand knotted leaders can and do work well and I continue to build them for my heavier line weight outfits which are not usually employed for dry fly use."

I am confused on this point, if you are building off of a Braided Butt, are you not still making a hand knotted leader as you step down in tippet sixes with your sections?
 

sweetandsalt

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Yes, of course, yes. However, it is not the 'hand knotted" that is at issue, rather the DIAMAETER of the sections. The typical appropriate butt section of Nylon for a 5-weight outfit is .021 then steeping down to .019, .017, etc. It is in these stouter diameters where memory coiling is really an issue. By eliminating them and starting with .010 at the terminus of the memory free Braid (or .013 for the furl), far less memory prone pieces that at are easily, if even necessary, given a little smooth stretch and all is straight and good to go.

At play here is leader craft...if ease of use is a high priority, both these Braids and Furls can not be utilized to their inherent designs intents full potential. Further their potential assets are most realized in presenting single flies, dries or upstream single nymphing. For the dry fly enthusiast who enjoys and is skilled at knot tying and custom modifying his leader rigging is fascinating, these systems offer maximum rewards but their benefits are less relevant as general use for all technique leaders.

I received an e-mail from a friend fishing in Montana that he was excited over modifying his "formula" for building from the tip of his Braid down to tippet. I reviewed his measurements and (did not say so) but disagreed in some diameters and lengths. But I'm not right nor him wrong, he has adapted his leader to his presentation style and in modifying it, made it better...for him.

For this reason I did not supply a 10" of this and 8" of that step by step as with any leader construction experimentation and fine tuning is up to the angler. Over the seasons I have morphed in general to making my leader tapers steeper with longer butts and tippets and shorter mid-sections for positive turn over. My rod choices have gotten better with superior and quicker recovery too allowing more control over my line/leader manipulations. Hence my adaptive modifications. Incidentally, I don't actually measure anything with a ruler, I use my eye, feel and of course, the Parabolic Test.
 

johnnymaltby

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This is great information. I am really excited to try this system. S&S I am not exactly sure where you mentioned in the past about leader lengths, but you were the one to get my to try out lengths of 15'+ for dry flies and it has definitely impacted my fishing for the better in terms of trout caught.
 

eastfly66

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S&S , I ordered both the standard nylon furled (76"reg. 8-10lb,4-5-6) and the Big Bug you have from Mike and he got them to me in time for the Farmington tomorrow. If I am reading above right you are starting off the Big bug with .013 to .015 right ? I want to extent this out to 12-15 feet ? Any thoughts on the recipe ? The standard nylon looks like it tapers down finer to 1X I am guessing ...Maybe Mike can tell us.
Thanks
Paul
 

dennyk

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S&S , I ordered both the standard nylon furled (76"reg. 8-10lb,4-5-6) and the Big Bug you have from Mike and he got them to me in time for the Farmington tomorrow. If I am reading above right you are starting off the Big bug with .013 to .015 right ? I want to extent this out to 12-15 feet ? Any thoughts on the recipe ? The standard nylon looks like it tapers down finer to 1X I am guessing ...Maybe Mike can tell us.
Thanks
Paul

In looking at my Big Bug package the strengths labeled are:

Med--12-16lbs
Hvy--16-20lbs
XHvy--20-24lbs

Can't help you with a formula for what you are fishing. I've used mine for LM & SM Bass fishing only. I have the 50" leader, usually with 3-4' of 12 pound test as the tippet.

Denny
 
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sweetandsalt

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S&S , I ordered both the standard nylon furled (76"reg. 8-10lb,4-5-6) and the Big Bug you have from Mike and he got them to me in time for the Farmington tomorrow. If I am reading above right you are starting off the Big bug with .013 to .015 right ? I want to extent this out to 12-15 feet ? Any thoughts on the recipe ? The standard nylon looks like it tapers down finer to 1X I am guessing ...Maybe Mike can tell us.
Thanks
Paul
This is simple for you to determine with accuracy for yourself. And you have to as different formulations of Nylon monofilament differ in relative stiffness- suppleness and this is a variable that must be taken into account. Just take a hank of material... .013 to start with, form a perfection loop and mate it to the shorb loop and flex it as in the Parabolic Test...if the mono is too limp go heavier or vice versa. Every juncture from line to butt, butt to 1st mono section on down to the tippet must pass this test if one is to achieve fluidity of energy transfer through out. And not just with Furls and Braids...ANY leader design.
 

flav

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I've used, and really liked, the Orvis braided leaders for years, but I have never tried furled mono. I also have mostly gone with straight tippet instead of stepping down in diameter like you do. I'll have to give the hand tied mid section a try, although I have no real need for a leader longer than 8 feet on my local water. It's always worth trying something new.
 

sweetandsalt

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"It's always worth trying something new."

That is my mantra. A long time ago three of us were invited to come fish what would soon after become the nature Conservancy stretch of Silver Creek. A memorable and exceptional experience. Talking about our day with our host that evening, he asked about our leaders. I was quite proud of my hand tied 12' leader and he said, "Oh, why don't you build a new one right now of 17 - 18' and you will see tomorrow what a difference that will make. I did and...he was right. I learned something new. Now, that is not such big water and even on smaller spring creeks than that today I fish long leaders of 14- 15'. I don't fish much freestone pocket water where I might go down to 10 - 12' but long is good...as long as it can be smoothly turned over with control.
 

The op

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When i got home from work today I was happy to see in my mailbox a yellow envelope,inside was 1 big bug and 1 76 inch cutthroat mono furled leader.

Took out the big bug,impressive craftmanship.

Tried a few different comparisons on big bug with various diameters via the sweetandsalt parabolic test and am 99.9% certain that the one that i need,i dont have.

013 trouthunter evo.i can get it local but ive been wanting to try some of the TH cdc,so looks like there will something new arriving in the mailbox soon to look forward to.
 

AzTrouter

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I have been using the 50” Big Bug with 12”of 2x to 12”of 3x to 24” of 4x tippit for small creek, sizable brown trout hunting. I tried going leader straight to 4x tippet and it worked OKish for small baitfish streamers and leaches, but not so much the other methods I use. I’ve also tied out longer mono sections, but they don’t work so good in the tight creeks I fish.

Building down a mono section to tippit has done a great job turning over small streamers, dry/dropper and large terrestrials and adding some 5x gets me into small dry fly’s when the occasion calls. My main rod is an Orvis Recon 864 fished with a true to weight 5 line.

I’ve also tried furled thread, but they didn’t really offer any advantage over the tapered mono/ knotted leaders I had been fishing. I experimented quite a bit with 6’ salmon/steelhead tapered leaders knotted down to 4x and they actually worked well turning big bugs with short cast. Just not as well as the Big Bug furled nylon.

At this point I’m of the mind that tuning leaders may be one of the most important things I can do to dial in on special circumstances. I change up fishing styles as I encounter different holding water on the remote creeksI fish, while it’s not practical to carry multiple rods, it been super productive to switch up leaders.
 

adealarcon

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So has anyone tried the bluesky mono furled leaders or the feathercradt branded furled leaders?


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osseous

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So has anyone tried the bluesky mono furled leaders or the feathercradt branded furled leaders?


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Yeah- not a fan of furled. Too many knots as a result of the fact that they're twisted. Snag something and pull- and it's a twisted mess, because they unwind under tension, and spring back to their relaxed state when you let tension off. Braided don't suffer this same issue.

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sparsegraystubble

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I have used the Blue Sky and Feather-Craft nylon furled leaders as well as the Zen furled thread leaders. I prefer Cutthroat nylon of them all, but the others are all good. I prefer nylon with rings, but the loops work as well.

The furled haven’t been as much trouble for me as others report, but they do take some maintenance. I like braided also, but have sort of gotten away from those. The braided are great for dries, but not as good (for me) when I change over to a bugger or anything with weight.

Don
 

osseous

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I fish the braided butts only on top- simplify my leader a lot when nymphing- with long, fine tippet to the fly.

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