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Saltwater Fly Fishing Bonefish, Tarpon, Redfish, Permit, False Albacore, Striped Bass, etc...

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Old 09-24-2017, 05:29 AM
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Default Longest Leader

So what's the longest leader you've ever made/cast?

I think I reached my maximum at about 14'-15' yesterday really by accident. I decided to get a little casting in with the 8/9 weight Short Stix. The blood knot from the butt to the first mid section looked rough so I re-tied and decided to step down with another mid-section and then tippet not really paying any attention to how long each section was.

I tied on a heavy tungsten beaded shrimp and went out on the dock and just couldn't cast to save my life. At first I thought it was because I hadn't picked up that rod in ages, then I realized how long the leader was. I cut off the heavy shrimp and put on a much lighter little crab and that made a big difference. I also took off a bit more tippet on the change, 3" of the tippet section, that was over 4', so the leader overall was now closer to 14' feet. A grass carp made a timely appearance for some live fire drills and while I couldn't get the eat, I got to where I could control the cast well enough to put the crab where I wanted it.

One of these days, I'm really going to test the maximum length a leader can be made and still be cast well enough to sight or structure fish. My test range on the dock requires that I cast sidearm because of the tree canopy so I can't really play around with the casting too much or I catch the limbs. I kind of like my test range as it forces me to really pay attention to where I send the rod tip. Lack of good control means sending the fly into the branches or prematurely hitting the water.

Why would I want to know how long a leader can be made? I don't know, seems like it might come in handy where fish are showing at the edge of dropoffs. A long fluorocarbon leader might serve as an intermediate tip to help get the pattern down with the drop off contour. Sometimes, it just fun to know just what the limits are for no particular reason.

What's the longest leaders you fish the salt and why do you fish them?
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Old 09-24-2017, 09:46 AM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

I've used 12' leaders for Tarpon in the Lanark area. By the time the fish get that far north they have been well educated. Often we drop to 40 lb. bite leaders as well.
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:15 AM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

I tie 12' leaders for one particular area of flats where the water is very clear over all white sand.
Other striper flats that I fish aren't nearly as clear and unobstructed and leaders of that length aren't necessary.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:20 AM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

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Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
I tie 12' leaders for one particular area of flats where the water is very clear over all white sand.
Other striper flats that I fish aren't nearly as clear and unobstructed and leaders of that length aren't necessary.

Click the image to open in full size.
Nice photo of Monomoy Island looking south.

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Old 09-24-2017, 12:07 PM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

My bonefish leaders vary between 12 to 16 ft long. It is shorter on windy days and longer when the winds die down. The fish here in Hawaii are so pressured nowadays that they spook at any disturbance.

In order to get your leader to straighten properly with a heavy or bulky fly tied onto the end, you basically need to add more energy into your casting stroke than you normally would. You need this extra reserve energy traveling within your fly line so that the front taper/tip section can still transfer that little extra into turning the fly and leader over.

Think of it this way: If you normally can cast 60 ft with a 12 ft leader well, then switch to a 16 ft leader and make the same cast, you have to hold back some of your fly line so now you only get 50 ft on your cast. Same amount of energy went into the cast both times, but you can't shoot as much running line if you use a longer leader.

There are fly lines built with very short front tapers that are meant to turn over heavy or bulky flies. Think Airflo's Tropical Punch fly line. But the drawback on these type of lines is that they smack the water harder than lines with longer front tapers.
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Old 09-24-2017, 01:47 PM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

Some leaders were getting to 14 ' before I found nich for clear lines. Much prefer clear with short leader.

......... pc
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Old 09-24-2017, 03:12 PM
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Wink Re: Longest Leader

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Originally Posted by karstopo View Post
Nice photo of Monomoy Island looking south.
There's no good places to fish around here. You gotta go to the Bahamas, Belize or the Yucatan. Some place like that.
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Old 09-24-2017, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

Generally they are the length of whatever rod I'm using. The longest would be a 15 - 16 foot rig that I use with a 15 foot Winston rod.

Click the image to open in full size.

That's the rod and the white thing you can see is the braided loop connector between my line and leader butt. The leader can't be seen because the fellow taking the picture was about 150 yards upstream from me. I like to know the leader length because I can add it to the head length and amount of running line I shoot out with a cast. All the lengths allow me to know: 16 foot leader + 45' head + 20 foot running line + reach of the rod = distance where the fly lands and then a trigonometric idea of the distance being covered on each successive swing radius. Perhaps I've became a bit anal over the years............
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Last edited by Ard; 09-24-2017 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 09-24-2017, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

My last trip to Abaco (this past June) involved some fairly long leaders. The fish were spookier than usual so we were primarily using size 6 or more often size 8 flies and 15' leaders tapered down to 9# test fluorocarbon. That wasn't always enough to do the trick, but it seemed to help a bit, especially the little flies and 6wt fly lines landing very quietly on the water.

I've encountered permit that were easier than those bonefish this year
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Old 09-25-2017, 08:49 AM
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Default Re: Longest Leader

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Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
There's no good places to fish around here. You gotta go to the Bahamas, Belize or the Yucatan. Some place like that.
Can you camp on the island? Is it possible to paddle board down from the mainland?

My mind is racing.
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