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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I'm really new to spey fishing and yesterday I finally got out on a river with my new CND Solstice 13'4" 6/7. I'm running a S/A shorthead 6/7 line on it.

The problem I found was that my leader was not turning over or rolling out straight at all. Even on test casts using an overhead technique the 13 foot leader I was using just died on me. I was using straight 20lb Orvis Mirage. The fly I was using was a weighted size 4 rabbit leech.

What's the problem? Do I need a heavier butt section? Should I taper a leader? I've heard straight/even leaders are fine. I thought 20lb would be stiff enough to turnover a relative light fly.

I have a 6" section of 30lb Maxima as a loop connector from the fly line but I don't think that's the issue. Is my fly too heavy?

How heavy a fly can a 6/7 spey line really throw? I eventually want to use a tip system on this setup too. I'm a little concerned now.

Thoughts or insights on what I'm doing wrong would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Preston
Toronto
 

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Preston:

No matter how well designed a fly line is, the leader is a critical component to actually getting the fly to turn over. Just as a level fly line will not turn over well, a leader must be tapered as well.

With any length leader (realistically leaders over 5 feet long), the following formula is a good place to start:

Butt: 60% of length
Taper: 20% of length
Tippet: 20% of length

For a 6/7 setup, a simple 12 foot leader formula might be the following:
7 feet of 0.025-0.028" mono (typically 30-40 lb test- diameter is more important here), 18" of 0.022-0.023", 18" of 0.018-0.020", 18-24" of tippet (e.g. 1X-2X: 0.010 or 0.009"). Contrary to popular belief, a stiffer butt or leader material won't necessarily help turn over a bigger bug, the diameter of the leader sections and taper is more important.

With heavy or waterlogged flies, you might go to a heavier tippet as well (e.g. 01X-03X). Steelhead are thankfully not really leader shy.

Good leader material is made by many. You can't go wrong with Maxima Ultragreen is very popular among steelhead aficionados for good reason.

As far as pre-made tapered leaders are concerned, the 10 foot SA steelhead/salmon leaders are awesome, and for a 15 foot leader, the Rio leader (16 lb tippet) is, I think, the best of the long leaders (for some reason the other tip strenghts don't seem to turn over as well as the 16 lb).

For heavy tip fishing, a short leader (3-5 feet) is all that is needed. I typically go 0.025" for about 3-4 feet, then a foot of terminal tippet. If you get hung on a rock, the disadvantage of using 20 or 25 lb. terminal tackle is that you are just as likely to break your line or lose your tip as break the leader/fly knot (preferred).

Hope this is of some help.
 

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This is distilled from the master of fly line physics, Bruce Richards. If you take two identical diameter lengths of leader, and see which one turns over the fly better and maintains a nice loop shape, with ill not be the stiffer of the two, just as the stiff fly line does not cast as sexy a loop as the more supple one.

For my leaders, I like something in the middle of the road. Not limp (obviously because of the bad vibes you could carry home from using that stuff), but not hard mason stiff either. Again, UltraGreeen is wonderful, dependable, and ties beautiful knots. I do like a soft tippet, and my favorite there is Grand Max. For saltwater, the regular Seaguar is good, as is the SA fluoro leader The Orvis Mirage is middle of the road, but seems to fray easier than Grand Max (for sure), and is a lot like the Blue Seaguar out of the box. I like the SA, I guess for medium stuff. Haven't been sent any Rio to try, but I'm sure that's good too.

Frog Hair for the butt and taper sections is also nice. Feels a lot like fluoro in the stiffness department, but knots up less finicky. May have to see how FrogHair plays with Grandmax next time I go down to the Keys.
 

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The 13' 4" Solstice is at the top of my wish list, but you were trying to work with a fly that may be beyond its capabilities. I've had trouble achieving liftoff with big weighted string leeches even with my 10/11/12 winter rods.
Try flies in the range of the rod's intended use, at least until you find its limits. For a start, nothing bigger than a compact, unweighted No. 4 or 6. If you find a leader that will handle bigger flies, I'll have to buy that rod even sooner!
 

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Last May in his class on the American River, Simon tied on one of Rio's 15' Steelhead leaders on my fly line. They are terrific leaders when you want a long leader.

They work well on the Sage 6126, 7136, 7141, and TCR 9129-4, the ARC 1409, all of my Meiser switch rods and Bob's whatever my latest rod from him is.

Buy the leaders a few #'s heavier at the tip and tie a small loop at the fishing end. Then you can attach a lighter tippet.

The leaders are amazing durable and last for several fishing trips, and I just replace the tippets. That makes them very economical for this old Scot descendant. They cost a little under $4 per leader. I prefer the knotless due to all the algae in our waters. I just leave the leaders on the spool and rinse them off with the line at the end of the fishing day.

Below is the Rio product description:
Rio Steelhead & Atlantic Salmon Knotless
Specifically designed for anadromous species, this clear, non-glare knotless leader has a thicker butt of slightly stiffer copolymer for propelling large flies. This leader series can punch through the wind. 3 ft (6 - 16 lb) 6 ft, 9 ft, 15 ft (6 - 22 lb).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Merci!

Thanks for all the feedback guys. Much appreciated.

Peter, just for clarification I'm doing spey casts...I just double checked the inability of the line/leader to turn over my fly by doing some overhead casts as I wanted to make sure the problem wasn't my poor double, Snap-T, and circle spey casts.

Cheers,
Preston
 

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I'd bet a beer that little 6" chunk of stiff Maxima is at least part of the problem. You can smooth out the energy transition from the line to the leader by either attaching the leader directly to the line or lengthening the butt to several feet.

The level leader is probably OK, but I prefer a tapered one. Last fall, I fished a lot with a CND 13' 7/8 Custom with a SA short 6/7. My leader formula, for what it's worth, using Maxima Green:

#30 8'
#25 6'
#20 1'
#15 1'
#12 1'
#10 3'

Poul
 

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Poul
Interesting
I used that same set-up (rod and line) but used Mike Maxwell 10 fot leader last couple years
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Merci

Thanks again guys. No problem Peter.

Actually when I relooked at my loop to loop connection I noticed the stiff fluorocarbon (Mirage 20#) I was using was not 'locking' into the connector loop. Definitely energy was being lost there.

Yesterday I got out again. While I didn't try a long leader I did use a 8wt quad tip Type V attached to my 6/7 SA short head (I know I should chop some line from the fly line) and it cast pretty good. I used a 24" length of 15# Maxima Ultragreen as my leader. That setup easily turned over a size 4 weighted 'Voodoo' fly that I copied from Voodoofly.

Preston
Toronto

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