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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am and have been very involved these past 20 years tying my own trout and Steelhead leaders. I've enjoyed scrolling around the Spey Pages to notice the many "posts" regarding the never ending discussions- mono vs. fluoro. Now, that the much better 2nd generation fluorocarbon has been on the market for many months, I wonder if it is a good time just prior to the fall steelhead run to discuss the many opinions and tricks we have learned in tying our leaders? What works for one and where are we having problems? I will say that I love the new f/c material as I do 95% of my trout/Steelhead fishing subsurface. I use the good ole' blood knots to connect the tapered sections always wetting with tap water before securing. I then have found a neat trick to reinforce the knot against slippage. That is, I get several of the little battery operated "cauterizing tools" used by many surgeons(they save for me) and discarded by law after a single use. When I clip the tag ends on the blood knots I leave about 1/16" on both ends. Then, I come back with this cauterizing tool and CAREFULLY heat these ends which causes the ends to suck up into a tiny ball just outside the barrel part of the knot. This (IMHO) is better than the use of the various knot glues which when spotted onto the knots leave a very visible spectrum of light in the sun beneath the water(picky, picky, picky) and I am concerned about that issue. I use the cauterizing tool on both my mono and fluoro leaders. I must say that I am very impressed with the RIO fLUOROFLEX PLUS as if not the very best, is certainly one of two of the best products I have seen and used on the market these past two years. I believe SUPER STRONG and MAXIMA to be among the best in the mono line for making our own knotted fly and Spey leaders. I'd like to hear what ideas in how and why others have as to tying their leaders. Years ago I'd would never post any of this info because I would think it would lead to many more fish being killed; however, now we almost all practice C&R and want to help and learn from each other...that's my goal in the way I visit this great web site. Thanks to all, Stiver
 

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a/k/a loophitech
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tying your own leaders...

Speyflyman, everytime I see your name I think of the mighty mouse theme song???...Speyflyman is here to save the daaaaaaaay!!! I am a strange cookie, that's for sure.

Anyway, I like tying my own leaders for the main reason of cost effeciency. For the leaders, I tie with Maxima chemeleon for sink tips and the clear mono for my floating lines. I tried flouro for while and lost many a fly do to slippery knots and I found myself going back to the Maxima. Maybe it is my way of shunning the hype??? Anyway, Maxima rocks!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
LoopHiTech

Hello. Well, I'm certainly never going to be able to save the day. I've stated before most of the participants on this W/S have forgotten more that I'll ever know. If that was meant as a compliment(??) I do thank you. I just try to pay much attention to the little things in our sport as I've had my legs taken out from under me most often by the little things. I am just attempting to have a very good discussion about the leader tying as I've seen so many different posts from many regarding leaders and problems with them. Leaders are possibly one of the most important items in our presentation of flies and I just want to see how others go about tying them as I believe there may be a lot of others as well interested. LoopHiTech,if you mean you would like to see me just keep my eyes open and my mouth shut I will be glad to do that as well. I am certainly not attempting to draw attention to myself by painting an illusive picture of myself...NO, NO, NO. I have noticed some others (very few) who seem like they want to be thought of as having a PhD in all aspects of our sport as they post on this W/S. If I have left you, LoopHiTech, with that impression, I most humbly apologize as there is nothing to toot in my horn except hot air. All I'm attempting to do is learn from all the experience that is represented on these Spey Pages, OK? Best, Stiver
 

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a/k/a loophitech
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Speyflyman is here to save the day!

Dude, no insults intended with my reference to shunning the hype. I just remember, four score and seven year ago, when mono and flouro was the talk of the town. Just like anything else in fly fishing, it was the hot topic of the year. I remember seeing it pop up again in one of this years or last years fly fishing magazines.

I don't like flourocarbon because I could never get the knots to keep together. So, now I prefer Maxima.
 

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Maxima

is great for knot strength, but the better flurocarbons will also do well, if you use the right knots. I ususlly use fluro only in the last 2 or three sections of my leader. I join the fluro to the maxima section and any additional fluro sections with a double surgeons knot. I attach my flies with the Jansik Special. The Palomar is supposed to work well with fluro too. The last fish I broke off was with ten pound Maxima and definitely operator error.
 

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fly on little wing
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maxima mean green

Maximum mean green for tippets. Maxima, Rio butt material or Orvis Super Strong for butt section to fly line. Double surgeons for tippet connections. Maxima works great in slushy cold water. I'll go down to 5x tippet with Maxima in the winter.

Gary
 

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flouro is worth the trouble

I use flouro in the tippet sections for all fishing ..steelhead , sea run browns, bonefish, and 6x fishing for spring creek type trout. I am absolutely convinced the flouro will outfish mono in extremely clear water , and have switched back and forth with mono and flouro just to reconfirm my theories. Knots are a big problem with flouro if you do not take the time to tie a great knot EVERY time ...I use saliva wetted 8 turn blood knots to connect flouro to itself or to a mono section towards the butt. I have had surgeons knots , double triple, fail fairly regularly with flouro when I was in the experimenting stage. I use improved clinch knots for the fly, as I have had more failures with other knots and flouro at the fly connection. I have used Orvis flouro with great reults, and not so good results from Umpqua or Maxima flouro. Rio super flouro is good too I think. I am concernedabout dates on the tippets when I purchasethe stuff. It is my epxeriience that it is worth the trouble to write the date of purchase on every tippet spool with a waterproof pen and to avoid /replace old tippet spools after a year. Having said all the foregoing, if am steelhead fishing with a sink tip, in off color water, I will use maxima on the heavy weighted flies if I am fishing a tip. It is a larger diameter than the same strength flouros and is more effective in staying together with a few knicks..said another way, it is tougher perhaps becauase it is thicker. I n clear water wit h a tip, I use flouro. The idea of burning or burring the tips of knots is good one, as frequently the knot slippage that does occur is a pull apart failure as opposed to a break. I generally use 9 or 10 foot commercial mono tapered leaders to say 16 lb test in the construction of my spey leaders, with a long sequeneced sections of mono butt pieces behind them and ending typically with a flouro l2 lb tippet. I fish a lot for whatever that is worth. 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bee

Sounds like you get serious about your leaders as I do. I tried something I read about some time ago when f/c first came on the market. I think it came from Lefty??? Was stated that since mono is more supple(generally) than f/c, in order to properly tie the two together in a blood knot, one has to wrap the mono one more turn than the f/c. I have done that and it so far has worked for me. When I use the larger dia. f/c for my butt material(.027" to .030") I only use 3 or sometimes 4 turns of each section because the stiffer material just will not pull up tight and seat the knots. If they are not tightened they will slip and fail as I've found many times. I know the large dia. f/c does have a memory and wants to remain as a "slinky" when tied in at the butts; however, the rivers' currents will pull the leader straight on the swing and I just don't give that coiled part my concern. I don't do much with dry flies anymore so I really don't do much mixing of mono and f/c. The only time for mono leaders is in July/August when I am "hoppering" for browns that I go back to mono as for certain the f/c will sink and try to pull a surface fly under. Some very good thoughts about leader construction from several so far. Now, if you folks can talk me through how to consistently make 100' plus Spey casts I'll be in "hog heaven"...practice, practice, and more practice I know. Thanks, Stiver
 

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This is one of the good old topics :lildevl: it will never find agreement as I think the only thing that matters with leaders is what the fisherman feels. That said it is fun to look at different opinions.

First, as for fluorocarbon - while I use it for chironomid fishing for trout - where its sinking properties aid greatly with 25-30' fishing depths - I find no use for it in steelheading. It is expensive and offers no advantages that I can fathom.

Steelhead are not leader shy - I regularly use 15 lb Maxima Ultra Green, summer and winter - it doesn't seem to make much difference. I think if I were fishing for some of the smaller summer races, Morice, Deschutes or Ronde fish that I might drop down to 10lb - but still not Fluoro. Fluoro is not as tough as Maxima - both in abraision resistence and knot strength, once again no advantage. Furthermore it is not as stiff as Maxima and will not turn over as well.

As for tapering leaders, I do it with drylines - though I am not certain it really matters. Nobuo Nodera uses straight mono from leader to fly and fishes leaders up to 16 or 17 feet. He says that so long as the mono is over 12 lb test that it will turn over. While I haven't used it in fishing conditions I have done it at casting claves and it doesn't seem to hinder the cast or turn over one little bit.

With sinktips I do a one step taper, usually a short piece of 20 lb Maxima which is looped to the end of the flyline, then a tippet section of 15 lb to make a leader of about 4'.

To conclude, as with most tackle choices I think all that really matters is that the fisherman has confidence in his choice - they all work.
 

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a/k/a loophitech
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Kush,

I will have to try the straight leader that you mentioned. I sure sounds like it will be easier on my fingers as I have scars on my fingers from pulling blood knots.
 

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I am in 100% agreement with Nobuo. For all of my steelhead fishing I use a straight piece of Chameleon Maxima, usually 12# and sometimes go with 15#. This is for both surface and sunk fly work. Can make a fresh leader in under 1 minute. Perfectly simple. And the fish couldn't care any less about the size or color.

William
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
good discussion

I agree with Kush, anything that has the caster's confidence is bound to work better. I have never tried some of these leader suggestions; however, on one issue I must disagree with and that's Steelhead being leader shy. Peter hit it on the head. The two big MI Rivers I fish most have both been invaded by those rotten Zebra Mussels. The results have been over these past few years these rivers have turned into literal spring creeks with their crystal clear waters. This year excepted due to the tremendous rainfall we've had. F/c use does improve takes especially when dd nymphing. It is (seems to me anyway)a different situation when swinging flies as most often the fish sees the fly first and in most heavy currents does not have time to examine. I know several of the River Guides also use f/c for subsurface work. Now, I must also say that I know several who don't and love the Maxima. Thus, no end to the discussion. We need something to do to keep us busy. Anyway to start the fish running early? Best, Stiver
 

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Kush is correct that confidence has a lot to do with all fishing. Some of my theories may be often wrong but I am never in doubt. With that said, let me say that the tapered leader is a great aid, I think, in obtaining the proper mend for the dry fly or waking fly steelhead fishing I do..if I make the perfect cast each time a mend may not be required, but often I do make mends that affect a lot of leader and hopefully do nto move the fly in the process.... I suppose it is possible to make that type of mend with a straight piece of leader of say 16 lb test...but it cannot be as easy as with a tapered leader for the same reasons/physics principles that cause one to use tapered fly lines rather than level fly lines. I use flouro for the tiniest dry flies on some of the pickiest large trout in the US ..flouro is not , by any means, only for subsurface fly use. Really not trying to argue with anybody , just my opinions. I also do use straight pieces of leader for subsurface steelhead flies.
 

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Kush made a good point about this topic in that there are a great deal of differing opinions about leaders. Swinging flies Vs DD nymphing. Clear Vs dirty water. Tapered Vs strait leaders and on and on.

With that said I feel most of my opinions have very little value. However, I do feel strongly about one thing. Like Bee, when securing the knot, I use saliva. I think saliva is a much better lubricant than tap water or any kind of water for that matter.

If you disagree, try a small experiment. Wet your fingers with tap water and rub them together. Then dry them out and spit on them and rub them together. Unless you have some type of medical problem I think you will agree that the spit is a better lubricant.

Just my 2 cent worth.

Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
straight dia. leaders???

Wow, I'm really confused here. Some of you state that you use a straight dia. leaders all the way from the line to the fly. How do you keep from having your big Speys, weighted as well, from folding back on the fly line as when I tried that some years ago I found that I had to taper down with enough butt and intermediate section to turn those big flies over. Many of my big swinging flies are muddler patterns with big deer hair heads to suggest the pectorals and then fronted with heavy ram's wool to finish the heads. I tie these on #2 TMC 300 hooks at 6XL and then I usually weight them additionaly with non-toxic .035 wire for several turns in the front of the hook about 1/2" back from the eye. These buggers are very wind resistant and need a lot of energy transmission to straighten out. My guess is that we are not on the same sheet of music here as I can't see how (I'm not the expert-you guys are)you could cast these without a heavy tapered leader?? Advise, please. Best, Stiver
 

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speyflyman,

I run about a 20" butt of 20# and use a perfection loop for connection to the leader. From there I will run a straight leader of 12# for 10-12', perfection loop to attach to the butt and one blood knot to attach a 10# tippet. I have found that casting large weighted flies (intruder size) with a full floating line and one of these leaders (15' to 17' in length), there is little difference compared to a tapered one. When I started messing around with the straight leaders I was skeptical. After a few days it became clear that they work and work well. Even using tiny low water wets at extreme distances in the wind, they still turn over just fine.

William
 

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Straight Story

I have recently converted to the ranks of the "just say no to taper" crowd. I use a 12'-13' level 'whack' of 8# Maxima Chameleon for almost all single-handed fishing for salmon; for a two-hander I lengthen out to 15' on a floater (if the water is up, 12# Maxima; otherwise, 8#-10# Maxima).

I like the way the straight mono fishes, and I've had absolutely ZERO turnover problems. I once saw a salmon come up and bump a blood knot on a tapered leader as the knot made its little wake across the current. Shoulda' been on a "'itch" as they say in Newfanese.
 

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Stiver,

I guess you should just give it a try, find out how you like it. As for me, I believe it works just fine - but as yet I haven't been able to break my own tradition and use the no taper leader. But then, this is part of my premise - it needs to give the angler confidence before it is worth anything. Eventually I think I will evolve my way into it - if for no other reason than it makes leader construction REALLY easy :D
 

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Flourocarbon is bad news. When left on the bottom of the river it takes much(200x) longer to dissapear than regular mono. As well it is somewhat socially irresponsible to support the manufacturing of this product as it is very dangerous to produce. In fact somewhere I have an old article by Jim Vincent warning of the dangers of flouro and stating why he would nevery sell it. My how times have changed- Jimmy what happened? It seems that the slight advantage flouro provides has resulted in a market that cannot be ignored by someone even as socially responsible as Jim(Rio) or SA-both early Flouro holdouts. Maxima for me-thank you very much! I am interested to try the no-taper leader for fishing wet flies off of a dry line. I suspect it will fish much better than the tapered ones that I am currently using. :whoa:
Brian Niska
 

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Brian,

I did not want to be the one who brought it up...but I am glad you did. Thank you.

Kush,

Yes, there were a few demons-in-me-head about whether this was just copping out to take the easy road along with the long driven rule that the only way to make a leader was to taper. Once I found out how they cast, and more importantly how well they fish, I was sold. Especially for running the 'deep wet fly swing' off of a floater, the lighter material allows the flies to sink with less inhibition.

William
 
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