CaryGreene

Leader Design - Saltwater and Freshwater

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1 min ago, CaryGreene said:

Backdrop for the slides. Ran out of Lightning images. Birds. Saltwater Fishing. Leader Turnover. Lightning. Bats. All goes hand-in-hand. 

oh ok, that makes perfect sense, my dumbass was thinking you made those just now just this thread :)

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No worries Adam! I tried to give the formula's in "Lightning" type format and then, tried to deliver the discussion with a "Bird" type format, as Birds are obvservers of almost everything we do on the water. That's what I was thinking anyway. LOL

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I normally use a home made 60" Fluorocarbon furled leader on my floating lines. This gives a very nice and steep taper from the flyline to the tippet. The turnover is good and the leader is supple so doesn't pigtail. The fluoro sinks so 'anchors' so acts like a mini sink tip which I like in most scenarios.

I found that using 60lb+ fluoro as butt section coils too much. Am I missing something here?

Edited by JRT

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On 9/23/2022 at 6:58 AM, JRT said:

I normally use a home made 60" Fluorocarbon furled leader on my floating lines. This gives a very nice and steep taper from the flyline to the tippet. The turnover is good and the leader is supple so doesn't pigtail. The fluoro sinks so 'anchors' so acts like a mini sink tip which I like in most scenarios.

I found that using 60lb+ fluoro as butt section coils too much. Am I missing something here?

Hi JT - how are you doing! Have been loving all of your posts - as always. On this one, if you read back through the thread you'll see we went into furled leaders pretty in-depth, but to update you with much respect to your knowledge of all things fly-fishing, if you're out there fishing a lot still, there is a far better concept to try. It's not one that is commercailly accepted (yet) and I have made this thread for simple benefit of the small saltwater community that fishes here on what is my favorite site -- SOL! I made the thread for experts like yourself, for Intermediate level casters and for Beginners as well. It's feedback, and questions like yours, that makes a good thread great. 

 

I advise against furled leaders for single handed casting JRT. Not to say that you can't use them but disadvanteges are listed in the thread. First, we don't want supple. We're not dead drifting a fly. We want semi-hard, stiff leaders for straight line presentations. Furled leaders are limp. This means they don't resist the weight of a heavy fly. Stiff, thick material will support weight. This matters on long casts and casts into the wind. 

 

Furled leaders are also far more visible, so when stripping a fly back, they are a big disatvantage. Stiff, hard leaders are also best for turning larger or hevier flies over.

 

Another drawback to a furled leader is that you really can't control the diameter of the Butt-Section, which makes matching the Tip-Diamter of a Fly line and achieving a .010" thinner optimal diameter very difficult, if not impossible. The long, uniform, ever so slightly thinner in diameter Lighting Leader will also hold the energy. A rapid transfer dissipates energy - which is a disadvantage becasue the Tippet doesn't receive it. Furled leaders have thick butt sections and sharp mid sections. This leaves only the Tippet as being truly nearest to invisible in the water. 

 

A short, mid section is desired, as is a short tippet. 60%/30%/10% is the basic starting formula for a Lightning Leader of any desired length. For larger or very heavy flies, you can increase to 70%/20%/10% and you can certainly add 5% to either the Mid-Section or Tippet, if you want more "fly changing" capabilities. 

 

The drawback is having to straighten your leader with a Leader Straighter every now and then and a bit less durability - but for saltwater fishing, this price is easlily worth using Lighting Leaders. 

 

Furled Leaders are good for River fishing and they are very durable. They are also prone to picking up micro debris and sinking/spraying on forward casts. You can offset this a bit using silicone floatant on them but where a Furled leader will shine is with wet flies, when you're swinging them in the current. Due to their thick diameters, furled leaders aren't good for nymph fishing and as stated, they're not good for stripping flies and being stealthy, like we often do in Saltwater fishing. 

 

Many of my Lightning-Leader butt sections are 80# or 60# Material, either Fluoro or Hard Mono. Since I perfected the Lightning-Leader, which was about 30 years ago or so, material advancements have really helped enhance what is possible. It all starts with knowing your fly-line's tip diameter and then, simply follow the formula. 

 

Even advanced casters who are so inclined to try the Lighting Leader will generally almost instantly start grinning. The reason is simple. We often overlook our Leader. Leaders have long been the least thought about part of Fly-Fishing terminal system. We concern ourselves with Rods, Reels, Flies, Wind, Tides, Current, Baitfish, Presentations, Our Casts, Knots..etc. It's easy to see why Leaders get so overlooked. 

 

Poly Leaders and Furled Leaders have their place in river fishing, but for Saltwater, there is no reason to use them and too many disadvanteges.

 

 

Edited by CaryGreene

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On 9/23/2022 at 1:36 AM, WesternNarrows said:

Holy cow - I just read the original post and it is the overview that I've been looking for forever.  Incredibly helpful - thank you @CaryGreene!

 

Hi Western Narrows, 

 

Very happy to get into this topic for you guys here on SOL. I used to do a lot of presentations for clubs on Long Island, in CT and all over NY City and Upstate. One of the presentations that probably "seemed" like it was going to be the most boring or dumbest of the bunch was always the Lightning Leader seminar. But about 5 minutes into it, everybody's eyeballs were bulging out of their heads and the questions began flying, people were taking notes on the palms of their hands or on napkins..etc. 

 

More than anything, I hope you'll be grinning to yourself when casting for the rest of your life. George Harvey was the inspiration for my Lighnting Leader. Joe Humphries too really. Post #92 in this thread is my tribute to them both. 

 

Lastly, the thread istelf is still small and relatively short. There is a lot more to cover. I'm going to get into Dry Fly Leaders at some point, even though SOL is largely for Saltwater fishing. This thread is supposed to be "THE" Leader thread. It will go down as the best Leader Thread ever and I bet it will stand the test of time. I hope it will, because a TON of what is now virtually lost wisom went into all of this. The very masters of our sport started it and all I did was build on foundations they gave us. 

 

The reality is, if we use the right Leader for the right job, the act of fishing becomes exponentailly easier - to the point where casting and fishing becomes a joy. Nothing tangles, mimimal to no wind knots, perfect presentations for what we're doing, everything working in sync - not against one another. It's nice when your rod, line, leader and fly all cooperate. Kind of frees you up to fish and not worry about anything other than your casting and your tactics and the wind..etc. 

 

Is it any harder to make a Lightning Leader than say, any other Leader? It really isn't. For all intents and purposes and with regards to saltwater applicaitons, we're talking about a true game-changer. Three simple knots (including the one connecting to the tip of your fly line). 

 

I think casters of all levels stand to gain quite a bit here. I know when I'm casting 125' and actually fishing, when the Leader does it's job I'm left kind of stunned. I often think, "how is that even possible with a fly tied on?"  

 

Similar feelings go though my mind on short or mid range casts. I always look up too. George is looking down, smiling - I'm sure of it!

Edited by CaryGreene

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Some food for thought.

I like saltwater fly lines with a very short front taper.

I would rather use a thick butt section of the leader for turnover and stealth, rather than a line with a longer and thinner front taper. 
But there are fly lines out there (especially bonefish lines) with a longer front taper that would do better with a thinner butt section.

Cary somewhat covers this when he mentions the best is to measure the fly line with a micrometer for the best match for the butt section of the leader, but I doubt most do this. 
In the Northeast, those who fish back bays and estuaries with seven and eight weights may notice this more with the longer, thinner diameter front tapers.

Edited by charliestriper

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Just now, charliestriper said:

Some food for thought.

I like saltwater fly lines with a very shorty front taper.

I would rather use a thick butt section of the leader for turnover and stealth, rather than a line with a longer and thinner front taper. 
But there are fly lines out there (especially bonefish lines) with a longer front taper that would do better with a thinner butt section.

Cary somewhat covers this when he mentions the best is to measure the fly line with a micrometer for the best match for the butt section of the leader, but I doubt most do this. 
In the Northeast, those who fish back bays and estuaries with seven and eight weights may notice this more with the longer, thinner diameter front tapers.

Bingo! That's a great comment CharlieStriper! We're not alone in this view either. Bruce Chard down in the Keys says the same thing, after 28 years of guiding down there. George Harvey said this also and many others since.  The chart I posted earlier in the thread is a very general guide, but there is a TON of varrying Tip-Diameters out there in the line industry and Tapers change constantly as well. 

632f384b89b9f_Screenshot2022-09-241_02_53PM.png.5b915d65bd3e549a706e9777e364ea10.png

 

I get into this very topic more in depth in the Line Manufacturers Review thread, how when we're picking out a line, we need to consider various things like the front taper, the Tip Diameter (so we can match it with the right Lightning-Leader) the presence of a or absence of a rear step, compound tapers vs smooth, progressive ones, taper designs and how they affect the line's performance characteistics..etc. 

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22 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

I advise against furled leaders for single handed casting JRT. Not to say that you can't use them but disadvanteges are listed in the thread. First, we don't want supple. We're not dead drifting a fly. We want semi-hard, stiff leaders for straight line presentations. Furled leaders are limp. This means they don't resist the weight of a heavy fly. Stiff, thick material will support weight. This matters on long casts and casts into the wind. 

 

Furled leaders are also far more visible, so when stripping a fly back, they are a big disatvantage. Stiff, hard leaders are also best for turning larger or hevier flies over.

 

Another drawback to a furled leader is that you really can't control the diameter of the Butt-Section, which makes matching the Tip-Diamter of a Fly line and achieving a .010" thinner optimal diameter very difficult, if not impossible. The long, uniform, ever so slightly thinner in diameter Lighting Leader will also hold the energy. A rapid transfer dissipates energy - which is a disadvantage becasue the Tippet doesn't receive it. Furled leaders have thick butt sections and sharp mid sections. This leaves only the Tippet as being truly nearest to invisible in the water. 

 

A short, mid section is desired, as is a short tippet. 60%/30%/10% is the basic starting formula for a Lightning Leader of any desired length. For larger or very heavy flies, you can increase to 70%/20%/10% and you can certainly add 5% to either the Mid-Section or Tippet, if you want more "fly changing" capabilities. 

 

The drawback is having to straighten your leader with a Leader Straighter every now and then and a bit less durability - but for saltwater fishing, this price is easlily worth using Lighting Leaders. 

 

 

We will have to agree to disagree Cary. I make my own furled leaders from either 2lb or 4lb fluoro. The great thing about them is you can absolutely change the taper (peg distances and number of wraps) to create whatever butt thickness and taper you want just by adding more strands and step-downs. This creates a leader that goes from nearly the thickness of the fly line to however many strands you need (typically 6 or 8 for me). It has the weight (very important) and the taper to carry the fly and leader ok, even into the wind. It's also a continuous taper so no knots to catch weed.

The other point is I absolutely dead-drift flies in the salt. I had 11 fish this morning doing exactly this with the occasional twitch. So I like supple as the presentation is way better than with super stiff leaders. But I am using this on a floating line setup rather than with Intermediates etc so I do take your point about it being more visible - although I can't say I notice much difference in hookups if the fly is 5-6ft from the end? 

 

But I agree that if you are throwing large bulky/heavy flies then stiff leaders are the way to go. I have used twisted leaders to help with this too as you can easily create a very stiff/thick butt section using this technique (using twisted 40lb fluoro for example). Its not pretty but it works and gets the butt thickness required.

Edited by JRT

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Hello again Cary. First, Kudos to you for persevering with this thread - its very helpful.

 

I'm trying to determine if I can apply the Lightning Leader concept.

 

Basic data: Saltwater. A) 10 wt single hand rod. Airflo Cold Salt lines.  B) Beulah Opal Surf 9/10 wt. Beulah Serum 550 SH line with Rio Medium MOW tips.

 

Here's how I understand things.

 

First I have no micrometer to measure diameters, so lets assume the Airflo Tips are about .044".

 

This would mean at min. a 60# Triplefish mono butt section (.031). I can't imagine an 80# butt (.034). Halving the diameter would call for a 25# mid section (.020) and then less than a 15# tippet ( .016)

 

Isn't that first jump (60#-25#) a huge leap? And if truly halving diameters, a 10 or 12 # tippet?

 

All this from a guy using 40/30/20#  ((or 15#) single hand leaders.

 

And that's just the single hander!

 

Trying to wrap my head around this- it feels very counter intuitive.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by C. Regalis

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Great info Carey.  It's helped me a lot.  Based upon your suggestion I've used the George Harvey Knot to connect lighter tippets to the SA Hard Mono mid section instead of a blood knot.  Another little hack I've used to pull leader knots completely tight are two 1/2" diameter metal tubes about 8" long covered in shrink wrap.  (You could substitute wooden dowels covered in shrink wrap.)  Wind the opposing sections of leader around each tube ensuring that the lines do not cross themselves, lube the knot up well and pull. I've found that works much better than gloves, especially with that hard mono material.  Blood knot is a great connection, but it must be pulled completely tight or it will fail.

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23 hours ago, JRT said:

 

We will have to agree to disagree Cary. I make my own furled leaders from either 2lb or 4lb fluoro. The great thing about them is you can absolutely change the taper (peg distances and number of wraps) to create whatever butt thickness and taper you want just by adding more strands and step-downs. This creates a leader that goes from nearly the thickness of the fly line to however many strands you need (typically 6 or 8 for me). It has the weight (very important) and the taper to carry the fly and leader ok, even into the wind. It's also a continuous taper so no knots to catch weed.

The other point is I absolutely dead-drift flies in the salt. I had 11 fish this morning doing exactly this with the occasional twitch. So I like supple as the presentation is way better than with super stiff leaders. But I am using this on a floating line setup rather than with Intermediates etc so I do take your point about it being more visible - although I can't say I notice much difference in hookups if the fly is 5-6ft from the end? 

 

But I agree that if you are throwing large bulky/heavy flies then stiff leaders are the way to go. I have used twisted leaders to help with this too as you can easily create a very stiff/thick butt section using this technique (using twisted 40lb fluoro for example). Its not pretty but it works and gets the butt thickness required.

Hi JRT, why fish a Fluorocarbon furled leader for surface fishing? Fluorocarbon sinks and it furled leaders also are basically "nets" that collect micro-debris. Why not just make a Saltwater version of a George Harvey Dry-Fly Leader? 

 

Unless, you are drifting deliberately under the surface with flies that don't float and perhaps have weight added (eyes) or neutral buoyancy -- in which case, I could see doing what you're doing. You're basically using a river fishing techinique, dead drifting to spots where fish hold and you're not really throwing a streamer and sripping it back. If this is the case, then there's nothing to disagree about. I've covered this techinque in the thread and you're using a braided leaderhow and where most Spey fisherman might do likewise - or they might prefer a Poly leader for added turnover and other benefits. 

 

If this is what you're doing, it's a fun one-off but by no means is it either something to disagree over or a worthwhile reason not to use Lightning-Leaders as they are designed to be used. 

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23 mins ago, bmac said:

Great info Carey.  It's helped me a lot.  Based upon your suggestion I've used the George Harvey Knot to connect lighter tippets to the SA Hard Mono mid section instead of a blood knot.  Another little hack I've used to pull leader knots completely tight are two 1/2" diameter metal tubes about 8" long covered in shrink wrap.  (You could substitute wooden dowels covered in shrink wrap.)  Wind the opposing sections of leader around each tube ensuring that the lines do not cross themselves, lube the knot up well and pull. I've found that works much better than gloves, especially with that hard mono material.  Blood knot is a great connection, but it must be pulled completely tight or it will fail.

Yes, very true bmac. Like any knot, snugging the knot down is really the key. Blood Knots keep a 3-piece Leader, or any other Leader, in perfect straight line allignment. A Tippet knot that works is all you need and with dissimilar materials, the Harvey knot is terrific on the terminal end. With 11-weights and up, we go to shock Tippets and Bimini Twists, but in general, the Harvey Knot is fine for most other applicaitons. 

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