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Fly Fishing Basics: The Tapered Fly Fishing Leader

Pre-made tapered fly fishing leaders are a great way to start out as you build on your fly fishing basics. There are many different lengths to choose from.

A fly fishing leader is the nearly invisible line between the heavier fly fishing line and the fly.

A tapered leader is designed to transfer energy to the fly and also help present the fly in a more life-like manner. They are tapered down in thickness, and vary in length from 7-1/2 to 15 feet long.

Most tapered leaders are designed to go with a 5- or 6-weight line so if you are using a heavier or lighter fly line you may need to tie your own. Learn about hand tying your own leaders. 

If you have read our page on fly rods you will remember that we recommend a 5-weight rod as a good weight to go with as your first fly rod. This makes these tapered leaders a good fit. Click here to go to Best Fly Rod

Benefits of Knotless Tapered Leaders

There are many benefits to a pre-made leader.

  • There is a good transfer of energy from the fly line to the fly.
  • The perfection loop is already tied, making it a lot faster to change leaders.
  • They are durable.
  • There are no knots to tie.

Fly Fishing Leader Material

Most pre-made tapered fly fishing leaders are monofilament, which is a good choice, but more leaders are becoming available in fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon is a new synthetic material that is nearly invisible in water. It is more expensive than monofilament and it is more resistant to abrasion. The jury is still out on whether it is worth the extra cost.

If you are new to fly fishing, monofilament should work just fine for everything you will be doing.

Which Length Leader Should You Use?

If fly fishing in small streams you would use a short leader about 6 feet long. If the streams were 15 to 20 feet wide you would use a leader from 7-1/2 to 9 feet long. If fly fishing lakes with floating lines, in low clear streams, or fishing very small flies you would use a 12-foot leader.

Always check your leader regularly. Wind knots and abrasion from the rubbing on rocks will weaken it. Your casting instructor will tell you that wind knots are more of a problem with your casting than with the wind. Improve your Fly Casting.

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