The Leader

By: Hector yamasaki

In mexico sport fishing forums

The leader is the last section of the store and connects the fly line. Although it seems that the leader is not, a complex element whose characteristics influence directly and definitively launched, presentation and capture of the fish, so must never be underestimated or taken lightly.

The leader has four basic functions:

  • Connect the line with fly almost invisibly
  • It assists in the proper presentation of the fly
  • It allows you to fly to respond or move as natura, i.e. As if it were alive
  • It transfers and dissipates the energy of the launch to fly

Contrary to the line that is designed to transmit and efficiently maintain the power of the launch, the leader is designed to absorb and disperse and transmit this energy to fly in a smooth, decreasing.

Types of leader

There is a wide variety of leaders who, by their characteristics and its specific application, can be divided into:

  • Leaders for salt water fishing
  • Leaders for salmon fishing
  • Leaders for fishing gear
  • Leaders for smallmouth bass and other similar fish
  • Leaders for fishing with streamers (imitations of fodder fingerlings)
  • Leaders for nymph fishing and
  • Leaders for dry fly fishing.

But the basic classification of the leaders is based on your profile:

  • Planes
  • Tapered

Flat leaders, have very few but useful applications, especially in fishing lines or point of collapse, where a flat leader of about 30 or 40 cm length will be more appropriate than one tapered. The same resistance depends on the type of fish that you are seeking, but typically ranges from 2 to 10 pounds. In case of emergency or force majeure, you can implement a leader with a length of monofilament with one length not greater than 1.5 m.

Now, the tapered leaders, who talk very broadly, are divided into:

  • Monolithic (in one piece)
  • Knotted (made up of several segments) and
  • Fabrics

Leaders monolithic

Monolithic leaders, are currently manufactured with synthetic materials by a process of extrusion for dales as desired. This process makes that practically only be can get them made in factory and this makes that its price is relatively high, because the cheapest cost about us $3.00, but their behavior and characteristics can hardly be matched by knotted leaders. A wealth of experience and expertise is needed to achieve good knotted leaders. For dry fly fishing, there is a more practical and simple solution that used this type of leaders.

Leaders knotted

For its part, the knotted leaders can be purchased already made or make them yourself, have their own advantages. One of them is its cost, although it should not be the main that you decide to use this kind of leaders. The knotted leader can be adjusted easily to any situation and type of fishing, so should be considered that the performance of the leader also depends on many other factors, both personal equipment, the environment and the type of fishing that is practiced:

  • The type of action and the shank length
  • Line type
  • The distance needed to reach with the launch
  • The speed of the air
  • Conditions on the surface of the water, as the speed and size of the “Waves” Especially when fishing with dry flies or emerging nymph.
  • The underwater conditions, i.e. The existing structures that could damage the leader.
  • The strength and style of launch of the fisherman
  • The temperature of the water

… And a number of additional factors.

Among the disadvantages, of course they exist, is the fact that knots with which the different sections are attached will always be a risk factor, because in addition that can fail, are susceptible to bind in any branch or cleft. They can also be problematic because you need to have a table of formulas handmade construction and a good quantity of line of different diameters and qualities.

Don’t miss, however, that part of the challenge and pleasure of fly-fishing is that we take back all the possible techniques, including the making of knotted leaders.

Leaders fabrics

These leaders are made up of a number of strands of plastic material that are “Woven” Into the taper. Its attributes are its high resistance and their gentle behavior, but they are much more expensive, even that extracted leaders. They are especially suitable for fishing with nymph or fly drowned since they absorb water and sink, characteristic that, on the contrary, it is undesirable in the dry fly fishing.

There is another class of leaders who are not exactly woven leaders, but rather “Crooked” And as far as i know, they are not offered on a commercial but its homemade has been well documented. These leaders are supposed to behave much better than the crooked, but it won’t be until you manufacture one, when tea in my opinion.

Parts of the leader

For freshwater fishing leaders have 3 parts:

  • Butt or back section
  • Taper and
  • Tippet or point, which we will call tippet.

Leaders for salt water or fish species with sharp teeth, have an additional section called “Shock tippet”, which is a segment of wire or monofilament high resistance which is attached to the tippet, using a special knot called bimini and which it will discuss in due course.

The length of the leader, the tippet diameter and taper shape determine the way in which is this pan out as well as the way in which fly will fall upon the water, i.e., the presentation. Assumes that the main desired effect is the way the leader behaves when stretching, so that the taper is the most critical design parameter and there are several ways to achieve this goal.

The design of the leaders

In general, the current commercially available business leaders meet the characteristics of quality, performance and functionality necessary to make them excellent products. Thus, “Solo” Fisherman will need to seek the most appropriate leaders to meet their needs; although this task is not so simple, at least at first, due to the number of makes and models can be found at its disposal and which surely will make you doubt.

If we have these wonders, then why should we worry about the design and construction of a leader? There are several responses from various walks of life. One, for example is the unit cost of each l der: A knotted leader, will cost on average! Ten times less than a machining leader!. Another reason, is that despite the existing variety, you can not always find exact or preferred leader: Also in many places, including our city (mexico), the number of brands and models is quite small and most of the shops – not to say all – are limited to maintain an inventory of popular leaders and general purpose. One reason more is the fact that leaders are subject to wear, age and its properties are disappearing, and if you want to take full advantage, become knotted leaders.

But among the most important reasons, we mention that the only way to adjust and calibrate the leader to our liking, is making oneself. In addition, monolithic leaders will end up being knotted because it will be necessary to change once the tippet already worn or shortened by fly changes; of course that you can dispose of them, but this is not so healthy for the pocket. And, finally, the satisfaction of fishing with flies and leaders manufactured by ourselves and have absolute control of things, has no comparison.

The formulas of construction of leaders

Starting with empirical experiments conducted by the fathers of fly fishing, to the application of physics and modern mathematics, it has come to clear conclusions that allow us to provide very precise rules of construction of leaders.

These rules or formulas are applied to each of the three constituent parts of the leader and they are, as already stated: The butt, the taper and the tippet. The taper is also known as “Media section” Or “Graduation”.

From enters the many rules, 60-20-20 rule is the most widely accepted and it is based most modern designs, including those applied in business leaders.

Another common rule is the 40-20-40 rule and as curious data, we present a formula that mathematics developed in the 1970’s:

60-20 – rule 20, meaning that the total length of the leader, the 60% corresponds to the butt, 20% to graduation and the remaining 20% to the tippet. Logically, the middle section is the critical part of the leader and where applicable design of the leader.

The tippet

To designate the thinnest section of the leader, used a nomenclature for were used when the leaders of gut of silkworm, which assigns a number followed by an x according to the diameter. This nomenclature is used to designate the full leader.

In this way, a “Leader 3 x” Will be a leader whose tippet has a diameter of 0.008 fleas or 0.20 mm.

It must be clarified that question of leaders, almost never talks about its strength, data which, of course, refer to the resistance of the tippet.

This is due to the resistance not only depends on the diameter but also the type of material and other factors that vary between manufacturer and manufacturer, and even model to model from the same manufacturer, since the resistance according to the diameter is not standardized.

For example, a leading 4 x for a given brand may have a resistance of 4.5 lb, while a leader of the same number of other manufacturer’s ability to withstand up to 6.5 lb. In fact, in some cases, there are differences of more than twice.

Either way, the final behavior of the leader does not depend on its resistance, but the diameter and its degree of rigidity;although it is important to note this fact when it comes to a monolithic leader or material that will be used to make them, since a more resistant material will offer certain advantages against others who are less.

Steven b. Schweitzer has developed a method for estimating the strength of a leader according to the diameter of the tippet and although schweitzer formulas give reasonable values, should never be trusted fully in them: Are just for use estimate.

The first formula is a bit more successful for an average range of diameters, but as it is a little difficult to remember, mr. Schweitzer offers a second formula which is quite simple and the result is not very far from the average values.

In these formulas, r is the resistance in pounds and d is the diameter in thousandths of an inch.

For example, if a leader has a tippet 5 x, its diameter is 6 mil so its estimated resistance will be, using both formulas:

The design of the 2 leaders

As it was advancing in the knowledge of the physics of the leader, began to appear mathematical formulas which sought to determine the length of each of the segments to effect of producing leaders “Perfect”, and as in reality there is a perfect leader, these formulas, as it appears in the box, did not have much success, although they have now developed computer programs and formulas that can be used as a basis to create our own leaders , in the same way in which we are based on tables of construction. But finally, the design of our leaders will fall, late than early, those who provide us with the best service in a personal way.

However there are to take into account the tips presented on the previous pages and mainly of the following concepts, because as i have already mentioned, they are the result of years and years of experimentation and study, supported in them, will achieve satisfactory results in very little time. Only takes a little patience, learn how to make the appropriate knots correctly and a rule.

Materials for the construction of leaders

Currently, mainly two types of synthetic materials are used:

The nylon appeared shortly after wwii and after a more or less opaque debut, it was becoming a very economical and versatile product. Most of the leaders are made with this material in various formulations. It has as a disadvantage that absorbs some water. Monofilament is the name given to the simple wire of this material.

Nylon monofilament does not have a high index of transparency, but this is compensated for by means of dyes that they adapt it for different types and water conditions. To date, the nylon and copolymers are favorite materials to manufacture leaders.

The fluorocarbon, appeared material to 1993 offers some advantages such as:

  • Higher density than the water

So it sinks faster than their counterparts in nylon and copolymer.

  • Greater resistance to abrasion
    which makes it very suitable in applications where the tippet is subjected to friction with rocks, logs and other structures or toothed fish fishing.
  • High level of transparencywhich makes it virtually invisible.

Its biggest drawbacks are that it is not as strong as nylon, is necessary to more secure knots to hold it – because it is more rigid – and is quite more expensive than nylon.

This material lends itself well as tippet, but not as an element of the other parts of the leader. Nor is suitable for dry fly leaders, as noted it is denser than water. You might think that the technique of fat would be useful for this last application, but then we disminuiríamos its transparency, one of the best advantages.

To point out this section, we will discuss that the rigidity of the material has a direct influence on the behavior of the leader. George harvey, if i am not mistaken, discovered that the leader should be made up of two types of material: The butt of rigid material and other soft material. Their formulas have passed the tests of time and i introduce in the corresponding section.

The rigidity of the material of the butt should be as close as possible to the rigidity of the tip of the line: If it is too hard, then the leader not can cope with property; if it is too soft, then there will be what is called “Hinge effect” Which is the point of union between line and leader is folded at a sharp angle, dissipating the energy quickly by what not will be transmitted to the rest of the leader and fly.

You must take into account the degree of rigidity is a fact that the manufacturers rarely provide, by which you must yourself will have to try this feature. I only give you a small guide: “Maximum” And “Amnesia” Monofilaments are rigid and dai riki “Velvet” And “Powerflex” Of river series are soft.

Considerations on graduation

Now come to the most interesting part of our theme: Graduation design, part media or taper of the leader.

As mentioned at the beginning of this section, one of the most important functions of the leader is to transmit and dissipate the energy produced for the launch in the best possible way. So then, the middle section is the most important part of the leader:

If this section is too short or too hard, will be sudden or little delicate; presentations if it is too long or too soft, there will be the already mentioned hinge effect energy will dissipate too quickly and will not reach the fly, or put another way, the fly will fall between a tangle of monofilament.

Also happens that a leader who serves “Wonder” In short shoots, not necessarily will do it elsewhere more long or more powerful. As you can see, if you want to do the right thing, master this aspect of fly fishing is not so simple, but worth the work.

Design considerations

The tips listed below should give you a guide for the design of your leaders, as they are the result of years and years of experience accumulated by professional fishermen, will help you achieve your goal faster and well-supported, but always take them as what they are, simple tips and suggestions. Remember: In fly fishing, much that has been written, really nothing is written.

You must experiment and adjust things as you work best for you or are better. Stay away from orthodoxy and open your mind.

The length of the leader

The debate in this regard remained in force but we are not going to follow him. Leader length must be adapted to your needs and style.

The general council is: The length must be equal to the length of the cane that you’re using. Maximum length: 1.5 times the length of the shank.

In 80% of cases – statistical – a 9-foot leader is appropriate.

The butt

Choose a material with stiffness similar to the tip of the line. The same diameter must be between 60% and 75% of the tip. An adviser says that a good choice is 66% or 2/3 of the diameter of the tip of the line.

The tippet

In 80% of fishing in freshwater, the tippets situations 4 x and 5 x must be fit. This is also statistical.

Form of the leader

Rule ritz, 60-20-20 is the best found distribution. Start your design with it in mind, and changes the percentages as they work you better.

The segments

Diameter of the next segment, in descending order, should not be less in 0.002 to 0.003 inches.

The length of graduation

Between greater speed of launch of the fisherman, must increase the length of the graduation and reduce the diameter of the tippet.

Designs where graduation decreases more quickly, transfer the energy of the launch more smoothly and faster. In other words, the more short is the length of the graduation, more energy will be transferred to the tippet and fly.

Materials with diameter smaller or softer, less efficiently transfer power more rigid materials and larger diameter.

Joining the segments

To join the butt with graduation, it is better to use “Blood knot”, while to join segments of the tippet, the “Surgeon knot” Is appropriate. Note that if the tippet uses fluorocarbon, then use a surgeon triple rather than double, because as you know, this material is more “Slippery”. For fishing of fish big and strong leaders, is recommended in all segments the blood knot.

Knots section you can learn how to make each of these knots and more.

For marine leaders, used the “Bimini twist knot” To join the tippet to shock tippet and graduation, this knot is two times stronger than the same line.

Other factors

Other qualities that should be considered and which in general depends on personal taste are: Transparency and both tensile and abrasion resistance.

Leaders building tables

As it is not possible to place a large number of tables, we will present a selection of tables which i hope are representative enough. All the leaders created from these tables have been tested successfully.

The table no. 1 shows the range of ‘ideal’ diameters for different lines. Observe these recommendations is the first step to build good leaders. Note that all diameters and lengths of segments of all tables are expressed in inches, except for the table no. 1, which is expressed in thousandths of an inch.

Ratio diameter of the butt of the tip of the line leader

The following tables shows the length of each one of the segments that make up the leader. The table is read vertically. Choose the desired tippet and fly type to use and tie the segments of length and diameter indicated. You must have in mind than the specified length, it is the length between knot and knot, so you must cut the segments with a surplus that will be consumed (n) in the () nodes that need to segment.

Leaders from 9 feet to nymph


The leader, although commonly despised and mistreated, be the subject of careful and meticulous care and maintenance.considers that the is the most delicate element of your rig: Most of the fish that we lose – especially the trophies – are lost due to faulty leader: Wear, knots of air, poorly made, inappropriate design, etc.

Keeping the leader

One of the most frequently asked questions and causing even controversial is: When not in use, are where and how should i save my leaders?

There are those who believe that you necessary to remove them from the line and store it in one suitable packaging, others that there is no problem if it winds along with the line on the spool…

The answer is obvious if the leader has been set permanently to the line: There is no more than wind the leader along with the line. Otherwise, in my personal opinion and stating opinion i have changed several times, it is better to remove the leader, also in personally, i am against the permanent moorings, are already quite inconvenient – unless, of course, that only use a leader until it runs out -: Never known with full certainty the conditions found at the fishing spot and we do not know whether or not it will need to change it on the march, either by need for adjustment or just that is damaged.

Returning to the topic, keep your leaders in a suitable, as its original package or perhaps inside a guardian packaging leaders. Somewhere i read, and i have fully confirmed that it is impossible to go back to wrap a leader in same way they do in the factory. Here is a method that has proved successful and has avoided me “Nests”, clutter and above all hours of frustration and anger:

Rather than winding the leader starting with the but, start by the tippet since being thicker and more rigid, but holds better bunch when you finish. If you can, use two bits of wire coated or which is used to close bread bags to ensure the bunch. You’ll see the difference when you go back to unroll it.

Leader service required

If you require that he is clean and lubricate, which is check their state, which eliminate the knots of air that decrease its resistance in at least 50%, and that any worn parts should be replaced.

We must consider that the leader material is attacked by uv rays make it brittle, which is abused with the friction of stones, branches, earth, scales and teeth of fishes, and that afternoon that early break with the slightest hitch. For these reasons, it is vital to review it thoroughly before fishing.

No matter that so fine is the leader, always present some degree of memory which makes necessary a method of stretching it.on the market there are an endless number of extruders, but not all are suitable: Extruders of rubber or synthetic materials are the worst as to interference with the leader, high temperatures are produced and shown that they shorten his life.extruders of skin or leather are more appropriate but should be used gently to avoid overheating. But the best is to use fingers to stretch the leader.

The knots of air are thus called by that occur when the line is in the air and some default (tailing loop) release or an accident, the leader is a gauze. If we realize that there has been one of these knots and that it is very difficult to break it up without damaging the leader, it is ideal, although it sounds ironic, replace this knot on the other: Cut the knot of air and une segments with a knot resistant as the double surgeon or the blood knot, depending on the place where there has been.

Already here we leave the topic, necessarily incomplete, but at least i hope, worked enough so you will be useful, and you have opened the appetite to investigate more about this interesting matter.



NeuroDojo: Growing big brains

NeuroDojo: Growing big brains


Marvel Villains We Want to See on Film

Marvel Villains We Want to See on Film


Guest Article – Do good leaders make good managers?

Guest Article – Do good leaders make good managers?


Who or what is a Follower on Twitter? Do I need Followers …

Who or what is a Follower on Twitter? Do I need Followers ...


9 Qualities To Become The Perfect Leader — Saturday …

9 Qualities To Become The Perfect Leader — Saturday ...


How to Establish Yourself As an Industry Leader

How to Establish Yourself As an Industry Leader


The 14 Qualities of Great Leaders

The 14 Qualities of Great Leaders


Follow the Leader (LESSON)

Follow the Leader (LESSON)


Brainiac vs The Leader – Battles

Brainiac vs The Leader - Battles


Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader


The Incredible Shrinking Hulks

The Incredible Shrinking Hulks


| Brave Leaders Need Courageous Followers

| Brave Leaders Need Courageous Followers





Managers vs. Leaders – it’s all about personality

Managers vs. Leaders - it's all about personality


The Real Civil War Began in ‘The Incredible Hulk’

The Real Civil War Began in 'The Incredible Hulk'


Are You a Workplace Leader?

Are You a Workplace Leader?





Inspire Your Employees by Making These 6 Habits Part of …

Inspire Your Employees by Making These 6 Habits Part of ...


The 11 Leadership Secrets You’ve Never Heard About

The 11 Leadership Secrets You've Never Heard About


24 | May | 2013

24 | May | 2013