Fly Fishing Gear - Tapered Leaders

The leader serves two important purposes. One, it conceals the fly line and two, it
serves in the delicacy of the presentation. The fly must look and move about freely
as if it were unattached.

Just as your rod and fly line is tapered, so is your leader. Most anglers use factory
made knotless tapered leaders that are gradually and uniformly tapered
throughout their length. Knotted, leaders are made by anglers. They have a large
diameter butt section that quickly tapers down to a level tippet to best suit specific
fishing applications. Knotless and knotted leaders each have their advantages and

Knotted leaders tend to cast better and present the fly in a more delicate manner
that the factory made knotless leaders because they are not uniformly tapered
from the butt section to the tippet. Made properly, the longer, larger butt section of
a knotted leader and quicker taper are easier to cast in such a manner as to
completely straighten the leader. This is especially true if there is much wind.
Longer, lighter knotless lines are more difficult to cast in such a manner as to
completely straighten the entire length of the leader. The down side of a knotted
leader is the time required to make the leader and the fact that the knots tend to
catch debris and vegetation in the water more so than the knotless leaders.

Certainly you can get by in almost any fly fishing situation using factory made
knotless leaders; however, the more you refine the leader size, length and taper to
accomplish its purpose in certain types of water, current and wind conditions, as
well as the type of fly presentation needed for a particular specie of fish, the more
you increase your odds of success.

Some manufacturers has specialty leader that are designated by fish species such
as this “bass” leader that is designed to roll over larger flies and take the abuse of
snags that it normally is fished around when one is fishing for bass.

Similar to fly lines, factory made leaders come in a variety of densities, such as
floating, intermediate, slow sink, fast sink and extra super fast sink.    

Some manufactured leaders as well as those rigged by anglers have a section of
the leader that easily stretches called a shock leader. This helps protect the leader
from the sudden surges or strikes of fish.

The choice depends upon the type of fly that you are using, the specie of fish that
you are after and other specific conditions that you may encounter.
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