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I have been using Climax leaders for some time and like them for nymphing, but yesterday on the Deschutes River, trout were rising to my fly, but not hitting. I noticed that I could see the leader tippet when light reflected off it. If I can see it so can the trout. Ido not want to tie my own. So my question is: what is a good leader that is supple, will not reflect light, and floats well? Any suggestions?
 

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Recently (this season anyway), I've been using Airflo Sightfree Flourocarbon in 3x, 4x, 5x with great sucess. Yes, tis a bit more $ than stnd. mono tippet, but the Airflow was 50m for $10. (other 'name brands' of florocarbon were about same price for only 25 yrds. of the stuff).

Mainly been using it on the Central Washington lakes for both damsel nymphing and also dries. I think it does work with respect to the light refraction (or lack thereof) properties. However, I have wondered about several large fish 'breakoffs' for same "X" tipet size and this stuff doesn't seem to have the stretch or 'give' that the Umpqua mono tippet does (what I still use in some situations).
 

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I don't know. I started building my own leaders about 8 years ago. I haven't fished with a store-bought leader since, so maybe they're better than they used to be, but I can't imagine how you guys cast those things. My casting, mending, and fly-drifting all improved three fold overnight when I started fishing hand-built leaders (not to mention my fish-catching). Manufactured leaders are (were at least) all way to limp in the butt-section to turn over easily, which made all the reach/curve/slack gymnastics all that much harder, particularly when accuracy counted.

Once I started building leaders to some performance specs, I could do things with a 12-14' leader with a 36" tippit that I had been having trouble doing with a 10' leader with an 18' tippit. Good leaders don't just cast better, they can drift with less drag (especially in really tricky currents), and you can drift your fly with less drag because you're casting better. Funny how that works.

I don't know that I completely buy the old "presentationist" saw that the tippit doesn't matter; only the drag does (how then do I explain all those stillwater refusals?). But I will say that I think all a flyfisher's progress can be summed up thus: when I first started, I thought a drag-free drift meant I shouldn't let the fly be pulled underwater; eventually I learned that it meant I shouldn't let the fly wake; finally I figured out there is no such thing as a drag-free drift.

When you tie a fly to your leader, you set yourself up for a fall. That little sumbitch finds ways to swing around you can't even see. You can minimize drag (or its effects) by the fly you fish, the casts and mends you make, and the leader/tippit you use. Light refraction is the least of your worries. Try a longer leader and a longer tippit and learn the casts/mends you need to handle it. And no store-bought leader I've ever used (I admit they may be better now) performs like a hand-tied one at those lengths.

I know it sounds like a pain, but so does fly tying (and admit it, so did flyFISHING before you started). Besides, because they're knotted, they're easy to repair/rebuild where they get damaged or tangled; you rarely have to rebuild a whole leader. I've had leaders last years, just changing tippits and various sections in the belly.
 

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Calvin

There's a good article in the most recent issue of Fly Fishing and Tying about dry fly fishing by Ed Engle. In the article there's a section on building your own leader along with 3 or 4 recipes.

I haven't yet built a leader of my own, but intend to try before my next outing on the river.

Good luck.
 

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Just check this out: http://www.globalflyfisher.com/fishbetter/leadercalc/index.html.

The other thing you can do is start tying your own on the butts of purchased leaders. This is the way I handle the problem, its fast and easy and allows me to save money and time. About the only leaders I tie from scratch are my less than 5 foot sinking line leaders, as no one sells what I want.

My beef about tying my own from scratch is the cost of buying all the various lengths of all the different sizes and stiffnesses of leader. It can literally be an investment of a $100-150 range. So I have about a half dozen tippet sizes, and about 10 mid section and butt section material spools, and just hack together what I need.
Sinking leaders are so much more forgiving, as they don't need to turn over the fly as carefully, and almost any taper will get the beast out there and fishing well.
 

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You can buy "leader tying kits" at the flyshops. It's basically 10 or 12 wheels of tippit and leader material. I think the first one I bought went from 8x to .04x (40lb?). I'll check my spools when I get home. I have never used the 8x, and I stopped using the 7x quite awhile ago (I hooked more fish and landed none of them). You could probabaly get by with 10 spools, 6x-.03x.

I started out with a very standard dry-fly leader in Lefty Krehhs flyfishing knot book. I adapted it for length by lengthening the butt and tippit sections. I'll look up the recipe and post it this evening.

My old dry fly leader used to be 14-16' with a 24-36" tippit for Rocky Ford and still water. Even with a long heavy butt-section, you need a pretty light, slow rod to cast that leader well (I used an old 4wt Orvis Western). Actually, that leader was probably a little fashion-victimish for the times, but it worked. I've scaled it back to 10-13' for the Yakima, and 12-14' for stillwater and RF (which I almost never fish anymore). I still like long tippits for hatch situations and tricky drifts, but I will shorten up a little if I'm just "fishing water."

Basically, a long dry fly leader will have a long, fairly level butt section (2 or 3 sections, 20-30" each), a fairly steeply and smoothly tapering "belly" (a couple 12" sections, followed by a whole lot of 6-8" sections), and finally a relatively level tip (2 sections, a 16-24" penultimate section - always 4x - and a 20-36" tippit). When I go to 6x, sometimes I'll tie a very long "tapered" tippit with a shorter section of 5x at the back (for better knot-strength and I think a little better turnover). I use blood knots, but surgeons knots work too, maybe better. (You can cheat the blood knots in the butt and the fat end of the belly a little; your 5x or 6x tippit knot is going to part long before a "3-wrap" blood knot between the 24# and 20# butt sections ever will.) Blood knots work best when you're tying materials of very similar diameters (for instance, 6x to 5x works best; you can tie 6x to 4x, MAYBE 3x, but not 2x, and so on). If you have to make those kind of connections (especially in the thinner sections), use a surgeons knot.

I'll post those recipes later.
 
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