All About Leaders - Part 2 - Dry Fly Leaders

To continue our series on Leaders, this week we are turning to the staple of the Spring & Summer months:

The Dry Fly Leader

It is important to stress here, that when using a dry fly, leader material is a key choice, here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Nylon/Copolymer: Generally more cost-effective and slightly thicker than Fluorocarbon.
  • Fluorocarbon: Denser than water so will sink, great when covering very spooky fish.

Use whichever material you have confidence in, this is the weak point in any setup, confidence in knot strength is everything!

Leader Material Sizes: The X system marked on spools of tippet determines the diameter of the tippet (the bigger the X number, the thinner the tippet):

Leader & Tippet Length

If the water is small or rough, use a leader which is roughly the length of the rod. If the water is calm, extend the leader to between 11’ and 15’, then add 2’ to 4’ of tippet. Just remember:

“the calmer the water - the spookier the fish - the smaller the fly - the longer and finer leader and tippet you need.”

To enable your dry fly to turn over correctly (which is our main aim), your tippet should always be balanced to the size of your fly:

'Rolling Your Own' Leaders

When it comes to making your own leaders, the sky really is the limit:

  1. Do you want a very short steeply tapered one to turn a fly over in no space at all, or alternatively
  2. You could tie a really long one which is so delicate and finely tapered it makes no disturbance at all on the water.

Either way, this will involve you knotting together various lengths and diameters of mono/fluorocarbon to create the taper. The only knot you need for this it the 3-Turn Water Knot:

Please Note: Remember to lubricate the knot with some water (spit) before drawing it tight, this will make sure that when knotting different diameters of tippet together the heat generated when tightening does not weaken the tippet.

In this section we will give you some leader designs for different length leaders. Using all of the above information you can define which length leader you need, use these designs as a starting point.

All of these leader designs end with a section of 6X tippet and are designed for rods from 2 weigth to 5 weight - happy tying:

7.5ft Standard Taper

7.5ft Short Taper

8ft Delicate (8X)

9ft Standard Taper

12ft Standard Taper

15ft Standard Taper

15ft Steep Taper

A furled leader is made by twisting or braiding together multiple strands of material, such as nylon, fluorocarbon, or silk, into a tapered line. The result is a leader that is more flexible and supple than a traditional monofilament leader.

Furled leaders are designed to help transfer the energy of the fly line smoothly to the fly, allowing for delicate and accurate presentations. The soft, supple nature of a furled leader also allows for a better presentation of smaller flies, which can be difficult to cast with stiffer leaders.

There are several reasons why you may choose to use a furled leader when dry fly fishing, instead of a monofilament leader:

  1. Improved accuracy and delicacy: The soft, flexible nature of a furled leader allows for a smoother transfer of energy from the fly line to the fly, resulting in more accurate and delicate presentations. This is especially important when fishing with smaller, lighter flies, where even the slightest disturbance in the water can spook the fish.
  2. Better turnover: Furled leaders are designed to turn over flies more smoothly and efficiently than monofilament leaders, which can be especially helpful when casting large, heavy flies or when casting in windy conditions.
  3. More durable: Furled leaders are generally more durable than monofilament leaders and can last for many seasons without breaking or wearing out. This can save the angler money and time in the long run, as they won't need to replace their leader as frequently.
  4. Customizable: Furled leaders can be customized to suit the angler's specific needs, with different lengths, tapers, and materials available. This allows the angler to tailor their leader to the type of fishing they will be doing and the specific species they are targeting.

Overall, while monofilament leaders can certainly be effective, furled leaders offer a number of advantages that can help improve an angler's success on the water.

In the early season, when you will usually have to contend with all sorts of conditions, wind it the worst enemy of a leader.

In windy conditions, you will need a leader that will cut through and still turn your fly over, this type of leader has an extremely steep taper. You will also need to use a fairly fast rod, to allow you to cast a tight loop and generate the power in the fly line to, in turn, transfer that energy through the leader to the fly.

A great shortcut to create your own steeply tapered leader is to take a standard 12ft knotless 4X or 5X tapered leader and cut 2ft off each end of the leader - leaving you with an 8ft tapered section, to this add a 4ft section of 5X or 6X RIO Powerrflex Plus tippet.


Thanks for taking the time to read through Part 2 of the "All About Leaders" series. Over the coming months, we will be expanding and diving much deeper into leader mechanics and construction, discussing how to tailor your own leaders for that perfect presentation based on the scenarios you will encounter when out on the water.

Tight lines.

P.S. This email is brought to you with the sole intent to spread the information around so we can all maybe learn something. If you would like to buy any tapered leaders, furled leaders or tippet material, we do hope that you will consider us and see what we have to offer:

If you don't fancy tying your own leaders, then why not use our ready-made tapered knotless leaders in either 9ft or 12ft lengths:

If you like the idea of using a furled leader this season, why not take a look at the best on the market - tied by Luke Bannister, here:

P.P.S. We'd love to hear from you if you have any comments/corrections, or other subjects you'd like us to cover. Just reply to this email and I will be in touch.