Her name is RIO and she dances on the sand - A blast from the 80's

As we are now well into the trout season here in the UK, I wanted this week's email to be focused on getting the most from your leader setups for both Rivers and Stillwaters - especially when using bigger and less aerodynamic flies - typically when using any 'spent' style patterns.

We have couple of a REALLY SPECIAL OFFERS for you, one on tippet material and the other on speedy deliveries - we know you want your flies as quickly as humanly possible! Scroll to the end of this email if you want to see them now!

Otherwise, grab a brew, this could be a long one ...

Back To Basics

*** Please feel free to skip this section if you've already been there, seen it, done it and got the t-shirt ***

  • Fly Line - This is the plastic (or silk) line which is used to actually cast the fly. Fly lines (and fly rods) are designated by their weight and their taper. All fly lines have different styles of taper (this is what allows the energy to transfer along the fly line in the most efficient way), each of the tapers gives a slightly different presentation of the fly. The most common taper to use is a Weight Forward (WF).
  • Leader - The leader is a generic term for the section of material which attaches at one end to your fly line and at the other end to your fly. A leader is usually made up of at least two parts, a tapered section and a tippet section; see below.
  • Tapered Leader - In the above definition of a fly line I mention that the energy created by the cast travels down the fly line due to its taper, if you just attach a length of level fishing line to the end of the fly line the energy will not effectively travel to the fly (which is what you need to allow the fly to land in front of the fly line). So a tapered leader is used, this is a length of fishing line which continues the taper of the fly line down to the size of the tippet.
  • Tippet - Tippet is just a fancy name for the fishing line to which you attach your fly. You always add tippet to the thin end of the tapered leader and then attach your fly to the other end of the tippet. Tippet is specified by its ‘X’ rating, this relates to the tippet’s diameter (not its strength), with 2X being thicker than 8X. The ‘X’ system originates from the time when catgut was used, and the ‘X’ was the number of times the gut was fed through a machine to make it thinner (i.e. if you fed it through eight times it would be thinner than if you only passed it through twice).

Q. Why do you add tippet to a tapered leader?
A. Tapered leaders have a built-in taper to them (they are thicker at one end and thinner at the other), when you change flies you will always eat away at the line - making it shorter. If you just attached your fly to the tapred leader, once you've changed flies a few times you would eat into the taper, so you add in a 2ft or 3ft section of tippet to the end of the tapered leader and then change this section of tippet once it gets too short. It also allows you to extend the overall leader length should you wish for a more delicate presentation with smaller flies.

When thinking about leaders, you ALWAYS start from the size of the fly you will be using. It's important that the leader you decide on is balanced - by that I mean the leader must be able to transfer the energy created by the taper in the fly line all the way to your fly in the most efficient manner possible.

It's no good having a really long leader and using a large fly if the design of the leader doesn't transfer enough energy through the leader to turn the fly over - so we always start with the fly size and work backwards.

Here's a handy chart to give you a rough idea:

Now you know the tippet size you need, let talk about the different types of tippet available, namely Nylon or Fluorocarbon.

Essentially, they can be split as follows:

  • Nylon - Sometimes also referred to as Copolymer or Mono, is generally more cost-effective but thicker (and stiffer) than its equivalent fluorocarbon. This material will float and when submerged transmits light through it - not ideal when fishing sub-surface.
  • Fluorocarbon - Is denser than water, so it will sink. It is also claimed to have the same refractive index as water, so supposedly invisible when underwater - but we'd have to find a talking fish before we could prove that, and there are loads of questions I would like to ask it before the subject of Fluorocarbon vs Nylon arose! 

We can use the properties of both these tippet materials to our advantage when dry fly fishing. For example, some people like to sink the tippet which is tied to the fly, so why not use a Nylon tapered leader and then attach a length of Fluorocarbon to it for the tippet section, that gives us the best of both worlds.

Essentially, all of the above boils down to:

"When fishing above water, use Nylon; and when fishing sub-surface, use Fluorocarbon."

If you would like to have a go at tying up some of your own dry fly leaders - rather than plumping for a standard tapered leader (with its regular progressive taper), then here are a few specialist ones, ideal for this time of year:

9ft Short Mayfly Leader

12ft Delicate Presentation Leader

15ft Steep Tapered Leader

As you can imagine, while I am out on the river very regularly I get to use all sorts of different leaders - depending on the conditions.

We found ourselves stocking all different brands - some of which are nigh on impossible to restock. So we have now standardised on the highest quality and best available - RIO Tapered Leaders, RIO Tippet Materials & Luke Bannister's Furled Leaders.

Q. So what is a Furled Leader?

A. Furled Leaders act like an extension of your fly line, they help turn a fly over when you don't have the full head of the line (usually 30ft) out of the rod tip - especially useful when fishing smaller rivers and streams where roll-casts are required. A furled leader consists of leader material which has been braided into a taper (furled) to which you then add your tippet.

As a general rule of thumb, a Furled Leader should make up around one-third of the total leader length (if you want to fish a total leader length of 15ft, then use a 5ft furled leader and then step your tippet down in size from it to continue the taper).

We have teamed up with Luke Bannister to offer his exquisite Furled Leaders. Luke is the only name you need for furled leaders in the UK, having taken over the production from Rod Dibble, who some of you will no doubt know.


If you would like to keep all of the above information for future reference, then we've made it (and much more info) available in a handy PDF which you can download, just click the button below to get your copy for free now:

All of the leader and tippet materials I've discussed above are available from our site (surprise, surprise!) - see below for more info and links.

Also, scroll right to the bottom of this email for a special offer on delivery - we know you like to get your order quickly.

Fly Lines

With an olive-green head, and gold running line we have found this fly line to be the best compromise between performance and price. Its special taper design gives incredible loop stability at longer distances and designed with a unique taper that loads a fly rod at close range easily.

We believe this is the most cost-effective 'General Purpose' floating fly line available. It's easy to cast, and lays straight. Allowing perfect presentation of flies from small to big. Available now in 2wt, 3wt and 4wt.

Image of 'General Purpose' Weight Forward Fly Line

'General Purpose' Weight Forward Fly Line

Only £25.00

Priced at only £25.00, these lines load the rod quickly for both short and long casts with the front taper being perfect for the gentle presentation of flies.

Tapered Leaders

RIO's Powerflex tapered leaders help you cast better and fish more effectively. The powerful butt section provides unsurpassed wind penetration and easily turns over heavy indicator rigs, while the soft, flexible tippet also delivers tiny dry flies with delicate precision. The leaders also incorporate a hand-tied perfection loop in the butt for quick changes.

Image of RIO Powerflex Tapered Leaders

RIO Powerflex Tapered Leaders

Image of RIO Fluoroflex Tapered Leaders

RIO Fluoroflex Tapered Leaders


Priced from only £5.49 each (or £13.99 for a pack of 3), these leaders are perfect for all styles of fishing.