a leader for deep pools & fast water

Deep pools and fast water pose a few similar problems in tight-line “Czech” nymphing –

  • getting to the bottom
  • staying on the bottom with conflicting surface currents playing on the leader
  • maintaining tight-line contact for effective strike detection, despite conflicting surface currents playing on the leader
  • leader stretch in deep pools and runs obscuring strike detection

A braided-line leader assists greatly here.  The density (sinkability) of braided line (spectra, dyneema) is approximately that of nylon tippet material, but it is of much smaller diameter at considerably greater breaking strength, and has essentially no stretch; so with a weighted point fly it cuts water (current, depth) more effectively, with less leader drag; and provides improved strike detection both due to lack of stretch and less sub-surface bowing of the line.  Downsides – it takes most knots poorly, and due to limpness, tangles are more common and much more difficult to undo.  Also – keep this stuff out of your guides; it’s abrasive stuff.

I use green 8-pound test Tuf-line XP, which has a diameter of .003″ (.076mm), which is smaller than 6X tippet material – closer to 8X.

I tie a 22″ sighter section of
– 11″ 20 lb fluorescent yellow mono (I use Izorline platinum hi-vis yellow)
blood-knotted to
– 11″ 15 lb red mono (I use Maxima red chameleon)
with a perfection loop knot for connection to the fly line (or to an extended length of 20-30 lb mono for a leader-to-hand setup);

& attach this to 64″ of 8 lb braid, using a 12-turn Albright knot (making the initial loop for the Albright knot in the mono).

A 6-turn Uni knot is used to attach a 2.5mm tippet ring to the end of the braid;

And both point- and dropper- tippet are tied to the tippet ring.
I usually use 6-10″ of 5X tippet (Rio or Trouthunter nylon) to the “dropper” fly,
and 24″ of the same to the “point” fly, both tied to the same tippet ring. (I avoid fluorocarbon due to environmental concerns and cost; I appreciate the arguments regarding strength and specific gravity, but I don’t find these to be of significance in practice).

I use Loon knot-sense on the knots on down to the tippet ring – on the top perfection loop and sighter blood knot as these may occasionally run through the tip-top; and on the braid knots as I just don’t trust its ability to take knots well.

braided nyphing leader

For deeper pools I’ll either
– change to another leader with a longer section of braid, or
– extend the tippet, and tie a dropper off of this with a double surgeon’s knot about 24″ from the point, rather than run the dropper off the tippet ring.

I carry a few of these on foam tippet spools (they tangle horribly if merely coiled up), to replace ones tangled in the field (untangle at home!), and to have some shorter and longer for special circumstances; the formula above is pretty general purpose for most settings.

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