Pre-tapered leaders

Pre-tapered leaders

Viking Lars | Saturday, 3 October 2020

I like using pre-made, tapered leaders and I do so for 90% of my fishing, I might modify them a little, but most I just use them as they are. There are a few specialty leaders I still tie myself. I used to tie all my leaders myself, but frankly, the market today is near-complete and the leaders are of excellent quality, and I'm so happy to get rid of the knots in the thicker parts of the leader, which tend to catch all sorts of unwanted stuff in and on the water.

The one leader I still tie myself is a very short, very heavy leader for use on fast sinking shootingheads on my double handers. On fast sinking shootingheads for the single hander, I often don't bother with a taper - I simply tie on say 3 feet on mono in whatever strength the fish and the fly require.

My leader-to-line connection is loop-to-loop for about 80% of my lines. It used to be needle- or nail knot almost exclusively, but the convenience of being able to change leader in a few minutes takes priority over the slimmer connection. In the salt, my standard leaders is a 12' and if the wind picks up and/or I want to use larger flies, being able to switch to a heavier 9' leader in a matter of minutes is a great advantage. I think.

But that's not really what this is about - it's really about the fact that most people use their pre-tapered leaders wrong in my opinion. Many buy say a 12' leader, say a 16lb and to save on the leader, immediately prolong it with a few feet of 12lb. That works - no doubt about it. But most leaders are designed to be cast and fished as they are, out of the packet, so if you want a 12lb 15ft (which is what you're effectively getting by prolonging a 16lb 12'), instead buy a 15 12lb leader. Fish it and use up say 70% of the level, 12lb tippet part of the leader before you start prolonging it. That'll by far give you the best performance.

If you want, you can use up most of the level part and then tie a Perfection Knot and use that to loop-to-loop your tippet on. Don't use that loop forever, they receive wear, so remember to re-tie every now and then. If your casting is fair, and depending on how often you change flies (I change often) you'll get a fair number out of a good leader, and in relation to all the other equipment, petrol for the car, license etc., just don't skimp on the leader. They are a far more important part of your setup than most people are aware of.

Have a great weekend!