Dry fly fisherman have an artistry to their fly presentation. The goal is to duplicate the natural, this means having the fly gently flutter down to the water and drift without drag. Last spring while fishing with Randy Monchilov (Guide with True North Trout) he switched me over to a furled leader during and evening hatch and my hook-ups increased.
What is a Furled Leader for Fly Fishing?
A furled leader is a tapered leader made by furling (twisting) multiple lines together similar to rope making. The leader is a transition between your fly line and fine tippet which attaches to your fly. Tapered furled leaders are extremely flexible, have little stretch and very strong.
So know you know what a furled leader is, let’s get into the intricacies of using furled leaders to increase the number of fish that find the net.
How Does a Tapered Furled Leader Help Presenting a Fly?
Tapered monofilament leaders will have some a memory. You can stretch, rub and heat a mono leader as much as you want but some twist and curl will stay in the leader. The benefit of a furled leader is in how it’s made, it basically has thousands of hinge points to let the wind, gravity and currents carry the tippet naturally.
During your cast the objective is to have the leader lay the tippet and fly out as gently as possible. Then let the fly float naturally into the fish’s cone of vision.
What Length Furled Tapered Leader for Dry Fly Fishing?
For dry fly fishing, the most common length of furled leader is a 5 ½ foot leader used with a 36 inch 5x to 8x tippet. Fishing tippet this fine is for chasing the spookiest fish. I have 8 x tippet but honestly can’t remember using it, with a breaking strength of under 2 lbs. you’re going to have many break-offs.
I’ve used 9 foot furled leaders while streamer fishing and then added another 3-5 feet of 6 lbs. fluorocarbon tippet and this has worked pretty well. I have to believe that using a furled leader will add more wiggle to the streamer. On the downside is that if I’m trying to get my streamer down a little deeper.
Most of the rivers I streamer fly fish have a decent current so I’m adding a little section of sink tip. This combined with the furled leader and tippet creates a really long line hanging out from my fly rod tip. Trying to net a trout that has 15 feet of line out can be difficult.
A benefit of using a furled leader with streamers is that the leaders are super strong and durable. I know a couple years ago I use a single furled for most a fly fishing season.
What Size Furled Leader Should I Use for Fly Fishing?
As the chart shows, selecting a furled leader is dependent on the type of fish your chasing and the method in which your fishing. A dry fly setup is different than a nymphing or streamer rig.
What is the Best Material for a Tapered Furled Leader?
To answer this, we need to back up and understand what type of fly fishing you’re doing. Something to consider for dry fly fishing is that the furled leader will need to be treated with the same solutions that are used on a dry fly. I’ve written about dry fly floatant in this article. What is Fly fishing FloatantFor Dry Fly Trout Fishing
For Dry Fly Trout Fishing
For trout dry fly fishing I would recommend Polyester lines like what is used for embroidery and fly tying. A common material is UNI Products Thread LINK the 8/0 UNI is great for trout leaders in the 5 to 6 foot length.
For Bass Fly Fishing on the Surface
The surface flies used for smallmouth and largemouth bass are usually big and wind resistant the furled leader needs a little more back bone. A common material for this is UNI 6/0 thread or a 6X to 7X nylon tippet.
For Streamer and Nymph Fly Fishing
Because the fly is sub-surface you need to think about materials that sink. Polyesters like the UNI Products thread usually have a wax applied that make the thread float. A quick remedy is to rub some river mud onto the leader. This seems to neutralize the surface tension, helping the line to sink.
Another material is Fluorocarbon, most of the folks making furled leaders will offer a fluorocarbon option. Remember go a little longer (9 to 12 feet) and make sure the leader has a tippet ring.
How Do I Attach a Furled Leader to a Fly Line?
During the manufacturing processes a furled leader will have a loop at the butt and tip. The best way to attach the furled leader to the fly line is with a loop to loop connection. If your fly line doesn’t have a loop, the below video details how to tie a loop onto your fly line.
How to Attach Tippet to a Furled Leader?
Most furled leaders come with a tippet ring which makes rigging up really easy. The most common method of connecting a tippet to the leader is with a clinch knot or improved clinch knot.
How to put a Tippet Ring on a Furled Leader?
So, I’ve had a couple furled leaders that didn’t have a tippet ring. Here’s a word of advice, don’t buy a furled leader unless it has a tippet ring. One of the great things ab out furled leaders is that they last a long time. Having a tippet ring allows you to change tippets without worrying about destroying the leader.
To install a tippet ring onto a furled leader you need to slide the ring over the TIP leader, then pull the butt end of the leader section of the leader through the ring. Yup that’s quite a few lines going through the tippet ring.
The folks who make the furled leaders use tiny little hook tools used for fine embroidery. Again, just buy the leader with a tippet ring.
How are Furled Leaders Made? What About a Machine?
Furled tapered leaders are made using a layout jig with pins placed at increments to form the taper. Usually the jig has two parts so the spinning motor can twist the lines together. The lines are then hooked onto a twisting machine that spins the lines until they coil together. The below video describes how HOG CREEK FURLED LEADERS makes their leaders.
VIDEO – What is a Furled Leader Machine? YOUTUBE
More about Fly Fishing Leaders, Tippet and Catching Trout
Trying to figure out how to make a tapered leader. Read this article and DOWNLOAD a formula chart. How to make a Tapered leader
Want to learn a little bit more about tippets and knots? Read this article on What is Tippet in Fly Fishing?
So a fly fishing BLOG needs to talk about how to catch fish. One of my favorite articles is How to catch Brook Trout