A Simple Solution

Every summer, around Drake season, fishermen wander into the fly shop frustrated about their leader getting all twisted when casting big drake patterns to feeding trout at their favorite pond. They want to lay the blame on the particular brand of leader they were using. Fortunately it’s not the brand of leader’s fault. Because it doesn’t take a ten pond test leader to land a brook trout, many of which are under twelve inches, we choose a 5X – 4 lb test tapered leader. It makes scense because any brookie can be brought to the net on 4 pound test if we’re careful. The thing we don’t factor in our decision is how a big fly, say size 8, moves through the air during the act of casting. We all want to make a long cast because there’s plenty of room so we can really reach out there. But the further we cast the more we flex the tip of the rod so the faster a fly moves through the air. A big Green Drake imitation is not very aerodynamic and wants to spin or corkscrew out of control leaving many revolutions in the leader once the fly lands on top of the water. Sometimes you’ll watch as your bug tries to unscrew on the surface of the pond. Bring your fly to hand to see hwats wrong and the leader is twisted up and we end up blaming it on the leader.
There is an easy fix and it’s not changing brands. First, forget about the trout, they don’t figure into this equation. Think about the fly you chose to imitate one of natures monster drakes. In order to minimize corkscrewing you need to use a heavier, stiffer leader. Save your 5X – 4 lb test leaders for smaller size 14, 16, and 18 flies. Ramp up to a 3x – 10 lb or 2X – 12 lb test leader. They are much stiffer and stop big fluffy mayfly imitations from spinning out of control. Your fly will cast much easier, turn over better and land more naturally than when cast using a lighter, whimpy leader that can’t control you’re bulky bug. And consider backing off on that country mile cast so your bug won’t be traveling at warp speed. You’re perennial problems with twisted leaders will become a thing of the past.
Here is a nice table, to follow regarding
dry fly size in relation to leader size.
 6X – # 18 to 24
5X – # 14 to 18
4X – # 12 to 16
3X – # 10 to 12
2X –   # 6 to 8
**** When it comes to streamers you can get away with lighter leaders simple because streamers are generally much more aero dynamic than dries. With streamers it’s more about pound test than leader diameter. Just remember when big salmon and trout grab a streamer it is likely going to be a violent act. If you go too lite that big fish you’ve been hoping for might steal your streamer, leaving you with just another sad story to tell while you’re drowning your sorrows.****