The least sexy of all things fly fishing is the leader, but it is a critical element in the casting and presentation equation and, possibly, the least understood element of a fly fisherman’s equipment. A good mono, hand built maybe cost $4 and it’s the element of tackle that is second only to the fly in proximity to the fish. Hmm?
Furled leaders were invented in the 1700’s – woven by hand from silk or horse hair. Production technology eliminated their commercial availability and use. However, it has many advantages and dry fly fishers, as well as, saltwater anglers have revitalized their use.
Today, there are several producers and availability includes mono and fluorocarbon. BlueSky (see info below) remains the overall industry leader. Their brand is woven from over 90-feet of premium quality nylon (mono) to a length of 5- feet, 9-inches – the Stillwater leader is 8-foot, 4-inches in length and is woven from over 120-feet of nylon. Their product line continues to expand with the introduction of heavier weight class leaders, fluorocarbon and spey class furled leaders.
You might ask, why would anyone go through all that trouble when high-quality mono leaders are so inexpensive? Well, for coldwater anglers, one leader could make it through the entire season. For saltwater anglers, one leader could easily make it through a week of bone fish activity in the Bahamas.
Mono lets anglers who fish wet get the leader and fly down to the desired water column, but with a little coating of silicone flotant over the leader’s entire length, you can sit on top. Fluorocarbon furled leaders allow for getting deep a little more quickly.
Furled leaders do not rely on multiple knots. Hand tied leaders inevitably produce wind knots, bad connection possibilities, debris pick up at each knot that can spook wary game fish. Furled leaders taper smoothly from end to end, with no knots. The shining and most advantageous factor of furled leaders is found in the castability factor. They simply aid anglers make better and more accurate casts (tighter loops) – a better energy transfer during a cast. Delicate presentation? Furled leaders will help anglers in that department as well.
NOTE: At first, any furled leader will feel strange because of it’s overall diameter and extreme suppleness – limp actually. However, once you engage in casting real-time you’ll notice that they unfurl with less resistance, chuck weighted flies better, more easily cast in the wind; line pick is improved because of increased surface tension (similar to Scientific Anglers ‘dimpled’ fly lines), roll casting is a lot better for same reason and the stretching ability will help a lot in absorbing unexpected darting runs.
BlueSky offers leaders for ultra-light fishing to leaders with titanium bite guards, as well as spey leaders
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