Leader Sizes? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Leader Sizes?

04-29-2003, 11:10 PM
I've read that leaders must be sized based on the size of fly you are casting. For example, smaller sized flies like size #18 and size #20 perform better with a finer leader such as a 6X, whereas larger sized flies like sizes 6-10 turn over better with stiffer leaders such as a 4X.

Is this true? Will I get better casting performance if I size my leaders in this way or should I try to use the smallest diameter leader/tippet in order to avoid spooking wary trout?

I typically fish dry flies in sizes 12-16 and use a 6X leader/tippet. Is this an ideal combination or should I consider a different size leader?

04-30-2003, 06:49 AM
In theory, this is true. It also produces good results, but is a GENERAL rule.

But what do you do if you hit a chalkstream, the water is crystal clear, and the fish are spooked by the size leader you are using???? Give up and go home?

Well, fortunately this rule can be "bent" or "broken" without causing a disaster. In fact, going back to the origins of this rule, I have to wonder if it was meant to cover the diameter of the eye of the hook, and picking a leader size for easy entry and knot tying!

Generally, there is no problem. Just don't carry it to extremes - a 0X leader won't fit into the eye of a size 24 midge fly, and a 10X leader won't deliver a clouser minnow very well.


04-30-2003, 08:35 AM
Like Bob said I think this is more of a general guideline.

I beleive this rule originally applied to dry fly fishing. The idea being that you can't turn over a size 10 humpy with a 6x leader and that a 4x leader with a midge on the business end of it will hit the water like a ton of bricks.

Also depends on wind, what kind of water you're fishing etc.

For subsurface fishing it isn't all that important if you use the indicator/splitshot method that has become so popular.

I use 4x for streamers and big nymphs, 6x if I'm fishing dries and 5x for about everything else. For midges etc I just build some 7x onto whatever I'm using.

Good luck

04-30-2003, 07:12 PM
Also think of the size of the fish being targeted and the speed of the flow. There is no way I can handle any trout on the Bow with 7X, the typical rainbow will run at 15 inches and the average fish is at 18 inches with many in the 24+ range. All look like they have been on steroids.... Not at all like the ones I used to catch when I lived back east.

05-02-2003, 10:11 AM
that I learned awhile back. Take the size of fly to be used and divide by 3 (size 18 divided by 3 = size 6 leader) I have used this method for a long time and it seems to work as long as I round down to the smaller leader or attach a smaller tippet section at the end for the flies that don't divide well (size 14 flies get a 5x leader and size 16 flies get a 5x leader with a 6x tippet about a foot long) Of course there are exceptions to this method but overall it at least will get you in the ballpark :) This works for mono and flouro as well but with flourocarbon I round up not down since the fish don't seem to see it as well as they do mono:hehe:

05-05-2003, 05:33 PM
Try www.globalflyfisher.com and look on the side for Leadercalc. It contains a wealth of info on leaders, and will even "custom design" 'em for you. All kinds of info on brands vs. stiffness, fluoro vs. mono, and design guidlines. Good reading.