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Old 02-05-2004, 06:22 AM
RR41mag RR41mag is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: south miss
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Smile new fly rod

My wife bought me a nice 8wt fly rod and reel for our aniversary. How long should the leader be? Should the leader be mono or can I use berkley power pro? I will be fishing mainly for red fish in louisiana.
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Old 02-05-2004, 08:08 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Location: Steelhead country|striper coast|bonefish belt
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Assuming the reds are going to want a fly that pushes some water, you will probably want to go with a fairly stout saltwater leader.

The leader's function is to tranfer the energy in the line toward the fly while maintaining stealth and dissipating a lot of the energy so the fly lands softer. To turn over a more wind resistant or heavier fly, your leader is better off being of heavier test since it dissipates less energy before it hits the fly.

Tapered leaders perform better than non-tapered leaders as a general rule because the thicker and heavier line transitioning to a thinner and lighter line promotes a good presentation right thru to the tip.

Depending on the size of the fish you are after, I would start with a 7ft saltwater tapered leader starting with 40# test all the way down to 15# or 12# depending on the size of fish, water conditions, and size of fly. These go for about 4-5 bucks off the shelf or you can make your own using the 60%/20%/20$ rule.

The homemade leader has three parts: butt, taper and tippet. The butt should be 60%, taper 20%, tippet 20%.

I like to split the butt again 60/40%, the taper in half, and the tippet is generally one-pc unless I am tying 15ft spey leaders.

You can play around with the ratios until you find what you like.

While guiding for striped bass I often tie a good stout 7ft-ish saltwater leader as follows: (total length = 88-90")

1) butt = 50" of which
30" (60%) is 40# test and
20" (40%) is 30-35#
2) taper = 20" of which
10" is 25#
10" is 20#
3) tippet = 18-20" of 15#


I use a mnemonic 30-20-10-10-20 to remember and carry the pocket spools of 40, 30, 25, 20 and 15 in my chest pack with at least two 15# and various flourocarbon tippet spools for use when needed on the flats.

For longer leaders (sight fishing) or shorter (sinking lines) just extend the lengths using the same ratios, but add another part into the taper to lower the tippet diameter (splitting in thirds).

This system has worked very well for me and is easy to remember 30-20-10-10-20 for the most commonly used 7ft SW leader to 15# tippet.

Good luck.
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