Great question although I have fly fished far a long time I consider myself a neophyte when it comes to leaders. I mostly fish a simple a leader as I can. I know that there are better solutions but it can get confusing. Any help that anyone wants to share would be great.
I've gone to tieing my own now for the past two years and (knock wood) have not had a leader failure since I learned how to properly tie a double nail knot. As a side note I've also eliminated braided loops at the leader/fly line transition and gone to an allbright.
All fluorocarbon ( and in spite of some of the early negative reports I've had no problems with Vanish when the knots are well lubricated and clean when making up )
10 / 9wt
For surf: 3' 40# 3' 30# 3' 20#
From the boat: 3' 40# 2' 30# 2' 20# 2' 17#
beach with no surf or boat: 3' 30# 3' 20# 3' 17#
flats/skinny water: 3' 30# 2' 20# 2' 17/15# 2' 12#
no science here, these are just general formulae that I've had confidence in. Sometimes it's a matter of sitting down in the basement with cup of coffee and pulling out line until it feels about right !
Since I fish salt most. Keep it simple. Usually I have a 30 pound butt section about a foot long with a perfection loop... then 4,5 or 6 feet of 16, or 20 pound test ,floro tippet,,,, tie perfection or double surgeons loop to attach to the butt loop. Tie on the fly with a mono loop to give the fly action, in between retreives. Lately I have tied a two foot bimini twist between the butt and leader for added strength. The bimini will have a double sugeons loop on one end and a perfection on the other. I use the albright to attatch the butt to the fly line..that usually will stay on for some time, it is not reattached each time I go out. I change my leaders every day.
I used the same set up for 5-6 years, and the last few I have screwed around a lot with different formulas, but I have found myself slowly reverting back to simplicity.
Last year i did what Bob described, only I used Seaguer flourocarbon which is a really stiff tippet material flouro instead of berkley vanish, which I believe is made as one of those flouro/mono blends you can load an entire spinning reel up with (correct me if I am wrong Bob). I did not like my end result all that well--the stiffer flouro did not turn flies over all that well for me as compared to softer mono (although I did keep them for bonito/albie season).
I've gone back to a 3-4' 40 lb. butt section and a 3-4' tippet, looped with perfection loops. I have started to shorten this a lot for leadcore sinking lines (total leader 4-6').
I go a little longer on my clear line. Gin clear flats, 8-9' minimum.
Bottom line is there is no right way, use what ever will turn over the fly and won't break (i.e. good knot connections).
on our trip, Flip showed us a handy bit of info. after tying on(nailknot) your butt section, hold the line and leader both about 3 to 4 inches from the knot. slowly bend the line/knot/leader and you should have a smooth curve in the line if not, change the Lb test of the leader to make it so... this will facilitate a smooth transition of power thru to the fly. Tom D
60% butt - 20% taper - 20% tippet... adds up to 100% of length of leader. The first 60% is split 60/40% again. The mid section or taper is split into two or three equal sections (discretion based on length). The tippet is just one pc.
SO for SWFF, inshore intermediate, flats, etc (7-9 ft)...
40#, 30# (60% of leader length split 60/40)
25#, 20# (20% of leader length split in half)
15# (20% of leader lgt)
Surf and/or sinking head line leaders (4pc, 4-7 ft):
Thanks Tom ,You twist the Line! My Boys started to tell me I looked ridiculous trying to bend the line like bending a stick. 'Gee, how do you keep it bent after you bend it?" I told them I must be missing a step.
I would add that unless you test the cast with the fly size and weight you don't really know what butt diam you need. I just use 40# for saltwater and it makes a difference.
General rule to check for hinge action:
Hold the line on either side of the knot in front of you, then put a bridge-like curve in the leader. Raise one hand while lowering the other, back and forth - like making a slinky shift from one side to the other.
If the transition is smooth between one section and the other, then the leader is not likely to hinge.
This is much more important with loop systems than blood or surgeon's knots. Perfection / Surgeon loop to loop connections are typically fine, but other loops people concoct can be notorious hinge points.
A perfect example is a crack in the line coating... talk about a serious hinge! As we all know, the effect of a hinge it that the shock wave we use to propel the line will not transfer progressively down the length of the line.
Have any of you guys experimented with Rio's Poly-tips. This past fall and spring I used them for steelhead. In case you aren't familiar they are 10' "tips" that range from a clear floater to a type 6 sinker. They come with a factory loop at one end and the mono-core is covered with various "poly" coatings - the type 6 is a tungsten coating. I attach them to the butt section of my full floating lines with the loop to loop connection you are talking about (I use 40lb Maxima on my spey lines). I have found these to be awesome as they turn over like a regular leader the hi-D ones sink like stones due to their thin profile and I only need to carry one floater and don't need to remove the front taper like you do to turn over a regular sink tip! In fact I have given up on regular sink tips altogether.
Now for application out your way they seem to me a natural. The clear floater, hover and intermediate tips would be perfect for the flats stuff and for faster deeper water the type 4 and 6 could quickly replace them. I intend to try them out next summer but if you haven't already done so maybe you should check them out yourself.