Are very long leaders really a better option?

Q: How does the length of your leader affect the behaviour of the fly/flies? Why is “the longer the leader the better” often perceived as the default?

Jim Fisher


There are many myths in fishing and “longer leaders are better” is one of them. Now I fully accept that, on occasions, fish can get spooky and presentation needs to be improved.

But I find it much more effective to simply scale down the size of your flies and diameter of your leader, or fish a single fly. For the majority of my nymph fishing I use a 12 to 15-foot leader and three flies spaced equally apart.

While some anglers, including TF contributor Iain Barr, are a fan of long leaders, others are not so keen
While some anglers, including TF contributor Iain Barr, are a fan of long leaders, others are not so keen

When lure fishing I only ever fish one or two flies (as they are larger patterns), again spaced equally apart on a 12 to 15-foot leader. Leaders of 20-foot plus are really not needed in my opinion. There are so many different density fly-lines available nowadays, and all anglers (unless in an international rules competition) have the benefit of using weighted patterns.

Why make life hard for yourself? Longer leaders are prone to tangles with multiple flies and much more difficult to cast. Think about what you are doing, what you are trying to achieve and the easiest way to achieve it.

Tippet to fly-line connection

Q:What’s the best method for connecting tippet to a welded loop on a fly-line. I’m not sure if cutting the welded loop off and attaching a braided loop is a good idea.

Donnie Lawson


If you’re going to attach level tippet directly to the fly-line loop, then form a loop in the butt end of the tippet (diagram 1) – this spreads the load and reduces the chances of the thick diameter line cutting into the coating of the fly-line (diagram 2).

Tippet tied directly to a welded loop with a knot will slice through the coating and is not recommended. If you do prefer to tie tippet directly to the fly-line with a blood knot or similar, then a braided loop is a better option.

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