Best Way To Attach A Leader To A Fly Line

Do not be mistaken, you can be fly-fished with a leaderless line but you do not want to. To reduce the visibility of the fly-fished line, avoid it snagging, or twisting and then snapping from a thrashing fish, a leader is very much advised.

How To Attach Leader To A Fly Line
Best Way To Attach A Leader To A Fly Line

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The best way to attach a leader to a fly line becomes imperative if you are fishing in certain conditions. For instance, there are several sharp objects underneath the water that you cannot tell your fishing line is rubbing against.

If you are fly-fished by the coast, barnacles, shells, or rocks can quickly snag or break your line. Not to mention particular fish who can simply bite through the line.

A leader is effective at fooling fish into taking your bait as they struggle to detect the transparent leader line. That improved bait presentation is one thing but a leader also helps to protect your fishing line against damage.

By exposing that leader line, you can ensure that your main fishing line remains intact.

What Is A Leader?

A leader is essentially a precautionary measure to use while fishing in the form of a length of transparent mono-filament nylon or fluorocarbon.

You will want to cast your fishing line out into the water then allow it to freely float, hoping that it does not hit something.

The leader is a further line attached to your main fishing line which can come in various lengths and even thicknesses.

The different leader lines largely depend on the type of fish you are after. A thicker leader will be essential for a larger fish like bass, though for trout it can be thinner.

By simply attaching a leader, you can change up your fishing objections and go after different fish if you want to.

If you are not using a leader, chances are you will struggle in a difficult moving current as your line fights to stay in position. Should your line get stuck with an object in the water it will need to be untangled even before you begin to reel it in.

A leader line is a really useful way of fishing that should mean you catch more fish and not have to buy more fly lines. 

The Equipment

You will need several pieces of specialist equipment to attach a leader line to a fly line. It is important to have these available with you whenever you go fishing as you never know when you may need them.

Some of the items are quite obvious, whereas others can seem quite specific.

Alongside your main fishing line and leader line, you will need either a lure or hook. Bring along a swivel, either a sinker or a fishing weight than a cutting device such as a pair of scissors, nail clippers, a knife, or a set of pliers.

Step-By-Step Guide To Attaching A Leader Line To A Fly Line

Step-By-Step Guide To Attaching A Leader Line To A Fly Line

The length of your leader line is something you want to get comfortable with as there is no specific guidance for how long it should be.

This is something you can work out yourself as you may want a longer one to allow a live bait a bit more room to swim around in, in which case 30 to 42 inches should suffice. However, a length can be a lot shorter and be around 24 to 30 inches long.

  1. You should attach the swivel to the leader line so it can freely rotate in the water without twisting your main fishing line. Tie on the swivel to an end of the leader line and then keep it secure with a surgeon loop.
  1. Ideally, use a swivel that comes with a snap-on clip so you can easily add on weight and then remove it as part of your rig setup.
  1. Once your swivel is attached, you will want to tie the lure or hook onto your leader line. A Snelling Knot is ideal to use for its noted strength in keeping the lure or hook in place. You can also use a Nail Knot which uses friction to attach the leader to the fly line. 

How To Do A Snelling Knot

  1. Run the tag end of your leader line through the hook eye which runs towards the point of the hook.
  1. Form a small loop at the point of the hook and bring that tag end behind the hook’s shank which will require around four inches of tag. 
  1. Working from the point of the hook to its eye, wrap the tag end around the hook shank around five to seven times.
  1. Feed the tag back out through your loop so that it goes underside to the topside.
  1. Hold the wraps in place and then pull the tag end so that it tightens up close and neat. 
  1. Clip any excess tag at the end and the hook should be secure. 

How To Do A Nail Knot

This is another knot that you can use to attach a leader line to a fly line. The Nail Knot is generally used in fishing to attach two lines of different diameters, in this case, your leader line and fly line.

You will require a nail or a hollow tube, though a coffee stirrer stick of a similar length will do too. 

  1. Lay the nail, or tube, right against the end of your fly line. 
  1. Find the butt section end of your leader line and lay it against the fly line and tube.
  1. You will want around ten to twelve inches of the tag end to tie the knot.
  1. Similar to the Snelling Knot, make six to eight tight wraps from left to right going around the leader line, fly line, and your tube or nail. 
  1. Pull the tag end through your tube or that vacant space alongside the nail.
  1. Hold the wraps in place, remove the tube or nail then pull the tag end to tighten the knot. 
  1. Trim off any excess tag and your leader line should be successfully attached to your fly line. Now go catch some fish! 

Final Thoughts

Fly-fishing can be a really enjoyable way to spend a day though using a leader line can make it a productive one too. Most anglers want to protect their fly line and unless you want to inspect the underwater area, using a leader line is a good way of looking after it.

The leader line can be easily attached using a reliable knot and once it is secure, it should hopefully fool some fish into missing your fly line.

Fishing Pro at Tyger Leader
My name is Jacob Beasley and I want to be a leader for young fishermen and women who need their questions answered.

While I don’t mind having people walk up to me and ask me about fishing, it does violate an unspoken rule of fishing - leave each other alone. You might scare off my fish by walking over to me!

Also, I wanted to create a single space where newbies could come and read up for hours so that they head to their fishing spot confident and ready. You don’t want to be hovering over your phone all day trying to get answers to your questions.

So, stay and learn for a while. I hope that by the next time you go fishing, something you read on Tyger Leader will be of use.
Jacob Beasley
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