Use Long Leaders for Flat Water

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Use Long Leaders on Flat Water – Photo By: Louis Cahill

The saying a picture tells a thousand words is true, particularly in this case, as a tool for me explaining how important it is to use a long leader when fly fishing on flat water.

In the picture above, take a moment to view the disturbances the fly line and leader create on the water during a presentation.

Notice how little noise and footprint the leader makes when compared to the fly line. I was casting a Scott G2 5 weight rod with a 9′ leader and foam hopper, and I presented the fly as softly as possible. Anglers often don’t realize how much noise they’re creating during their presentations, and why so regularly they’re spooking the fish their casting to on flat water.

The fly line itself, creates the most noise during your presentation and is by far the biggest contributor to spooking fish. Try using a 10-12′ leader or even a specialty George Harvey dry fly leader, that’s designed to dissipate energy and lay out dry flies with slack. This will increase the distance between your fly and the start of your noisy fly line hitting the water, resulting in more hook ups and less spooks.

This fly fishing tip isn’t expected to turn heads. It’s more intended to be a friendly reminder for us fly anglers to fish with common sense. Many anglers including myself, often get on the water and find themselves oblivious for the need to adapt tactics to create a successful day of fishing. If you know you’re going to be dealing with flat water go ahead and rig up a longer leader right away. Being lazy and not doing so is like continuing to fish a fly that is not working all day long, and then walking away saying, “The fish weren’t biting today”. Quick common sense adjustments to your fly fishing rig is the key to consistent fishing day in and day out.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline

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9 thoughts on “Use Long Leaders for Flat Water

  1. 10 to 12 feet is really short for me.
    On stillwater trout, I fish my dries on 18-20 foot of leader, for nymphing I even go a little longer.

  2. Great tip, Kent. Details often make the difference between success and failure in many things, and fishing is certainly a perfect example.

    • In saltwater (bonefish) I tend to also use 18 foot leaders, especially for tailers.

      You should really try it sometime, it will make a difference (I do shorten when having to throw into stiff winds, when fish are also less spooky, but I will not ever go under 12ft)

  3. Great tip. Had this problem yesterday casting to rising brookies. A decent backup plan IMO is to fish a streamer if you can’t stop spooking them

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