Fly Fishing Tips: Selecting a Leader

Fly Fishing Tips: Selecting a Leader

Selecting a leader is a routine aspect of rigging up for a day on the water for fly fishing. Like many aspects of fly fishing, there are endless options available to anglers when it comes to selecting a leader to use.

Exactly what length/size leader to choose is dependent upon specific fishing situations. However, for the purpose of today I am going to pick one leader that I feel can cover just about any situation anglers face on our water.

So, the moment of truth, what leader should an angler choose to fish with on our water for most days of fly fishing? My answer is simple, I use 7.5ft 4x Orvis Superstrong Plus leaders while guiding our water at the club. I believe that with minor adjustments and modifications I can make this leader suitable for any situation that I face while fishing on our water.

However, please realize there is a lot of subjectivity when it comes to answering a question like this. With that being said, let’s talk about some of the reasons why I choose a 7.5ft 4x leader as a starting point for my rigs.

1 Length– Since our water is mostly based on small stream scenarios, I rarely feel as though I need a leader longer than 9ft. By starting with a 7.5ft 4x leader, my total leader length from fly line to fly is usually around 9ft after I add a little tippet or tie two fly rigs to it. It’s very easy to increase length by adding some 5x to fish under low and clear water situations.

2 Tippet Size- Most days on the water I fish tippet sizes ranging from 3x to 5x. It’s rare that I fish heavier or lighter, so by choosing a 4x leader I am in the middle of the tippet size range I fish most. It’s very easy to fish lighter by adding 5x to a 4x leader, and also relatively easy to replace the 4x on the leader with a piece of 3x to fish heavier. 

3 Versatility- I prefer starting with a 7.5ft 4x leader because with minor adjustments I can make this leader suitable for fishing dries, nymphs, and streamers rigs. In a nutshell, add a little tippet and a dry fly to catch risers, add some tippet and tie on a two fly rig for nymphing, or cut back a little tippet to tie on a streamer.

For these reasons, my approach to leader selection for fishing on our water is pretty simple. Stock up on 7.5ft 4x Orvis Superstrong Plus leaders and you are ready to face any situation a day on the water may throw at you. If you need some leaders or are due for a day on the water, talk to Joel so he can get you set up!