TF’s panel of experts answer your questions on leader length, furled leaders and clear water tactics
QWhat would you say is a ‘standard’ leader length for fishing on a stillwater? How many droppers would you suggest and what should the spacing be between the final dropper and the point fly? NICK HART REPLIES: I reckon it would be possible to fill an entire book with all the different leader configurations available! Thankfully, leaders can be simplified so that more time is spent fishing rather than tying knots or, worse still, sorting out tangles. A good standard leader length is 12 to 14 feet with flies equally spaced. For example, a simple leader of seven feet to the first fly (dropper) followed by a further seven feet to the point fly has served me well in a variety of situations. Within a day of casting tuition many of my clients are comfortable with this leader length. Popular tactics such as the washing-line or swinging Buzzers will work with this set-up, or try an attractor of some kind on the point and an imitative fly in the dropper position. If you feel your casting is up to presenting a three-fly team then a tried and tested length is 15 feet with equal five-foot spacings between each fly. However, with practice it is possible to up this to six or even seven foot spacings resulting in an 18 to 21-foot leader. These lengths can produce a lot of fish, especially if they are wised-up residential specimens; however, a long net will be required to land trout which have taken the point fly! Avoid using very long leaders in windy conditions and be careful when choosing leader material. Super-fine diameters can lead to more takes but also tangle much easier, especially when using a team of flies. Tried and tested leader materials for nymph and lure fishing include Rio Fluoroflex and Airflo G5 fluorocarbon. Shortening the leader in windy conditions is advisable and it might even be worth reducing the number of flies. A single pattern presented regularly on a 10-foot leader is going to catch far more fish than something of 14 feet that has become tangled every other cast. A very simple way to achieve great leader turnover is to opt for a knotless tapered leader of seven to nine feet and add a section of tippet to increase length. Try this with a copolymer leader to achieve accuracy when casting dries.