Fol­low my leader

Jon Beer of­fers a step-by-step guide to furl­ing lead­ers. Knowl­edge of Mec­cano may help

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Contents -

A guide to furl­ing lead­ers with Mec­cano by Jon Beer

IKNOW WHEN and where it started. It was a day of sun­shine and high clouds on the eastern slope of the Lake District above Haweswa­ter. Higher still, un­der the crags of Harter Fell, is a small tarn. And be­tween the tarn and the lake a tiny stream slips down the rocks of the fell, lit­tle more than a sil­ver smear where the moun­tain wiped its nose on a sleeve. But in places the trickle finds a cleft in the rocks where it gath­ers as a small pool. And in each of th­ese there lives a trout. Which ex­plains why I was stand­ing in the sun, cast­ing a fly over some­thing the size of a hip-bath. I was stand­ing in a cleft be­low the pool to cast. With the wa­ter al­most at eye-level a few feet away, I could see ev­ery­thing in that lit­tle pool. I could see the lit­tle dry-fly drift­ing on the slight cur­rent. I could see the fly’s shadow on the sun­lit bedrock be­neath. And, be­tween that shadow and me, I could see an alarm­ing pat­tern of bright spots drift­ing across the bot­tom of the pool. My ta­pered leader had gone all curly: too long on the reel, per­haps, or fresh out of the packet. Ei­ther way, at ev­ery point where the coils cut the sur­face, a menis­cus was fo­cus­ing the sun­light into a sparkling scin­tilla: from be­low, my curly leader must have been fes­tooned with lights like a Christ­mas tree. Which makes you think. There’s no point us­ing a trans­par­ent leader if you’re go­ing to hang lights on it. So I started look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle limper. Which was when a kind French­man gave me a furled leader. He had made it him­self and wanted me to try it. It was dark grey-green and ta­pered down from the thick­ness of a fly-line. I thanked him pro­fusely and slipped it into my fish­ing bag. Where, of course, it would stay. Did he think I was mad? Ex­perts in the fhb; ng mag­a­zines were telling me I should be us­ing lead­ers of 14, 16 - some­times 20 - feet. Pre­sum­ably to lessen the chance of spook­ing fish with a fly line. And here was this French bloke sug­gest­ing I re­place my trans­par­ent leader with some­thing as in­con­spic­u­ous as a 6 ft boot­lace with just a yard or two of tip­pet to the fly. Crazy . So I tried it. Even­tu­ally. It had been rolled up in my bag for a year when I fi­nally fished it out, but the coils un­rav­elled with­out a trace of mem­ory. Now this was the sort of limp I’d been look­ing for. A loop in the thick end linked it to the braid loop on my line: I tied a length of tip­pet to the tiny ring at the thin end. I loved that: I could chuck away all those spools I car­ried to make up a ta­pered leader and I could change the tip­pet as often as I liked with­out short­en­ing the thing. This furled leader cast beau­ti­fully and sat in the sur­face. And here’s an­other thing: I some­times use a silk line, which I grease to float. I could do the same to this furled leader – or I could treat it to sink. But there’s no pre­tend­ing it’s in­vis­i­ble. I can see it, well enough, ly­ing in the sur­face. And so, pre­sum­ably, can the trout. But hap­pily they seem to ig­nore it. If you can do the same you may learn to love fish­ing with a furled leader. I do. Furled lead­ers are some­thing of a cot­tage in­dus­try. You’ll find them on the in­ter­net. And in some shops. Or, in the ab­sence of a kind French­man, you can make them your­self. It’s not hard. I’ve been mak­ing them for my­self and friends for years. Here’s how it’s done.

“Coils un­rav­elled with­out a trace of mem­ory. This was the sort of limp I’d been look­ing for”

The rock pool above Haweswa­ter where Jon’s ta­pered mono leader shone like Christ­mas lights.

Neat Shorb loops are formed at the leader’s butt and tip (see page 45).

JON BEER is the pres­i­dent of the Wild Trout Trust. He fishes all over the world and is the au­thor of three books: Gone Fish­ing, The Trout and I, and Not all Beer and Bezencenet.

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