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Thread: How long a leader for most Smokies streams?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Default How long a leader for most Smokies streams?

    Byron had some excellent points in today's fishing report. One is, you might need a heavier (4X or 3X) leader for larger dry flies. But what is meant my larger flies? 12, 14?

    Also, what size leader is best for a Cosby Creek/Roaring Fork/LeConte Creek place? If you use a dropper rig and you add 18 inches to a 7.5 foot leader, you're at over 9 feet. That seems unwieldy. What about cutting off the butt of that leader and making it a 6 foot, with a 18 inch dropper, for a manageable 7.5 foot total length? Would that be appropriate?

    In the bigger water such as Elkmont, I assume you go with a standard 7.5 foot leader?

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    I always try to keep my leaders in the Smokies the length of the rod or less. Preferably a little less. That makes high sticking easier. Stick with 4x or 5x for any dry flies #10 or smaller under nearly all conditions.

    On small streams, stick with the 7.5' leader OR tie your own. That butt section is critical to getting the leader to turn over dry flies correctly so don't cut it. If you really need to go shorter but don't want to tie your own, you can cut the 7.5' leader down on the tippet end by around 3'. Add a tippet ring and then add 2' of 5x and now you have a 6.5' leader. This is NOT ideal but better than cutting the butt section out of the leader. On bigger water, stick to a 7.5' leader if the water is on the high side or fishing pocket water. If you're fishing pools or longer runs then go more like 9'. Good luck!
    "Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19

    Guided Fly Fishing with David Knapp
    The Trout Zone Blog
    contact: TroutZoneAnglers at gmail dot com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Seymour, TN
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    I'm with David on the leader being the length of the rod or less. I'm way too cheap to buy tapered leaders and I cry too hard when I break them. On my 9' 2/3wt, I usually use 6ft of 6lb moss green mono then about 3ft of 6X tippet. I'll cut the 6' section down a foot sometimes or even more if I'm somewhere relatively tight like Road Prong or West Prong. On my 7'3" TFO Finesse 2wt, I do the same thing to match the rod or less. It'll be about 4' of 6lb moss green mono, then 2-3ft of 7X. I never throw wind resistant flies though, the bushiest thing I'll use in the park is a #14 neversink caddis. I have also been using my 12' ultralight 5:5 tenkara rod a lot lately. I use 7-8' of #3.5 (10lb) orange flourocarbon, then 3-4' of 7X. I normally use either a #16-14 unweighted soft hackle or a #16 beadhead jig nymph or some kind, although tiny dries are a lot of fun on the tenkara rod too!

  4. #4
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    Apr 2012
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    Guys this is great info! Thank you so much! I had no idea about cutting off the butt end of the leader but that makes sense. Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    I also stay with a leader no longer than the rod. My go to 3 weights are an 8’9” and 9’ rod. I use a 4’6” furled leader with tippet ring and then add about 2-2 1/2’ of tippet. I then add a dropper fly about 16-18” below my dry.

    With my 8’6” rods down to a 7’9” or so I use a 3-4’ furled leader. I started using this set up 3 or so years ago after using 7’6” to 9’ tapered nylon leaders for years and years. What happened when I went to the furled leaders was a higher catch rate and less money spent on leaders and tippet.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    I have never used furled leaders but have heard nothing but good about them. I personally use around a 7.5' leader the majority of the time, when using a dropper I adjust the tippet to the stream and water conditions. When the water gets skinny later in the summer I'll use 9' leaders more.

  7. #7
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    OK another related question. Let's say you are fishing deep for a brown trout - maybe 4-5 feet below the surface. How/where do you attach that 4-5 feet as it relates to the existing leader of say 7.5 feet? Or do you just put a strike indicator on the leader around where it connects to the fly line and let the existing leader take the nymph/wet fly to the bottom without other extensions?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayR View Post
    I also stay with a leader no longer than the rod. My go to 3 weights are an 8’9” and 9’ rod. I use a 4’6” furled leader with tippet ring and then add about 2-2 1/2’ of tippet. I then add a dropper fly about 16-18” below my dry.

    With my 8’6” rods down to a 7’9” or so I use a 3-4’ furled leader. I started using this set up 3 or so years ago after using 7’6” to 9’ tapered nylon leaders for years and years. What happened when I went to the furled leaders was a higher catch rate and less money spent on leaders and tippet.
    Can you explain what a furled leader is?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuskerFlyFisher View Post
    Can you explain what a furled leader is?

    http://www.streamsideleaders.com/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuskerFlyFisher View Post
    OK another related question. Let's say you are fishing deep for a brown trout - maybe 4-5 feet below the surface. How/where do you attach that 4-5 feet as it relates to the existing leader of say 7.5 feet? Or do you just put a strike indicator on the leader around where it connects to the fly line and let the existing leader take the nymph/wet fly to the bottom without other extensions?
    Me personally, I build my own nymphing leaders. I mostly tightline and do not use a furled leader. I build my leaders based on several formulas you can find out there. I start with a butt section then go down in size a time or so ending with a tippet ring where I tie on my tippet anywhere from 3x to 5x. I do not use an indicator as I have found (at least for me) the Smokies have such an inconsistent depth. On tailwaters such as the Clinch I do use an indicator.

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