Tying tapered leaders

Anyone else out there crazy enough to tie your own tapered leaders ? :shock:

Truth be told (and I do not want to have a political thread) the economic downturn has hit us pretty hard. We are both fortunate to be employed with benefits, but between pay cuts - reduced hours - inflation ... things are tight.

So when I decided to jump back into fly fishing I was a bit shocked at perfection knot tapered leaders at $4 or more. And flies are now $2 versus $1.50 or $1.25ea. Yikes.

So tonite using one of those slick nail-knot tools and 5 spools of maxima leader material I tied my first leader in about 40min. Using the example in The Curtis Creek Manifesto (page 25 in my well worn copy) I tied what is basically a 4X leader at about 7ft long - that will have the final 2 - 2.5ft section (tippet) added (with a surgeons knot) when it is used. Its coiled neatly just like the ones in the colorful plastic wrappers.

I'll crank out a few more before our trip to the Little North fork of the Santiam this week end. Hopefully I'll get a few on to test the leaders out.
Cool. Tell us how it goes!
I tried building my own tapered leaders years ago. I gave up on them because the knots caused a lot of trouble catching, tangling, and picking up debris (weeds, algea, etc).

I do build my own leader for my chironomidae/bobber line. I nail knot an 8' piece of .011" (15lb.) clear mono. (Rio) to my floating line. I tie a tiny barrel swivel (Spro #10) to the end of the 8' section. I tie on either 5X to 3X Seaguear fluoro. as a tippet in whatever length I need to fish water from 10' to 25' deep.

My quick-release bobber/indicator slides free on the 8' section of .011" with the peg facing down so if the fish breaks off, the swivel keeps the peg (and thus bobber) from sliding off the line and being lost.

There is no need for a heavy butt section when fishing the chironomidae W/bobber method as the weight of the bobber, swivel, fly(s) carry the cast and lay out nicely. The smaller diameter overall leader allows the weighted patterns to more easily sink to the depths.

Hope I didn't stray to far off your own interest with building your own leaders??? Us older guys tend to let our minds waunder. :lol:

I'll make a few more this evening and report back after our trip. And yes Randy (Sinkline) I can see that the blood knots can / will pick up debris .... especially algae or any very fine water-weeds.

I'll probably always have to carry a few knotless tapered leaders for some situations ....
I am also employed but at about 2/3 of what I made 5yrs ago. With kids a house an work I dont have time to tie my own flies an leaders. But I have found you dont have to pay Fishermans prices to get good fly gear.

I buy hand tied from a guy on ebay. He does a nice job an i think they cast better I think I was paying 2$ each. I can get you his page name if you like. I also get flies from another guy from 1$ to 5$ a dozen. It may be suitable for the purest but it get me on the water a lot more than if I was to tie or buy.
Thanks mark - glad to hear you're working. I'm finding that tying leaders is pretty easy. If you want to PM me on your fly source I might check that out.
I do both, depending on my needs (or if I need a new leader and didn't bring a spare w/ me). I will also take a cut-back knotless and use it as a butt or mid-section for a leader I tie up.

And I go a step further - I make up my own braided/furled leader butts to run between the plain mono and the fly line.

I've made up entire braided leaders before, but those are really, really intensive and boring to build, and my finished products are not nearly as pretty as the ones you buy at the fly shops (but they still cast nicely). So I stick with a braided or furled butt section instead of a whole leader now.
I have been thinking of tying some of my own just because I can not find a good heavy tapered leader for Chinook. I have yet to find anything that tells me what # test to use though. I figure I will just go with 25,15,12 and see how it goes.
Randy's words ring true - especially when it comes to fishing larger flies (like you would for salmon, or bass). For nooks - I'd probably run a straight piece of 15-20lb line right off the fly line (if I wasn't already using a tapered leader on said line). Those flies are probably going to be heavily weighted, and a pain to cast anyway. A tapered leader won't make a lick of difference, except to your pocket book. ON the other hand - if you're fishing dry flies that require a delicate presentation - running 2-4lb mono right off your big fat fly line isn't going to do you any favors, except give you headaches. A tapered leader would be needed there.

For indi nymphing? Probably don't need a tapered leader, or, if anything - just a 2 section leader with a medium sized butt and the proper tippet strength - because again - such a rig is going to cast like a brick anyway - and your leader won't be the limiting factor in getting your flies out there.

The longer the leader, the nicer it is to cast if it's tapered - at least for light weight or unweighted flies. Short leaders - straight mono works fine. Any really wind resistant fly (like a big bomber, a big bass bug) or heavily leaded fly - 4-6' of straight mono will be fine.
I guess length is what makes it complicated then. Lots to learn and lots to try when it comes to needing tapered or not.
Here's a bit more of my take:

Tapered leaders = dry flies, unweighted wet flies, lightly weighted nymphs - any presentation where delicacy is needed
Straight mono = any time you're fishing with additional weight (split shot, twist on, etc), large heavily weighted flies, or large wind resistant flies. Examples = indicator nymphing, bass bugging, steelhead or salmon fly swinging

And of course there's a middle road - two or three section tapered leaders where you use a heavy or medium weight butt section, and a lighter tippet.

There are no hard and fast rules in my fishing, or my leader use. I've seen my nephew, who is a fly fishing neophyte, catch a trout on a dry fly using a 4' long section of 4lb mono tied right to his fly line. It wasn't ideal, but it worked for him and he caught fish.

Experiment and use what you're comfortable with, and what gives you the most pleasure to fish with. That's really the most important thing, right?

Personally, I usually prefer to use a tapered leader as it just gives me extra options with less rigging time. I typically tie my own, and tend to fish longer leaders than most (10-15' vs the typical 7-9 footers).
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