Casting Exercise 12 - Playing with the Leader
The importance of adjusting our leader according to the type of cast we need to make is usually underestimated

This exercise invites you to make an interesting experiment by varying the length of your leader. It's a good way to become aware of and get a feeling for the importance of this element when it comes to curves, hooks and fly-first casts. By exaggerating the length of your leader (short as well as long) you'll see clearly what wrist movements and applied force are needed for the desired cast.

A positive curve cast is easily executed with a short leader (6 and a half feet on the photo)

Necessary equipment

Nylon leader material and a pair of scissors (and you thought I had no more surprises.)

Long hooks, long leaders (12 feet long here)

Objective of the game

Immediate: to execute various types of casts with varying lengths of leader.

In time: to know how to adapt your leader to the various stream circumstances according to the type of cast you're going to make.


Hooks with short leaders, although possible, require a much more subtle wrist rotation and application of power.Start with a one-yard leader (yes, only three-feet long). Make some positive curve casts. You'll realize how little power you need to apply for it to curve almost automatically.
Keep making the leader longer until it gets very tricky to curve the end of the leader.
When your leader's more than 13 feet long, start casting right hooks. You'll find it tremendously simple to make such a practical cast when actually fishing. Also practice casting over the opposite shoulder to cast left hooks


When making positive curve casts, give a little jerk with your line hand to help the line curve. You can also flick the rod tip back at the same time.

Harder yet

  • Lengthen your leader for positive curve casts.
  • Shorten it for hook casts.