Leaders and connections

Leaders and connections

Viking Lars | Saturday, 23 April 2022

I had a casting course a few weeks ago for the youngsters in a club, where I’m a member. I enjoy teaching young people - for several reasons. They are often “blank pages” and take in advice and corrections very quickly. And with no or very few ingrained, bad habits they progress very quickly. I’ve had total beginners carry 10m of fly line with well controlled within two hours and double hauling on the next session.

I arrived early just to warm up for 30 minutes and prepare the demonstrations of the basic casts and the terms I use when teaching and as I was casting, I managed to cast off the leader. Not particularly well prepared of me, I didn’t have a spare. So I had to go looking, but I found it. Thankfully we were next to the club house, so I went in the shop, found a pair of pliers and made a quick, two-turn nail knot.

I like nail knots for leaders, but I really don’t use them much. I often change leaders throughout a fishing day. Maybe I change to one suited for larger flies (shorter and stouter) and wind, if I change spots. If I’m dry fly fishing I might go from a long, thin leader to a shorter, more stout one if the hatch changes and I need bigger dries (like it often happens in the drake-hatches).

For that reason I go with loop-to-loop. They are bulky, they are probably less efficient than nail/needle knots, they also catch more weed (which is why I didn’t use them for a long time), but it takes two minutes to change a leader and that is a great advantage, I find.

For my practice line, however, I like to glue the leader into the core. I first read about this in an article maybe 25 years ago, written by Dave Whitlock. I think he also came up with the idea. He wrote he’d caught tarpon using a glued-in connection. I’d never use this connection for fishing. Superglue is used and it hardens brittle and will crack over time. And it was in fact a glued-in leader that fell off in a blind cast a few weeks ago.

Nor will I ever tie knots that require glue to stay seated, but I don’t mind using for instance UV-resin to coat and smooth out bulky knots. That’s part of an upcoming FP, also on leaders.

But for casting practice and instruction, I always glue the leader in place. The simple reason is that the connection collects no dirt and never snags in the grass (in the PoD).

I’m now off to another lesson, also for a club.

Have a great weekend!