If you’re starting as a fly fisherman, you have probably used a leader but may not have realized that there are several options of leaders available. Selecting the right one for fly fishing can be a rather complex process. We have researched tapered leaders and have discussed all there is to know about them in this guide.
A tapered leader has a long and heavy butt that delivers turnover power and it tapers in the front to a fine point. Tapered leaders are the perfect choice if you’re fishing with a small or medium-sized fly.
If you want to know everything about tapered leaders and how they can help you to excel as a fly fisherman, then keep reading the post, where we have delved in-depth into what a tapered leader is, how to use it and the benefits of using a tapered leader.
What Is A Tapered Fly Leader?
A leader is essentially the length of material that connects the fly and fly line. There are level leaders and tapered leaders. Some leaders are usually a single piece, while others are made by knotting multiple shorter sections.
Leaders come in varying types—solid, furled or braided.
Although there are different types and styles of leaders, the function of all is the same, i.e., to connect the fly and fly line in such a way that it enables you to catch fish.
A standard in fly fishing, tapered leaders have a long and heavy bottom and a tapered front that ends in a fine point.
The thickness at the front of the tapered leader depends on the diameter of the tipper.
For example, 7X tapered leaders have tippets that are very small, around 1.8 lb, whereas 0X tapered leaders have large-sized tippets of 10.5 lb.
Tapered leaders are better than level or flat leaders.
They can help to improve casting accuracy and control and help you to catch fish better.
Tapered leaders usually come in a fixed length between 7-12 feet and are available in a packet. The most commonly used length is 9 feet.
The diameter along the leader is usually tapered in a tapered leader.
The end of the leader connecting to the line is thick and as it travels down its length the leader becomes thinner.
Earlier on, tapered leaders were usually made of silk, and later on, nylon monofilament was used to make the tapered leaders.
The leaders were made by braiding the material and using fewer strands as one moved downwards.
Or, the leaders were made by knotting several sections of the material, which was heavy at the top and gradually tapered to a finer tippet.
Nowadays, most of the tapered leaders that are available are made of nylon monofilament and are usually manufactured by using the process of extrusion.
In this case, the tapered leader is made from a single strand of nylon material which is heavy at the fly line end and becomes finer at the fly end without using knots.
Benefits of Using a Tapered Leader
When you cast the line, the load or energy travels into the tapered leader via the fly line. As the energy reaches the end of the leader, the taper disperses the energy. This is known as turnover.
The turnover is essentially the final movement when the fly line is unrolled and straightened before the fly lands on the water.
The design of the tapered leader ensures that when it is cast, the flies will turn over more efficiently and land on the water gently and gracefully.
A leader that does not taper does not turn over, causing the fly to lag in the air and drop into the water with a plop.
Tapered leaders are especially beneficial if you’re using dry flies which are not aerodynamic and require help to land properly.
The limitation of tapered leaders is that they are more pricey compared to parallel leaders.
Do You Need to Use a Tippet with a Tapered Leader?
A tippet is essentially a flexible monofilament line that is joined to the leader of the fly line.
The tippet lets your fly float or swim more naturally in the water.
Usually, around 2 feet or more of tippet material is joined to the leader that has the same or lesser thickness as the tip of the leader. The tippet adds versatility and also prolongs the life of the leader.
What Is the Tapered Leader Made From?
Typically, tapered leaders are either made from nylon or fluorocarbon.
Nylon leaders are less expensive compared to fluorocarbon ones.
So, ideally, you should use nylon for the leader material which comprises around 80%-90% of the leader, and use fluorocarbon as the tippet material.
How to Tie a Tapered Leader?
A tapered leader consists of different sections of lines of varying diameters i.e., the tippet, mid and butt sections.
You can follow the formula of 20-20-60, which means 20% tippet, 20% mid-section and 60% butt section.
For example, if the leader is 10 feet, then the tippet will be 2 feet, 2 feet of the middle portion and 6 feet of the butt section.
What Knots Should You Know to Build a Tapered Leader?
To build a tapered leader it is essential to know how to make knots because you will need to use knots to join the different sections.
And, you also need a knot for a loop at the butt section, which will allow you to remove and add the leader from the fly line.
The blood knot is maybe the best and most commonly used knot that is used to join sections.
And, the perfection loop is the best to create a loop at the butt section.
In conclusion, a tapered leader is the connection between the fly and fly line and is invisible to the fish.
The leader is tapered to enable the energy to disperse progressively down the fly line to the fly so that the fly can land very gently on the water.
It also helps you to cast more accurately and control the way you cast.
So, whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, a tapered leader can definitely help you hone your casting and make a perfect landing.