An often overlooked step in getting rigged and ready to fish is straightening the leader. Most Trout leaders consist mainly of butt material with a short taper and tippet. The butt material is the stiffest portion of the leader and it holds the most memory. Whether we pull a fresh leader out of a package or pull it off the reel the leader is stored in a coil which causes the material to “remember” its coiled shape. Leaving the coil works against us in several ways. First, a leader with a memory problem is more difficult to cast in that it is less aerodynamic. Second, a coiled leader makes casting accurately very difficult because the coils don’t unroll to a consistent length. Third, a coiled leader takes us out of contact with our flies. Whether fishing nymphs or wets on a floating line, sunk line lake tactics or pulling streamers, feeling a strike is paramount. A leader with too much memory reduces contact with flies, decreasing strike detection.
There are several products available to straighten a leader. Naturally they are called “leader straighteners”. Most fly shops carry at least one leader straightening product. If not, do what I do and use your hands. You can easily remove memory from most leaders by running the leader through your hand, warming it slightly with friction and then giving it a good stretch.
Here are a few online options to purchase a leader straightener:
Take an extra second or two to work the memory out of your leader. The fish won’t thank you for it….