Fly Line Leader: A Clean Connection
December 11, 2011
The link from the tapered leader or butt section to the fly line is an often overlooked connection. Popular options include a welded loop in the fly line to a perfection loop in the monofilament, an albright knot or a nail knot. All of these options provide adequate strength and with a little practice can all be tied without too much fuss. The overlooked part is how well these connections slide through the guides. Welded loops are available on most middle to top shelf fly lines produced today. These loops make attaching the leader a breeze, especially if you purchase tapered leaders with a perfection loop pre-tied at the butt end of the leader. The drawback to using this system is that the loop to loop connection doesn't slide well through the fly rod guides which amounts to lost fish if you bring the leader into the rod guides. Another friction point is when you strip line in to change flies or to adapt your rigging. Either way, getting the looped line and leader back out of the tip top to cast usually results in setting the rod down and physically pulling the leader and fly line through the tip top eyelet before casting.
A smooth connection is extremely important when using modern long leader techniques. With leaders 15 to 30 feet long it is necessary to pull the fly line into the guides to land a fish.
The "BEST" connection is subject to debate, but the smoothest two are the needle nail knot and the superglue splice. Both of these knots are only possible on fly lines with a hollow core. If your line doesn't have a hollow core try a standard nail knot and be sure to cinch it very tight and then trim the tags ends off completely.
My favorite connection is the needle nail knot as it creates a smooth link and never fails. The superglue splice is admittedly a touch smoother but I've had them fail too often for me to have confidence in the connection. That said, many anglers I know and trust have had good success with the superglue connection so try it and see how it goes.
Here is a link for the superglue splice. Thanks go to Dejon Hamann from Troutlegend.com and Alain Barthelemy for this link:
The needle nail is simply a nail knot with the leader passed through the fly line. This link has pictures showing the finished knot (6th pic from top) and one in the process of being tied (9th pic from top). Thanks to George Anderson's Yellowstone angler.
Make your fly line to leader connection as smooth as possible and you'll land more fish. Remember practice makes better knots!