Skip’s Loose Threads “Take Me to Your Leader” 

Tie your own leaders, to your personal specifications, and save money to boot! Here’s my system. A typical 9’ tapered leader costs around $4.00-$6.00 and usually the cost is the same regardless of tippet size, 0X-7X. Most commercial leaders are clear with a perfection loop tied onto the butt end with a typical butt section diameter being around .020 inches .

I have made my own leaders for years using the most basic monofilament, Berkley Trilene XL. I purchase four inch spools of clear mono in several sizes and have a special spool box made by Plano called a ‘Line Spool Box’ that I store them in.

The little black objects are grommets through which you can thread the leader material, and with the box closed, you can measure out any amount of material you want for your leader. The box is currently available for about $14-$17. 

I personally don’t think that a trout, even one with glasses, can tell the difference between a 5X and 6X tippet, so I carry only two spools, in 2lb and 4lb Trilene XL, in my chest vest. The 4lb is a fat 4X, and the 2lb is a slender 5X. The latter works great with a size 22 Trico or small nymph, and the 4 pound delivers a streamer or a grasshopper with precision and authority. The four inch spools in my box are: 25lb, 17lb, 12lb, 10lb, 8lb, and 4lb. I also have a spool of 30 pound test that I nail knot to my six and eight weight bass fly lines. The 25lb is just fine for three to five weight lines. There are lots of leader formulas out there, even a few books. Experiment and find out what works best with your equipment. If you’re afraid you might fumble a blood knot, tying one leader will provide you with six to eight chances to practice. And, there are many videos on YouTube to remind you how. Generally speaking, you’ll want about a third of your leader to be the butt section, another third to be the tapered portion, and the rest tippet. I love long tippets. Fill that box with four inch Trilene XL spools, and the cost, with the box, is less than $50, and you can make more leaders than you can ever use in a lifetime. 

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