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Question: Settle a bet—when you’re making a loop-to-loop connection to connect a leader to your butt section, does it matter which loop goes over the other?
Answer: Over the past couple of years, we’ve answered a few “does it matter?” questions, and usually the answer is either “No” or “I’ve never even thought about that, so it mustn’t matter.” But this one is different. It definitely matters how loops are joined in any loop-to-loop connection.
When you’re connecting a butt-section loop to the loop at the end of a knotless, tapered leader, pass the leader loop over the thicker butt-section loop, and then pull the tag end of the leader through the butt-section loop. This helps to make a nice, straight connection when you snug it up. What you’ve done is intertwined the two loops.
If you pass the butt-section loop over the leader loop, you can easily end up pulling the tag end of the leader through the leader loop—thereby pulling the leader through itself. In this case, the butt-section loop becomes nothing more than a piece of monofilament around which you’ve tied a knot. The two loops aren’t intertwined. This has the effect of creating a hinge point, rather than a straight connection. Your line will not lay out as straight, and the knot itself will be weaker and more difficult to undo when you want to change leaders.
Zach Matthews recently shot a great video illustrating this point, as part of a larger lesson on setting up a fly reel.
Try both methods, and you’ll see the difference immediately. When done correctly, a loop-to-loop connection is both aesthetically pleasing and strong.