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Building a Tapered Leader

Producer: Tim Flagler  |  Tightline Studios

Tim Flagler provides a detailed video guide to contructing a 10-foot 4X leader.

As Flagler says: “Today there are more choices than ever when it comes to tapered leaders and I think most people are content to use the manufactured, knot-less variety. But, as with fly tying, there’s a good bit of satisfaction and knowledge to be gained by building your own. I learned to tie tapered leaders when I purchased an Orvis leader-tying kit some 30 years ago. I keep the kit around for sentimental reasons and still use some of the leader formulas that came with it. Nowadays, you don’t have to buy a dedicated kit, although there are some available. You simply purchase spools of leader material in different diameters and tests, do a little web research to find some well-established formulas and then have at it.”

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  • Doyle Caviness

    Tim, thank you for this excellent video. I’ve been tying my own leaders for years and have always used a pair of wooden clothes pins to hold the tag ends of the line in place while I tightened the blood knot. Having watched your manipulation of the tag ends of the knots with your fingers, I now can get rid of the clothes pins!

  • genelarson

    I agree with Tim, being able to build your own leaders instills one with another “I did it” facet to flyfishing. However, blood knots are a hassle for me to tie. Hench, I use back to back uni-knots in building the leader. They are much easier for me to tie and are just as strong, if not stronger, than blood knots. Another way to reduce the number of knots you have to tie is to use Gary Borger’s formula of 40% butt (.020 Maxima), 10% mid (.013 Maxima) and 60% transition/tippet (.009 for 4 feet and .007 or smaller) for tippet.