How to Tie a Leader Line for Fly Fishing

How to Tie a Leader Line for Fly Fishing
Fly fishing consists of an artistic expression of strokes of line across a body of water. The line is comprised of backing tied directly to the reel, fly line and leader line. For all three types of line to flow from the rod smoothly, they must be tied correctly. A nail knot is the primary knot used to join the lines, so mastering this enhances the fly fishing experience by reducing gear failure and increasing line performance.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Nail knot toot, barrel of ballpoint pen or other small diameter tube
  • Clippers
Step 1
Position the leader and fly lines so they overlap by 2 inches. Place the tube alongside the overlapping section of fly and leader lines. Hold the tube and two lines with your forefinger and thumb near the end of the fly line, so approximately 2 inches of the leader line is beyond your fingers.
Step 2
Wrap the leader line loosely around the tube and fly line five times approximately one-half inch away from where your fingers are holding the tube and both lines. Leave about 1 inch of leader line left over after the five wraps. Your leader line wraps should start about a half inch from the end of the fly line.
Step 3
Loop the 1 inch of leader line into the hole in the small diameter tube, on the side opposite your fingers. String the line all the way through the tube and out the side nearest your fingers. Gently pull the end of the leader line while sliding the loops together.
Step 4
Tighten the knot by pulling the two lines together, pinching the tube against the two types of line. The knot may benefit from having a little water applied to the leader line as it is tightened from both sides. Remove the small diameter tube by sliding it toward the loose end of your leader line.
Step 5
Pull the leader line tight as you remove the tube from the knot. Apply more liquid if necessary, tightening the knot onto the fly line. Clip excess fly line and leader line leaving approximately one-sixteenth of an inch of line on each end.

Tips & Warnings

When initially tightening fishing knots, pull gently, making sure the knot is correct before tightening the rest of the way.
When in doubt, use more line and cut the excess once the knot is tight.
Always test the knot by pulling on both ends applying reasonable pressure.
If the knot appears to be weak, cut it off and tie another one. A weak knot can be revealed by simultaneously tugging it from both ends.

Article Written By Jeremy Slaughter

Jeremy Slaughter is a tax, accounting and small business expert. After completing his master's degree in accounting at Keller Graduate School of Management, Slaughter co-founded an accounting and tax firm where writing plays a daily role.

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