I’ve tried a few leaders and have fished with them with both my 9′ 4-wt. and my 7.75′ 000-wt. Here’s my report.
I use LeaderCalc, which offers online formulae for all sorts of leaders. They also have a spreadsheet you can download. You can pick length, tippet size, and type of fishing you want to do. Frankly, it’s a pretty overwhelming array of choices. Here is an example for a 9′ 6x dry-fly leader.
I’ve tried to simplify things by doing some online research and thinking about what I don’t like about the store-bought leaders I’ve used.
The 4-wt. is a pretty straight-forward tip action rod, which I use for dry-fly fishing on larger rivers. For that, I really like the Harvey Slackline leader, in the 6x and 9′ version. At the end of a cast, the end of the leader tends to collapse, which gives you a longer drag-free drift.
When at the Farmington yesterday, it worked very well. In one quiet stretch, I saw a good-sized rise. It was about 50′ away. Why not, I thought. I false cast out some line, saw the fly go out and then fall gently on the water. I couldn’t believe it. I saw a brown trout go up to the fly and inspect it for a few seconds. When the fly disappeared, I set the hook and could not believe that a big fish was on!
It ended up being a 15″ brown, the biggest one of the day.
My 7.75′ 000-wt. is a bit more complicated. It just doesn’t have the punch to throw far very thick leader butt. But, I’ve settled on a 9′ leader in 8x described as for “Delicate, Flat Water, Long Reach.”
The leader goes out beautifully and just kisses the water. I get really long drifts with it and a lot more distance. The 8x is a pain to tie, for it easily kinks up. But, in highly technical waters (slow, clear and shallow water), it unfortunately is necessary if you’re trying to dupe fish with dry flies.
So, if you’re interested, give it a go. I bought some Maxima Chameleon (which is really stiff) for the leader butt materials and Maxima Ultragreen for the main body of the leader. The stuff is pretty cheap.