10/4/18 edit: I’ve started playing with thin Euronymphing leaders, which supposedly are better. Details here.
For your convenience, here are the formulas (and, links to materials):
Running line and leader butt
Sighter, part 1
Sighter, part 2
(blood knot every six inches, leave on 3/4" tags to create "bunny ears," boil for five minutes)
Part of the fun, and challenge, of tightline nymphing is that there are no standards. You ask two competition anglers about how they construct their leaders, for example, and you get two different answers. And, those answers will change over time.
I too fiddle with my Euro leaders. I’ve written about it in the past. Here’s my latest version, which is a variant of the Devin Olsen version in his “Modern Nymphing” video (see up top). My big difference is that I want zero fly line coming out of my reel to minimize sag and avoid a knot running through my guides when I’m fighting a big fish. The leader is tapered, and so, it can chuck dries, if needed.
- Nail knot
- 40′ Maxima Chameleon 20#
- Blood knot
- 3′ Sufix Elite 17#, Hi-Vis Yellow
- Blood knot. I don’t clip off the tag ends completely and instead leave 1″ of the Sufix and 1″ of the Amnesia red (see below). These “whiskers” help with visibility, sensing soft takes and “floating the sighter”
- For the sighter, 18″ of Amnesia mono: 9″ of red 12#, 9″ of green 10#. Blood knots every few inches; they help with flotation when I grease up the sighter to float it as a surface indicator. More on this technique later, but it thus far has been very effective at sensing soft takes
- Tippet ring
- 4′ to 6′ of 5x or 6x fluorocarbon, depending on the water’s depth, speed and clarity. I’ll add a dropper tag about 22″ above the anchor fly
- Anchor fly: a nymph weighted with glass or tungsten beads, depending on the water’s depth. Most likely, a stonefly, Perdigón, Frenchie, or a Walt’s/Sexy Walt’s from a #8 to a #18
- Dropper fly: usually, a larva, pupa, emerger, or soft hackle, from #16 to #22. If there’s a need for a dry fly, I can add one here and put a lightly-weighted nymph on the anchor point to have a dry-dropper rig
So, there you have it.