Why tapered leaders are the biggest con in fly fishing



To be clear, a tapered leader—whether homemade or purchased—does the job. It connects your fly, and straightens out as it should. And every fly-fishing manual in the last 70 years says you absolutely, positively must use a tapered leader.


But here’s the thing: 90 per cent of the time, a straight piece of mono or flouro fishing line does the job just as well. Why? Because modern mono is flexible enough to transfer energy without a taper, especially when combined with today’s colossally improved lines and rods. As fly gear has improved, however, it seems few anglers have bothered to question conventional leader wisdom.

Knotless tapered leaders work great, but are expensive and usually not needed

But since the early 2000s, I’ve been using simple one-piece mono leaders for almost all of my freshwater fly fishing. I cut them off 50- or 100-yard spools of Trilene, Maxima, Scientific Anglers or whatever’s handy. The cost works out to about 20 cents per leader, and they cast perfectly. In fact, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that if you can’t get a simple nine-foot mono leader to land straight, you don’t have a leader problem—you’ve got a casting problem.

(See www.outdoorcanada.ca/flycastfixes for help.)