Which Leader Material Gives The Best Results?

The construction of your leader, its material and the type and size of patterns used will have a profound effect on how your trout flies are presented in the water. So you must think of what you are trying to achieve and how best to do it.

Generally, if fishing dries, a conventional approach is to use a copolymer leader. This material is super thin, clear, has good knot strength, and is very supple. It also sinks slowly so won’t pull the dry flies under the surface too quickly (as fluorocarbon often can). Some effective brands include Hardy Fluorocarbon and Rio Powerflex in 6lb or 8lb. However, it's always advisable to de-grease the leader with mud or Mucilin Quick Sink when fishing dries.

Rio Powerflex Tippet Material
Copolymer does have significantly less stretch than monofilament so be careful not to get snapped on the take or strike – balance your tackle and use the appropriate breaking strain.

Fulling Mill Masterclass Fluorocarbon
When fishing lures at speed, at depth in coloured water or a big wind, the leader material is mostly irrelevant, and you can use almost anything as long as it’s clear and strong enough. Monofilament, copolymer or fluorocarbon – it makes little, if any difference to your catch rate, although fluorocarbon is favoured by the vast a majority.

Hardy Copolymer Tippet
For general-purpose, everyday fishing a lot of anglers opt for a standard fluorocarbon. This material has a small amount of stretch, is clear, knots well, cuts through the water and sinks like a stone. It’s also near invisible to fish as the refractive index of the material is close to that of water. Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon and Airflo G3 fluorocarbon are both well priced and perfect for the majority of fishing scenarios you are faced with.

Airflo Sightfree G3

When fishing smaller natural patterns sub-surface or in crystal clear water, then presentation is vital. In this situation, opt for a super-thin premium fluorocarbon, and you won't go far wrong. The fine diameter of fluorocarbon leader material and its suppleness can give you a distinct advantage. Very supple leaders are, however, prone to tangles, especially when fishing multiple flies. Preferred brands include Orvis Mirage and Rio Fluoroflex Plus.
Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon
If you had to pick one spool of leader material for every scenario or method over the course of a season, some top competition anglers opt for a spool of Orvis Mirage 8.5lb fluorocarbon. It simply does everything almost perfectly. A cheaper alternative would be Airflo G3 fluorocarbon in 8lb.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.