Leaders for Salmon Fishing

When Salmon fishing, you should always be highly conscious of how your Salmon fly is presented, but never more so than during the warmer months when low and clear water conditions can make salmon highly cautious of the surface disturbance created by the fly line and fly entering the water.

However, your tackle can play its part in making the difference between enjoying some good sport or enduring a frustrating day. In summer conditions, fishing with floating fly lines and small dressed flies, size 6 and smaller can be useful but consider using them with long knotless tapered leaders. A leader of 12ft to 15ft, will help to improve the fly’s turnover and, ultimately, its presentation.

12ft Rio Salmon Leader
Using manufactured leaders of this length has the the advantage of increasing the distance between the Salmon fly line and the fly, but it can also help your spey-casting. When using momentary contact casts like the single spey and snake roll with a shooting-head line, it’s possible to use the long leader instead of the fly line and leader as the anchor for the D-loop. Because the leader is significantly lighter and thinner than the line, it releases from the water’s grip with ease and minimal surface disturbance on the outbound cast. This results in good line speed as the forward cast extends across the stream and greater distance is achieved.

Greys Platinum Shooting Head Kits
Similar to the front taper of a fly line, these extended leaders have a continuous taper from their thick butt, connected loop-to-loop to the fly-line, through to their thinnest part, which is knotted to the fly. The main benefit of this tapered profile is an improved transition of power from the fly line to the fly. With the leader’s extended length and continuous slim profile, the fly will not only turn over with improved efficiency but equally important, will enter the water with minimal disturbance in low water conditions.

Loop-to-Loop Connection
To further enhance presentation, maximise the movement of your fly by using a loop-type knot, such as the Rapala. This popular knot frees the fly as it swings through the stream and will give your favourite pattern a distinctive and highly attractive oscillating motion.

Seaguar Ace Hard Fluorocarbon
In contrast to knotless tapered leaders, making up your leader by knotting together level lengths of monofilament line or fluorocarbon can have its advantages too. With a knotted approach, you can quickly customise the profile of the leader to suit the conditions. For example, try lengthening the tippet section nearest the fly for calm days and clear waters.

Hardy Fluorocarbon Tippet Material
When it comes to construction, keep things simple and stick to just three sections on most occasions: thin, thick and thicker. For floating fly line fishing with a medium sized fly on an AFTM 9-10 double-handed salmon fly rod, this might be something like three 1.5 m lengths of 0.35 mm, 0.55 mm and 0.65 mm nylon. Of course, the lengths and diameters will vary according to the type of line you are fishing, and the size of Salmon fly.

Airflo Salmon Polyleader
Incidentally, you can imitate the presentation characteristics of the highly popular intermediate or slow-sinking polyleaders (commonly used with a floating line) by using heavy fluorocarbon for the butt section of the leader, and the slower-sinking Maxima for the middle and tip.

If you would like more advice about choosing the right leader set-up for your next Salmon fishing trip, you can visit us instore at Glasgow Angling Centre or Edinburgh Angling Centre.  Alternatively, you can call us on 0141 212 8880 where our friendly, helpful staff can advise you.

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