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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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Posts: 10
Ducfat on Oct 24, 2007October 24th, 2007, 7:06 am EDT
Hopefully a simple question, but can't seem to find a straight answer. Is there a general rule about matching line weight to leader/tippet size to fly size? I realize that much depends on the conditions and size of fish you are after, but is there a range of leaders that work best with a particular line weight? What would be the ideal leader (size and length) and fly size to match up with a 6 wt rod and line that would best let me practice casting?
rochester mn

Posts: 133
Dryfly on Oct 24, 2007October 24th, 2007, 10:03 am EDT
When fishing with sinking line it is better to use a short leader so your fly gets down there. With a longer leader the tip of the fly line could be deep but since the leader doesn't sink as fast the fly could be high. With practicing use the leader and fly you'll be fishing that way you'll won't practice and then get to the water with a real leader and not be able to cast efficiently. A 9 ft. leader would be a good place to start. If you don't like the perfomance you coulden shorten it or lengthen.
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
LittleJ on Oct 24, 2007October 24th, 2007, 10:24 am EDT
I think you'll find that your tippet size matters little to your line weight. The butt section of your leader is what matters. I typically start with 25 lb and taper from there for my 4 and 5 wt. Where you end up as far as tippet size matters very little as long as you build your taper right. If you find your leader /line connection isn't turning over very well adjust your diameter accordingly. I believe someone on this board posted a simple test to see if your butt section and line match up, but i can remember neither the test or the topic. As far as length is concerned the fishing conditions dictate leader length more than anything else for me ....low clear water =long light leaders, fast muddy water = short heavy leaders.
Schuylkill County, PA.

Posts: 109
Quillgordon on Oct 24, 2007October 24th, 2007, 12:37 pm EDT

I would say there is no 'general rule' when matching lines to leaders. There are many factors to consider.
You may want to save this article for future use.

Flyfishing is a state of mind! .............. Q.g.

Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Dano on Oct 25, 2007October 25th, 2007, 8:58 am EDT

I'm not aware of any general rule of thumb for matching leader to fly line, other than diameter(s) are far more accurate (important) than pound test ratings for a well balanced leader...

I've been building my own leaders for almost as long as I've been throwing flies. When Orvis sold their "Super Strong" leader kits, the recipes (if I recollect correctly) were broken down into leader lengths by line weight plus seperate recipies for salmon/steelhead leaders. Butt diameters for for lines under a 5wt were .021 and for 6wt and above were .023, again this is my recollection.

The recipe I currently use (forget where I got it from) starts with butt diameters for 5wt and under at .019 and .021 for 6wt and above.

As to your last question; I'd recommend using a 7.5 foot leader with a butt diameter of .021 tapered down to a .009 (2X) tippet with a #12 fly, the hook being "nipped" off so it won't catch on the grass...FWIW.


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Oct 25, 2007October 25th, 2007, 2:43 pm EDT
I believe someone on this board posted a simple test to see if your butt section and line match up . . . .

Jeff, if you plug the words "flex test" into the Google site search, you'll find my post about that. Thanks for remembering!


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