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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.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Corryton, Tennessee

Posts: 4
Damon on Nov 6, 2016November 6th, 2016, 5:52 am EST
Generally I use ready made tapered leaders (not furled) in monofilament (not fluorocarbon) and find that every time I fish, the butt end of the leader picks up a “memory” from being wound around the reel. I’ve used a leather leader straightener to little avail. The curls don’t come out, even after hours on the water. And the curled leader butt (sometimes four feet or more) results in a poorly laid down cast. I’m sure the sun’s twinkle on the curls of mono alerts the nearby fish that something’s a miss and may spook them.

Does anyone know of a leader material, manufacturer, model, etc. that is extremely limp and lacks memory? If not, does anyone know the best way to remove the curls, or how to store the fly rod and reel, between trips, to keep the leader from curling?

At this point I’m willing to try anything, even tying my own leaders.


NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Nov 6, 2016November 6th, 2016, 8:11 am EST
Does your leather leader straightener have a pair of thin rubber sheets inside as the surface that actually comes in contact with the leader butt when you attempt to use it to straighten? I think most do.. If so, make sure the leader butt is far enough up into the straightener that it is actually between the rubber sheets when you go to pull it through to straighten. This may be the problem. You may not be getting good rubber to leader contact.

Once you're sure you are getting good contact, put a pretty fair amount of pressure on the outside surfaces of the straightener as you pull the leader through it. Enough to build up a little heat in the mono. Pull it through once and take a look at the leader. Results (straightening) should be instantaneous. If they aren't, apply a little more pressure and pull it through again. Repeat until you get the results you want.

But the first thing to do is probably make sure you are pulling through rubber rather than leather. I've never seen a leader that failed to straighten out after being properly pulled through one of those gadgets.
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Nov 6, 2016November 6th, 2016, 9:18 am EST
New leaders seem to me to have a bit of a stretch to them and if they lack this I replace...After I've strung up the rod I just take sections of the leader and pull hard in opposite directions. If the material is still ok, when you release, it will appear to have straightened...You should feel a little "give" as you pull. I do this until all the kinks are gone.

I agree with you about your concerns with a curly leader...Not good, in my opinion.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Nov 6, 2016November 6th, 2016, 11:18 am EST
My old fly fishing mentor would stretch his leader by tying the end (or pinning it with a fly I think) to a tree, pulling it taught by positioning the rod leaning over a branch of another tree, and leaving it stretched there for a few hours. I have the same problem too and I've wondered if I should try this. The biggest problem with the curls I find is it acts like a spring, the leader straightens out nicely and then recoils back, keeping it from reaching out properly and falling short. I do find a good rubber pad leader straightener works pretty well, but with the thick butt section you have to stretch it hard and more than once or even twice.

BTW hey Spence, haven't heard much from you lately! Have you been getting in any post-season fishing in with our beautiful fall weather? I sure have, as you can see...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on Nov 8, 2016November 8th, 2016, 5:41 am EST

first, welcome aboard, lots of neat stuff here and Jason runs the BEST fly-fishing site on the Web, IMHO.
I've used leader-straighteners made of rubber, leather, whatever and find they all work so-so...Jonathon's method of stretching to straighten sounds spot-on and I use sort of the same way, except I stretch my leaders on the family room wall by hooking the butt end's perfection loop to a brad-nail and the tippet-end metal loop to an even smaller pin in the wall. I leave the leaders stretched on the wall until I choose one or more to fish with then take it/them down and only attach them to the fly line when I'm ready to go in the water. Maybe not for everyone but it works for me.
Other than that I'd say go to furled leaders which I prefer and use far more often than one-piece mono versions.

I was on the White River (MI one, not out west) Sunday and went zip for Steelhead...warm, low water, and I saw some migratory Browns trying to jump the dam but no hookups.


'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
Corryton, Tennessee

Posts: 4
Damon on Nov 9, 2016November 9th, 2016, 9:28 am EST
Thanks for all your comments on straightening the butt section of the leader.

No, I don’t have a rubber insert in my homemade leather leader straightener so that’s the first thing I’ve got to do is use a rubber insert and try it.

Next, I’ve heard one of you refer to furled leaders. I’ve never tried them so I suppose I’ll do so now.

Finally, regarding “hanging” or suspending the leader from the wall or ceiling overnight before a trip is a good idea. I used to do this years ago, but it’s been so long that I don’t recall the exact results. Maybe using a proper rubberized leader straightener AND suspending the leader overnight might work better.

Over the next few months, I’ll try all three suggestions (rubberized straightener, furled leaders and stretching or suspending the leader) and let you know what seems to work best.

One other thing: Does anyone have a recommendation on the most supple, limpest leader or leader material to use? Some monofilament brands are harder and stiffer than others. Then again it depends, I suppose, on the thickness of the butt end. I understand fluorocarbon is stiffer than mono.

Thanks again for all your input.


Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Nov 9, 2016November 9th, 2016, 10:37 am EST
Old Red Barn's comments are spot on. New leaders, I like Rio, have a good amount of elasticity in them. I don't employ any kind of leader straightener other than my hands. After I attach the leader to the fly line with either the loop to loop connection or a nail knot I grasp the very end of the butt at the fly line and grasp the butt about 3' feet down the leader and pull very hard in opposite directions. You will instantly see the once coiled 3' section is now straight. Continue sliding and pulling down the leader until you get down to the more slender tippet portion. Be less aggressive there or you will likely break the leader. The whole process of straightening the new leader will take no more than 30 seconds and not cost you a penny.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Nov 9, 2016November 9th, 2016, 11:04 am EST
I'll second Matt's recommendation, Rio is what I use and it's fairly limp and straightens pretty well.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

Posts: 278
TNEAL on Nov 14, 2016November 14th, 2016, 9:15 am EST
Matt and Spence are right on; it works. I rarely take my rod down and reel up the leader. That also keeps it straight for the next time.
Planettrout's profile picture
Los Angeles, CA / Pullman, WA

Posts: 53
Planettrout on Nov 17, 2016November 17th, 2016, 1:07 am EST
I have been using this leader straightener for a very long time ( it has the rubber inside). It will take the curls out of ANY leader. Just don't pull it down the leader material quickly, so that it does not "burn" the leader material.Three or four passes down the entire leader is all it generally takes. I also loop my line around the trailer hitch ball on my rig and gently stretch the first 30' before heading to the water where I will sit on the bank and observe while rigging up a new leader, if need be.

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Daughter to Father: "How many arms do you have, how many fly rods do you need?"


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