the Smoooothest fly line/leader connection there is- a Step by Step

by buddy, expert rod builder, fellow Barrio proteam member and one of the best trout fishers i’ve had the pleasure to meet, Sandy Nelson.

Dave Whitlock‘s superglued leader-to-fly line connection isn’t anything new but reviving significant tips and tricks and their variations is always good for several reasons:
– firstly, it allows us to give proper credit to the originator of the concept.
– variations of a technique often improve over time. through the use of the knot tool, today’s sbs is easier and faster than the original and a fine example of creative thinking.
– lastly, it allows the people who aren’t aware of this technique to discover an extremely effective alternative connection to the standard loop-to-loop, Nail knot or Needle Nail knot.

like the title of this article suggests, this is the smoothest leader/line connection there is. the connection point flows in and out of the rod’s tip ring extremely easily, as if the two elements where one.
this is a more than big bonus for anyone using leaders that are longer than the rod’s length and avoids any connection hangups in situations say, if a fish decides to take off again when we are trying to get it into the net.

as often mentioned, many anglers question the strength of this connection but trying is believing. test it out on an old line at home and pull as much as you want, the finer and/or tippet part of the leader will always break first.
i’ve heard of and read many cases where this connection worked perfectly for hard-pulling fish such as bonefish or salmon and that seems more than enough for most anglers with the exception of those seeking big-game fish.

thanks again Sandy for sharing this with us,  enjoy !

All the tools needed: A C&F Knot tool*, snips, superglue, sandpaper, leader and fly line.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs1

Stick the needle into the tip of the fly line a 1/2″ – 13mm.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs2

Feed tippet-end of leader into knot tool.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs3

Pull leader right through until loop hits fly line.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs4

Rough up the 1/2-3/4″ of the end of the leader.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs5

Brush roughed up part with super glue and pull into end of flyline until all roughed up portion is covered.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs6

Snip loop off flush with the flyline and wipe excess super glue over the cut and the joint and then hold straight with a little pressure for 30secs to a min. for the superglue to set.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs7

Once it is set it should look like this, and you should have only removed about this much of the leader.
Sandy Nelson leader connection sbs8


* the essential part of the C&F tool is nothing more than a fancy-handled sewing machine needle that can be found in any sewing shop or even supermarkets at a fraction of the cost.
sewingmachine needlesyou can make your own and have diameter options by simply glueing the needle butt inside an appropriately sized tube.
these needles tend to come in packs so you can have several for yourself or better yet, make a special gift for your friends.

4 thoughts on “the Smoooothest fly line/leader connection there is- a Step by Step

  1. I use Whitlock’s system and never had a problem with trout and really like the smooth connection. Once did a test pull, after what I was felt sufficient time for the glue to set, and the leader parted company with the flyline, which has always left a slight element of doubt in my mind on the bigger, harder pulling saltwater species. I might give it a go in the salt, but confidence counts for a lot in flyfishing and wouldn’t like to see the leader and line parting company at this juncture! p.s. I do feel the join needs to be re-done every now then with time and usage it appears to wear, but as it uses a minimum amount of leader material and flyline shouldn’t really be an issue. Better safe than sorry!

    • hi Rob, thanks for chiming in.
      we where discussing this elsewhere and someone had the same result with their pull-test. when asked about how he went about this, he told us that both of his hands where rather close to the connection. it’s a rather intuitive manner but doesn’t reflect the forces that happen when a fish pulls because it excludes the finer/weaker parts of the leader nor its elasticity.
      so, to test this in a more realistic manner one would need to attach the tippet to something and start pulling and yanking at least several metres away from the anchor point.
      as noted in the post, this method isn’t really meant for the bigger fish and is mostly for anglers who use really long leaders. no one system is perfect in every way but that’s where this one really shines.
      as for re-doing the connection, i strongly suspect it has more to do with the brittleness of standard ‘hard-setting’ superglue. do this with a flexible glue and let it cure correctly and this’ll last for a very long time.

      • hi .

        instead of using a sewing machine needle . use a .6 mm hypodermic needle . goes up the fly line with ease.
        insert the tippet up the inside of the needle, pull the needle out and pull through leader to butt , lightly sand the butt.
        apply zap a gap and pull into fly line.

        Daniel TASMANIA

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