the real problem with ‘wind’ knots.

wind knots‘, that’s the denialists‘ term for casting knots and no, they’re not just made by tailing loops or outrageous casting faults but today’s reminder isn’t about the causes of these knots however embarrassing or annoying they may be but of their consequence.
in other words, these knots kink the mono and greatly reduce the original breaking point of the monofilament material they’re made of.
as we’ll see in Simon Gawesworth’s video, percentages on specific materials vary but generally speaking, that reduction is approximately 50% and that puts us in a very precarious situation if a fish takes our fly because well, we’re left with half the strength threshold we originally counted on.
to make things worse and if i understand correctly,  Instron-type machines used to register elongation and breaking strains do so in a steady, smooth, pulling manner but fish tend to not follow the same procedure…
although i can’t prove this with numbers i’m very certain that sudden tugs and bursts of strength means our knotted lines will be even weaker relatively speaking than those 50 or so %.


apart from the denialists, these knots happen to everyone at one point or another and if we want to not get into trouble and leave hooks in fish mouths, there’s only one remedy and that’s to regularly check our leaders and tippets, specially if there’s the slightest doubt or after an obvious yucky cast.
– no knots, carry on as usual.
– find a knot ? is it loose as in the pic ? just undo it and just to be sure, check for kinks.
– did it tighten/seat ? cut it off and rejoin the two pieces.
– if the knot’s too close to the fly or other ‘good’ leader knot, just replace the whole piece and you’ll be able to fish in peace.

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.

Wind Knot D’Ohs, Dos and Don’ts !

in Good Knots we’d seen how wind casting knots are a blessing in disguise but that’s just for the casting part. now, making tailing loops make us feel stupid, frustrated and all the well deserved ha-has from mates don’t help the situation however, and even though tailing loops don’t always result in casting knots, where the real nasty comes in is if we do get them and leave these knots unattended and carry on as if nothing happened.

general knowledge has stated for a long time that an overhand knot in a tippet or leader will reduce that section of mono to approximately one-half percent. in other words, a 10lb tippet instantly turns into a 5lb tippet. that sucks because it completely defeats the purpose of using a 10lb tippet in the first place and to make things even worse, if you think about the mates that saw you make that tailing loop and then see you break off on a fish, well, you know the rest…

the solution is simple and even if its a pain you have to pay for your mistakes; you (and i !) deserve it.
if you notice the ugly TL loop, immediately bring your line back in and check the leader. at this point, its not rare to find an un-seated knot like the ones to the left and all we need to do is undo it carefully, be sure there’s no kinks in it and if all looks good, resume fishing.
if the knot has seated tight that knot either has to be clipped off and rejoined with your preferred mono-to-mono knot or that section of tippet will have to be replaced if the casting knot is close to the fly or next to a mono-to-mono knot higher up the leader.

keep in mind that if you don’t take care of these casting knots, casting karma will come right back and bite you hard…

today’s video from Monsieur Simon Gawesworth removes any doubts about the up-till-now archaic 50% reduction breaking strain statement and the fishing world thanks him for it. enjoy ! (and take it easy when casting… 😉 )

Inches fraction and decimal to Millimetre chart

primarily of use for us fly fishers to compare and better understand the sizes of fly tying beads and tippet/leader/line materials, here’s a handy chart that’ll hopefully help make sense of it all.
note that inch fractions have a hard time keeping up with their decimal and mm counterparts, at least in our ‘real world’ applications such as bead diameters. some times we just have to round off and make do with what we can get…

fraction-decimal-mm chart

i restrained the chart size above to match the most common sizes for our fly fishing purposes, should you want more click the pic.
for a plethora of just about anything to just about anything conversion charts click HERE to access The Engineering Toolbox‘s main page.

some previously posted charts of interest:
Single and Double Hand Fly Line Weight Charts
Fly line Gram to Grain chart

Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Fitting Braided Fly Line Loops

to celebrate TLC’s shiny new face here’s some more than excellent tips on installing braided loops from Mike Barrio of Barrio Fly Lines.
the trick with the monofilament ‘threader’ really makes it easy to snug up the fly line end inside the braid and get it just right. enjoy !

Personally, I prefer to connect my leader directly to my fly line with a constriction type knot, in my experience this offers me a better transition from fly line to leader and better presentation. But braided leader loops are a very popular alternative method and I am frequently asked how to fit them.

There are numerous braided leader loops available on the market, many of these are too long and too heavy for most fly line tips and can cause them to sink, especially when fitted to lower weight lines. A lot of them are also very poorly made and can fail on a good fish. In my experience, the Roman Moser Minicon Loops are the best that I have found.
2-160515124137These are easy to fit. I usually grab 10 inches or so of nylon, thread it through the loop and hold it back in a ‘U’ against the loop ( loop through loop ) then I slide the red sleeve over the loop so that the sleeve is mostly sitting on the nylon.
2-160515124440Then I insert the fly line inside the braid at the other end and feed it up through the braid until it reaches the point where the loop is formed. Sometimes the end of the braid can be a bit tight making it difficult to insert the fly line, but if you push or prod the end of the braid with your finger this will help to loosen and expand the braid a little.

Now hold the nylon and slide the sleeve back over the loop and along the braid until it reaches the other end, I like to have about 3/4 of the sleeve sitting on the braid and 1/4 on the fly line.

A braided loop works by constriction, so the harder you pull the braided loop from the loop end, the more it will tighten and grip the fly line between the loop and the ‘sleeve anchor point’. Don’t be tempted to add a spot of glue at the loop end, as this could cancel out the constriction of the braid.

Braided loops work well when simply fitted like this, but some folk like the added assurance of a spot of waterproof superglue. If you wish to add waterproof superglue, stop sliding the sleeve just before you reach the end of the braid (picture 5) add a little glue to the end of the braid and then slide the sleeve over this to the 3/4 – 1/4 point. Only use a very small amount of glue, as slightly too much can cause your fly line tip to sink.

Hope this is useful 😎

Best wishes

as for TLC’ shiny new face, it was time to do some spring cleaning and since the rags and cleaning solution where out i thought i’d find a simpler, cleaner looking page layout that also works faster and better at home or with mobile devises.
since feedback always helps, please let me know if you’re having any viewing, navigation or whatever issues and i’ll work them out.
here’s hoping you like the new look and thanks again Mike !

The differences between Polyleaders and Sink Tips

some really good, simple and easily understandable info that should alleviate any confusions about these two beasties from Peter Charles.

the video says it all but i’ll add a few words on the noteworthy stuff first:
– first and foremost, keep in mind that Polyleaders are a ‘standard leader’ substitute and go on the front of fly lines made for ‘standard leaders’ whereas sink tips and their inherent weight are an integral part of fly lines made specifically for the use of sink tips.
in other words, sink tips are not part of the leader even if they’re commonly used and directly connected to the fly with a short section of tippet.
–  what Peter means by ‘turnover force’ is simply the diameter or weight/mass of the fly line’s end or the tip/main body joining end in the case of lines made for sink tips.
to make that simpler (i hope !), a long and thin end such as found on ‘standard’ fly lines is too thin and light to transfer enough energy to a heavier and thicker tip. add to that a big and/or heavy fly and its easy to understand it won’t turn over at the end of the cast and if it does it will be a big sloppy, unpredictable mess. at best.
– although we’re only showed Airflo products, most other brands will be more or less the same. just be sure to check the tech specs on the package and even better yet, as products info is more detailed there, check out the company’s website to find what suits your needs.
– lastly, most won’t be using aerial casts with sink tip lines as they’re made for Spey casting and shine there but Polyleaders of any density are equally at home with both aerials and Speys.

‘nough said, enjoy !

Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Adjusting the Loop size of a Perfection Knot

as a recap and to start off, here’s a reprint of an article on how to construct a Perfection Loop from a while back.

Tying the Perfection Loop

this loop is ‘perfect’ for loop-to-loop line-to-leader or leader-to-leader connections for anything but the biggest of fish. super easy to tie, the loop stays in line with the standing end of the monofilament and not ‘kinked’ to the side as with a Double or Triple Surgeon’s Knot. to be honest, i’m not sure it really makes any difference in leader/fly presentation to the fish but it does because i believe it does. offset kinks look messy !

i really like this video by Jim Thielemann. rarely found on any step-by-steps or diagrams is the trick we find here of passing the line around the thumb to create the second loop. this keeps the whole knot visible with the loops separated as opposed to pinching the ensemble together and then trying to pull the second loop through the first to finalize/tighten the knot. this also makes for a better control of the size of the final loop.


now, for today’s great tip. mostly intended as a strong, quick and easy connection point between the tapered part of the leader and its tippet giving us the advantage of not having to continuously reduce the tapered part’s length as we change tippet, we’ll be creating the Perfection Loop exactly as in the video above but this time we’ll see how to easily reduce the final loop’s size, something that’s rather hard to do when using the ‘standard’ method.
we’ll notice that he uses a headphone jack plug to determine the loop size and to give us a bigger visual understanding of how to do this however, getting a very-very small loop size is the goal so, a largish sewing needle or safety pin helps get  the correct size. an added bonus is these pins are tapered and smooth and this helps slide the loop off.

alexisdepuis‘s video is in frog but don’t fret, the visuals are very clear. what we’ll want to pay special attention to is how the loop size is reduced/adjusted by pulling on the tag end before later seating the knot completely by pulling the standing line, just as in the ‘standard’ version. as with any knot, be sure to lube it up with gooey saliva before pulling anything tight and seating. in this case it would need to be applied before pulling the tag end.
to conclude, a common way of terminating the loop when doing this at home is to add a very small drop of glue and letting it completely dry before adding tippet. that’s not really a necessity but it can augment the ‘confidence factor’.
finally, these teeny-tiny loops aren’t appropriate for a loop-to-loop connection, we simply tie the tippet to the loop with our favourite knot as if it where a hook eye. enjoy !

Fly Fishing- Leader design for streamers

lots of very good info here from Kelly Galloup.
admittedly, these leader designs aren’t universal and are specifically geared towards targeting large trout with large trout streamers in rivers, retrieving them across stream from a drift boat or wading but Kelly’s explanations are well worth listening to as a lot of the very same principles are the same regardless of the targeted species and situation.
of special note is the advise of using short-short leader lengths when using sinking lines (equally valid for sink tips) and the reminder that when using streamers, casting shorter leaders is much-much easier than longer lengths which are also often detrimental to keeping the fly in the right depth zone. another bonus is that ‘leader discretion’ is also unnecessary as these fish are ‘blinded’ by their next meal just like pike and a lot of other predator fish.
simple and easy, there’s no need for store-bought leaders. i don’t know how Kelly feels about them but since the line tip doesn’t come into the rod when landing a fish i’ll use a loop-to-loop line-to-leader connection to be able to change or repair leaders in a snap. it’s all good, enjoy !

tip- try to avoid being distracted by the dancing Hula-Girl or you might miss out on some important stuff !

an easy indicator hight adjustment system

ok, those thingamathingies aren’t my thing…

thingamastoppersbut ! this trick is as ingenious, simple, quick and cheap as it gets. if we abstract the thingy for a moment and look for other potential uses, the fly line stopper, single, double, triple (and eventually in different colours to be effective in varied light conditions) in itself can be used as an adjustable sighter/indicator for Euro or sight nymphing or even as a take indicator for dry flies when there’s a lot of natural flies on the water and we’re not so sure if we’re tracking our own imitation or a natural.
i’ve been using the same nail-knot method with fluo-coloured nylons such as Amnesia red for years to be able to track parts of long leaders in complex currents and can see how the fly line trick will make tracking easier as it should stay on or closer to the surface, specially once floatant is applied. for sure something to try out.

pretty much all of us have old fly lines hanging around so this is a really good way to recycle them.
as for the nail-knot tool, i almost always have one on me but it’s not a necessity as it can very easily be done by hand with Gary Borger’s ‘Nail-Less Nail Knot’.
note that these hold on better on level lengths of line than on taped ones. have fun experimenting !

Fly Lines- Understanding Skagit and Scandinavian Shooting Heads

Demystifying Skagit and Scandinavian Shooting Heads
by Peter Charles via hooked4lifeca

once we get over the infomercial aspect and the ever-false “The Anchor loads the Rod” notion we’re left with a very good and comprehensive, straight, simple and easily understandable description for those wanting to understand modern two-handed rod shooting-head systems and incorporate them to their bag of tricks. enjoy !

Review- Smith Creek ‘Trash Fish’ Spent Line Wrangler

trashfish 1 TLC reviews

“I see way too much fishing line on the riverbank and I got so tired of re-stuffing spent leaders and tippets back into my vest pocket that I finally designed a tool to make them stay put. And no, I didn’t want another tool hanging from my vest but something simple and slim, which easily fits into my pocket.”
Wayne Smith – Smith Creek

Wayne’s quote sums it up well. whether as a way to manage our own monofilament waste or someone else’s, this very cleverly conceived, rugged, well made and user/environment-friendly accessory is yet another top-notch item from Smith Creek.
teeny-tiny at just 75 x 29 x 9 mm and very light at just a few grams, it’s light enough to not even notice that it’s there.

using it and discarding the waste once home couldn’t be simpler. wrap, slide in the mono and slide it off.
trashfish how-to TLC reviews
as you can see on the how-to above, using it is a no-brainer which means we’ll take to it easily and use it every time and that’s good for our water systems and their inhabitants.
after using it for a while, i found a slightly different method of winding on mono and this allows me to easily make the separation between mono that’s to be trashed and mono that can still be used as when the fishing situation requires a tippet change but that tippet is still usable.
– for ‘junk’ mono, i’ll simply jam a tag end into the foam area and wind directly and somewhat tightly around the aluminium frame, jam the other tag end and slide the lot deeper into the foam.
– for ‘reusable’ mono, i follow Wayne’s recommendation. this leaves a bigger, discernible loop as we can see on the images.
as always, when trashing any line, be sure to clip it to tiny bits before discarding as all sorts of wild and domestic animals visit dumpsites.

TrashFish 2 TLC reviews

bottom line: i highly recommend the Trash Fish even if it’s name’s a little quirky !

click either image to access the Springforelle online shop.


© Marc Fauvet/The Limp Cobra 2014

The story of a Knot: the Duncan Loop – Uni Knot – Grinner

first published here on the 15th of November 2011 with the diagram above and great video tutorial, i was very pleased when Norman Duncan, the creator of this classic knot joined in on the comment section.
an even better surprised happened yesterday when Norman graciously sent in the story and evolution of his ‘Duncan Loop’ that was missing from the original link that i had found.

now, when talking about the ‘Duncan’, most anglers around the world will say that’s it’s just a Uni knot and in the UK it’s typically referred to as the ‘Grinner’.
they are indeed the same knot as explained here on
this all fits in well with Norman’s description and also explains that Dunaway’s invention was simply realising that the knot could be used other purposes than just tying on a fly…

Duncan (Uni) Knot Details

The Duncan Knot is named after its inventor Norman Duncan and is also known as the “Grinner Knot”. It was also popularized under the name Uni Knot by Vic Dunaway as a versatile knot which can be adapted to many purposes including snelling; joining two lines; and connecting hooks, swivels and lures with a loop. It is described as being the same as the Hangman’s Noose. Although the two knots are tied differently, the Duncan (Uni) undergoes a transformation as it is tightened. The outer wraps become internal and the resulting knot is the Hangman’s Noose.

for sure, the angling community can be quite grateful for Dunaway’s invention because the basic knot is outstanding and is as good as any other from the reel all the way to the fly (securing backing to the reel spool – backing to fly line – fly line to leader butt – joining leader materials – terminal end to the fly) but adapting the exact same thing, renaming it (even if Uni/Universal really fits the bill) and claiming it is pretty lame so, with the intention of giving credit where credit is due and of sharing a little piece of fishing history, here’s Norman’s story. enjoy !

In the early 1960’s I was trying to develop a new way of tying a nail knot between the fly line and the butt end of the leader, I wanted to eliminate the need for using a nail. Someone had started using a small tube instead of the nail to facilitate the tying of the nail knot which allowed you to start pulling down the knot with the coils of mono tighter than with a nail. Any method of tying a nail knot in a boat was difficult especially if the fish were hitting. Alternatively, I tried tying the nail knot with tension on the fly line so that it would function like a nail. Although it worked it was also difficult since it required three hands and two sets of pliers. Then I started tying an overhand knot with the mono around both the fly line and the mono leader, passing the end of the mono through the loop three to six times then pulling it down with tension on both the mono leader and the fly line. When the mono folded over and started snugging down I then slid the knot down to the end of the fly line and cinched it. This worked alright if you were in a hurry but the mono loops would usually pinch up some of the fly line coating in the process. I then tried the same technique on heavy mono in order to improve my methods. It was when I used these techniques to tie the nail knot back on the mono itself that I realized this created an entirely new knot that could have many different applications. I then started experimenting with different methods of tying this knot finally developing the following as the easiest:

First grasp the end of the line with your lead hand and pull it through the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand toward then around the base of the little finger to form a loop. Hold the two lines lightly with the same thumb and forefinger pull the end out about 8 inches and circle around to create a 3 inch diameter loop with about 3 inches sticking out. Pass the tag end over the three lines and through the loop at least four times for mono over 100 pound test and successively more times with successively smaller line sizes. Pull the tag end and standing line together snug enough so that the knot will set and not loosen. Then put the loop on something smooth and solid like a small cleat or a gaff hook under foot. Grasp the tag end with pliers and the standing line with the other hand then apply equal tension on both lines in the same direction, pull slowly and hard to control the loop size until the knot folds over its self and snugs up to the desired tightness. The loop size can then be adjusted smaller by putting your pliers loosely against the top of the knot and pull the leader till it slips down. The tag end is cut off by pressing your cutters against the top of the knot between the leader and the tag end at about a 45 degree angle. When cut in this manner, the tag end will make a smooth slope from the leader to the knot and pass through the water without picking up as much grass or debris.

This knot has many possible applications; however it is limited by the low knot strength. In some types or brands of mono the knot strength may be as low as fifty percent depending on how well the knot is tied. If the leader strength is close to the line strength you may want to experiment with the intended application by testing as many of the various sizes, brands and number of turns combinations you expect to use. This can be accomplished by tying the knots then using a line testing machine or just weighing a bucket of water when each different knot combination breaks and recording the results. The best applications that I found for this knot are; it is the easiest knot to tie in very heavy mono, heavy mono or steelon tippet to the fly, loop on fly tippets, mono leader to live bait hooks or trolling lures, the knot can replace metal crimped sleeves.

I invented this knot around 1962 and first started showing it to my friends, then to the various fishing clubs, the sportfishing community in South Florida quickly caught on and started calling it “Duncan’s Loop”. Everyone knew I had invented this unique knot that applied to many of the terminal tackle innovations that were developing during this time period. This name became well established through the years eventually becoming known as the “Duncan Loop”. One day in the mid 1970’s Vic Dunaway the local outdoor writer called me and asked if I could explain and show him my knot, I went over to his house in Cutler Ridge sat on his back porch and explained how I developed the knot, showed him how to properly tie it and demonstrated numerous applications along with the pros and cons of each. I was very surprised when a few months later Vic published an article in a sportfishing magazine in which he claimed to have invented a new knot that he called the “Uni Knot”. I understand that he justifies this by claiming that he adapted the knot to other applications. I have never confronted him regarding what I consider as his stealing and renaming my knot because he acquires notoriety and makes money by publishing articles related to the “Uni-Knot”. Since none of the sportfishing publications have seen fit to publish any of my writings I must find some way to document the innovations that I have made in the sportfishing arena. In this case the outdoor writer published his article about what I had invented over ten years earlier; meanwhile, none of these writers have quoted or published anything that has given me proper credit for the innovations that I created.
Norman Duncan

you’ll find the original article and knot tutorial video published here on TLC by clicking the knot image at the top of the page.

Barbie’s Wedding (Tippet) Ring

by Tim Flagler (and Barbie) via MidCurrent

too cool not to share, Tim’s advise is spot on with all the fine tips and tricks on how to rig these rings properly and without loosing them in the process !
many a time i’ve heard the recommendation of storing the rings on a small safety pin. please blindly accept that this is the last thing you want to do !
these pins are weak, open up when tightening the knot and all the unused rings spring out at the speed of sound never to be found again. (specially if this is done outdoors) this makes one feel really dumb and feeling really dumb is not good.
most tippet ring suppliers don’t supply a snap as seen in the video but they’re really cheap, can be found in the lure section (ughhh…) in tackle shops and the extra snaps from the pack can be used to secure various thingies in your vest or chest pack.

i’ve been using these rings for years now because they add a bit more versatility, reliability and visibility to my rigs. in other words, it makes changing, adapting and replacing much easier. it’s not like the ‘conventional’ method of directly joining mono to mono is of any problem, but i find myself being ‘less lazy’ when it comes to changing rigs with the rings than with mono-to-mono and this has without a doubt brought more fish to the net.
not mentioned in the video is they can also be used for multi-fly rigs. you can simply add on the dropper tippet forming a ‘T’ or better yet, as the Tangle-Free Duncan Dropper (highly recommended !) tangle-free-dropper-tlc-6-4-13
as a side note and as in a lot of other equipment, be sure to have a good look at the rings before purchase as they are not all created equal. they shouldn’t have a rough or marked surface, nor should the weld be visible because scratchy surfaces scratch mono when tied on and scratch again later during use. not good. we don’t accept scratchy from hook eyes and the same should go here. you might want to bring a pocket loupe to the store…

French and Slinky

(sounds normal to me ! :mrgreen: )

bite indicators are still the rage and here’s how to make a monofilament-slinky type at home for just a few cents and a few minute’s time.
originating from the french-style looooong-leader/no fly line nymphing river competition scene (something i deeply despise but if you do this once in a while for leisure fishing it’s ok. i guess), and as opposed to foam or fiber floating indicator ‘bobbers’ that well… float, this type of indicator is to be held above the water during the drift (or rather, drag). when it stretches out it’s either a sign that a fish has taken or you’ve snagged the bottom. what fun !
makem’ short or long, in different mono diameters to have a softer or stiffer slinkynessness effect (say, softer for slower waters and stiffer for faster flows) and even mix colors in the wrap to be able to see it in varying lighting conditions.
be cool, get French !

the Tangle-Free Duncan Dropper

tangle-free dropper TLC 6-4-13
i came about this way to rig a dropper quite by accident sometime last summer. it was pretty dark and i was changing the tippet of the main leader and noticed while attaching it to the tippet ring with a Duncan Loop knot shown below (falsely named Uni-knot) that i had poorly judged the amount of tag end (something like 20-25cm / 8-10″…) and for some reason continued, finished and seated the knot. i obviously hadn’t planned adding a dropper and fly but this accident decided for me. in a “what the hell” mood i gave it a try, tied on a nymph and a few casts later caught a fish on that same dropper fly. good beginning.
as we can see, the Duncan’s knot slides along the standing line and seats itself against the hook eye. other than that the knot itself is basically symmetric meaning, in my eye, and after subsequent tests that that compared to a lot of other knots it’s equally strong whether it’s pulled in one direction or the other.
now, the funny thing is that this knot was originally intended to be a loop knot to allow the fly to move freely (read ‘falsely named Uni’ link above) but it easily slides towards the hook eye with a good pull or a good fish but it doesn’t readily slide backwards when pulling on the tag end. interesting.

sure, there are other ways of making droppers and this is just another option. with tippet rings one can just tie the dropper leg to the side of the ring similar to a Pater Noster the bait freaks use . without rings they can also be made by using a long tag end of a Blood knot or double/triple Surgeon’s knot. (i don’t use Surgeon’s because they seat overlapped and crooked. i know very well that it’s a very good, strong and reliable knot but i can’t stand the crooked presentation nor its messy ugliness… )
another method is to tie the dropper from the bend of the preceding fly’s hook bend and the whole rig stays in line. some call it New Zealand style. it’s a great method and nothing could be simpler but it can, depending on the upper fly and how it’s intended to ‘swim’, impede it’s action.

now, the tangle-free part. apart from the ‘off the bend’ or horrid Surgeon’s knot, they all tangle like crazy while casting, specially when casting mid to long range where we tend to false cast more and that’s a shame as it puts off a lot of anglers from using multiple fly rigs (when allowed by local regulations) because it’s a big pain in the ass to constantly untangle and maybe even more so because every drift that had a tangle in the system was a drift that might have put off the fish because the fly(s) where probably going sideways or even backwards all the while having a nest of monofilament mysteriously connected to these awkward imitations, something i’m sure most fish don’t feel too good about.

what’s so cool about the Duncan Dropper is that it rarely tangles if at all.

logic, for lack of a better term, would dictate that a dropper somewhat firmly held at a right angle from the main line would tangle less but it turns out that it’s the other way around. my guess is it has something to do with higher air resistance and the ensuing turbulences created during the casting stroke(s). just a guess that’s not important but what is, having the tag/dropper end come out parallel to the standing line from the knot itself takes away almost all hassles leading to more fun while fishing.
an extra bonus is this method allows us to fish much longer droppers than usual. 50-60 cm are no problems even with bigger flies such as streamers. the longer dropper not only takes the fly away from an online ‘symmetric’ presentation (with the other flies) but since the dropper is longer, the monofilament gives a more fluid/less rigid connection to the main line leaving the dropper fly to move freely thus more lifelike. the extra length of course means not having to redo the dropper after the consequent shortening due to changing flies as much as with shorter lengths.

this dropper does have the limitation of needing to be connected to a ring of some kind but it works equally well on either fly line end loops, monofilament loops (such as a Perfection knot or double/triple Surgeon’s (yuck) and even on furled/braided/poly-leader type leader bodies.
EDITbig D’Oh !!! moment happened later on today when i was out practicing and connecting the red Amnesia line as seen above to another piece. i had forgotten about the Duncan to Duncan knot and using this takes away the limitations mentioned above.
i use the D-to-D to connect mono when joining say, bigger to smaller mono diameters (the Blood knot doesn’t hold well unless the two materials joined are close or similar ex: 4X to 5X is fine but not so good  from  4X to 6X or 7X) and also to connect the finer tippets like 7X and 8X. knot1

i don’t know how i forgot this but there you go, it’s not limited to being attached to some kind of loop or ring. perfect !

as for its strength with a fish on, it’s not like we normally target the bigger, stronger species using dropper rigs but just as an example, a few weeks back i landed a very fit, hard fighting river rainbow trout of 64cm and the knot didn’t move the slightest bit.

to conclude, it’s not like fishing multiple fly rigs are a necessity. they do after all offer a few inconveniences (tangles) say, when landing a hooked fish, multiple hook ups can be a bit stressful to the heart (although fun as hell !) and of course, those who are fond of casting their flies into branches lose two or three flies instead of just one.

thing is, i’m more and more convinced that two or three flies get a fish to commit a lot more than with a single fly and this whether it’s a fish on its own or in groups where these flies might trigger a competitive reaction. something definitely worth trying.

related articles

Fly Lines: Taper Designs

with the hope the following article will help clear out a few ideas on fly line selection and since there’s been some recent comments regarding the use of level lines…, here’s an introductory excerpt on the hows and whys of fly lines tapers from Bruce Richards‘ seminal book Modern Fly Lines via Virtual Fly Casting.
as a reminder, Bruce was head line designer at Scientific Anglers for over 30 years. we can consider him to be the ‘father of modern fly lines’, “What Bruce doesn’t know about flylines, probably isn’t worth knowing. In fact some of what Bruce *does* know about flylines you probably wouldn’t want to know either.”

“Obviously, heavy and wind resistant flies offer more resistance to the fly line than light, small flies. Lines with long front tapers have less mass in the front section of the line than lines with shorter front tapers. Less mass means earlier acceleration, earlier dissipation of energy, and a more gentle, less powerful delivery which will effectively deliver small, light flies, like most trout flies. Lines with short front tapers dissipate energy less efficiently, resulting in a more powerful “turnover”, suitable for the heavier, wind resistant flies usually used for bass or saltwater fishing.

Casting into the wind increases the wind resistance the line encounters, and more energy is dissipated from the line than in calm-air or downwind casts. Lines with shorter front tapers, which dissipate energy less efficiently, work better for most anglers casting into the wind. When all else is equal, lines with longer tapers deliver less powerfully than lines with shorter tapers. It is the actual line weight that determines the range of fly sizes that can be cast effectively. A light line (2 to 5- weights) with a short, powerful taper is not going to throw big bass bugs well, because the line is just to light to carry the energy necessary to overcome the resistance offered by a large bug.

The primary purpose of the front of the fly line is to allow proper delivery of the fly and leader. The taper from the belly of the line to the tip acts to reduce the mass of the line. As the loop of any fly line travels through the air, the mass of the moving part of the line decreases because that part becomes shorter. In lines it decreases even more because the line becomes smaller towards the tip. This increases acceleration, resulting in greater Drag, wind resistance and greater Dissipation, and therefore a more delicate delivery.

It should be mentioned that the tapered leaders tied to the end of fly lines continue the dissipation of casting energy. If you have ever cast a line without a leader, you probably noticed it did not cast well. Lines are designed to be cast with leaders. A properly designed line will have just the right amount of energy left at the end of the cast to turn over the leader and deliver the fly. If a line is cast without a leader, it will ‘kick’ and be most difficult to cast. Lines are designed to be cast with a particular leader commonly used with that size type of line. A light fly line will be overpowered by a heavy saltwater leader; the line will not have enough energy to turn it over properly. By the same token, a light trout leader won’t be able to handle the large amount of energy a heavy saltwater line passes to it, and the line will ‘kick.’ Casting a level line with no front taper demonstrates very clearly how tapering effects the way a line casts. Even with the correct tapered leader, level lines ‘kick’ when casting because thy have so much undissipated energy left when the line straightens. To avoid the kick the caster must modify his or her casting stroke to reduce the amount of casting energy by slowing the line and by casting with a larger, more wind-resistant loop.

Level lines turn over very abruptly and land on the water forcefully because the energy dissipates poorly because the tip is just plain heavy without the line taper. Sinking lines are said to ‘hinge’ when cast; there is a significant change in the density where the floating and sinking parts of the line join. If cast correctly, a properly designed sinking-tip line does not ‘hinge’ but rather ‘kicks’ just as the level line does. The tip of a sinking line is very heavy and dissipates energy poorly. To compound the problem, lines with very high density tips are very small in diameter and offer less wind resistance even when the do finally accelerate. The key to casting these lines effectively is the same for level lines, namely to open the casting loop and slow the line down as much as possible.

The ability of the caster is important to consider. Lines with longer, more delicate tapers require good loop control and may be difficult for an inexperienced caster to use. There are lines on the market specifically geared toward beginning casters, lines with shorter tapers that dissipate energy less quickly during the cast. Most novices cast with relatively wide, open loops that are quite wind-resistant. If a line with a long, delicate taper is cast with this kind of loop, too much energy is dissipated and the line and leader will not straighten. With a shorter, more powerful taper, effective deliveries can be made even with less than perfect technique.

Instructors may often overlook the fly line a student is casting with. Ask the student what line it is they are using. This may be especially important when dealing with advanced or intermediate casters.
For example, many intermediate casters attempting to cast a line to 75 or 85 feet are simply unaware that in the case of a Weight Forward line, they must learn to control and understand what “overhang” is, and how it will affect their ability to control the line for longer casts. Overhang is simply the position of the rod tip in relation to the distance between the running line and the end of the rear taper. While experienced casters can control lots of overhang the intermediate caster should not attempt to cast with more than 2 or 3 feet of overhang outside of the rod tip. It is highly recommended that an approximate overhang point be marked with a permanent magic marker allowing the student/ caster a consistent “pick up” point that will promote greater efficiency when learning to cast a longer line. Again we turn to “Modern Fly lines” for a detailed description of why understanding “overhang” is critical.

A fly line is controlled by the tip of the fly rod, the angler’s last point of contact. The rod tip moves the part of the line that is in the rod tip, and that part of the line moves the rest of the line. For the rod-tip part of the line to move and control the rest of the line effectively, it should have enough mass to move the line connected to it.

A good caster can cast effectively with running line in the tip, however, if the line is kept very straight during the cast. Energy can be transmitted through the straight, small- diameter running line to the head of the line. But it usually desirable to choose a line with a belly that will insure the belly is at least very close to the rod tip during overhead casting, roll casting, or mending. In closing it is important to note that it is the fly line that delivers the fly to the target. Understanding how fly lines transmit energy to deliver the fly to the target is predicated on a firm understanding of taper design.”

EDIT– since publication of this article the Virtual Fy Casting site has been deleted/removed which also deleted the images previously added to this post.

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Double Tapered vs Weight Forward Fly Lines – Which is really better?

by Bruce Richards

constantly amazed that this subject is still an issue with so many anglers, on so may forums and by so many ‘experts’, i thought it might be of worth to pull up this article and let Mr FlyLine explain it himself.
of further interest we’ll note that the exact same principles of mass (or of more practical use,  diameter), tapers and lengths apply equally to leaders. a leader is to be designed as the continuation of the fly line and not an entirely separate entity.  what applies to line selection applies to leader selection. the two work hand in hand, so to speak, to enable the fly angler to meet the specific casting/fishing challenge at hand.

“Few fly line subjects have been discussed more than which is the better taper, double taper (DT) or weight forward (WF). The answer is, neither is inherently better, but one may be better than the other for you.

A lot of generalizations are made about these two tapers based on outdated or incorrect information. We’ve all heard that DT lines are more delicate, give better control, roll cast better, etc. In some cases some of these things are true, but not always.

Delicacy of delivery is determined by the mass of the front part of a fly line. This is determined by line diameter (which relates directly to mass), and taper length. A line with a small diameter tip and a long taper has much less mass up front than a line with a large tip and short taper. Don’t be mislead by taper length alone, a line with a long front taper but a large tip diameter will not deliver delicately. A DT and a WF line with the same taper and tip diameter will deliver the same.

For many years most DT and WF lines were made with the same tip diameter and front taper length so there was no difference in how they delivered, although many claimed there was. Today, some of the DT lines are actually designed to be used specifically for spring creek type fishing and do have longer tapers and/or smaller tips.

Anytime a line (or any product for that matter) is designed to do one thing very well it usually has a shortcoming somewhere else. Lines that are designed to be very delicate have little mass in the front to carry larger or heavier flies, and don’t handle windy conditions well. It takes a better caster to throw the kind of loops it takes to make these lines perform their best. And no, DT lines aren’t more “accurate” at normal fishing distances, that is entirely in the realm of the skill of the caster. Good consistent loops and practice are where accuracy come from.

It is very true that DT lines are easier to control and roll cast at longer distances than WF lines. At shorter distances there is no difference. The key to line control and roll casting is that large diameter line belly must be in the rod tip. If small diameter running line is in the tip it is nearly impossible to transmit enough energy through it to the belly to make the line do what you want. What many people don’t consider is that WF lines control and roll cast as well as DT lines at the distances most people fish.

Most WF lines have heads that are 35-40 ft. long. Add a 9 ft. leader and the distance to the fly from the end of the head is 44-49 ft. To that, add the length of the rod since roll cast normally end with the rod parallel to the water and pointed at the target. That is the distance at which DT and WF lines control and roll cast the same. There aren’t many typically trout fishing situations that require roll casts longer than that, and not many casters who can roll cast that far. What this all means is that DT and WF lines work pretty much the same at the distances we fish most of the time.

Certainly if someone fishes a big river that requires a lot of long distance roll casting and mending he or she should consider a DT line or a WF with a long head. Rods longer than 9 ft. are almost a necessity also, roll cast distance and mending performance is directly dependent on rod length.

Everybody knows that WF lines are better for distance than DT lines, but is that really true? Well, yes, but the difference isn’t as big as you might think. Certainly WF lines shoot better because of their small, light running lines. But remember, this benefit starts at 44-49 ft. when the running line is in the rod. If you will be making a lot of long casts it is certainly a little easier to do with a WF line, but don’t think that DT lines won’t shoot, they will, just not as far. With the advent of new slick coatings like AST DTs shoot better than ever.

For most people it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference which taper they use. Most of us fish at distances less then 44-49 ft. which is where WF’s start to shoot better, but lose line control. Most of us don’t have the need, or the ability, to roll cast longer than 45 ft..

So, how do you decide which is right for you? If you do mostly small fly fishing at short to medium range there is no reason not to get a DT line. There is always the budget issue, DT lines are essentially 2 in 1 so are less expensive over time. If you are consistently throwing long casts you will be able to make them with fewer false casts with a WF line, but lose the ability to do long roll casts and mends, if you ever need them, and are able. For most of us it doesn’t make much difference which taper we use most of the time, make your decision based on how much short distance fishing, or long range fishing you do.”

related articles

Making a furled leader by hand (no tools or jigs)

nope, this won’t be the end-all leader solution for everyone’s needs but it’s for sure a good one to have in your bag of tricks.
what i like best with this video is that it shows us how easy, inexpensive and fast it is to create your own furled leader, hopefully inspiring enough to roll your own and try it out for yourself and experiment with different leader materials, their diameters, taper proportions and length to suit your own needs. have fun !

Amnesia-20lb-red-l  i’ll be trying this out soon with some highly visible Red Amnesia material for casting demos and courses as it can only make the already very visible leader even more visible ! pics to follow.

Typical North Country Spider Leader Setup

we’ve seen quite a bit on North Country Spider patterns and fishing techniques and here, thanks to Stephen Cheetham of Fishing with Style we get some greatly detailed  info and tips on general leaders setups for this method, with and without droppers.

a strong hunch tells me the knot above comes from commercial fishing, most probably used for ‘long-lining’ but it’s just the ticket for these leader setups and also a good one for dry & nymph rigs, particularly when using Reversed-Parchute  as the dropper cannot be attached on the hook bend. good stuff indeed, thanks Stephan !

be sure to click on the image to discover a lovely selection of flies and other goodies. enjoy !

psyche-far out-delic Color-Changing nylon !

via Discoveries + Breakthroughs Inside Science

Nylon fishing line is designed to have some natural stretch to it. But if you pull on it too hard — which happens when fighting to reel in a particularly large fish– it can stretch so much that its structure is badly weakened.”

what’s more relevant in this issue and apparent to anyone who is 1- cognitive and 2- an actual fisher, is how stretch affects knot strength, the over-tightening and consequent weakening of the material by the over-eager, over-excited taurinesque Redbull filled angler being a much greater cause of break-offs than the actual rectilinear strengths of the material.
as seen on the image below, this particular knot is choked at  the standing line side and the remainder of the tippet has changed to a sickly, gross, Alien barf green, a sharp tug and Goodbye Charlie !

“HOW IT WORKS: The new fishing line contains a type of polymer that fluoresces — emits light — when viewed under ultraviolet light. The color of light emitted depends on how much stress the polymer molecule has experienced. When the line is not under stress, the molecules are close together and emit reddish-brown light under a UV lamp. When it stretches, the molecules pull apart and emit green light. A fisherman can check his line under UV light and discard it if it glows green.”

ok, so the first thing i’m thinking is, groovy.
trés groovy indeed but we’ve come to rely on a lot of other aspects in nylon selection that unless this maybe-future color-changing line has all the other qualities we require, we’re pretty unlikely to go out and change all our countless tippet spools for some material that’ll induce yet another anxiety to the fly fisher: the fear of leaders and tippets going Alien-barf green.

on the other hand, using this material to demonstrate that certain knots and connections are better than others would be a great boon for a lot of people.
as an example, we could prove once and for all how the Clinch knot (which i suspect is the contemptible knot above) is utter shite and improve humanity by banning it from the world in a somewhat same manner books where burned in Bradbury’s hot and sticky  Fahrenheit 451.

well yeah, fly fishing purity might just need to happen through fire ! :mrgreen:

click the knot-pic for more info on this new juicy line.

Hinging or Myth…

brillantissime Jim Williams once again !  Jim’s one of those big things that pays attention to the little things in life and here’s a doozy !

this time it’s about connecting loops:

(don’t worry and yes, that’s the WRONG way. it’s only there to hopefully peak your interest enough to click the pic to find the correct way once you’ve finished reading here)

but more importantly and the real gem of this article because hardly ever mentioned: loop size, monofilament stiffness/suppleness and how they all go together as a whole to create a flawless energy-transmitting non-hinging  connection. enjoy !