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.

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 !

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…

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

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.

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 !

Nail-Knot with a… nail !

a nice ‘twist’ to an old standard. well explained with special attention to details, this one shows a different way of wrapping the leader butt around the line by using a loop instead of just the tag end. nifty and practical specially when a fast leader change is needed on the water.

personally, i believe that wrapping the the butt end of the leader eight times around the line is completely useless and actually detrimental to the knot. it is just too long without making the connection any stronger, creating a stiffer and sharper ‘hinge’ area at the back end of the knot/line-tip junction. this breaks the fly line’s coating and leaving the all too flexible fly line core as the only thing holding the connection together, also disrupting the energy transfer between the line and leader. the break will eventually occur both while casting as the loop is created and unfolds and when the knot is brought through the rod tip when landing a fish.

in freshwater and with bigger species like pike, carp and salmon i’ve not had a single failure yet using three turns although for bigger lines in single and double hand 7wt and up i might take four wraps just to appease the ‘you never know’ doubt feeling…

as a reminder, the Nail Knot is not recommended for use for big strong sea-type fish as when there’s enough pull the knot simply strips the coating from the fly line. more on monster fish connections later !

video source: