Odds 'n' Sods of Information and Opinion

Sample Comprehensive Setups

Comprehensive Setups

Here are some examples of how I put together the line, leader construction, fly type, and casting angle into one, comprehensive system where no part ever works against another. My leader decisions are always intertwined with the fishing situation and have to work with every other component of the system, so I don't have any hard and fast formulas. Almost all of my leader decisions are made stream-side, but they can be roughly broken down as:

* Big flats, slow runs, or any large current feature = long to very long, thin FC leader + fast sink rate fly + floater, slow to medium sinking tip or head + casts close to square to current.

* Target fishing (pocket water, boulder garden, complex currents, sight fishing etc.) = shorter thin FC leaders + fast sink rate fly + fast or extra fast sinking tip or head + casts angled to produce narrow arcs of sweep or punched into slots and other small features

* Surface fishing or close to it, usually high speed presentations = medium to long, thick mono leaders or Polyleaders + slow sink or buoyant flies + floaters or intermediates sinktips + casts usually close to square to the current

* Dead Chicken Chucking = short, thick leaders + short, heavy, fast to extra sink rate heads + angled or targeted casts

* Suspended fly (usually pocket water sight fishing) = short to medium length, thin FC leaders + slow sink fly + fast sink rate head + narrow arcs of sweep casting. I'll thicken up the leader or switch to mono if the fly is getting down too much.

* Swymphing = short to medium, thin FC leaders + fast sink fly + slow to medium sink rate heads + upstream angled, short ranged casts
* Winter fishing big water, high flows = long to very long, thin FC leaders + fast sink rate flies + intermediate or medium sinker, mid to long belly + casts angled downstream. During low flow conditions, I substitute a mid to long belly floater plus fiddle with fly sink rates and leader construction to keep the fly off bottom.

Leader Lengths

Leader length: short = 5' or less, medium = 5' to 10', long = 10' to 15', and very long is above 15'.
Fast sink flies would be four to five inches per second while slow sink flies would be around one inch per second or less.
Thin FC leaders usually have 15 lb. butts going down to 6 or 8 lb. Thick, short leaders are usually Maxima Ultragreen starting at 25 lb. and thick long leaders are usually factory mono tapered leaders or Maxima.

The Bottom Line

Always, always test the sink rate and the swim of your flies before fishing them. Any construction fault can cause the fly to swim off-kilter, a problem that the test swim will highlight. Also, the testing will wet the fly thoroughly so that it will behave properly on the first cast. The best advice I can give: never assume that your fly is being presented properly -- always test and verify.