The Global FlyFisher
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This article covers loops used for connecting fly lines to backing and leaders and shows you how to make them and use them.
These loops are often refered to as Orvis loops. I don't know if Orvis invented them, but they do sell them -- and at high prices too.
There's no reason to pay money for something you can make for free yourself. All you need is a large needle and some scraps of braided dacron backing. Add to that scissors, a lighter (or a candle or matches) and some superglue.
How to make a loop on braided backing
Look at the drawing and follow the instructions below. You can now make your own loops. See blow how to use them and how to join two loops. These loops can be used loose to mount on fly lines using silicone tube as shown below or they can be made on braided backing and braided leaders to use for connecting to fly lines.
- Use fairly thick braided backing off the stiff dacron type - 20 or 30 lbs
- Do not cut the backing yet, but work with the whole length
- Be carefull that the backing doesn't become 'unbraided' in the process
- Stick a thick needle into the backing app. 10 cm. (4") from one end.
- The backing is hollow and the needle point should end up in the center
- Thread the short end of the backing through the needle eye
- Secure the loop formed with a pencil
- Press the needle out through the backing again 5 cm. (2") further down the backing
- Pull the needle and the loose end through the hollow center and out though the side of the backing
- Pull loop fairly tight
- Remove needle and cut backing leaving a small piece (1cm/0.5") on the outside
- Burn lightly over a flame and pull the still warm and soft end into the backing, by expanding the loop
- Put a drop of superglue on the double backing
- Stop the backing from becoming 'unbraided' by sticking a needle into the hollow center and applying light heat.
- Cut to appropriate length and thread a small piece of silicon tube over the end
- The loop is ready
Braided sleeve and silicone tubing
No split ends
When you use braided backing for backing or loops, you will probably experience a lot of irritation over the fact that the ends of this line will split. If you want to use silicon tubing for joining braided backing with other types of line. These split ends will make it very difficult to thread the silicone over the backing. Avoid this by burning the end of the backing after a needle has been stuck inside the hollow backing. Warm the needle lightly and the backing will melt around it. Trim the excess afterwards.
Melting a braided sleeve to keep it from fraying.
The silicone trick
There's an easy way to attatch the leader or backing to the fly line, and that's by using a piece of silicone tubing. This can be bought in running lengths and cut to pieces. Sometimes it's included with braided leaders.
The tube is cut into small pieces and mounted as shown above. The tube will hold the leader and pull in the leader will make the hollow braided line grab the fly line.
I fished with this solution for some years and never experienced any problems. Some fishers are sceptic though, and some seem to be of the opinion that the link will give in.
If you have this fear or need to change your fly line on the same backing - maybe because the spool of your reel can't be changed - you can consider using "the large loop solution".
Fitting the braided loop over a fly line, securing it with a piece of thin silicone or plastic tube.
Dissolving the coating on the fly line and making a loop from the braided core.
Loop on a fly line
This is a way of making a loop on a fly line that will give you a very neat and tiny loop and a smooth transition between the different parts of a rig. The loop is very strong and actually quite easy to make.
You will need a threader of the type that is normally used for getting tying thread through the tube of the bobbin holder.
It has to be the type made from metal thread (piano wire) - the ones made from thick monofilament will not do.
Do try this at home
Start doing this on an old piece of fly line or on the reel end of a new one. Not all lines have the hollow, loosely braided core needed for this and you might fumble the first time. Spare the front taper of your favourite line till you have some practise.
Some lines have very dense cores or even monofilament ones. These can not be made into loops using this method.
- Dip the end of the fly line in acetone (nail polish remover is the same, but more expensive) for 10-30 seconds
- Remove the softened coating from 5-8 cm (2-2 3/4") of the fly line, revealing the braided core
- Stick the tip of the threader into the core as close to the coating as possible
- Pass the threader throgh 2 cm (3/4") of the core and push it out through the line again
- Thread the tag end of the core into the threader
- Pull approx. 2 cm (3/4") of line into itself and form a sufficiently large loop (secure the loop with a thin pencil in necesarry) and remove threader. If the tag sticks out of the side, cut it as close as possible, and pull the rest into the center of the core.
- Apply a little Aquaseal or similar on the braid, reaching from the coating and to the base of the loop. Smooth it with wet fingers and let cure for 24 hours.
- The loop is ready
Putting two loops together
The loop system has the advantage of being very flexible. You can easily join two sections of the fly rig, when you have loops on each section.
Especially if you want to change leaders, the loops will make the process very easy. More seasoned fishermen might find the joint too stiff or find that it has a so called 'hinge effect', but for the beginner, that often ends up with a knotted leader or a gigantic birds nest, the ease of changing a leader is of great benefit. This combined with cheap, home made knotted leaders, will make the learning curve much less steep.
Using the loop system
When I first started fishing with a fly rod, I spent a lot of time tying compex knots to join the different part of the rig. I wish someone had told me about loops when I started, because they would have saved me a lot af pain and frustration. I do not think that loops are the best way to join two parts of the fly line set up, but they sure are easy to use, and until you are really competent with a flyrod, you'll be pleased to know that a leader can be changed in a jiffy, without tying any knots. The loop-to-loop connection makes it so much easier to change that windknotted leader or have several fly lines that has to go on one reel.
As you become a better fly angler and more confident with knots, you can always return to knotted connections, which in some cases can give better performance and smaller and smoother connections than loops.
Large loop connection
Large and small
For convenience you might want to use a very simple large loop connection between the fly line and the backing. This consists of two loops - a large one on the backing and a small one on the fly line. The large one should be large enough to let the whole reel pass through it, and the small one on the fly line large enough to let the doubled, knotted backing pass.
Use the braided loop style for the loop on the backing or just make a huge Surgeon's loop on it, and utilize the "loop on a fly line" style for the fly line or a seperate braided loop as a second option.
Connecting the fly line to the backing with very little hassle using a large loop on the backing.
Thread the large loop through the small one and let the reel pass through the large loop. Now tighten the loops and arrange the 'knot' as neatly as possible. The loops come easily apart even after a long time of hard use.