Published Feb 17. 2010 - 14 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 8. 2015


Hello everyone,

And nice to meet you. I began fly fishing 3 -4 months ago and I can't believe what I've been missing. The best thing is, when the season is closed I get to tie all winter long. Anyhow, I leave about 20 minutes away from Lake Ontario, Canada and I have 3 major spawning rivers that reach into my backyard. I'm sure you can figure out what I'm targeting. My question for today is tapered leaders. In front of me I have SA 20, 16, and 14 lbs lines. I'm looking to make a universal leader to use in the summer for small trout and bass. This leader would attach to a 5wt. forward float line on a 5/6 wt. 8' or 9' rod. I don't require knots and all that but rather the lengths of each section. On top of this I'm partial to using micro swivels so I can change the tippet to match the condition.

Any help on this would be great.

Also, here's a photo of my first real catch on a fly rod (hopefully it comes through).



Glenn Parkin's picture

That's a nice looking catch...

That's a nice looking catch Matthew. I have been fly fishing for three years and break my sections down to 3' each but that is my preference.

Kalby64's picture

Hi Matthew, ...

Hi Matthew,
Welcome to GFF, in the left hand sectiion you will find an excellent section for tying your own leaders, with lots of very good info and recipes, I can assure you it will help.

Thanks guys....

Thanks guys.

I have checked the info here first but it get too much after awhile. So Glenn, does the last third of your leader include the different tippets to match your condition or do you add a swivel and then tie on the appropraite tippet? Also, with the lines that I suggested you would go 3' 20 lbs, 3' 16lbs and 3' 14lbs.

I was too lazy to check the locator for Ashton. Where abouts is it located?



Glenn Parkin's picture

20 ,16, 10 and then most of...

20 ,16, 10 and then most of the time my last section 4th will be 6-8 pd mono for bass and walleye or steel for the pike and muskie. I don't use a swivel at all. Ashton is 30 min outside Ottawa.

Nice to talk to you. I have been (lurking) on this site for a couple of years but joined just before you. This has got to be the best site for fly fishing I have ever seen. The articles, diagrams and help offered is unbelievable. Tight line Matthew

Hi Matthew....

Hi Matthew.

Try this: 47“ 20lbs, 31“ 16lbs, 19“ 14lbs, swivel, tippet (ca. 25-30“).

Important in any way, if you are tying leaders, you need to reduce the length and strenght of the pieces from the butt to the tipp. That´s because the transferred energy of the casting-impulse ties down on the way from your hand to the tip of your leader. So by reducing the strength and length of the sections you support an easy flow from the strongest to the weakest part of your connection.

I guess you need some experimentation to find the optimal tuning according to your fly line and the flies you use. May be you will have a hand full of different leaders for different use (dry, nymph, streamer, short/longer distance) in the end. But in the end you have your individual solution.

T.L. Frank

Hi there T.L.,...

Hi there T.L.,

Thanks for the info it will really help and I will put your suggestion together. Since my original post and searching thru the tips on this sight I put togther this leader all connected with surgeon's knots:

20 - 36"
16 - 24"
14 - 18"
10 - 10"
8 - 10"
4 - 10"
= 9 ft.

What type of fishing would you consider this good for?

Also, I'm assuming from your post that after the swivel I connect the appropriate tippet of my choice.

Thanks again,


Hi Matthew,...

Hi Matthew,

because of the final fine steps would I use that leader for fishing with a #5-6 rod on rivers etc.

If you will use such kind of leader for heavier rods, you need to reduce the single taper-steps (to for ex. 3) and maybe rise the strength.

It´s a little difficult to explain, because I use mono wich counts kg and not lbs. But vaguely the butt section should have 38-45 lbs, the middle section 23-30 down to 14-16, the tip section 9-11to 8 lbs and then the swivel and thippet. That would be fine for an allround river leader which will be ca. 4,5 yrds.

T.L. Frank

Thanks again TL,...

Thanks again TL,

That leader I put together is for my 5/6 wt. rod on a 5wt forward line. By the way, which is the best knot to attach the butt section to the fly line...a nail knot? Would you suggest the second leader for my 10 ft. 8 wt. rod?

Glenn Parkin's picture

Hi Matthew another tool on...

Hi Matthew another tool on this web site that I have found is a Leader calculator. It is a wonderful tool available for download.


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