The past few weeks, I have been using the ole fly rod again and one of my
friends from the early 1960s, Acy Wall, deceased referred to my fly rod as a
“buggy whopper.” He did
enjoy seeing that fly line cast into the air with a popping bug on the end
of the leader gracefully drop onto a pond's still surface leaving only a few
circular patterns of ripples with the ensuing loud noise from
the strike of a hungry Bream or Largemouth bass that took hold of it no
doubt thinking it was going to be a delicious tasty snack but instead felt a
little sting or bite from the lure and immediately tried to shake it loose!
Back then, I used a straight piece of monofilament line for a leader and
attached it to the end of the fly line using a small metal eyelet that had a
pointed shaft end about 1/2 inch long with small barbs along the length that
kept the eyelet from being pulled loose from the fly line. Most fly
lines are braided and have a hollow center core and the eyelet is simply
inserted into the core of the fly line. It worked ok but the eyelet
would soon damage the fly line since it was stiff and would act like a
miniature hinge and the line would eventually start to fray and break if you
didn’t cut the eyelet out and re-use it or use a new eyelet. The metal
eyelet was later replaced by using a barrel or nail knot for attachment of
the leader to the fly line and now replaced by a heat shrink braided leader loop
which is pretty much standard:
The above leader loop splice is already showing wear at one end of the
heat shrink tubing which is acting like a hinge. The ideal situation
is not to have the end of the fly line or the leader to fold or hinge but
transfer the energy of the line all the way through to the end of the leader
in a smooth graceful arch. In fly fishing, you are casting the heavier
fly line which has the leader attached and then the lure, whereas in other
fishing types such as bass or bait fishing; you are casting the heavier lure
and/or bait with the aid of weights attached to the line if needed.
It was later in the 1970s that I started making my own hand tied
tapered leaders using a common knot called the blood knot which works
extremely well when tying two lines together that are about the same
diameter. Tapered monofilament leaders usually taper down in two
thousands (.002) of an inch in diameter increments starting off with the
butt section being .023 inches in diameter and to give a perspective
to what .002 difference is; a human hair averages a little less than .001
inch in diameter, some smaller and some larger depending on your race.
A few pixs below:
The ole Brown and Sharpe micrometer was purchased sometime in the early
1970s when I manufactured musical parts and accessories and has seen a lot
of usage. The close-up pix reveals plenty of dust particles from my
wood working shop and it needs a cleaning badly........hint, hint!
I have tied the tapered leader for decades off an on and usually make
several up at a time and keep them in a small plastic bag with the
description of how it was tied in one of my fly fishing vest pockets. I have on occasion purchased tapered
knotless leaders but they do not work as well in my humble opinion.
Their advantage is that moss and algae will not adhere to them like it does
on a tapered knotted leader knots but you have more control over changing the
tippet which is the end of the leader that has your artificial flies, nymphs
or popping bugs attached. Also, the size of the lure you are using
pretty much determines what the diameter of the tippet you are using.
A couple weeks ago, I got out my Climax brand leader tying kit which
replaced a kit manufactured by Orvis that the monofilament leader material
had dry rotted after a couple or more decades even though stored in a cool
dark place and quickly found out how the date on my birth certificate seems to have an
proportional relationship to ones dexterity along with other issues as the
ability to even see a line that is .008 thousands of an inch or less in
diameter. I still remembered how to tie the blood knot but getting the
small diameter monofilament to rotate around each other and then thread the
two ends back through a small opening was a bit challenging. After a couple
of the leaders were tied, my dexterity started to come back very slowly at a
snails pace and it seemed like all my fingers were thumbs…..grin if
Pix of what the blood knot looks like with the ends not
trimmed yet. The Macro close-up picture is deceptive in relationship
to its actual since the line to the right is
only .011 thousands of an inch in thickness. This particular leader
starts off with a butt diameter of .023 inches, .021, .019, .017, .015, .013
and .011 for a total length of 9.5 feet which works great for small streams.
Sometimes I will use a leader that is around 12 feet in length if I have
plenty of room for a back cast.
Currently I have a piece of monofilament .023 inches in diameter 18.5
inches in length attached to the end of my fly line using a nail knot knot with a small loop terminating at the other end for attachment of
the leader. I use the following diameters and lengths: .021-22",
.019-20", .017-18", .015-16", .013-14", .011-12" and tippet is .008-20".
This leader is classified as an extra light bass. The current
monofilament leader kits feature line that is much stronger than what is
used in this old Climax Leader Kit due to advancements in line
manufacturing. According to the spool info, ,008 equals 7 lb. test.
There are plenty of YouTube
videos that show you how to tie the blood knot
and I will insert or hyperlink to them. The only instructions
available in the 1970s were drawings showing you step by step how to tie
them. One of my all time favorite books written by Joe Brooks,
deceased gave excellent instructions of his favorite hand tied leaders and
he was a traditionalist and purists all the way never getting away from his
usage of split bamboo fly rods which were being replaced with the more
modern graphite and carbon
fiber rods. He was old school for sure which can be a good thing as well in our
ever changing and dynamic world. Pix below of a page from his book
The Complete Book Of Fly Fishing.
I purchased the book in 1976 on 07-04-76 at Pipestem Park, WVA while our
family was on vacation. I loaned this book to one of my cousins and it
took over 15 years to get it returned of which was badly worn and appeared
to have some moisture damage.
My leader tying was a success and will keep a few of them in my fly fishing
vest ready for the next time on the creek, pond, lake or river.
Time aka Years has a way of slipping up on all of us and we have to adapt to the new
changes brought about by Mother Nature and time. I am certainly thankful
and grateful for each and every day that the Lord allows. Each day brings on subtle
new challenges and sometimes a humongous change but God certainly is good to us and will see us through these
I am guilty of taking many things for granted in my youth but maturity has a
way of letting one become more acutely aware and appreciate what we can do for
ourselves even with the limitations that we currently posses.
While tying new leaders that took extra effort that once was done like
second nature, the seed was planted for this short story. While typing
my short stories as with each day that God allows us, I do try and
inject some humor along this Road of Life and grin as much as possible and strive to
focus on some spiritual lesson or awakening and give God, the
praise, glory and honor.
To quote my recently departed friend
“Yesterday is History, Today is a Gift and Tomorrow is a Mystery.”
My personal favorite quote: "Two Of The Great Ships That
Ever Sailed: Friendship and Fellowship."
Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 06-26-13.