I’ve always used a monofilament leader… why should I change?
That is a perfectly legitimate question. I feel qualified to say that, considering it was a question that I posed myself this past winter.
For the first half dozen years of my fly fishing career, I used pack after pack of knotless tapered leaders. After I noticed their lack of versatility and their cost, I began tying my own monofilament and fluorocarbon leaders. My wallet reaped the greatest benefit, and I could discern some advantages. But all in all, it was still just a leader.
Leaders are the least glamorous part of the fly fisher’s terminal tackle. The rod and reel are the stars, the fly gets the most attention, and the line makes it all work. Leaders are simply there because they have to be, right?
The why should I change? question this winter came after I came across a North Carolina company that specializes in furled leaders. What I saw from Appalachian Furled Leader Company got me asking what this traditional, yet underrepresented piece of gear had going for it. I contacted Justin Rose, the owner and leader maker, and asked him what made furled leaders so special? His answer was simple: “you’ve just got to fish one, then you’ll see what makes them so great.”
Later that month I was rigging up a lightweight rod, getting ready to chase mountain brook trout in the Blue Ridge. Attaching the short, supple Blue Line Leader from Appalachian Furled Leader Company was much simpler than tying a whole new mono leader for the start of the season. To this grey, three-foot leader I looped another three feet of straight 5X tippet. I tied on a royal wulff, and I was ready to go.
The first thing I noticed was how easily I could “punch” casts where I wanted them to go. For casting short distances with a full-flex rod, the furled leader was on point. I’ve never been so accurate in dropping flies right where I wanted to in plunge pools. On longer casts, the energy transfer from line to leader was as smooth and seamless as I’ve ever experienced. Another advantage from that improvement was that presentations were effortlessly delicate. Furthermore, I applied some Otter Butter, and it floated like a cork after hours of use.
As soon as I got off the water, I texted Justin: “These are awesome. I’m hooked.”
A few weeks later I was fishing a larger freestone river. The other Appalachian Furled Leader Company product I had was a Nymph / Big Bug Leader. The last few feet of this 6+ foot leader are neon orange and yellow. Now, I’m not opposed to using strike indicators. However, I am not a fan of how one has to cast when using one – especially if weight or multiple flies are involved. This nymph leader solves that problem, plus improves casting in all the aforementioned ways. Mending was a breeze, and the colored sections made it possible to detect even the subtlest strikes on tiny nymphs.
There are other benefits as well: Integrated tippet rings on the larger leaders make rigging and re-rigging simple. The material and woven construction create a virtually memory-free leader. And although I haven’t put them through a whole season yet, I can’t find a nick, knot, or snag in either leader I am fishing.
Chances are that many fly fishers are in the same boat that I was in: I’d known about furled leaders for a long time, but never gave them much attention. All in all, I am incredibly impressed at how much a different leader improved my casting and my fishing. It would be difficult to quantify the incremental difference between a mono leader and the furled leader. However, based upon the applications in which I’ve used them both, my fly fishing has improved through the use of furled leaders.
My best advice for you, regardless of where you fish for trout, is to echo of what Justin told me: “you’ve just got to fish one.”
Check out and purchase all the different leaders that Appalachian Furled Leader Company has to offer on their website. Also, keep up to date by following them on social media.