Today we hear from Bruce Chard – legendary guide in the Florida Keys and teacher of our bonefishing schools at Andros South – about why he prefers hand-tied leaders for fishing on the saltwater flats.
Bruce Chard on Saltwater Leaders
I have seen a lot of leaders break in my days – unfortunately – but I must admit that most of the ones I have seen break have been knotless tapered leaders. I am not a professional mono-filament man but I do know that knotless tapered leaders are heated and run through an extruding machine to get the desired taper and design. To make this process easier the manufacturers use a relatively soft mono.
When fishing on the saltwater flats there is often a good amount of wind to deal with. In my experience a harder, stiffer mono leader is easier to roll out straight into the wind. It is vital for the leader to extend fully for a good presentation and to enable you to move the fly and have complete control right away.
This is why I choose to tie my own leaders with hard mono. I can then taper them as aggressively as I like for the type of fishing I will be doing. I also will then have the confidence that my fly will lay out straight and not collapse as often happens with soft mono knotless leaders.
You might have heard that the knots on knotted leaders spook fish. If you believe that, I have a number of bridges to sell you! Besides, learning to tie your own leaders will help build skills – knot tying, leader taper, even on-the-water decision making – that make you a better angler.
Jordan Green says
what are the specifics of his leaders for bonefish and permit?
This post outlines quite a bit of detail on Bruce’s rig for bonefishing. We’re working on him for some detail on his permit leader.
Thanks for stopping by!
Bruce Chard says
Hello there Jordan! I love to use the Rio Saltwater hard Mono for my permit leaders. I love to start with the 33lb with a loop knot then I add and tie equal sections of 27lb,22lb,17lb, 13lb all rio hard, and then a 2 foot section of Seaguar grand max 18lb tippit. The 18 Seaguar is actually thinner in diameter then the 13lb rio so it works out great. I like to make the leader about 12-13 ft long at least. Thanks for your interest let me know if you have any other questions.
Corbin Fletcher says
I really like to be versatile, and flexible while on location hunting for shallow water fish species.
If you have many tippet spools and hand tie your own leaders…this allows you to change, and adapt, to the ever varying fishing conditions.
With the appropriate combination of leader material you can create a longer (or shorter) leader; with the correct taper and fight windy conditions, while turning over big bugs. Or, make the correct changes and lengthen your leader for a delicate presentation when there is little wind, and fish maybe weary.
If you have only a few choices of extruded leaders and need to adapted to an unforeseen fishing situation…you might not be prepared.
I land somewhere in the middle on this stuff. I agree that extruded, pretapered leaders are sketchy, but that seems to mainly be in the tippet section. Here’s what I do: have a stock of 10 and 12 ft tapered leaders. I also carry the fixin’s for any leader (80 lb – 10 lb mono). I chop off the tippet section (2 ft or so) and add my own tippet.
But, that’s still not good enough. Most tapered leaders aren’t actually built properly (‘cept Rio’s, last I checked): their butt-sections are too short. So, I grab some heavy, fairly limp mono (Deep Blue works great) and tie some on to create a butt-section that’s roughly 50% of the leader length.
This leaves me with a leader with only a couple knots that easily turns heavy or light flies over in the wind. It’s still a pretty customizable system, and I don’t have to tie like 5 knots in every leader.
The exception to this is if I’m tarpon fishing, then I build the entire thing from scratch: Roughly 6 ft of 50-80 lb, 3 ft of 30 – 40 lb, and 3 ft of tippet (20 lb) w/ 8-turn Biminis on each end. These I attach via a 5-turn Bristol to the mid-section and the bite tippet (usually 50-60 lb. flouro). This a very strong, extremely simple tarpon leader. It has very strong, very small knots that lay straight to keep the fly riding true.