These monthly (approximately) Tips are an effort to share with others some of the things that Wyoming Flycasters members have taught me. You might also call them my biases. As someone reiterated on a recent outing, “What I like about fly fishing is that there is always something to learn.” I would add that there is no perfect answer to most fly fishing related questions. Listen to several folks and then make up your own mind. Let the fish tell you what works.
One of my goals with these little tidbits, is to make readers self-sufficient in their individual fly fishing adventures. Most of us can’t afford the luxury of going with a guide who does everything for us on every trip out. Most of the time most of us have to take care of our own business: rigging up, fly and weight selection, deciding what water(s) to fish, deciding exactly where and how to cast, etc.
In this Tip I’m going to continue to focus on getting ready to fish. I’m going to assume that wherever you bought your outfit they took care of the basics of attaching backing to the reel and fly line. Most any good fly shop will take care of these chores. What remains is attaching a leader to the fly line, putting on tippet, and tying on one or more flies, plus the addition of weights as needed, and possibly a strike indicator. These chores require several different types of knots. An additional item that I add to my own rigs is a piece of heavy monofilament approximately 18” long between the fly line and leader. I believe this help my flies turn over better, improving presentations. My preference for attaching this heavy mono is to use a nail knot. So even if my new fly line comes with a welded loop at the end, as most of them do these days, I cut that off and add the mono with a nail knot. I cheat and use a nail knot tool for this step. After tying the mono to the fly line, I tie a perfection loop in the other end of the mono. The perfection loop is easy to tie; get someone to show you how the first time. If your leader didn’t come with a perfection loop (most do), tie another one at the butt and loop-to-loop this onto the mono. On equipment selection: I typically use 7 ½ foot tapered leaders ending in either 3X or 4X on our waters. Next is the tippet; typically 3X or 4X. In case you are wondering why to add another piece of material to the leader, it serves several practical purposes. The knot where you join leader and tippet acts as a stop to keep weights from sliding down next to your fly. Since you wind up cutting off 6” or so of material each time you change flies, it is cheaper to be able to replace tippet as needed rather than replace the entire leader. Tapered leaders cost about $4.00 each and for about that much you can buy 50’ or so of tippet. Duh. Mono versus fluorocarbon: I use mono leaders, and when floating in a drift boat use fluorocarbon tippet. On flat water I use mono all the way to the flies. Fluorocarbon supposedly has properties that make it better for fishing flies beneath the surface, which is typically what is done on the river. It is also about 3 times as expensive as mono. I have some of both on my lanyard. For attaching tippet to leader, I have started using a blood knot or a double surgeon’s knot. For years after I started fishing I used a couple of perfection knots and loop-to-looped them. Frankly, I can’t see a lot of difference. I copy what most of the guides around here do and use a simple clinch knot to attach my top fly.
Have fun, and remember: You don’t know unless you go! Thinking about it or talking about it won’t put any fish on your line!