Monday, January 30, 2012

Long Live the Leader

There is something about how a smoothly tapered commercial leader turns over a fly that cannot be mimicked with a home-brewed leader.  A 9' leader will typically have 24" of tippet at its end.  To extend the life of the leader, additional tippet material is generally added to the leader's end; the amount varies depending on the fishing circumstances.  In the past, I have always joined the tippet material to the leader using a Bloodknot ( or a Surgeon's knot if the two line diameters are different ).  Eventually the added tippet material will be consumed by changing flies, and I have to re-extend the leader with more tippet. After several re-extensions, I will have eaten through the original 24" of tippet and begin entering the tapered section of the leader.  This is bad for two reasons: 1) Joining lines of different diameter yields inherently weaker knots (at least for Surgeon's and Blood knots).  2) The leader will be shorter and less tapered causing poor loop turnover.  Eventually, it will have to be replaced.

An alternative approach is described in "Lefty Kreh's Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing: Everything Anglers Need to Know by the World's Foremost Fly-Fishing Expert".  In this book, Lefty suggests joining the leader and tippet using a square knot formed by two non slip mono loops (Kreh knots), one in the leader and one in the tippet.  Using this approach, tippet material can be added (or removed) from the leader without shortening it.  In addition to extending the life of the leader this has several advantages: 1) The non slip mono loop is an incredibly strong knot, testing at nearly 100% line strength. 2) It is much easier to swap out tippets for a particular fly or fishing situation. 3)  Non slip mono loops can be pre-tied on tippet spools which allows tippet to be rapidly attached in the field with no additional knot tying.  The only downside I have thought of with this approach is if there is heavy vegetation the loop to loop connection may be more prone to snag or collect plant material; however, my initial tests of fishing with this connection on water with vegetation suggests this is not a problem.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Slab of 2012

I caught this 20" rainbow trout out of Jefferson Lake in Forest Park, St. Louis.  Every winter, the Missouri department of conservation stocks rainbow trout as part of the urban winter stocking program.  


The fishing has been exceptionally good here lately, with a warm front that moved in late last week.  The day after I landed this lunker I caught 7 more bows all over 12".  This was caught with a #12 jig, with a bead head and black marabou body, very easy to tie: a simple but proven fish catcher for trout, crappie and bluegill.  For stillwater trout I fish this fly with no indicator, just after sunset.  I start out with slow 4-6" strips followed by a 1-2 second pause.  If that doesn't produce I increase the pause all the way up to 15 seconds.  Sometimes I will just cast it out and deadstick for a whole minute before I start working it back.

As one who originally spent a great deal of time fishing for largemouth bass, I have found that one of the most critical (and difficult) modifications I had to make for trout was to slow down the presentation.