How To Tie A Leader To A Fly Line

How To Tie A Leader To A Fly Line

If you’ve been fly fishing for very long, you know that there are a lot of different techniques and tricks to know. In fact, if you really dive into the world of fly fishing, you’ll find that there are as many different techniques for this sport as there are for other kinds of fishing. Here is where leader tying comes into play. Leader tying is an art form all on its own, and it’s one of the most difficult things to master when it comes to fly fishing. If you’re new to this art or just want a refresher on some of the basics, we have you covered with this article! Here, we share with you how to tie a leader to a fly line so that your next trip goes even smoother than usual!

How To Tie A Leader To A Fly Line

Choose a Taper

The first step in tying a leader to a fly line is choosing the right taper. You’ll need to choose something that matches the length of your fly line, but also has enough taper so that it will not come off when you fish. The best way to do this is to start with a piece of floss or wool, and then trim off enough of it so that you have about an inch and a half left on both sides. Then, use your finger to rub the middle of the thread between both sides and see which side has more friction. This should be marked with some kind of color or design. When you find this mark, you can use that as a guide for your leader tie!

Tie a Loop

Once you’ve chosen your taper, you can tie a loop in it and then tie the opposite end of your leader to that loop. This will keep the fly line and leader separate so that they don’t get tangled up with each other. This is exactly like tying a knot in the string, so if you’ve ever tied a knot before, this should be easy peasy.

Make the Leader Loop

Once you have your loop made, you can use it to tie your leader to the fly line. Take the end of your thread that is closest to where you want to tie it on and wrap it around the fly line until it comes back around to where you started from. Then, take another piece of thread (the one attached to the other end) and wrap it around this loop until there is about an inch left on both ends of both threads. You should now have something like this:

Tie Your Leader Knots

When tying this knot, try not to pull too hard or too far with either piece of thread because this could cause some issues later on downstream! Wrap your first piece of thread around the fly line again in what seems like an awkward position (it should look like a backward question mark), then go back through this loop again but bring out only half of your tail end instead! Finally, take that tail end and slide it under both strands until they meet each other at their point of origin, then pull tight.

Make Your Knots

Once you’ve tied your leader knot, you can trim off any excess material by cutting it with scissors. You can also make a loop in the thread and use it to tie a couple more knots in your leader if you want. I usually do one on each end of my leader, but that’s just me! If you have any questions about tying a leader to a fly line or anything else fly fishing related, don’t hesitate to ask!

Why Does It Matter?

You lose your fly line’s quality

If you don’t know how to tie a leader, it’s very likely that you’ll lose the quality of your fly line. At least, this is what happens when you’re new and inexperienced. The good news is that tying a leader doesn’t take a lot of time to learn and master (it’s actually quite easy). Once you’ve learned it, though, you’ll never want to tie another one without doing it properly. It’s like driving for the first time – once you’ve gotten the hang of it and can drive in any direction with ease, there will be no reason ever to go back!

You don’t have enough line to cast properly

If your leader isn’t tied right, then there is no way that you can cast effectively or with enough line! This means that not only will your fly not be able to perform as well as it should, but there won’t be enough line on the reel for casting at all. You won’t have enough control over where the fly goes or how far it travels.

You waste valuable time tying a new one

In order to tie a new leader every time after losing one, or when changing the length of your line (which happens often), then this can turn into an art form in itself! Especially if you are fishing in an area where there is not much room for movement or space between trees and other objects, then this can be a huge problem.

You don’t have enough line to fish effectively

Since there is no way that you’ll have enough line on your reel to cast effectively and cast with plenty of control, you won’t be able to fish as effectively as you would if you had more line on the reel. In fact, it’s not uncommon for new fly fishers to stop fishing entirely because they don’t want to tie leaders at all!

Start By Measuring Out Your Tippet

  1. Start by measuring out the amount of tippet you need. Do this by using a ruler and pencil. You can also use a piece of string and measure it out, but we recommend using a ruler since this is going to be easier to use in the long run.
  2. Make sure that you measure your leader’s diameter as well because that will be important for tying the knot. You can do this by either measuring with a ruler or simply counting the number of wraps on your leader.
  3. When you’re finished measuring, make sure that you have an equal amount of tippet on each side of your leader to ensure that it stays even while fishing!
  4. Once you have measured out your tippet and leader, cut off any extra pieces of tippet with scissors or pliers so that they don’t get lost or tangled up in your leader when it’s time to put them on!
  5. Make sure that both ends are even when cutting off extra pieces, so if one end is longer than the other, trim them down evenly with scissors! This will make sure they are ready for tying when it comes time to do so!
  6. Once you have cut off the extra pieces of tippet, you can start tying your leader to your fly line. Make sure that the knot is tight enough so that the tippet doesn’t move around while fishing!

Bending Your Leader And Tippet Together

  • Begin by tying a loop at the end of your tippet. We recommend using a small amount of mono or fluorocarbon to prevent the knot from slipping later on.
  • Next, take one end of your leader, and begin to tie a simple overhand knot.
  • Once you have tied your overhand knot, take the other end of your leader, and wrap it around your tippet. Make sure that you leave about 6 inches (15 cm) on either side of the tippet so that you can tie an underhand knot later on.
  • Take the leftmost portion of your leader and wrap it around the backside of your overhand knot so that it forms an approximate figure 8 shape with both ends remaining together. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, think about how a bowstring is tied when making this next step!
  • Take one end of the leader which is wrapped around the backside of your overhand knot and pull it through the loop in your tippet so that both ends are now woven together at their respective ends!


Leader tying is a tricky skill to master, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to fish properly and effectively. By tying a leader to a fly line, you are able to customize your setup based on the conditions of the water and what fish you are targeting. If you are still new to tying leaders, we recommend practicing these knots on some cheap line before trying them out on your fly line. With practice, you should be able to tie a leader to a fly line like a pro!

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