Now that you know all about rods, reels, and fly lines it’s time to talk about leaders; that clear monofilament or blend of nylon polymers that connect your fly line to the fly you will be using to actually catch fish. They are either made in one piece tapering from the heavier butt section that connects to the fly line to the lighter end known as the tippet, or in knotted sections each of a smaller diameter until the lighter tippet end. To further explain the term tippet, think of the very end section of a leader which determines it’s breaking strength. I’ll address this in greater detail in the next paragraph. Leaders can range in length from 7 feet to as long as 12 feet depending on rod length and the type of fishing you are doing. Being clear, they are intended to be as invisible as possible to allow you to present your fly as an insect unattached to any line.
Leaders are designated by the tippet breaking strength. This is stated as the size number followed by an X. For example, here are samples of leaders and breaking strength stated as their pound test:
3X = 8 pound test (breaking strength)
4X = 7 pound test.
6X = 3 ½ pound test.
7X = 2 pound test
Note that these test weights may vary depending on the manufacturer and designated type of material such as fluorocarbon (a type of tippet that is most invisible).
Leaders are priced about $4 to $10 each. I would start with one each 4X, 5X, and 6X. You will be able to continue to use leaders even after break-offs of part of the tippets that are bound to occur by tying on new tippets. Spools of tippet materials are made for this purpose and it would pay to buy at least one spool for each weight leader. You can also use different size tippets to change the pound test of a leader.