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DIY Fly Line Leader

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We are a group of avid fishermen: COAF Field Team. We post tips on our blog and publish articles for those who may be interested in fishing!

Striped Bass caught using a DIY Fly Line Leader aka "Field Team Striper Recipe"!

Striped Bass caught using a DIY Fly Line Leader aka "Field Team Striper Recipe"!

Fly Fishing Leader Formulas

While browsing our favorite fishing forum—the Texas Fishing Forum—we saw a question posted by one reader related to inexpensive leaders for fly fishing.

Being avid fly fishermen but low on funds most of the time, the Field Team has been using a simple formula (or recipe) to make our own fly fishing leaders.

The two fly fishing leaders described below have worked well for the fishing we do, and after the initial purchase of the material, has been a cost saver, allowing us to use the savings to buy other fishing-related things.

PS: We added information on how we attach a leader to a fly line, how we attach a leader to the lillian on a Tenkara rod, and other fly leader recipes that others have posted online. Do check them out, too!

Two Simple Fly Fishing Leaders

There are two fly fishing leader recipes we like to use in our area. For ease of reference, we call them the Field Team Trout Recipe and the Field Team Striper Recipe.

Field Team Trout Recipe

This recipe uses a monofilament line and makes a 7-1/2' leader.

The butt section and middle section use 30 lbs mono and 17 lbs, respectively.

The tippet section uses both 12lbs and 4lbs mono.

The knots used are simple as well:

  • Perfection Loop for the butt end that will form the loop-to-loop connection with the fly line
  • Uniknots for the rest… much easier to tie than blood knots.

If a longer leader is desired, increase each section's length proportionally to get the overall length wanted.

PS: We still use knotless tapered leaders bought on sale, but we only use them in the spring, when the cottonwoods start clobbering the local ponds with “cotton” which gravitates to any knot on a leader.

Material list:

  • 30 lbs mono for a 36″
  • 17 lbs mono for an 18"
  • 12 lbs mono for an 18″
  • 4 lbs mono for an 18″
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Read More From Skyaboveus

The video below shows the Trout Recipe works for trout on the Lower Mountain Fork!

Field Team Trout Recipe

Field Team Striper Recipe

This recipe also uses a monofilament line but consists of only a butt section and tippet section, making it an extremely simple and fast leader to tie!

It makes a 9' leader and works well-fishing clouser minnows for striped bass in our area.

Once the butt section and tippet section are joined using an uniknot, the clouser minnow is tied directly to the 17-lb mono.

And as in the Field Team Trout Recipe, a perfection poop is tied on the butt section's end to allow for the loop-to-loop connection to the fly line.

This recipe's overall 9′ length works well with the 11′ 6wt switch rod as well as the 9′ 5wt fly rod we like to use for stripers.

Do give this one a try, else do keep it handy when in a bind while on a trip and you run out of leaders. It's only two sections: uses one perfection loop and one uniknot!

P.S.: Do check out the video "Building a Tapered Leader" in the section below. We apply the same steps as when tying the Trout and Striper Recipes but use uniknots instead of blood knots.

Field Team Striper Recipe

Material list:

  • 30lbs mono for a 60″
  • 17lbs mono for an 48"

The video below shows where we used the striper recipe on a switch rod while fishing Denison Dam Tailrace.

Field Team Striper Recipe

How to Tie Your Own 10-Foot 4X Tapered Leader

Do check out the video below that details an excellent fly fishing leader for trout. It applies the "60/20/20" rule using the following recipe:

  • Maxima 30lb (.022 dia) leader material in Chameleon
  • Maxima 20lb (.017 dia) leader material in Chameleon
  • Maxima 15lb (.015 dia) leader material in Ultra Green
  • Maxima 8lb (.010 dia) leader material in Ultra Green
  • Maxima 6lb (.009 dia) leader material in Ultra Green
  • Maxima 4lb / 4X (.007 dia) leader material in Ultra Green

It comes from Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, and we found it online posted on Orvis' website!

ACA Tournament Leader Formulas


Maxima Line Diameter by Test Table

For your reference when making a tapered leader line kit, the table below lists the line diameter for a given line test in pounds for Maxima leader material.

For reference, diameter in inches for Maxima Line test ratings by pounds.


5 lbs


6 lbs


8 lbs


10 lbs


12 lbs


15 lbs


20 lbs


25 lbs


30 lbs


40 lbs


50 lbs


Other Useful Tips!

The following sections below describe how we attach a leader to our fly line and how we attach our line to a Tenkara Rod's lillian. These were in reply to requests we received from Readers of our Blog posted on our website

Ways to Attach a Leader to a Fly Line

There are a number of ways to attach a leader to a fly line.

The four we tend to use are the following (see the photos below):

  • Braided Loop
  • DIY Loop
  • Nail Knot
  • Nail Knot Variant

Nail Knot Variant

In particular, we have been using the Nail Knot Variant because as noted on our Blog - Stocker Trout Fishing...

We ran out of Braided Loops; are too lazy as well as impatient to make a DIY Loop (gotta glue, then wrap, then let it dry,… by then, we could have gone fishing already); and tying the Nail Knot is quick especially with a Nail Knot Tying Tool but we hate to cut off a piece of expensive Fly Line every time we change Leaders!

For more details on the four ways we attach a leader to a fly line, see our Blog post "Fly Line - Leader - Tippet Connections".

Nail Knot Tying Tool

How Do We Attach Our Line to a Tenkara Rod’s Lillian?

A Reader posed the question above related to Tenkara fishing. It seemed the knot he was using kept unraveling itself soon after tying the leader to the lillian.

We use a loop-to-loop connection to attach our line. One loop is formed by the lillian; the other loop is formed from the level line, or from the braided line that we use when fishing with a Tenkara rod.

If we decide to use a level line instead of a braided line, we attach a 10″-12″ piece of monofilament line to the level line with a nail knot, and then form a loop on the other end of the monofilament using a perfection loop knot.

To better illustrate the loop-to-loop connection, see video in the sidebar.

Make or Buy Fly Fishing Leaders?

© 2017 hbng84

Do let us know how these recipes worked you!

hbng84 (author) on April 23, 2019:

Question from a Reader... Q&A feature is not working.

Q: Great article! It had everything I needed to try to make my own leaders. However, do you have a larger version of the "ACA Tournament Leader Formulas"? The one on the site is to small for me to read, and can't be enlarged.

A: Thanks for the question and for checking out our article. Try opening this link on your browser...

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