DIY Fly Line Leader

Updated on April 14, 2020
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"!

Reader's Question

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

The butt section and middle section use 30lbs mono and 17lbs, 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 -oop connection with the fly line
  • Uniknots for the rest… much easier to tie than blood knots.

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

PS: We still use knot-less tapered leaders bought on sale, but we only 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″

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 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!

PS: 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.

5 lbs
6 lbs
8 lbs
10 lbs
12 lbs
15 lbs
20 lbs
25 lbs
30 lbs
40 lbs
50 lbs
For reference, diameter in inches for Maxima Line test ratings by pounds.

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

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Braided LoopDIY LoopNail KnotNail Knot Variant
Braided Loop
Braided Loop
DIY Loop
DIY Loop
Nail Knot
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

Tie-Fast Knot Tyer
Tie-Fast Knot Tyer
Must have when using the Nail Knot and Nail Knot Variant method to attach your leader to the fly line. Makes tying the nail knot faster and easier! Even better, it stores easily in your fly-fishing vest!

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?

Do you prefer to make your own fly fishing leaders or buy them instead?

See results

5wt Fly Rod and Field Team Striper Recipe Worked, too!

Do let us know how these recipes worked you!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • hbng84 profile imageAUTHOR


      15 months ago

      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...


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)