What Was Old Is New Again

Bow on Furled Leader

Bow on Furled Leader

Guest Blogger: Jaime Chriswisser, Owner, Zen Outfitters

I remember the first time I read about furled leaders. The article made some pretty fantastic claims about their suppleness, improved casting accuracy, fewer wind knots and better wind resistance. I was truly intrigued. I was also surprised to find that furled leaders have been around for hundreds of years, yet I had never heard of them. I did a bit more research and found a photo of one, and I marveled at its beauty and simplicity. I was sold.

Rather than simply buy one, I went out and bought the materials to make a jig so I could create my own. Within a few hours, I was making my first leader. I carefully counted the interlocking wraps, and slowly wound each leg. Then I pulled it from the jig and hung it from a beam with a lead weight attached to the end of it. I watched in awe as it began to furl, slowly at first, then gaining speed, until it stopped. The next step was to tie Shorb loops in both ends to connect my line and tippet material. And it was done; a perfectly tapered furled leader that I had made with my own hands.

My first cast with it was flawless. Perfect, tight loops that terminated with the fly landing softly on the water, exactly where I wanted it. The leader was straight on the water, as if it was laid down with a ruler. No memory coils, no dumping of the leader or tippet. And each following cast was the same.

Then it started to sink.

Over the next several months, I tried every floatant I could find, but with little success. After a bit of experimenting, I came up with the process I was looking for. It not only floated the leader for a full day, but when I tested it in a bowl of water, the leader floated for over 3 months.

Over the years, I’ve made changes to the process, like adding tippet rings and floatant. But the amazing thing is that they are pretty much the same furled leaders that have been around for centuries.

As to why they work so well, it’s pretty simple:

  • Greater mass means greater ability to turn flies, especially big ones. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that you can ‘cast’ a furled leader using only your hand and have it lay perfectly straight in front of you.
  • Their larger diameter transitions better between fly line and tippet, which also transitions the energy of your cast more effectively. The result is tighter loops, fewer wind knots, and increased accuracy.

Other benefits of furled leaders:

  • Far cheaper over time, as they can last several seasons if cared for properly.
  • Furled leaders are far stronger than any leader around. When properly matched, your rod is more likely to break than the leader.
  • More Eco-friendly. Mono-filament is non-biodegradable and can last for hundreds of years. Factor in how many mono leaders you would go through during the life span of a single furled leader, and you see the scope of what I’m saying.
  • Mono leaders weaken with exposure to UV light over time, furled don’t.
  • More time fishing. How much time do you actually spend changing, straightening and untangling wind knots from mono leaders? Add it up the next time you’re out on the water. I’ll bet it’s more than you think.

In the end, there is no such thing as the perfect leader for every person or situation and furled leaders are no exception. That said, I haven’t used a mono or fluoro leader in over 7 years, and can’t see any reason to in the foreseeable future, either. Why would I? So if you’ve never tried one, or haven’t for some time, I highly recommend them, as you will never know what you are missing until you do.

Cheers!

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