Ever since I started this blog I usually spend one to two hours a day answering questions and responding to fan mail from around the world. I get a lot of inquiries about the "how to" aspect of fishing streamers. This has inspired me to release a series of instructional articles and short videos detailing the way I do things as well as the methods of some of my friends. One thing I can't reiterate enough is that there isn't just one way to fish streamers. The two main ways that streamers can be fished are, "My Way" and "The Highway". Being a narcissistic egomaniac I usually have a tendency to recommend my way. If you have a problem with that let me recommend the highway.
A lot of the messages I receive are in regards to leaders.
I didn't invent the KISS method but I use it as often as I can especially with the ladies. KISS stands for Keep it Simple Studly.
I usually start out with a factory leader between 3X and 6X. The Eddie Rivard Signature Series Leaders from Redington have been performing especially well for me lately.
The tippet diameter doesn't matter as much because we are only going to be using the butt section of the leader. First use a nail knot to attach your leader to fly line. After this is done find the spot on the leader where the diameter thins to slightly larger than the heaviest tippet that you plan on using. This is usually around the four feet seven inch mark for me. Snip the leader about 3 and a half inches past that point. At this point you will attach your tippet ring.
Tippet rings come a couple different shapes and sizes. I have noticed that the outside diameter of the ring is usually slightly less than what the package says. I prefer the 2.5 mm tippet rings myself.
Once you have used an Improved Clinch Knot to attach the tippet ring to your leader you can use another improved clinch knot to attach your tippet to the tippet ring. For tippet I prefer the 12lb Eddie Rivard Signature Series tippet from Seagar. I like the big spools because it ends up being way cheaper than those little ripoff tippet spools.
It is important to note that I could spend a whole year catching trophy trout in the Driftless without ever needing to make a cast over 25 feet and about half the casts I do make are tension casts.
Here is what the leader-tippet connection looks like with the tippet ring. The nice thing about the tippet ring is that when your tippet gets too short you can just replace the entire length of tippet without further chewing into your butt section.
Another thing to keep in mind is butt section maintenance. Usually I will use a leader straitener to straiten out my butt section before a day of fishing but there are ways to keep major kinks from happening in your butt section. I like to avoid have the butt section bending at the tip top as shown in the photo below. This can shorten the usable life of your butt section.
Ryan yesterday and he told me he just constructs his leaders from line that he buys at Fleet Farm. What a savage.
In summary having a leader that can be easily changed to respond to different streamers and conditions is essential for sustained success in the Driftless Area. Feel free to figure out your own way of doing things but remember it will never be as good as my way.
Future posts in this series will focus on fishing streamers with weighted and intermediate sink fly lines. I currently to not use them but I have friends who have success with them.