Fly Fishing with Doug Mcnair
A Product Update: Furled Leaders
I should think it is sort of hard to get excited about leaders -- leaders have never been a popular subject among fly fishers probably because fly fishers are not into trying lots of new things other than rods, reels and, sometimes, lines. Besides, what's to get excited about? Everybody knows the leader is the invisibility factor between the fly fisher and the fish. About the only thing worth arguing about - something fly fishers like to do - is which type of mono to use and how long the leader should be. That's about as exciting as a three day seminar on knots. When it comes to leaders and knots, most of us prefer to think what worked yesterday will work today -- sure enough, nine out of ten times it does.
So much for the stolidity of the fly fisher's thinking. However, every once in a while something comes along that perks curiosity ... "It doesn't get much better than this." That's what my newsletter from my friends at Feather-Craft suggested. Feather-Craft has been and remains today one of my favorite sources of high-quality fly fishing equipment.
"It doesn't get much better than this" ... That's quite a statement, particularly when it applies to the boring subject of leaders ... In this case, it applies to Feather-Craft's proprietary Furled Leaders - and that's what this review is all about...
Have you ever cast a furled leader? After all these years I confess that I had not ... In fact, I didn't even know they existed. I've cast braided leaders, of course, and concluded I didn't like them. But a furled leader? Nope ... I never had!
So what's the big deal? Well, it turns out that a furled leader is very tightly woven and that's what separates the men from the boys ... the bottom line is I had been missing an entire dimension in my pursuit of mastering the gentle art. Suffice it to say, I will never again be caught without a furled leader on hand.
I don't know about you, but when I lift into the backcast, there is always some telltale left behind on the water's surface regardless of how gentle I try to be ... so just suppose you could reduce your telltale by half ... Sound good? It is! Suppose I told you about a super strong leader that has no memory - a leader that remains soft and supple regardless of whether it's hot or cold ... Just suppose I told you about a leader that lasts, and lasts, and lasts; a leader that makes the attachment of any tippet a snap; a leader that will turn over damn near anything you attach resembling a fly.
I'll bet you would be excited. I was; I am! Like Ed Story said, "It doesn't get any better than this."
Notice that little ring at the tippet end of the leader? That's one helluva ring. It's the ring a wise man uses to attach the tippet or a little more leader material, and then the tippet. What knot to use? Ed recommends using a perfection loop. It couldn't be easier - thread the perfection loop through the ring, adjust it so the loop sits on the shoulders of the ring, and you are ready to fish.
NOTE: When I first saw the ring, my first thought was, "This will never work ... without a solid link, between leader and tippet, the fly will never turnover properly." Boy was I wrong! It turns out that the fly turns over better than ever before.
Throughout this review, I tried a bevy of furled leaders, ranging from those crafted for light lines to others designed fish in the mid-weights, to one for bass and then a couple intended for our finny friends in saltwater. In each case, the furled leader was cast against a traditional leader - of equal length with tippet - on the same rod, but not the same reel. (That's too much trouble for an old man.)
I was pleasantly surprised with everything I tried. For example, the light trout furled leader (0-2 wgt.) was attached to a Cortland Sylk line and cast from a Diamondback Aeroflex 6.5-foot, 2-weight graphite. I was amazed! As all of you know, a 2-weight rig is not exactly what's called for when Mr. Wind or his son Breezy is up and about. Sure enough, about the time I hit the water, Breezy blew in. The first thing that happened is Breezy blew the mono all to hell; however, the furled leader continued to turn the fly over under conditions that, with this little rig, would have otherwise blown me off the water. Then, too, lifting into the backcast was a pleasure; I didn't produce either the wake or the Splish Splash I am usually capable of...
For those of you who fish the Salt, I bring tidings of great joy ... I'll bet you know well those great big flies that never seem to turnover, or those big weighted jobs that feel like a steamer trunk at the end of the line, or how about those big fluffy things with the aerodynamics of a feather pillow ... sound familiar? Well sports fans, try the Bulwhipp. As they say in the old country, "If Bulwhipp don't do it, fugit." Bulwhipp is an absolutely superb example of a furled leader as is the Bonefish, my other favorite. And if you doubt furled leaders are less than claimed, here is Bob Story of Feather-Craft with one of the nicest Bones I've had the pleasure of seeing caught during a field trip in early May. Any time a fisher of flies latches onto and lands Bonefish in the 12 to 14-pound range, the Ancient Fish Gods frown. Throughout the world of fishes the word has gone out: Bob Story is a fly fisher to be feared ... I can but wonder whether Jaws, the Great White, has heard the news. It's interesting to note that this beauty and others Bob caught were victims of a 7-weight rig sporting the Bonefish furled leader. (By the way, the pretty one in the front of this picture is the Bonefish, not the fellow in the back who was hired to hold the fish.)
To give you an idea of the wide range of furled leaders that are available, check out the following line weights with the approximate pound rating.
Light Trout, Light-Olive, 6-feet (0-2 wgt.) - 5-lb.
Light Trout, Light-Olive, 6-feet (3-4 wgt.) - 10-lb.
a. 5-Wgt., Light-Olive, Length: 6 or 9-ft. - 15-lb.
b. 6-Wgt., Light-Olive, Length: 6 or 9-ft. - 20-lb.
Steelhead/Salmon (7 to 10 Wgt.), Light-Olive, Length: 7 to 9-ft. - 30-lb.
Bass (7 to 9-wgt.), Smoke, Length: 5-ft. - 40-lb.
Bonefish (7 to 9-Wgt.), Clear, Length: 7, 9 or 12-ft. - 30-lb.
Saltwater (7 to 10-wgt.), Smoke, Length: 6-ft. - 40-lb.
Heavy Saltwater (10 to 14-Wgt.), Smoke, Length: 4 to 6-gt. - 50-lb.
Bulwhipp (7 to 10-Wgt.), Smoke, Length: 5-ft. - 50-lb.
As I've said, the Bulwhipp is really special ... It's designed to "whip-out" big flies or poppers that usually prove somewhat difficult to turnover - No More!
I think this is truly a complete lineup. Am I pleased with the furled leaders? You bet! In fact, I found the performance amazing. It's my view that Feather-Craft's furled leaders are every bit worth their cost of $12.95 apiece; as a matter of fact, given how long they will last, the furled leader may be the biggest bargain in fly fishing. I have a hunch that given reasonable care, they will last longer than the fly lines to which they are attached.
Call me a convert!
© Copyright: Douglas G. Macnair, 2005-2008
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