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feathers5

Smallmouth Bass Leader

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I'm looking for a formula to tie a smallmouth bass leader that will work for streamers and top water flies. I'm fishing a floating line. Thanks

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FWIW, I fished with poppers for years by using plain ol' 8-10 lb. mono line. Didn't discover tapered leaders until about 30 years later. Tried tying leaders but gave up...knots collected crud and weeds. I do buy tapered leaders now. Good luck. You realize you have now committed to showing us some phish photos.

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Check out the Global FlyFisher site.    They used to have a downloadable Leader Calculator in an Excel format.  You may have to search for it.   I've used it in the past to make trout leaders and warm water leaders.  These days I use heavy weight thread furled leaders that were made for me.   They will turn over bass and pike flies.  I normally use about 6 feet of 20 or 25# fluorocarbon tippet with them.

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My first recommendation is to go with knotless tapered leaders. The knots on handmade leaders just collect so much crud, especially in still water. 7 1/2' tapered to 1x or 2x is about perfect.

However, if you're dead set on tying your own, an easy formula that works well is to start with a butt section that's about half the length of what your finished leader will be. The next section should be smaller diameter (I usually go down by 5-10 lbs. breaking strength) and half the length of the butt section. Keep repeating that process until you're within a foot or two of your desired leader length. The last 1-2' should be whatever you want your tippet breaking strength/diameter to be. 

For example, for a 7' leader, I would do 3' of 30 lb.,  18" of 25 lb., 9" of 20 lb., 18" of 10-12 lb. It's not delicate, but then neither are bass. 🙂

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I keep mine simple and use the 60/20/20 rule of thumb. I don’t get into the weeds of leaders  with the 10” of this followed by 6” of that. I fish smallmouth with an 8wt so I start with a butt section of 40 lb mono followed by 25, 17 and 12. I usually end with a 7 to 9’ leader and will even drop down to 8lb test depending on what I’m fishing. Sometimes I start with a 30lb butt section and go to 20, 17 and whatever. Sometimes I’ll use straight 20. I don’t get all geeked out with leaders for SMB or for any fish actually so long as the fly turns over to my desired landings.  My leader material is trilene and/or big game mono. I’m to cheap to buy tapered leaders. I like Byrons suggestion on section lengths and find it brilliantly simple. 

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There are a million different ideas on what constitutes an ideal bass leader (and I've probably tried most of them) but basically what I've found that works for me after chasing smallies for a few decades is shown below.  This keeps it relatively simple and doesn't contain too many knots.  Like Lefty, I use Berkley Big Game for most of my leaders.   

4 ft of 30 lb test

3 ft of 20 lb test

2 - 2.5 ft of 10 lb test

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Thank You, all. This is only my second year of seriously pursuing smallmouth on a fly rod. In my part of PA trout water becomes very thin and warm in the summer, and I need to keep fishing to satisfy my addiction. Smallmouth bass are hard fighters and a blast to land. 

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I use a formula for leaders I got out of Flyfisherman Magazine about 40 years ago.  I made a spread sheet to make the calculations easy.  I use Berkley Big game for my first several sections and switch to Fluorocarbon for the last 2.  I get good turnover from these, and they are seriously cheap.  Even with Fluorocarbon sections my total cost in a 9' leader is less than 40 cents.   If anyone is instrested, I can share that spreadsheet.

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