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Yesterday meets Today
By Joseph D. Cornwall

At the Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Show in February I met with Steve Rose, a friend and fellow fly fisher who is active with the Mohican Fly Fishers.  Steve was at the show to promote the club ─ and to demonstrate making furled leaders.  I’ve long been a fan of furled leaders and I use nothing else on my lightest fly rods; 4 weights and under.  Furled leaders have an amazing ability to float in the air and deliver a fly with an almost supernatural delicacy.


Furled leaders have other wonderful attributes beyond just amazing suppleness.  They almost perfectly deliver the power of the cast to the fly, turning over with a positive energy that makes casting small dries and soft-hackles very enjoyable.  Furled leaders also offer a fine degree of stretch; they can protect the lightest of tippets.  Combine this supple protection with a nearly total lack of memory and you begin to see the advantages this ages-old technology delivers, even in this day of super high-tech polymers and braids. 


Furled leaders date to the very beginnings of fly fishing.  Centuries ago, anglers used braided tapered lines made from horsetail. Braided horse hair leaders were composed of sections of twisted hairs, knotted at intervals coinciding with the length of the hair.  With each succeeding section, the number of hairs was reduced to create a tapered leader.  A tapered leader is far more efficient at transferring the momentum of the fly line to the tippet and fly than is a level leader.  Braiding or furling (the two are different) adds controllable mass to the leader in such a way as to optimize this energy transfer.


Most furled leaders are made from light nylon thread.  Fly tying thread is a common component.  Some furled leaders are made from light monofilament.  Regardless of the material, all furled and braided leaders require the use of a standard tippet.  The tippet is typically connected using a loop-to-loop ‘handshake’ with a perfection loop tied in the tippet.  Because the tippet is easily changed, and the leader body is made from tough multi-strand material, furled leaders last a long time.  I’ve got one leader I use on my 2wt rod that is going on its fifth season!


I’d been thinking that the advantages of furled leaders would apply very well towards the heavier fishing I’ve been experiencing on the Ohio and in the larger tributaries when I’m swinging streamers for hybrid stripers and smallmouth bass.  This fishing almost always requires a subsurface presentation, however.  I was curious how furled leaders might perform in this regard.


I’m a huge fan of fluorocarbon lines and I use fluorocarbon lines on my spinning reels and fluorocarbon tippet material for most of my fishing.  Fluorocarbon has a specific gravity of about 1.6 that of water, compared with a specific density of about 1.1 for ordinary monofilament.  The heavier specific gravity ensures fluorocarbon sinks quickly.  An optical index almost identical to water means fluorocarbon is nearly invisible; an added advantage when presenting to pressured fish in clear water. 


I commented to Steve that a furled fluorocarbon leader and matching fluorocarbon tippet might be the perfect set-up for 6 to 8 weight rods and floating or sinking lines.  It seemed to me to be a natural to combine the strengths of furled design with the state-of-the-art features of fluorocarbon.  Imagine my surprise, then, when Steve returned a short time later with a furled fluorocarbon leader made of Rio Fluoroflex Plus 6X tippet for me to try!


I’ve fished Steve’s furled Fluoroflex twice now.  My first impressions are VERY positive.  As I’d anticipated, the furled fluorocarbon sinks quickly.  In effect what I have is a quick sinking leader that doesn’t hinge and casts perfectly!  When combined with a floating line, this “sink tip” leader allowed me to probe depths of three to five feet with excellent control, even in fast currents, using just a size 6 Clouser minnow tied with small lead eyes. 


When I tied on a big bead-head nymph to ‘high stick’ a ledge-rock run, my eyes were really opened.  I could easily feel the rocks and snags on the bottom of the run as my fly tick-ticked along in the six foot plus depth.  The supple design of the furled leader allowed me to lead the fly in the current without tension, making for a near perfect drift.  The shock-absorbing nature of the leader ensured my 4X tippet survived even my most aggressive hook-set.


Furled fluorocarbon is just starting to come alive in the inshore salt water arena.  I’ve only found one source that provides furled leaders specifically for the salty front, though I’m sure there are others.  A number of suppliers manufacture furled thread or monofilament leaders for trout fishing applications.  Some even feature heavy furled leaders for bass and pike fishing.  I haven’t found any mention of furled fluorocarbon in sweet water applications, though.  Maybe this is something new…. or something old…. or something rediscovered.  Whatever you call it, you should check it out.  When yesterday meets today, magical things can happen!


To get your custom furled fluorocarbon leader, or any furled leader you need for that matter, contact Steve Rose at Twisted Rose Furled Leaders. 


To learn more about furled leaders you may want to surf over to these sites:







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