Get Better turnover by losing your stuff butt
Likakis and I are waiting patiently at Bob Clousers Fly Shop in
Middletown Pennsylvania. We arrived early to gawk at the huge johnboats
that Clouser and his son use to guide their clients to Susquehanna
River smallmouth bass. They are the most gigantic johnboats I have
ever seen and are superb casting platforms for fly fishers. Each
one is equipped with a powerful jet outboard to move it safely over
the numerous rocky shallows on the river.
After the johnboat inspection we get down to the more serious task
of inspecting our tackle for coming day's fishing. I'm new to smallmouth
fishing and have brought a 9-foot, 8 weight rod on Clouser's recommendation.
next question is what kind of leader do I need? John's been around
the block on smallmouths and mentions that he just happens to have
the John Likakis special smallmouth-bass leader, which he can supply
me with if I promise not to get cranky for entire day. This is a
tall order for me, but under the circumstances, I figure I'd better
do what I have to do to get the leader. The selling point on the
secret leader is that its butt section is basically constructed
of hard monofilament. I figure it should cast pretty well. Just
to he sure it works according to its design parameters, I cut my
entire leader off and nail it directly to my fly line.
By the time we're done fiddling around with our gear, Lefty Kreh,
Boyd Pfeiffer, and Ed Russell arrive. Lefty's brought his boat.
too, so we'll hit the river with a small flotilla. It doesn't take
long to sort out who will fish with whom. I team up with Lefty and
we head down to put in on the river.
Once we're on the river, Lefty asks what I'll he fishing with. I
mention the 8-weight and he agrees that it's a good choice. When
we finally get around to talking about the leader, I mention I'll
be fishing John Likakis's tried-and-true hard-mono smallmouth special.
Lefty's jaw drops and he says I really should be using a soft leader
if I want my system to be tuned for maximum efficiency. He then
cranks up his jet outboard and motors the short distance over to
Bob Clouser's boat where John and Ed Russell are fishing.
"We'll have to talk about this leader business at lunch,"
he says to John. After a few other pleasantries, we cruise back
to our spot over some ledges and proceed to land a number of smallmouths.
After lunch, Lefty brings up the leader.
"You want to listen to me on this leader business, John,"
"I'll listen to anything, but it doesn't mean I'll do anything
about it," John replies.
"Fair enough," Lefty says.
He then goes on to explain that the whole point of the leader should
be to transfer the energy seamlessly from the fly line down through
the leader to the fly. Since the fly line is supple, it only makes
sense that a soft monofilament leader will transfer the energy most
efficiently. He mentions that's the reason why some fly fishers
like braided leaders so much, even if braided leaders have some
other less desirable characteristics.
"It really does smooth things out. Just look at your loops
when you cast it. You should try it," Lefty says as we're shuffling
anglers around in the boats. I end up in douser's boat with John,
and Lefty takes off with Ed Russell.
they're gone, Bob say Lefty's right and he's switched over to the
soft leader, too. It's a simple design. There ace 36 inches of 40
pound monofilament, followed b 18 to 26 inches of 30-pound, 10 inches
of 25-pound, 10 inches of 20-pound, and 10 inches of 15- pound.
A loop is tied at the end of the 15-pound section so that you can
attach a tippet of 6-pound, 8- pound, or 10-pound test with a loop-to-loop
A high-quality soft monofilament such as Berkley Big Game or Maxima
Ultra Green works fine. Blood knots are best for tying the leader
sections together, and you I can use a perfection loop or a surgeon's
loop on each end of the I basic leader (the top loop to attach the
leader to your fly line, the bottom loop to attach the inter changeable
Clouser wrote the formula down for John and me, and we stashed it
safely in our wallets. When I got home, I ordered some Maxima Ultra
Green so I could tie up a few test leaders. And you know, the leader
works pretty well. Somehow I expected that, coming from two guys
like Bob douser and Lefty Kreh, the soft leader would work better
than the old stiff butt.
(Ed's note: Since that outing, I, too, have tried Lefty's soft
leader, and I must say that impressed with the results. For smaller,
lighter, more air-resistant flies that are normally difficult to
turn over, the soft leader makes a dramatic difference.)
Editor's note: I have recently taked to Bob Clouser and he still
uses the leader. One item that I use to do my blood knots for years
has been the Dennnison Leader Making Vise.)