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Leader and Tippet Length

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Leader and Tippet Length

I just left my favorite lake 3 hours ago and had to post this up right away.  This is exactly the type of experience that I wanted to share with other beginners - hopefully this is helpful to someone.

Starting out this afternoon with a 9' leader, about 12" of tippet and a stimulator, I stood near a boat dock casting toward the shadows.  It didn't take more than 2 or 3 casts and I could see that the fish were plentiful and interested.  I worked the stimulator, got a hit or two, but became convinced that the size 8 hook was too much.  I cut the tippet, tied on a small (maybe #14) fly.  Got no interest.  Ok, so they wanted something more "buggy"... well I forgot my main fly box, and only had a small variety of fairly disappointing flies.  I tied on fly after fly, exhausting the tippet, then eating into the leader.  No biggie, it was still pretty long.

I watched for 2 hours as fish after beautiful fish swam up to the fly and quickly retreated before striking.  I had also forgotten to bring tippet, so I just kept changing flies.  Pretty soon they stopped even inspecting my offerings.  Out of frustration, I rummaged through the trunk of my car and found a new 9ft tapered leader.  Upon examining the existing leader, I found to my surprise that it was only about 5 feet!  How good could their eye-sight be?  How could this be the problem?  Don't know, but what I do know is that upon changing to the new 9 ft leader (even without tippet) the fish became almost instantly interested again.

On my 3rd cast I caught a Rainbow Trout on a wet fly... then to really drive the point home, on the 4th cast I caught another!  Two fish on consecutive casts, when just moments before I couldn't get them to even look at the same fly.

Moral of the story:  The notion of a (minimum) 9 foot leader with a 18 inch tippet is more than a suggestion.  It is a MUST!  Don't waste your time fishing with a hacked leader.  The only thing I got from it was a sunburn and a little hard won wisdom.