by Guide Blog


Why do so many of us pay so little attention to our leaders here in the UK, not tippet, but tapered leaders specifically designed for a fishing application?

Your average Joe is fishing a stillwater, and they’re using a floating line and single gold bead Damsel, which is attached to a 12ft length of 6lb fluorocarbon, standard, right? Yes, it’ll cast, you’ll get it out there, the weight of the beaded fly will give you the chance to turn everything over. BUT, the level line doesn’t allow good energy transfer, so accuracy is lost. Worse, take the weighted fly off the end and replace it with a dry fly, nymph, or unweighted lure, and the level of accuracy is totally out the window’!

However, if you were to use a tapered leader with a thick butt tapering to a thinner section at the business end, you have energy transfer and accuracy. The fly follows the leader, which follows the line, which follows the rod tip. Accuracy, it counts, trust me. They also allow you to have better turnover, even when it’s windy, so that your fly is fishing straight away. It’s not landing near the fly line, with you having to retrieve 8ft of the line before you’re actually in touch with it!

The benefits of using a tapered leader, designed to help in a specific fishing situation, are many!


For most of my fishing, Tapered leaders are an essential piece of kit; they let me put the fly where I want it to go. They are ‘must-haves’ for so many fishing techniques, like a dry fly and fishing bigger lures or anything else which is wind resistant.

The Rio Powerflex Trout Leaders will help you cast better, more accurately, and fish more effectively on the water. The strong butt provides excellent wind penetration and easily turns over teams of flies, while the soft, flexible tippet allows delivery of small dries with delicate precision. Copolymer’s strength (and stretch) allows confident hookups with more fish landed too. !

Although supple, there’s plenty of abrasion resistance and excellent knot strength. In addition, they feature a hand-tied loop in the butt for a simple, loop-to-loop connection.


Fluorocarbon has the same refractive index as water – in other words, it’s invisible to the fish. So when we are looking to fool fish in clear water situations or even trying to target ‘pressured trout’, then the last thing you want is an ‘in-your-face’ tapered leader giving the game away.

The other benefit of fluorocarbon, these are 100% fluorocarbon, by the way, is that it’s a tad stiffer. This stiffness is excellent for turning over teams of flies and larger, bulky patterns too. In other words, the kind of fishing that the majority of us do here in the UK when targeting stillwater fish!

With an extra-long butt section, these tapered leaders are far better at energy transfer; in other words, you can put your fly or flies where you want them.

They are tough and durable, as they have very high abrasion resistance and excellent tensile and knot strength, and they feature a hand-tied loop at the butt end so that it’s quick and easy to attach to your fly line via a loop-to-loop, sorted.


I like a little more finesse for my river and stream fishing, so I have found the Rio Suppleflex Trout Leader ideal! I love the fact that they are so soft, the supple copolymer material it’s constructed from sees to that.

Also, I have found that it has excellent knot strength for attaching tippets, something you need when using a light tippet!
These tapered leaders allow unsurpassed presentation not only with accuracy, but it’s so delicate it lands a fly like thistledown, and it’s so thin the fly can move naturally!

For all my river fishing, wet fly, small dries, and single nymph fishing, these are my go-to!


These Versileaders have been designed for anglers who need a quick-change option to fish their flies at a different level in the water column as they allow you to transform your floating line to a sink-tip in seconds! 

Each of these Rio Versileaders is pretty much a mini fly line, a 10ft long one, and they are quickly attached to your line via an easy, loop-to-loop connection.

As well as coming in various densities (colour-coded loops offer easy identification) allowing you to cover a lot more of the water column; they also feature a taper which offers awesome turnover, winner!


While I’m talking about tapered leaders, it’s worth mentioning how much of a benefit a good tippet ring can be! I swear by them; they allow me to change my setup quickly and fuss-free. 

The Rio Tippet Rings come stored on a little metal fastener; this is far less hassle than ones that come loose in a bag! They are also very strong and yet still incredibly lightweight, just blood knot one to the thin end of your tapered leader and you’re good to go. They allow you to change tippets quickly, which can be essential when the fish are up and feeding at the water’s surface.

An integral part of most competitive angler’s ‘Euro Nymph’ set up, these things are a must when it comes to making life easier on the water. You can use them for droppers too, should you wish, they are so small and unobtrusive.

Tapered leaders are a simple solution to a technical fishing situation! So, the next time you’re looking to tackle a certain venue or indeed fish in a specific style, make sure that you have a tapered leader, as ones mentioned above, which help you to do a ‘proper job’ and get the most of your day on the water!

Steve Cullen

Steve Cullen Fly Fishing

Steve Cullen YouTube Channel

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