A Simple Beginner Indicator Nymphing Leader

By Ethan Hollifield

Two nymphs under an indicator is a great way to catch trout, and this is how most beginner fly fisherman start out, but have you ever noticed how awkward it is to cast on a premade leader? I remember how frustrating it was as a kid sitting on the bank trying to save the tapered leader I just bought, only to end up cutting it to pieces. It wasn’t until later that I was taught a much simpler method that not only casted much easier, but was also much cheaper and lasted for considerably longer.

The reason that premade, tapered leaders tangle when used for nymph rigs is because of their design. While normally just fine for using dry flies or dry-dropper rigs: there isn’t enough butt section to turn over the weight that is used on modern nymph rigs with indicators. To compensate for this, the leader system, I learned, was essentially all butt section that was made using maxima leader building material. The leader formula itself looks something like this:

Fly Line -> 6’ of 15lb/20lb Maxima -> tippet ring -> tippet -> nymphs

The nymphing leader I’m laying out is intended to provide a long, stiff butt section that will be best suited for a fast action 9’ 5 weight rod (which is what most beginners start out with anyways) but can also be modified for lighter or heavier rods by simply increasing or decreasing the pound test of the leader material used. Because maxima is very stiff, with little memory, it’s able to transfer out the necessary energy required on the cast to roll out a double nymph rig very easily. I find this is best suited with a roll cast or a lobbing motion used with “high sticking” methods, fishing at relatively short distances. Another trick that will help achieve a smoother cast is to add most of the weight, whether it is a heavier fly or split shot, to the end (or the point) of the system. This will allow for the leader and flies to cast in a relatively straight line that greatly decreases the chance of tangles.

I’ve had great success teaching and guiding people with this method, and have found in the past that it is a great starting point for those looking to build their own leaders as well. These leaders will also last for a very long time, and pre making a couple to take with you while you’re on the water will save a tremendous amount of time and hassle on your next outing.

Ethan Hollifield is a member of a conservation organization called 2% For Conservation and a guide for Southern Appalachian Anglers

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