By David and Becky Hulsey

Presentation of the fly is most always more important to a trout than the fly pattern used. There are exceptions of course. Very educated trout in highly pressured water will show favoritism toward certain patterns that probably won’t result in getting their faces ripped off for the twelfth time. That fly moored by too heavy or inflexible tippet, causing drag, will usually get passed up by almost any trout though.

All that fish really cares about is the last foot or so of tippet, the fly and the fact that it doesn’t scare the crap out of it. Your leader system is more important than your thousand-dollar fly rod, especially if you don’t know how to use it. Czech nymphing is so very effective at close range because of the ability to eliminate drag from your drift. Using straight small tippet as your “leader” slices through the water, making the contact with the fly and fish instantaneous and effective.

If the need to cast the fly to a waiting fish at a bit of a distance comes up, leader design becomes more critical. Sure, you can use a typical store-bought leader of monofilament or fluorocarbon and have some good results, but what if you tweak that leader system and could get great results? Building your own leaders is almost a lost art used by just a few anglers out there.

Building leader butts with a connected 2 mm tippet ring allows me to change tactics, drift depth, drift speed, buoyancy and to get 3 or 4 trips out of a leader instead of just one. Four or five feet of butt section of pure nylon or a hybrid of nylon and fluorocarbon allows fine tuning of your presentation to give the fish a fly that enters the strike zone for that particular time period a lot more than a straight up machine produced leader ever could. It is a little time consuming to tie your own but very rewarding to catch a fish on your own creation kind of like fly tying.

Here’s a system that I use that I’ve worked out over the past 40 years of fly fishing, which has made success on the river easier, more effective and less expensive for me and my clients: A mono butt section of 30 lb. blood knotted to a 20lb. mono or flouro to a 12 lb. section of mono or flouro of equal lengths of 16’’ to 24’’ to a tippet ring will result in a nice casting leader that will give you a great presentation for finicky fish by adding an appropriate tippet section. Full monofilament for dries, one section of fluorocarbon for normal nymph fishing in shallow water, two fluorocarbon sections for deeper water or full fluorocarbon sections for even more depth or streamer fishing. Experiment with this formula or come up with your own, and I guarantee you will put a few more fish in the net this year.

Give David Hulsey a call at (770) 639-4001 to book a class or a guided trout trip. See his website at

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