Flyfisher folk are a very loyal a fiercly loyal group of people. And by loyal I mean you will argue until you are blue in the face for your favorite brand of rod, reel, leaders and all the way down to nippers. I honestly had a guy at a TU meeting once try and argue with me that the nippers he uses are hands down the best. Yep… nipper war. With that loyalty also comes a passion and there are definiately people passionate about the world of leaders. And why shouldnt they… when fly fishing it is one of the very last things between you and the fish you are trying to catch.
Some have used furled leaders and some haven’t so let’s do a very brief run down of the history of furled leaders. Furled leaders have been around for well over 200 years and most say they were invented sometime in the 1700’s and were originally made from silk and horse hair but now furled leader makers have a wide varity of materials they can use – monofilament, fluorocarbon, polyester thread, nylon and many others. For those of you that are diehard tapered mono leaders folk you may be missing out. And… if you are solely using mono or fluoro leaders for dry fly fishing I know you are missing out… Trust Me On This One!!
If you have read any of my reviews you know that I have fly fished for about 20 years now and I have always been a mono tapered leader guy.. why.. becuase that’s what the people at the fly fishing store told me I needed to use. That’s the joy of being the type of person I am – you don’t always listen or believe what people are telling you and in my case that was a positive when it comes to leader selection.
For some time now I have been questioning that I don’t need to fish anything outside of the tapered mono leader so I started looking into furled leaders. I purchased a bunch of leaders from different makers and tried them out and I have to say I was sold.. if you are a furled leader person you know what I’m talking about – they are just different.. Am I saying you should 100% switch to furled leaders – No.. there are applications for furled and for tapered mono or fluoro leaders but I tend to use furled far more than I do the other now.
I started looking at furled leaders and purchased a good number of them from a lot of makers out there and some were good, some were bad and when I say bad I think my 12 year old could have done a better job of producing one. But.. When I purchase handcrafted gear of any kind whether it be a rod, flies, bags and leaders I like to talk to the person that has put what I think is their passion into producing what I am going to be using. I love handcrafted gear rather than mass produced gear made overseas. I like something that doesn’t look perfect because it was stamped out in a production line. I like stuff that has character and was made by a person that has a passion for what they are doing. That’s what I look for and I am willing to pay a little more for passion over conveyor belt production.
So when I started purchasing furled leaders from a good number of people online I would always email them and try to get to know them, how they started making furled leaders and get a feel for what they are doing. Shockingly the number of them that responded was shockingly low. Let’s be clear.. People that produce furled leaders are hamering out the volume like Rio, SA or all the other mass produced leader makers out there so you would think they would respond to a polite email inquiring about their business… once again sadly most didn’t. A few did but there was one and only one that responded in a way that said to me.. Yep this is the one I am going with. That person was Brandon Moon with Moonlit Fly Fishing. Hands down one of the best people I have ever dealt with. Love him.. He’s great and if you reach out to him I guarantee he will treat you the exact same way. So now.. The only furled leaders I use are Moonlit.. Why?? Becuase like I have said above I like people that has a passion for what they are doing and put their heart into their work and that is exactly what Brandon does.. He is truly an amazing person.
I deceided to do a write-up on furled leaders last week and shot Brandon an email asking for some information and he delivered. I asked him about the history of furled leaders, how he got started and a multitude of other questions bordering on probably being annoying but he answered everything I asked.
(1) Why furled leaders – A furled leader is constructed like a fine tapered rope. Because of this it is stronger and more durable. They last longer because you are simply replacing tippet rather than the whole leader. It also has minimal memory. This allows the leader to lay straight, and transfer 100% of the energy to the fly. This gives you better turnover, presentation, and drift.
(2) Why Moonlit Furled Leaders – A few things about our leaders that make us unique are we like to mix materials to blend their properties. We incorporate a core of mono or FC in all our leaders to give them some stiffness to help hold form all the way through the cast, and cut through the wind better. Our platinum leaders are constructed like a 3 strand rope. This gives you a tighter more compact furl with rounder cross sections. This makes it more aerodynamic and gives a softer presentation. Our Nirvana series is constructed of one of the strongest threads on the market, and has a lighter density than water. This allows the leader to float without any treatment.
(3) How did you start in this business – Moonlit Fly Fishing was created to share mine and my Grandpa Augers passion for fly fishing. This company has helped me to connect with him in a way I was unable to while he was alive. He had a passion for fly fishing and loved to share it with others, and by sharing that with you I am able to continue his legacy. I take great pride in making sure our products are of the utmost quality, to help enhance your experience, and so you can feel the pride and craftsmanship that goes into every product.
That is passion in my opinion and this is the reason I use Moonlit Furled Leaders.. They are good.. plain and simple. Now I’m going to give you a little information about Moonlit and the leaders they offer.
The majority of the next few things were taken from the Moonlit website with the permission of Brandon.
Over the last few years we have seen furled leaders making a move back into the fly fishing community. With this you are seeing more and more options coming to the market. This is a great thing as it drives the manufactures of them to be not only competitive, but also innovative. We believe we shine in both these areas. With all the choices though it can be difficult to choose the right leader and set up for you and your needs. Here we will help you choose the most effective leader.
First let’s talk about the difference between a few leaders. We offer two different leader choices, our regular line up of leaders and Platinum Series. The difference between these two are significant. The regular leaders are constructed like your typical furled leader, and made like a two strand rope. Although still better than the other leaders on the market we felt like we should offer something better. The Platinum Series is constructed like a three strand rope, which gives it a tighter more compact furl. Along with this we also get a rounder cross section that helps make them more aerodynamic, cutting through the wind better. The tighter furl also gives them more power and line control, helping you cast longer tippet with greater ease.
Dry Fly (Feather Weight) – Let’s start off with your Dry Fly Leader. For fishing dries we want something that is going to give us both delicate presentation, line control, and drift. Our Featherweight leaders do just that for you. The regular Featherweight comes in 5′ for 0-3wt and 6′ length for 4wt plus, and will cast 5′ of tippet very well. The Platinum comes in 5′ for 0-3wt and 7′ length for 4wt plus, and casts up to 7′ of tippet for a long 14′ leader to fish those small dries to spooky fish. After much casting I’ve found that casting longer leaders from 10′ or more gives me better turnover and presentation. Our Featherweight comes with a core in the butt section to help stiffen the leader to cut through the wind better, and handle wind resistant dries. The Platinum goes on the end of my fly line every time to fish dries. Our favorite is the Hi Vis tip leaders to help us track and sight our small dries that can be difficult to see at times. We prefer using Tip Rings on these leaders for the quick change of tippet it provides, but a Shorb Loop would work just as good. If you choose to get a Shorb Loop simply tie a loop knot in your tippet and attach using a loop to loop connection. The Micro Swivel would be a great option if you are going to be casting bigger more wind resistant flies to help reduce any twisting.
Nymphing (Big Hog) – For fishing nymphs and or smaller streamers the Big Hog is the leader you should use. This leader just like the Featherweight comes in 5′ length for 0-3wt and 6′ for 4wt and above casting up to 5′ of tippet. The Platinum series comes at 5′ for 0-3wt and 7′ for 4wt plus casting up to 7′ of tippet, and casts two fly systems with ease. These leaders will work with Thingamabobber as well. Once again I like longer leaders and find better turnover and drift. This leader is constructed with a core of premium FC to help stiffen the body of the leader and transitions to a straight FC tip. This gives you the most punch for a nymph leader. We prefer to use ours with a Hi Vis butt section of a bright polyester thread about 12″ long. When treated this section floats acting as a strike indicator. If you put a mark using a black Sharpie every one to two inches you will get a segmented indicator helping you detect the more subtle strikes. We prefer using the Micro Swivel on these to help reduce some of the twisting you will get with heavier weighted flies. However you can still fish either the Tip Ring or Shorb Loop just as well.
Streamers/Sink Tip (Hogzilla) – For fishing large articulated streamers or sink tip lines the HOGzilla leader is the right tool for the job. This leader is constructed of only the finest most premium FC. It is a short compact leader at 3 1/2′ long, and will cast up to 5′ of tippet. This is for several reasons, first being that when casting larger and articulated streamers you need a shorter leader to help provide the power to turn it over. Second for sink lines you need to use a shorter leader so that your fly will sink more uniform with your line. The longer the leader the more variation you will see in the depth of your fly with your line. We prefer using the Micro Swivel on these to help reduce some of the twisting you will get with heavier weighted flies. However you can still fish either the Tip Ring or Shorb Loop just as well.
Now that you know about furled leaders as well as Brandon at Moonlit I wanted to give you a quick peek at what a furled leader jig looks like. Below are a couple of pictures of where Brandon produces all his leaders.
We are now at the end.. If you have always been told you need to be using Mono/Fluoro tapered leaders, maybe just maybe you now will have an open mind and give furled leaders a try. I did a while back and I can honesly tell you.. I absolutely love the presentation of the fly on the water with furled leaders. It’s hard to explain but it is just different.. It’s delicate, better drift and furled leaders have no memory…. plain and simple – You should at least give them a try if you haven’t and if you are a fan of furled leaders you definitely should drop Brandon a line. Like I say in most of my posts about handcrafted products – YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.