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Home » The Leader and the Presentation Line

The Leader and the Presentation Line

Leader fishing with French nymph leaders, or presentation leaders, involving little or no fly line extending from the rod tip has become increasingly popular in recent years. These leaders have been most suitable for nymph presentation with long, soft-actioned rods. Since 2010 I developed this theme in the construction of a leader-to-hand rig which extended the possibilities from short-range nymph fishing to outstanding presentation and control for dry fly.

These ‘presentation leaders’ were designed for all nymph, spider and dry fly techniques on rivers, to be cast without any fly line whatsoever, using #2 or #3 AFTMA rated rods. I can still supply these leaders, but please contact me directly if you want one. Please also consider what is written below concerning micro diameter fly lines.

Tom Bell at Sunray has produced the most radical development in fly lines since the introduction of cored PVC lines in the 1960s, which, in turn, took over from silk lines. These contemporary, ‘micro diameter’ lines are astonishing, combining the best qualities of leader-only and fly lines, leaving behind all the faults of both.  Sunray LogoThey also have similar characteristics to fine, silk lines, but again without the drawbacks associated with these. This company has also produced the JL Presentation Line, which is a tapered line representing the ultimate refinement in what is possible in fly line technology, in terms of casting and presentation. If you are thinking of developing your river fishing, with either nymph or dry fly, I strongly recommend you acquire one of these lines. You can find Sunray Micro Thin fly lines here

I have also designed an optimum tenkara leader, using 0.35mm fluorocarbon, with whipped loops at each end and a soft braid loop for attachment to the lilian.

Tenkara leader – £7:50, plus £3 p&p to British mainland only. If posting to anywhere else, the appropriate postal cost will be arranged. Please email me if you are purchasing from overseas.

Contact: jlucas@presentationflyfishing.com  for further information.


I recommend Fulling Mill copolymer Xtra for all river techniques, in 6X – 5X (0.125 – 0.147mm) diameters. It excels for dry fly, spider/nymph and duo (nymph under dry) and double nymph. The 5X, 4X and 3X are recommended for still water use, for dry fly, nymph or traditional loch-style. Fulling Mill have always been justifiably noted for conservatively (realistically) quoting breaking strain to diameter ratios. You will see that this product has class leading properties, all-round, including in this crucial ratio. It is not too shiny, is very supple (though this is not so important), has good abrasion resistance to the point that the knot strength (using Water knots, tucked half blood knots or Turle knots) has been exemplar, and this is actually a crucial property. Modern presentation casting with leader-only or low mass fly lines, requires a very fast casting stroke (in order to load the rod). Most copolymers (and also fluorocarbons) do not stand up to this process for very long, requiring re-tying of the tippet to hook knot fairly regularly. FM copolymer Xtra does not apparently suffer this problem at all. I have now been using this material for tippets on the river, with both Western-style (fly line and leader-only) and tenkara for three years and can report that its performance has been outstanding in all respects. I also recommend Stroft GTM, particularly in 0.12mm and 0.10mm diameters.