Fly Fishing,    Saltwater Fly Fishing

Saltwater Fly Fishing Leader Strength

By Capt. John Kumiski 11/16/2016 5 minutes

Last week, sorting through my inbox, I ran across an interesting question. The writer asked about selecting the appropriate weight for your fly leader. How do you decide which weight to use?

Initially, my thought was that I use them all. When I fish I come prepared with everything from 12- to 60-pound fluorocarbon, but this answer probably isn’t specific enough to be as helpful as you’d like. So, I’m going to share my thoughts on the “best practices” for saltwater leader strength selection which should offer some useful guidelines.

Typically, I use two-piece, big game leaders. My #6 and #7 weight rods are accompanied with a 30-pound nylon butt section, and I keep that constant. What I do change are the tippets

Seasonal changes in weather help determine your choices. Remember that tippet choice is always a balancing act of getting bites with the thinnest tippet possible but not thinning to the point where they easily break apart. Depending on your own style and technique, finding that optimal sizing can vary, so there is some trial and error in finding what works best for you. Also remember that windknots can reduce your line strength by up to 50%, and not all fluorocarbon is created equal. I have had good results using Seaguar blue. 

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Winter water in the local lagoons tends to be shallow and transparent. When I’m after the larger guys, (fish 20 lbs. or more) I employ a stretch of 12-pound fluorocarbon. Patience is required since the fish can see through the clear water and avoid your lines. That said, I rarely lighten the tippet, because man those breakoffs annoy me!

When I’m after really large fish, like black drum or redfish, I sometimes increase the tippet to 15-pound. Upon encountering barnacles or oysters, I usually move up to 20-pound fluorocarbon. This applies to snook fishing as well. While intuitively you’ll want to use more than 20, the reality is that snook are too observant to bite into anything heavier.

With warm, spring water, aquatic organisms come to life and hungry fish come in to feed, including snook and tarpon. Leader diameter increases to 15- or 20-pound fluorocarbon, depending on the fish size anticipated. To stay out of harm’s way, twenty-pound fluoro is the heaviest tippet I recommend, since getting snarled in 50-pound leader with a monster sized tarpon is not at all appealing! If you really want anything heavier, I suggest adding a bite tippet with a Hufnagle or slim beauty knot.

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Like with everything else in life, a few exceptions apply. For instance, to catch a baby tarpon, a twenty-pound tippet or a 30-pound bite tippet may be necessary. I also think that using a 30-pound bite tippet for tripletail is advisable. Cobia may require employing 40- to 50-pound line, and really large tarpon may call for 60-pound. Even though they can probably bite through it, they are unlikely to be lured by anything heavier. Extreme fish may call for wire but I’ll save that for another blog.

So my overall recommendation is to come prepared for every possible encounter. Leader strength choices are always made based on a number of variables including the type of fish, clarity of water, water temperature, etc. You can never go wrong by having what you need on hand as circumstances change, and on the water, they tend to change often.
Fishing Waters
Part of Florida's Indian River Lagoon system, Mosquito Lagoon lies between the sand dunes of Canaveral National Seashore and the marshes, hardwood hammocks, and scrub of the Merritt ... moreIsland National Wildlife Refuge. Its protected shallow waters are the permanent home to some of the largest redfish and seatrout in Florida. Other fish species of interest to anglers here include black drum, jack crevalle, bluefish, snook, tarpon, flounder, and more. It's an awesome place to fish!

Fly fish or use light tackle for redfish, seatrout, snook, tarpon, black drum, and more on the waters of the Mosquito Lagoon. Everybody should be able to enjoy fishing here!

In addition to the various species of fishes, the Merritt Island NWR contains over 1000 species of plants, 68 amphibians and reptiles, 330 birds, and 31 mammal species. During a day's fishing you can expect to see bottle-nosed dolphins, the West Indian manatee, a wide variety of birds, and quite possibly an American alligator. Even the inevitable slow fishing days exhibit a fascinating display of wildlife.

When the fishing's hot, the wildlife just adds a little spice!
Trips
$
400
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
By Paddle Craft in the Lagoons- Redfish, Seatrout, Black Drum This is our second most popular trip. It’s available year-round, and works for physically fit fly fishers and conventional ... moretackle anglers. Using a canoe or kayaks we mostly sight fish in shallow water. The reds average about five pounds, but could be over 20. The trout average about 15 inches, but could hit 30. A winter-time no motor zone trip could yield behemoth black drum.

Paddle fishing requires some effort on the part of the angler. You must be in good physical condition for these trips.
$
400
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
By Skiff In the Lagoons- Redfish and Seatrout This is our most popular trip. It’s available year-round, appropriate for all ages, and works for both fly fishers and conventional tackle ... moreanglers. We mostly sight fish in shallow water for these fish. The reds average about five pounds, but could be over 20. The trout average about 15 inches, but could hit 30.

Other fish sometimes available include black drum, baby tarpon, crevalle jacks, ladyfish, bluefish, others
Outfitters
Look no further than Capt. John Kumiski’s Spotted Tail Fly Fishing Charters for thrilling guided fishing trips in both salt- and freshwater. We’re only one hour’s drive from Orlando! ... moreWe fish on the Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River Lagoon, the near-coastal Atlantic waters, and the St. Johns River system. John’s anglers have been catching fish on central Florida waters for over 25 years.

Fly fish or use light tackle for redfish, seatrout, snook, tarpon, black drum, and more on the waters of the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River Lagoon, and Banana River Lagoon.

Or you may prefer to fish the near coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean for tarpon, snook, cobia, king mackerel, sharks, and many other species. Or maybe a day of fishing for bass and bream is more your style.

Spotted Tail Fishing Charters supplies all fishing tackle for both fly and light tackle. We also supply the flies, lures, or bait, and all necessary licenses* and permits.

Fish from our skiff, or by kayak or canoe.

We love experienced fly anglers, but are equally happy taking beginners or children. Everyone should be able to enjoy a day on the water!

Do what thousands of other happy fishermen have done and make your next Orlando fishing trip one to remember with Spotted Tail Orlando Fishing Charters, the most enjoyable and educational fishing trips in Orlando.

Capt. John Kumiski

John Kumiski has been guiding anglers to redfish, tarpon, snook, seatrout, shad, and more since the 1980s. In addition to scores of magazine articles, his books include Redfish on the Fly and Flyrodding Florida Salt. Always ready to talk fishing, John can be reached via his website at www.spottedtail.com.

Newbie anglers always forget to adjust for weather or season conditions. Glad you pointed that out. Crappie Fishing Tackle http://crappiefishingtackle.com
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