fly fishing, Montana fly fishing lodge, Kootenai River Montana

What's the single best leader for Montana trout fishing?  I get asked that question more frequently than any other.  Here is a simply explanation on leaders and which length and sizes are most appropriate for Montana trout fishing.

There are two types of leaders.  Tapered leaders, which are manufactured to specific lengths and tippet diameters, and those that are custom built so to speak.  Tapered leaders come in packages and offer the widest variety of choices.  Custom built leaders are tied by individuals and are often more specific to water types and conditions and may offer a bit more performance to this end.

The heavy section of a leader and the end that attaches to your fly line is called the butt.  From there, there is a middle section and finally the tippet section which is the end that attaches to your fly.  Tippet sizes, like flies, are cataloged in an inverse manner.  The bigger the number, the smaller the diameter.  Generally speaking and for trout fishing, tippet sizes range from 0x (very thick) to 8x (super thin, think like a piece of hair).   Most trout fishing here in Montana will be perfectly accommodated with tippet sizes from 4x to 6x.  Tippet size is generally associated with the size of the fly you intend to fish.  For instance, 3x tippet is too think to fit through the eye of a size 18 midge.  That would likely require either 5x or 6x tippet.

Leader length is chosen for one simple reason and takes into consideration how far you want your fly from your fly line.  Shorter leaders work well for streamer fishing and some nymphing and longer leaders work best for dry fly fishing.  Packaged tapered trout leaders are offered offered in many lengths and tippet sizes.  The most common being 7' to 10'.

I often tell people that if you want to keep things simple for a Montana trout fishing trip, bring a few packages of 7.5' 4x leaders.  For the most part 7.5' 4x will handle all situations.  If you want if shorter for say, streamer fishing, you can cut it back.  If you want it longer for fine dry fly fishing to rising trout, you can add 5x and 6x to lengthen for a softer presentation.

Choosing the right leader to cover all bases for a Montana trout fishing trip is easy.  Bring a few packages of 7.5 4x and you'll be ready to go.

If you have a questions about leaders or gear give us a call anytime. 406-295-4872


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