Avoid Breaking Your Tippet While Landing Fish

Q. When the water is calm on the flats, I find that a leader of 12 feet or longer is necessary to prevent spooking fish like bonefish and permit. For years I've used either a nail knot or a whipped loop to connect the fly line to the butt section of my leader. To land a fish with a longer leader, some of the butt section must be brought inside the rod guides, and if a fish surges away, the nail knot or whipped loop sometimes catches on the snake guides. I've lost two big bones because of this very problem. Do you have any suggestions on how I can avoid breaking my tippet while landing fish?"

A. I often use leaders as long as 16 feet for bones. I too have lost fish due to knots getting snagged in the guides. To prevent this, I now set up all my bonefish leaders another way.

Cut a 12-inch length of Cortland 50-pound braided monofilament shooting line (it comes in 100-yard spools and can be ordered from any Cortland dealer). Lightly sand 6 inches of the monofilament leader’s butt section, and insert it into one end of the hollow braided line. Next, slide 6 inches of the front of the fly line into the other end of the braid until the butt section and fly line butt against each other. Make a nail knot with 10- or 12-pound-test monofilament at each end of the hollow line, creating a Chinese finger-cuff effect that won’t come loose. Trim the fuzzy ends of the braid, and coat the nail knots with Pliobond or a similar glue. Try this method out — I think you’ll like it.