If you ask 10 fly fishers about their recommendation for a redfish leader, you’ll get 10 different answers. However, over many years I’ve learned a number of things about the most effective leaders.
First of all, long leaders spook fewer fish. However, the longer the leader, the harder it is to cast, so newcomers may want to keep it a bit shorter than the standard 9-foot length.
I tie my own tapered leaders using Stren High Impact leader material, but many other brands do the job well too. Take a 5-foot length of 30-pound-mono line and attach it to the end of the fly line. This represents the butt section. To the other end tie a 2-foot piece of 20-pound line, using either a blood knot or a double surgeon’s knot. Tie that to a 2-foot length of 15-pound line. You can stop there or add another section of 12-pound line, as you prefer.
If you don’t know how to tie knots, you can purchase knotless tapered leaders, such as the Scientific Angler Mastery series tapered leaders and the Airflo Braided Tapered Leader series. I like heavier tippets, typically 12- to 16-pound test. They stay stronger when the inevitable wind knot shows up and allow you to fight the fish harder. Knotless leaders work much better in weedy areas because weeds tend to catch on knots.
A number of experts such as Capt. Danny Ayo use 9 or 10 feet of 16-pound mono as the entire leader. It’s fast, it’s easy, and the leader never breaks at a knot as on a tapered, knotted leader.