Connecting Fly Line to Leaders: Different Techniques and Products

Connecting Fly Line to Leaders (3)

If I were to guess the most frequently asked questions in fly shops around the globe, I would put, "How do I connect my leader to my fly line?" in the top three.

The loop to loop connection may be the most common connection used by trout anglers today. It takes a second to loop on a new leader to a loop at the end of the fly line.

Here are some of the most common ways to choose from.

Connecting Fly Line to Leaders (1)

Welded Loop Connection to Fly line

Most line manufacturers have made welded loops a standard, but there are still fly lines on the market that do not come with a factory welded loop.

Your local fly shop may be able to weld one for you, or you can DIY with a heat gun and RIO welding tubing. The welding process varies depending on the material used by the manufacturer.

Connecting Fly Line to Leaders (7)

Braided Loop Fly Line to Leader Connection

Braided loops are a good substitute for a welded loop if you find yourself without a heat gun and shrink tubing. I keep a pack of braided loops and a small bottle of zap a gap in my bag for emergency situations.

We've got braided loops online here.

Connecting Fly Line to Leaders (4)

Nail Knot Mono Butt Section w/ Perfection Loop


A butt section of monofilament is an easy way to connect leader to fly line. Connecting a butt section to fly line requires nothing more than a nail knot tool and the patience to tie a nail knot. A perfection loop on the other end (or loop knot of your choice) and you are ready to loop on your leader.

You can get a Dr. Slick nail knotter tool + clippers online from us here.

30 lb. Maxima Chameleon is a common choice and is close to the same diameter as the butt end of most knot-less tapered leaders. Length of the butt section can vary by preference, but 18"-24" would be a good experimental length to start with.

tying the blood knot

No Loop setups: Nail Knot Mono Butt section Blood Knot

Same as above, with a blood knot replacing the loop to loop connection. The blood knot takes a moment to tie, making it a slightly slower process, but results in a knot that has a better chance of not hanging up in guides. This is the setup I prefer when accuracy is the top priority.

No Loop setups: Nail Knot Fly Line to Leader


If you find yourself without a piece of monofilament for a butt section, the leader may be nail knotted directly to the end of the fly line. Having to cut the tip of the fly line with every leader change is a disadvantage, as it shortens the front taper of the fly line.

We've got a selection of leaders and tippet to keep you in the game when you're on the water.

This is where the advantage of a butt section is evident, where multiple leader changes will shorten the monofilament butt section rather than the fly line itself.

Connecting Fly Line to Leaders (2)

These are a few of the common ways to connect a leader to fly line, but many other ways exist. Still have questions? Use the form below and we will work to get back to you within 24-hours.

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Joe grew up north of Great Falls in Conrad, MT. A generational fly fisherman, Joe was raised outdoors - hunting, camping, and skiing. Photography is his latest passion as well as his winless fantasy football team. Be sure to swing by the shop and talk fishing and football with Joe.

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