Tapered Leaders

I get asked about my leader choices a lot when I'm out fishing whether with clients, with friends, or just talking with strangers. My rig of choice is the nymph rig and my leader material of choice is fluorocarbon, hands down, Seaguar fluorocarbon to be specific.
The reason I get asked about my leaders so often is obvious to me, I fish a straight fluorocarbon leader when nymphing, no taper, no knots. Through my years as a fly fisherman I've read countless articles about tapered leaders and I have my own opinions, most of which mirror those of our fine fishing community.
In my book, tapered leaders are essential for all dry fly fishing. They allow distinct advantages that a straight leader does not. Because of the weight that your fly does not provide, the tapered leader provides an excellent medium for the transfer of energy down your fly line, through the leader and to your fly.
What this allows id for the fly to "turn over" away from your fly line. This gives you distance from the more obvious fly line and you will spook less fish. It also gives more solid contact to the fly which allows more control over the drift and leaves less slack to pick up for solid hooksets. Keep in mind that the key phrase when talking about tapered leaders is turnover.
With modern nymphing which usually involves an indicator of some sort and a tandem nymph setup, turnover is not an issue. Weighted flies, split shots, the indicator itself or a combination of all three provide more than enough weight to propel the flies away from your line and to their destination with the proper application of casting techniques. Because of this many anglers such as myself to not feel the need to utilize a tapered leader.
I find the benefits to a straight leader much more advantageous. The biggest advantage for me is the lack of knots. I carry a 200 yard spool of flouro with me for nymphing with a backup of tippets to downsize quickly if necessary, so rather than add Tippett in most cases I just tie on a fresh leader. I can also customize the length of my leaders endlessly. The other big advantage for me is cost. With the amount of fishing I do fluorocarbon leaders can get ridiculous. At eight to twelve bucks a pop I could easily spend a small fortune on them. I  purchase high quality Seaguar fluorocarbon for $70.00 per 1,000 yards. That's gives me around 300 nine foot flouro leaders that would cost around 3,000 at retail for knotless tapered leaders.
I choose Seaguar because of its quality, I've found that Seaguar holds knots better than many other brands I tried and it maintains its refractive qualities even when it gets roughed up a little. Seaguar is more supple than others I've tried and it holds up extremely well in cold water. Some brands out there outsource a little bit in manufacturing which in some cases will leave you with a line that loses some of these qualities. This brand is unmatched in its stretch, refraction, abrasion, and knot holding ability.
With that said I do not believe the tapered leader can be replaced in dry fly applications and I urge you to continue fishing them for these scenarios. As much as I have tossed around the idea to encourage a straight leader with all the help certain manufacturers have given me over the years I think you should try it, especially for steelhead and other lake or sea run fish where I find it most applicable for the average angler in our neck of the woods.

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