The leader is the connection between the fly line and the fly. A good leader/ formula is an integral part in the overall castability and accuracy of the fly line. Understanding the importance of this connection intrigued me to consistently build my own leaders through the years. My leaders varied in length depending on the time of year, water level, and how I planned on fishing.
Then I came across the AirFlo Poly Leader Plus. I am not one to change readily but decided to try it out. During the late spring and summer, I almost exclusively fish dry flies and maybe a dropper. Therefore, I purchased the floating poly leader on an experimental basis.
The poly leader feels like a fly line and is made up of a monofilament-type core material wrapped in a special fly line type material. Just like a regular leader, the butt section is fatter and tapers down. There are two (2) sizes in the Trout models, 6.5’ and 8.5’. I purchased one of each.
The manufacturer states; The new, factory-attached tippet ring makes it easy to attach a wide variety of tippet sizes and lengths while preserving your leader, and significantly increasing its lifespan. Thanks to their ability to turn over exceptionally long tippets, these leaders provide anglers unprecedented versatility and serve a wide range of angling tactics.
At first, I was wary of the tippet ring adding drag, but I was wrong. I fished both lengths of poly leaders and found the 8.5’ to be exceptional on low, clear waters. Now it’s my favorite for dry fly fishing. With it I fished both 5x and 6x tippet. The flies turned over with ease and the casting loop was consistent. I added around 4’ of tippet to the tippet ring and it executed well.
The 6.5’ was bought and used more for nymphing with 3x and 4x tippets, along with some dry fly fishing on smaller streams.
The way I change flies, this leader system kept me from constantly rebuilding leaders, giving me more time on the water to catch fish. Both floating poly leaders float high and do not prohibit a drag-free float. I was especially fond of the low line memory of these leaders. As smallmouth bass fishing begins, I will probably succumb to the sink tip version.
What is a polyleader?
A polyleader is a leader system that allows you to turn a regular floating fly line into an intermediate or a sinking line by attaching an additional short length of line to the end. This allows you greater control over the sinking speed of your fly.
You attach your regular leader and tippet to the polyleader to give you an instant sinking or intermediate line, without the expense of purchasing an extra fly line, or going to the hassle of swapping your floating line spool for a sinking one.
While Airflo were the first to use the name PolyLeader for their product, quite a few other brands also call their products polyleaders, except Rio, which calls its version a Versi Leader.
What are polyleaders made from?
Polyleaders look like a section of fly line and are made in similar manner, with a central core surrounded by a special plastic coating. On a fly line, the core is a braid-like core, but on a polyleader the core is made from a monofilament.
Like a regular tapered leader, the polyleader is fatter at the butt end and gradually gets thinner, which helps allow an accurate and delicate presentation of your fly.
The butt part of the polyleader is generally about the same thickness as the tip of your fly line, which is what allows it to feel like a sinking extension of the line, rather than a big fat weighted section on the end. They also have low line memory, so they tend not to curl up that much.
The Airflo PolyLeader comes in variety of sink rates from floating, which obviously doesn’t sink at all, to extra super fast sink, which drops through the water at a sink rate of 1m every 6.5 seconds.
The sink rates of polyleaders are typically reported in two ways. Seconds per metre shows how many seconds it takes to drop through each metre of water, while inches per second shows how many inches it covers in a second.
The wide range of sink rates available means that you can target fish cruising at pretty much any depth. When you’re fishing you can simply do some maths in your head and get a rough idea of where in the water column you’re fishing.
Airflo Polyleader + improves upon the tested Polyleader by adding a tippet ring and color coding every leader for quick and easy identification.
The new, factory-attached tippet ring makes it easy to attach a wide variety of tippet sizes and lengths while preserving your leader, and significantly increasing its lifespan. Thanks to their ability to turn over exceptionally long tippets, these leaders provide anglers unprecedented versatility and serve a wide range of angling tactics.