[This story first appeared in Fly Fisherman’s 2018 Gear Guide and was originally titled “Leader Love: Making a good first impression.”]
With your future boss, going on a first date, meeting your girlfriend's parents for the first time, or presenting a fly to a large brown trout, first impressions are everything. Rarely do you get a second chance to make up for a poor first impression. In fly fishing, the likelihood of a good first impression improves when you match the correct leader to the conditions you face onstream. While the line is important, it is the leader and tippet that delivers the most critical part of the presentation—the fly.
Ask ten of the best anglers you know what their favorite leader design is, and you'll get ten different answers. And their answers will likely change if you begin discussing specific fishing tactics or other rivers. Leaders, as with most fly-fishing tools/equipment, are a matter of personal preference, just as it is with fly patterns and rods.
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