Explosive Combinations

Explosive Combinations

I have heard that you should not mix nylon leaders and tippet material with fluorocarbon leaders and tippet. Is this true, and if so, why? I think the

  • By: Paul Guernsey
  • and Buzz Bryson
I have heard that you should not mix nylon leaders and tippet material with fluorocarbon leaders and tippet. Is this true, and if so, why?

I think the combination becomes explosive if placed in water…

Seriously, mixing fluorocarbon and regular nylon can be a problem, but no more so than mixing two different types of nylon, something anglers have done for decades (e.g., the conventional "wisdom" to build a leader with a stiff nylon butt section and a limp nylon tippet).

Problems can arise if the two materials being joined are considerably different in diameter, hardness/stiffness and/or slickness. When dissimilar materials are knotted together, the knot can slip, one material can abrade or "burn" the other as the knot is tightened, or gradually wear through. The same thing happens when you try and connect a very light tippet to a much larger leader section or to a large wire hook: The knot often won't tighten smoothly or will slip off the hook.

What I try to do when connecting a fluorocarbon tippet to a nylon leader is to make sure the leader is somewhat larger in diameter than the fluorocarbon, but not so much larger that it won't form a good knot-say a few thousanths of an inch. I then use a knot that (again, for me) seems to work well (tightens smoothly and retains most of the breaking strength), such as a four-turn surgeons knot (instead of the normal two-turn. On saltwater leaders, I'll use more sophisticated knots (Bimini twists and all that), but the surgeons with the extra turns has worked well for me. If it isn't pulling tight smoothly, I'll lubricate it with some lip balm, fly floatant, or other "slicky" substance. Saliva is OK, if that's all you have, but something slicker works better.

Finally, the best way to feel confident in your leader is to try some combinations of nylon-to-nylon and nylon-to-fluorocarbon knots, and test break them while sitting around watching a ball game or something. It's a very educational "-and once you hit the water, you can focus on the fish and not worry about the knot. -B.B.

Do you think a 15-foot sinking-tip (instead of a 30-footer) is adequate for fishing in deep, fast water off the beach?

I'd think not, for two reasons. First, "deep" and "fast" don't usually equate to using a 15-foot head; that length just won't (usually) sink very fast, as the leader on one end and the belly& running line on the other end keep the sinking portion suspended a bit. Second, at least in my experience, 15-foot heads just don't cast as well as 30-foot heads, as they are more difficult to control in the air. While they do offer better control (mending) on the water, that's more of an advantage on a stream. -B.B.

Can you recommend a coding system and method to mark fly lines with their weight, Weight Forward, sinking, etc., properties somewhere on the line itself?

Lefty Kreh, I believe, was the first to suggest marking the weights of lines (using a permanent marker) by putting one narrow band for each weight up to 4 (three bands signifies a 3-weight), and one wide band for 5-weight. Thus an 8-weight line would have one wide band and three narrow banks. Having the wide band nearest the tip indicated a WF line. Beyond that, I can't see any way of indicating the density or other features. What I do instead is carry lines coiled and in Ziplock bags and enclose paper tags to identify all of the line's characteristics. -B.B.

I'm 14. My Mom and Dad are divorced, and My Dad lives in another town. My Mom says fishing is cruel and gets very upset if I go-but I really want to go. What should I do?

Although I wouldn't mind being a little younger, your story certainly makes me glad I'm not 14 anymore… .

While some young anglers might be tempted to sneak out and go fishing anyway, I would not recommend that to you. For the time being, your relationship with your mother is more important than fishing, and it would be a mistake to do sneaky things that cause her not to trust you.

The good news is that in a few years you'll be 18, and able to do almost anything you want without anybody's permission or approval. By then, too, your Mom might be ready to learn a little bit more about fishing-and to discover that not only is it not cruel, but that it helps a young man to develop such important qualities as patience and compassion.

Meanwhile, we hope your Dad is able to take you fishing once in a while, when you're visiting him. Good luck. -P.G.