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I have had more than a few requests off list for the Harvey trout leader design, so I thought I would post it for everyone. I apologize for not getting this out last week as promised, but work got in the way. I also apologize in advance for posting it here if your not interested, although I thought it might be a nice tribute to George Harvey too!

Back in 1986 there was a Flyfisherman magazine supplement that had George’s original formula with hard/soft nylon. This is the first place I saw it and have been tying this style ever since, along with George’s later design using all soft nylon that he gave me at the Fly Fishing show in Denver in 2001 (he was 90 that year!). I think this was also printed in one of the fishing mags at the time.

The thought process behind George’s design is a leader that turns flies over accurately but then collapses into a series of soft “S” curves right up to the fly for a great drag free float.

George’s book “Memories, Patterns and Tactics” (DLS Enterprises 1998) is a must have book in my opinion. 

The first basic leader design (1986) is in 4X and 5X.  The first four sections - .017 to .011 - are tied with a hard leader material like Mason hard mono or the Maxima Ultragreen (my preference). The next three sections (4X tippet) are soft nylon like Orvis Super Strong, Rio or whatever flavor you like. One thing to note is that hard nylon in some sizes like .011 may be hard to find. For instance going from .013 to .012 to .010 to get to .008 is OK, just don’t jump more than two sizes at a time, otherwise the leader won’t turn over properly, and blood knots are also harder to tie if you jump three diameters.

Basic 9 ½’ - 4x (.007) leader

10” - .017 hard nylon
20” - .015 hard nylon
20” - .013 hard nylon
20” - .011 hard nylon
12” - .009 (2X) soft nylon
18” - .008 (3X) soft nylon
22” to 28” - .007 soft nylon tippet

To make the above a 10 ½’ – 5X leader cut off half of the .009 (2X) hard nylon and add 12” to 15” of .008 (3X), 18” .007 (4X), and 22” to 30” of .006 (%X) tippet.

In 2001 George gave me the leader design using all soft nylon, which he felt was better for slack leader casts. You may have to experiment a little with this one to suit your casting style to keep the leader from piling up:

10 ½’ – 4X (.007) leader

18” to 19” - .015
18” to 19” - .013
18” to 19” - .011
18” to 19” - .009
15” – 3X
36” – 4X

To go to 5X add 15” of 4X to the 3X then 36” of 5X tippet.

Since I fish a lot of heavily beaten tail waters for spooky trout using midge patterns, I have been tying my own variation of the above for these conditions and flies #18 to #26. I use Maxima Ultragreen for the first five sections to .011, then soft nylon like Rio for 3X and 4X, then fluorocarbon for 5X and 6X. Be careful tying fluorocarbon to nylon. Use a blood knot or it will slip:

14’ – 6X leader

12” - .017
20” - .015
20” - .013
20” - .012
20” - .011
12” - .008 (3X)
12” - .007 (4X)
18” - .006 (5X)
30” - .005 (6X)

I use 10” of 20lb. Amnesia between my leader and fly line on all my lines.  (Tom Vagell)

    I used those formulas for years until was with a group of guys who went out with Gary Borger & he showed me his leader designs.  I have been using them ever since.  I have made modifications to them when I need to.  Both leader designs work great, Harvey's & Borger's.  Borger's just take less sizes of materials.  (Bret Reiter)

      If I recall, the formula is 60% butt, 20% mid, 20% tip. Ideally one tapers down from the heaviest leader material you can get. I always start with .023.  It ought to be in some significant proportion to your line tip.  Thus you get a smooth transition from line to leader.

      Ideally, one ties leader sections stepping down only .002 per section.  Then your knots won't slip.

      I haven't bought any new leader material other than tippet material in years, but in the old days Orvis sold really stiff high diameter leaders material made in France.  I  still use their old stuff for butts (and to tie flushometers in toilet tanks to the handle when the chain breaks).   (David Zincavage)

        That’s why I use Amnesia from the line tip to the leader, to get that transition. Actually two reasons. I like the stuff in the luminescent style green color, or red. I use it to take the place of a strike indicator, which I hate using. Most of the trout in the western tailwaters are very indicator shy anyway.  (Tom Vagell)

    Just as an FYI. All of these leader designs are contained in LeaderCalc.  (Will McMurrey)


Has anyone made a silk furled leader for silk fly line and then finished it and dressed it like a silk fly line? I'm new to silk fly lines and thought maybe, kinda, sorta, it would be a good combination. Silk fly lines are supposed to get soft and flexible with use, and floats good when dressed. So, it seems a leader made with white silk and finished with Reed Curry's recipe and dressed, would make for a nice combination. Am I showing my nationality again??  (David Dziadosz)

    I regularly make and fish on my silk line a furled leader created per Kathy Scott's excellent DVD.  I use 6/0 Unithread in a gray or rusty dun.  I have tried white silk, and have broken the first or second leg on every attempt.  I think if I throttled way back and shortened the legs a touch less than the usual 10 %, I could perhaps do it.  My thinking is that if white silk becomes invisible in varnish, it should do something similar in water, but I haven't yet been able to fully test it.  (Steve Yasgur)

    There is a guy (Quigley) who sells furled leaders on ebay. I have bought a few from him and like them. He offers them in both Unithread  and silk. He warns that the silk ones are not as reliable because silk thread has some weak spots in it which occur at odd intervals. I have seen this more than enough wrapping rods to believe him.  (Doug Easton)

      Kathy Scott gave me a couple of her furled leaders.  I have tried a few others but I prefer Kathy's over the others by far.  Plus she & David are on here & I like to do business with people I know & trust & they are both awesome people to boot.  (Bret Reiter)

        To answer the original question, yes, thread based leaders need to be dressed before using.  It not only improves their floating properties, it significantly extends their useful life.  I use, primarily, Uni-Thread 8/0 based leaders, which I treat with hard beeswax.  No reason why silk wouldn't work as well, other than the aforementioned uniformity problem.  You might want to consider using slightly heavier silk, such as the Naples, instead of Gossamer to compensate.  (Paul Gruver)

      Don't forget Kathy Scott either. She makes them and has DVD about it.  (Gordon Koppin)

      There's a tutorial on furling your own on Jerry Foster's old rodmakers page.

      Under Tip, Faqs & DIY tools.  (Chris Obuchowski)

        I also "Roll My Own"! I set up  a machine similar to Skip Schorb's, with his permission. I can make different lengths and played a little with tapers. Just a straight taper works pretty good.

        Someone mentioned about making a fly line with the same construction method, don't think you could roll it tight enough for fly line. I haven't tried it yet, to make a furled front taper for a level silk line I have. So the level line might be for sale. Anyone want to make a generous offer? I now have several double taper silk lines and looking more towards leaders for them.  (David Dziadosz)

    To turn this question around, has anyone ever thought of or tried making a fly line out of synthetic fibers like Unithread or nylon, but using construction methods similar to silk lines? Such a line might have some interesting properties which overcome some of the disadvantages of silk.  (Mike McGuire)

      Jeff Wagner, he's your Man!

      If he can't sell it,

      Nobody can!

      The Terenzio synthetic line Jeff sells, from the sound of it, is exactly that, Mike.  Terenzio makes a silk and a synthetic, but I gather they're both braided on the same machines.  It apparently floats like a cork all day with a dressing of  . . . (ready for this?)

      . . . Vaseline!  (Steve Yasgur)

        Do you have any contact info on the guy that makes the silk furled leaders?  (Rudy Rios)

          Here is the web page for Quigley's Furled Leaders.

          Just a slight financial interest, he advertises in Power Fibers.  (Todd Talsma)

            If you want to have some fun and roll your own, here is a forum that has all the information, recipies and all you might want. Join in it's, a blast. Once you get set up, which takes very little cash, you can make leaders for yourself and all your friends very quickly and quite easily.  (Joe Arguello)

              I will call attention to an article I have had up for awhile on my club  web site on making furled leaders.

              At the end of the article there is a pdf version you can download and print.  (Mike McGuire)

            Playing off of the whole "cheesehead" theme on one of the other threads, here is a world renowned maker right in Green Bay.


            No financial interest, but a state interest of course.  (Scott Bahn)

              There's been quite of few people sending me links on where to buy furled leaders. I "Roll my own leaders."

              Something that I've noticed about all these sites are that they don't give the dimensions of the leaders. Just that they are for certain sizes of fly line and for different kinds of fish/fishing. I'm guessing that most/all are a straight taper. Does anyone try to get creative with their leaders?

              I was taught by a leader maker how to tie mono leaders. Lot's of knots! I was taught how to tie the blood knot by hand, much faster and easier than with the little tying tool. Here's a link on how to tie them:

              Now you can get really creative with tapers with that type of leader! I almost like them better till the knots start collecting gunk while fishing! With my machine, making furled leaders are a lot faster and easier than the mono leaders! But more trouble to modify the straight taper of a furled leader.  (David Dziadosz)

      Sizing is no problem with furled leaders. I use a 2x6 with several hole

      patterns drilled in it, for the sizes I make/use. I make from 9 1/2' to 11' trout and 7 1/2 to 10' bass leaders. I entered the info from one web site into Excel. Should be no problem to ramp it up to tell me how to make several tapers.

      Standard  formula is  to lay  out the  halves  to the  length desired +10%, then twist them until they shorten by 10%. 

      Today I was fishing an 11' furled leader with a 6x tippet, using 50 year old dry flies I inherited from my Dad. Fooled about 24 trout on the Watauga!  (Chuck Pickering)

    The Terenzio lines come with a braided, tapered silk leader that has the loop attachment.  I use that line quite a bit, and all I need to do is strip a length of tippet, tie a loop into it, and attach it to the leader.  It pretty closely matches the diameter of the line at the end, so you really can't tell where the line ends and the leader starts when casting.  I treat it the same way I do for the line when I want it to float - Mucilin.  (Mark Wendt)


Has anyone tried "Rain-X" as a water repellent on furled leaders or dry flies??  (David Dziadosz)

    Since no one has responded to this I will. Yes, I have tried Rain X and a few other homemade concoctions on my dry flies, but never gave it a thought to put it on my leaders. Since I fish primarily silk lines, I dress furled leaders with the red tin Mucilin just like I do the line. I find the Rain X is just about as good as any floatant that I have tried on dry flies...none are perfect.  (Bill Bixler)

    Rain X requires that the solvent used to distribute the solution evaporate and that ultraviolet light "set" the solution.

    With this written, should you choose to use Rain X, your doomed to use this forever as any other "floatant" will cause your "item" to no longer displace it's weight on the meniscus and now you have good sinking "items". Rain X uses silicone as a displacment since silicone is highly hydrophobic, yet the nature of Rain X is not to use it heavy and then let it sit to dry. but to use it very selfishly, and then polish it for it's hydrophobic properties. Rain X works on solid surfaces better than porous surfaces due to this quality of the solution.

    Try this on a line your not to concerned about or flies that are not to important if they get ruined.  (Rudy Rios)


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