Fly Fishing Tips | Terminal Tackle Tips

How To Make Terminal Tackle Last Part 1

Ask any western trout fly fishing guide how much money they spend each year on terminal tackle and they will cringe just by thinking about it. Over time, the cost of flies, leaders, tippet spools, and weights adds up to more than any of us like to think about.

It is because of this that we have all learned little tricks to help extend the life of our most commonly used fly fishing terminal tackle items. Remember that a penny saved is a penny earned, and if you can get the absolute most out of all of your tackle without sacrificing performance or stealth, those pennies will add up. Who knows? Maybe after a few summers your fishing budget will have room for that new Scott Radian you want so badly.

Weights are Reusable

Split shot is not a high dollar item. That fact doesn’t really seem to ease the pain when you look into the box and realize that you’re out of weights halfway through a day of fishing deep rigs on the Roaring Fork. I see a lot of anglers throw out their used, slightly crushed spit shot after each rig change. Why not take the extra few seconds to pry the weight apart and put it back in the box that it came in? If you are having a difficult time getting the weight to separate cleanly, consider a pair of Rise Work pliers with a shot separator on the end. I have used these and they work extremely well.

I prefer to use split shot made of tin rather than lead for almost all of my subsurface fly fishing, but there are definitely times, especially during our intense runoff season when tin just does not sink my flies quickly enough. It is then that I turn to the heavy, lead Water Gremlin shot. While these lead weights may be a lot cheaper than the tin ones, their impact on the watershed is much larger. Most waterfowl hunting destinations have restrictions on lead shot because of the potential for inadvertently poisoning wildlife. Fishing locations are not much different and anglers should try to reduce the amount of lead we leave in the water for the same reason.

Make Leaders Last

It is old news that tapered leaders are not cheap. Four dollars will get you a monofilament one, but expect to pay over ten for an ultra-stealthy fluorocarbon leader. Many times, in order to properly match the hatch and fool numerous trout, anglers must change flies often. The side effect to changing rigs a lot is the loss of leader material. Fishermen who want to avoid this add between twelve and eighteen inches of like sized tippet material to each new leader. This will allow your new leader to last through several more rig changes.

Another good way to extend the life of your leaders is to save them and reuse them after they have reached their “end”. Once I have tied on several rigs and begun to tie into the thicker section, I take the leader off, roll it back up, and store it in the bag it came in. These used butt sections come in very handy for streamer fishing, where the long, thin section is not necessary. Adding a couple feet of 2X fluorocarbon tippet to the butt section will reduce the visibility of the leader and increase its strength. These old “streamer leaders” last a long time and are basically free since they have already been put to use.

Stay tuned for “Protect Your Tackle Part 2” for more of these tips and a sad story with a big lesson.

Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer