The French Leader – Everyone and their dog?

Well, over the last few years the French leader has become a revolution in our river angling, enhancing our nymphing distance and sensitivity. Allowing our flies to sink to their desired fishing depth before getting into the area you want them. The indicator simply indicates takes receive to the flies by either stopping, gently sliding away, shooting off or lifting.. striking at anything which occurs that’s unnatural to the norm.

Everyone seems to be using it wherever you go in the UK – Except where I went Saturday. maybe 5 years ago when we first got our hands on the leader we ended up fishing  a small fishery in west Wales called Garnffrwyd due to high water on the rivers. Between the 30 odd anglers which where fishing, I think we took around 20 fish between us where other were struggling. The fish had seen everything, lures, nymphs, blobs you name it. We decided to try our hand at French nymphing on the lake to good result, which we’ve hardly done since.

Saturday saw Me, Bish and Craig head to Garnffrwyd to try our hand at some feisty rainbows. It was a cold start to the day with the mist just lifting from the lake as we turned up.. nothing more enticing when your a fisherman to see the lake waking up, fish rising and the birds just heading onto the water.

By the time I’d finished paying and talking to the Owner, Jamie, Bish and Craig were already on the water – with Craig slipping the net under an early brown. I tackled up, packed the car and made my way to the lake. I stopped by Bish to tie my fly on.. a small goldhead black and green taddy… something I was told had been working well; the black and green combo.

The sun was low, with a very bad glare staring into the sun. I spotted a trout lurking in the margin right in front of Bishops platform,  A quick flick of the rod saw his fly land right in the path of the trout and within seconds he was in the net.

Easy Hook removal with Knapek Barbless hooks
Away She Goes

I wandered around the lake, spooking some fish from the edge. The low light made fish spotting difficult even with good polarized lenses the glare was intense. As the sun rose higher it was like turning a light on, the glare wasn’t so bad and the light penetrating the gin clear water made spotting ’em a little easier in the edges.

Half an hour had passed without a take, I’d spooked a few with the fly line, showing the fish were cruising high in the water. As the sun got higher it become more apparent I was going below ’em. The fish which were feeding seemed to  be at a constant depth of around 2ft, any movement in the fly seemed to put them off, but that was the only way I was able to keep my fly at that depth without using the ‘bung’… I have nothing against the bung, its the fact I didn’t have any to use!

I rummaged through my kit looking for something I could use and I come across my Orvis Rig Box which held my supply of tapered leaders for dries, the duo and French nymphing. Off with the old and on with the new!

I rigged the leader with one and a half feet of 6lb fluorocarbon, and a size 14 buzzer, this would then hold its depth of just over a foot, right in the path of any feeding fish. Genius, right?

Ice Blue UV Buzzer

I walked around the lake casting at the cruising fish, picking them off with the UV buzzer. After just one lap of the closest side of the lake, I’d landed 5 fish 3 of which took on the drop, and the other two as the buzzer lay static. Result, It worked!

By now the lake had started to fill up with anglers with a lot of the free space being taken up and fish getting more and more spooked. Looking for some clear, unfished water I made my way to the main bridge and sat on top looking for a few cruising around. Some of the fish were in access of 8lb, none of which were remotely interested though, which is a shame as I know the place is full of large fish, including a brown which is estimated between 14-16lb.. Imagine that on a 5 weight!

I took a good number of browns on the buzzer but oddly no rainbows.

Very colourful trouts..
You'd expect this from a river! Beautiful.

One of the only problems I had with the french leader was that where i’d been using it, the leader had curled above the indicator, causing drag on a still water! The curls would re-coil after casting, retrieving the fly under its own energy.. Something I didn’t notice until I was right on top of the leader, looking from the bridge. A change of angle can sometimes spot the flaws! I changed the leader once I noticed, and started to get rainbows right away! If only i’d noticed sooner?.. Lesson Learnt.

4lb plus on the French leader

All in all, a great day on a not so widely used method… for the lake anyway… Anyone else tried the leader on spooky lake trout? I think it’ll be a constant part of my small water armoury when its hard..

One thought on “The French Leader – Everyone and their dog?

  1. Really interesting topic Kieron! I think there is an article by Jeremy Lucas on the use of a french leader on still waters. Were you actually fishing it as a french leader (similar to how you would on the river) or as a long tapered leader? p.s. I bet the ice blue buzzer is deadly! Any chance of a sbs at some point?;-)

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