AS A result of reader requests, I’ve put together some information on the all-important connection between fly line and leader on tackle used for stronger fish such as large trevally, barra, tuna and mackerel.
The correct connection has several important criteria. First, it must be able to exit the fly rod’s runners at high speed when a fish makes a bolt for the horizon when someone tries to gaff it. Secondly, it must be strong; the angler must have absolute faith in that connection at all times. And thirdly, it must be unobtrusive enough that fish don’t take a lot of interest in it and destroy it with their teeth (darned mackerel!) when it’s moving quickly.
My Striped Bass intermediate sink fly lines are each set up with spliced braided loops onto which I tie a fluorocarbon leader. These loops have done an awful lot of work since the beginning of the year but I still have faith in them. Naturally, from time to time I do have a good look at each connection for signs of wear. So, when it came time to replace one recently, I decided to take a few photos and provide readers with a step by step description of the process.
Before you get started, bear in mind that you needn’t bother with these spliced loop connections for fly lines less than 9wt. On these lighter outfits I simply use a nail knot (with a tiny application of Selley’s QuickTite superglue on the finished knot) to attach a 30cm butt leader to the end of such lines. My main leader will then suit the fishing conditions for the outfit. A trout leader, for instance, would be around 3.5m long, and be tied to the butt section.
The equipment involved in putting together a functional spliced loop is pretty simple. Gudebrod braided monofilament is the go, and a spool of 50lb braided mono will make an awful lot of spliced loops. If you have a few mates that also want to put together a few connections, shares in a spool is the way to go.
Next, you will need around 70cm of 40lb single-strand wire. Bend it double neatly, so that it forms an elongated but tidy loop in the centre – just like a skinny bobby pin. You can form a loop on one end if you wish, to sneak a finger in to make work easier.
The other gear is simple – a fly-tying bobbin set up with some pale coloured tying thread, plus a bottle of nail varnish.
Start by cutting off around 28cm of the braided mono and gently apply heat (a match) to each end to prevent excessive fraying. Brush off any frizzy bits at this point.
Next, take that small length of doubled over wire and gently push it up the centre of the braided mono until it’s almost at the halfway mark, and then push it straight out through the wall of the Gudebrod. Easy.
The next step is to grab the other end of the braided mono in the loop of the doubled wire – fiddle around with the wire until it opens a tad to accept the mono – and then close the wire so it catches hold of the braided mono [see photo 1].
The next bit takes some care but the clue is to do things slowly and very gently. Retract the trapped end of the Gudebrod back through its hollow inner core (gently wriggle the wire until it starts) until it is actually feeding back out of the bottom end of the section you started with [see photo 2]. The idea is to retract the inner section for some distance while making sure that the loop that forms up top doesn’t close if you withdraw the inner section too much. Poke a skewer, biro, or something similar into the loop to ensure the Gudebrod doesn’t turn inside out and close up by accident. The loop must be preserved at all costs.
Once the inner section of the braided mono has been pulled down for some distance [photo 3], sharpen the end of the fly line with a razor blade to a neat point and gently wiggle it up into the two sections of braided mono until it’s almost up as far as the loop. This takes a gentle hand, and you’ll find that it helps to push down and slightly bunch up the outer section of braided mono as the fly line goes in. It may sound complicated but it’s certainly not, and practice makes perfect very quickly.
Once the fly line is well up into the inner section of braided mono, use the biro to make the loop larger and bring the two sections of Gudebrod closer in size, as one crawls up along the other. Ideally, the two sections should end up virtually as one, but sometimes this can’t happen for fear of closing the loop. Not to worry – the system will still work fine.
You’re nearly done. The next step is to apply a strategically placed binding or two. Basically, the Gudebrod loop locks onto itself as tension is applied but the binding prevents any accidental slippage, so here’s how to do it.
Use the bobbin with its pale coloured thread in a swinging whip finish over around a centimetre of the braided mono. Finish with a whip finish, as you would do when rod binding.
If the two sections of Gudebrod are virtually together, one binding will suffice. If they are a bit apart, as shown in the photo, put a neat binding on both the point of exit of the fly line plus the point where the inner section of Gudebrod exits the outer section.
Use a pale, unobtrusive coloured thread to prevent overzealous fish such as mackerel from snipping off the connection when the binding is moving quickly through the water. I once set one up with black binding and it didn’t last the morning. A fish bit it off cleanly.
I like to apply at least three coats of nail varnish over each small binding. When they are dry you can use some Aquaseal, Pliobond or the like over the binding to totally smooth the connection. This last step isn’t mandatory though, as I’ve found the varnish does a good enough job by itself.
1) 1: The section of wire is pushed through the wall of the braided mono and the loop is then opened to accept the other end of the Gudebrod.
2) 2: The inner section of the braided mono is pulled through the outer bit. Note the loop – it must be maintained.
3) 3: This shows the loop, the inner section of braided mono accepting the fly line, plus the point where the inner section exits the outer bit. Bindings are applied to both of these points in a spliced connection such as this one.
4) The finished spliced loop. Note the two bindings of a neutral coloured thread.Reads: 1537