For the most part all Canadian Provinces and territory's allow 2-4 fly fishing opportunities. Limiting ourselves to one fly just does not seem to make sense then, except when fishing rules do not allow a multi fly system.

On the prairies most of our lakes stocked with trout lakes are high in particulate matter for the majority of the year. of this is due to the type of lakes we stock being Eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic. This simply means that they are old lakes, typically shallow, weedy and of warmer water. Given that they are not crystal clear like many mountain type lakes or early and late mesotrophic lakes this can be a bonus for the fly angler. In Canada most provinces also allow multiply fly setups, what an opportunity to advance your skills. A huge advantage of off coloured water is that it is easier to hide leaders amongst the debris.  Flat coloured, dull, degreased, or camouflage leaders work equally well or better than complete clear leaders. I believe that the further away the fly/flies from the flylines, the greater likelihood you will catch more fish/ In most situations you are therefore, better off on lakes. This thinking leaves us many unique design options in the setup and making leaders more versatile than usual. Leader overall performance is typically offset by rod length and type, fly line size and fly size typically. Formulating an all-round leader to do it all is impossible. But in general, for lake fishing, leaders with a multi fly teams in the 8-14 size range, we can get close enough to fit most situations without leader roll over issues.  Leaders that I have used can be up to thirty-six feet long. They are not difficult to cast when designed and setup correctly. If a person finds them problematic, it is likely a design issue or a casting issue. Both are indicators of something and would need to be worked on.

  • Nylon Monofilament line - Monofilament fishing line, or “mono” is the most basic and most common fishing line on the market worldwide. It is made from extruded nylon in a single, continuous filament and left untwisted. Monofilament fishing line is a good all-around line that is smooth and a bit stretchy (shock loading) and has a higher abrasion resistance than most other monofilament lines. Pre-spooled reels are usually spooled with monofilament from 30 m-250 meters or more. They are excellent for dry fly fishing in rough water as they float longer than copolymers and Fluorocarbon.
  • Copolymer Monofilament line - Copolymer lines are relatively new fishing lines and are made by combing two different types of nylon line, which stretches less than monofilament line, sinks slower than fluorocarbon and has even greater abrasion resistance than fluorocarbon. Copolymers are stiffer and more sensitive, allowing an angler to detect the lightest of bites. They are the best choice for dry flies and emergers when fishing the film region and when you need to hang high in the water column.
  • Fluorocarbon fishing line - Fluorocarbon is the premium line of choice for most anglers, its sensitivity is unrivalled and the line is nearly completely invisible in the water. Fluorocarbon allows a greater amount of natural light to pass through it, whereas monofilament tends to refract light, alerting fish of its presence. Fluorocarbon is a little tougher than monofilament and can offer better abrasion resistance in heavy cover particularly around rocks or sandy regions. Therefore, in most of our situations it can be a good choice for the “fishing section” when fishing subsurface.


A fly anglers’ favorite line or best fishing line is rather subjective. Choosing between fluorocarbon versus nylon monofilament or copolymer monofilament comes down to function, purpose, performance needs, personal preference in terms of desired feel and economics. I fish mostly subsurface and often higher in the water column. Both the copolymer and fluorocarbon suit my fishing needs well. Each line has its pros and cons and the only sure way to know which line you prefer or combinations is to spend time on the water with each and experiment. It becomes slightly more complex when building a functional fly casting leader for lakes with droppers and varying weight of flies. But not significantly much more. Especially if you think about what the “casting section” needs to achieve and then build it to that need. This is also true, when you build the “fishing section” and what it needs to achieve once again build it to that need and join them together at the micro ring. Ask yourself a simple two part question that prioritizes function first, then performance and in that order.

A team of flies that produced a great number of fish one afternoon. Left to right: Silver Humongous, Olive/Gold Cormorant, Gold Flash Dancer


Fishing multiply fly setups is nothing new and has been done in many cultures around the world for centuries. Tenkara style fishing in Japan may likely have been some of the first endeavours. Multiply fly teams have been used on the windy lakes of Ireland and Scotland with four to twelve fly setups for at least a century or more and are frequently used on their waters even today.  It has been adopted in many other countries as a standard trout fishing method and is considered one of the most effective and versatile lake fishing techniques to this day. This design of leaders and methods have also been used in the competition circuit for decades abroad. All Canadian competition anglers know of this setup, system and technique as they learn this when they fish on our lakes to compete and to stay within the rules.  They learn from each other or through sources shared with them by other competitors. There are always new and advanced changes in these types of fishing methods to help an angler become better at the sport. One of those advances is using a casting section that is a furled leader system that offers a great roll over of the entire leader and has great shock absorption. The basic setup is a modified monofilament or copolymer “casting section” with a “fishing section” of fluorocarbon, monofilament or copolymer tippet sections to adapt to various fishing conditions, depths, sink rate and techniques.

Here is how it is broken down to make things easier, while keeping it functional and effective. Running multiple fly teams should not be looked at as catching more fish as that is not the fact. But it can be said that multiple fly systems work better to attract more fish from greater distances and hence will catch more fish. Catching multiple fish on a multiply fly setup can occasionally happen, but it is also rarer than hen’s teeth. Landing two fish at one time is another story for the Green Corn moon days. Each fly position first has a function and then, by design, the ability to catch a fish.  Those fly functions can be to push a lot of water, anchor the entire system, use colour to attract or imitate impressionistically, imitatively or even float a section of the leader.  The combinations are endless. No one fly can do all of this. It is by mixing these leader “fishing sections” and fly functions that help the team of flies become effective to fish over many different scenarios.  A good selection of flies should work together and complement each other in order to be successful. They are called a team of flies for a reason.

Multiply leader fly setups can be created just by changing the lower fishing section to suit dry fly, calm water conditions, one fly, two fly and three fly needs for different lake conditions and methods or fishing styles.


Casting Section: The constant in most cases is the casting section of the lake leader and is the easiest section to create. Buy or build for your needs up to ten feet or even longer. Simple economy tells me to build my own as I can go through a lot of leaders in a summer of fishing. But purchasing is also a good option when monofilament leaders are available locally or sourced through the internet.

This is something to keep in mind when building the leader “casting section”. In the “casting section” elasticity with larger diameters is more important than abrasion, or stealth with thinner diameters. This section of the leader typically is there to present (roll) the fly team efficiently with more energy transfer to the “fishing section” to lay out a straight leader. Priorities should be the cast and rolling the system first, then the low visibility, then fly spacing on the “fishing section”. Functionality in the casting section trumps low visibility and spacing. The casting section has a different purpose than the fishing section.

Use a quality monofilament tapered leader of 10 feet in design with approximately a 0X, or 1X tippet end. Or a 7.5 foot, 0x and add three feet of 15 or 12-pound test (.370mm) monofilament of Maxima Chameleon to the end of the leader making it ten feet in length. You can add a tippet ring here at the end of the casting section or a Perfection Loop. Everything below the tippet ring is called the “fishing section” and is replaced daily, leaving the “casting section” alone. Monofilament casting sections have more stretch than fluorocarbon leader casting sections and this makes a great shock absorber at the initial take, during charging runs and to not break off larger fish with lighter fishing sections and smaller flies. This is especially so with fast and ultra-fast action fly rods. It allows an angler to use smaller diameter “fishing sections” and droppers for many finer and subtle techniques without having to change out the casting section.

The “casting section” should have the ability to roll over both heavier flies and multiply flies as needed and work smaller finer flies including dry fly setups with copolymer or monofilament “fishing sections”. The .370mm monofilament or copolymer tapered leader end is used in conjunction with heavier tippet “fishing sections” of 12-10-pound (.320 mm, - .300 mm) test fluorocarbon. The .320mm tapered monofilament leader end modification works better with 10-8-6-pound test fluorocarbon (.300 mm, .250 mm, .220 mm) fishing sections. This is because the drop in diameter from the tapered “casting section” end of the leader to the tippet or “fishing section” is less and still has good energy transfer and rollover ability of the “fishing section”.

 When subsurface fishing, we are also never overly concerned with hiding the “casting section” of leader from the trout.  But we are concerned with leader flash while casting. Clear lines can be used but this is not necessary either. It is a good habit to degrease all “casting and fishing sections” regardless of material. This will remove any shine that creates leader flash. Snake River Mud works well as does Fullers Earth in a powder form.  Both remove the shine and are a significantly over looked part of leader preparation.  

I personally prefer the camou type mono leaders (Hends French Camou Leader - 350 cm ...11.5 feet) as quick pre-tapered designs for the casting section over anything else when fishing.  I find blending in with lake debris is easier than pretending to be invisible. As a monofilament leader their shock absorption is extremely high which reduces break offs both at the take, during charging runs and with smaller tippets for fishing sections. Typically, I will build these leaders during the winter months. Build as many to be used in the summer or more and they are stored on foam spools, or tackle tamers or are bagged and labelled. Store them out of the sun at all times. UV light breaks them all down. I label an expiry date of three years to assure a relatively fresh inventory.


A quick formula for those who wish to build their own “casting sections” is the 60/20/20 rule. This is 6 feet of .42 mm (20 lb.) with 2 feet of .37 mm (15lb.) and two feet of .32 mm (12 lb.) with Maxima Chameleon to measure out to ten feet and then add a tippet ring or add a small perfection loop to attach the “fishing section”. The butt section of the leaders is attached to the fly line loop with a Davy Knot to keep it all small.

After purchasing or making your own casting and fishing sections, store them in a small bag, label for future use on the water. Wrap them around your hand and then take the butt section and go over and around the leader bundle five times to secure them in a small coil to be bagged.


Maxima Chameleon - use 6 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet for casting sections to = 10 feet

Diameter - mm

Breaking Strain – kg.

Breaking Strain – lb.

0.42 mm

10.0 kg

20 lb.

0.37 mm

7.0 kg

15 lb.

0.32 mm

5.5 kg

12 lb.

0.30 mm

4.5 kg

10 lb.

0.25 mm

3.5 kg

8 lb.

0.22 mm

2.7 kg

6 lb.


Maxima Chameleon is very hard, more ridged than most and is abrasion resistant monofilament material. Maxima® Chameleon One Shot Monofilament is unique in the self-changing colour formulation that allows it to seamlessly blend with its surroundings reducing leader flash, and also has brute strength. It makes an excellent component for the “casting section”.

 Maxima has a high durability finish that avoids nicks and abrasions. This finish also helps to control knot slippage, which is a major factor in knot breakage. Use blood knots to join the three sections and a Davy knot both to the fly line loop and to the tippet ring. This is a simple and easy construction of a good roll over casting section.


Tippet Ring or Perfection Loop:

Use quality tippet rings. They are made of titanium, are super light and extremely strong. They are a solid ring and not a split ring type. Split rings will allow the tippet section to get between the overlap of the ring and will either come off or cut the tippet material. Buy good quality tippet rings. A 2.0- or 2.5-mm ring is sufficient. Swivels when pulled in the horizontal presentations are not good substitutes. They create a kink or dead spot in the cast of the leader. This results in them not rolling over the fishing section very well. They can also add weight in the wrong location of the cast and leader if they are larger. Micro Rings are the magic connection tool today, they are light weight, unimposing and add no dead spot on the leader, as well as help to maintain leader and fly control. If a person does not like micro rings, then simply add a Perfection Loop to the end of the “casting section” of the two-part leader design.


Micro ring in strong lightweight alloy, allows a quick change of the tippet without cutting the tapered leader. The ring shape is well rounded. Suitable for both floating and sinking leaders, it doesn’t influence the casting action.

Size 1: Ø ext. mm 2.0 - weight gr 0.002 - strength Kg 4

Size 2: Ø ext. mm 2.5 - weight gr 0.005 - strength Kg 8


Dropper tags:

There are many suggestions on how to attach a dropper and how long it should be. My experience suggets3 trying them all and narrowing it down to attaching them with an Orvis Tippet knot. This knot has a good breaking strain even if it is pulled in opposing directions. Most other dropper knots when pulled in opposing directions will break at a remarkably low strain. You will find this is important when your fly gets caught or stuck on the bottom or an obstacle or when you are fighting two fish.  The fish seem to always go in different and opposing directions from a stuck point. As for length everything from a couple inches to ten inches or more is used. Longer dropper tippets will fowl frequently, allow the fish too much time to dance with your fly when hanging vertically and not give a strike detection until it is too late or not at all. This fish dance can also occur when pulling your fly patterns on long dropper tags with very slow retrieve rates. A good measurement is a hand width plus an inch. This length allows for multiple fly changes if you use a Davy Knot or Double Davy to secure your flies. Both knots use up very little material when tied correctly.


Basic Fly Teams Setup:

Fishing Section: On the back end for subsurface fishing, we typically use fluorocarbon tippet material. For surface fishing or shallow depth in water column fishing monofilament or copolymer are better because they sink slower. Make your choice on diameter vs. breaking strain with all three types of material to suit your flies and needs. To me this is just more practical as fish don’t see breaking strain but do see diameter.

Never be in a hurry to achieve a fishing depth. Control and contact to flies are always the first and most important key to success in detecting strikes while descending, ascending, pulling or static. Fish can and will take flies in any of these positions. Tippet material economy can be found in spinning fishing lines products, that can be purchased in much larger volumes of 100-250 meters or more for considerably less money. There are many good manufacturers with diverse diameters to breaking strain on the market. Do your own investigations and comparisons.

Take it slow, don’t move too fast, you’ve got to make the fishing last…. sometimes we forget that we have all day to make presentations effective. Speed is often our biggest killer on lakes.  An angler needs to give time to the fish, so that it can inspect and react positively to the presentation as it slowly descends and ascends through the feeding zones. It isn’t a race to get to bottom as fish quickly move higher through the water column after sun up with the emerging and moving insects, snails, leeches, adult and juvenile baitfish. Slow descents allow you to search out the changing feeding levels as they occur throughout the day with every cast.

Nylon monofilament lines (typically referred to as Mono) and leaders are less prone to kinking, twisting and are softer and more elastic than copolymer and fluorocarbon mono lines. It is also 30-40% weaker than the other two mono types. Abrasion resistance on mono is good and much better than most copolymer and some fluorocarbon-based lines. If there is a shortcoming it is the diameter/breaking strain as they are typically lower breaking strains and this can be an advantage to surface dry flyfishing. Is your decision based on pros and cons or is it making the right choice of material in the right position for the right purpose to work for you on a leader design?  What I have learned over the years is that there is no one leader design that does it all, anymore than one fly will catch them all.

Standard spinning line in 12, 10, 8, or 6-pound breaking strain can be used in all three- line types.  Copolymer lines are fine diameter, lower stretch, that are prone to twisting, kinking and absorb water readily lowering breaking strain.  The upside is that they float well, sinking slower and are required to be degreased to eliminate shine. Their floating properties make them ideal for fishing dry flies and emergers, which can be done easily on a one or two-fly system. Fish like options! Copolymer lines are especially effective while surface fishing on windy, wavy days. They keep the flies at surface for longer periods of time than when using fluorocarbon material.

Fluorocarbon is also finer in diameter, low stretch mono product and is stiffer, less likely to kink or twist with denser properties to aid in sinking. It is also prone to adverse reaction to nicks, and abrasion from running across obstacles, rocks and leader tailing loops. To avoid this, check your tippet section frequently. It should be the ideal material in most situations but does have the tendency to also drown surface flies and can unexpectedly break easier than other lines. Do the advantages and disadvantages of fluorocarbon outweigh the performance? Yes, in many different scenarios it can. This is the angler’s choice and his dilemma while on the water.  Fluorocarbon material is stiffer than copolymer or monofilament and is a good choice for fishing below the surface with one dropper tag, two dropper tags or none at all for one fly applications. It also will reduces twist when casting larger flies and will reduce tangling when using shorter dropper tags of four to six inches. If either occurs and the leaders are well built, then you have either a casting issue or a fly weight issue. Both need to be corrected.

*Maxima Chameleon Nylon Monofilament - use 6 feet x 2 feet x 2 feet for “casting sections” to = 10 feet

+Seagaur Red Label Fluorocarbon – use on “fishing section” for subsurface fishing to 10 -16 feet

Diameter - mm

Breaking Strain – kg.

Breaking Strain – lb.

0.42 mm/ .405

10.0 kg

20 lb.*

0.37 mm/ .330

7.0 kg

15 lb.*

0.32 mm/ .310

5.5 kg

    12 lb.* +

0.30 mm/ .260

4.5 kg

   10 lb.*+

0.25 mm/ .235

3.5 kg

    8 lb.+

0.22 mm/ .185

2.7 kg

    6 lb.+


Hook selection by hook gauge for weight


0= Standard Wire Hook Gauge

1= 1X strong Hook Gauge

2= 2 X Strong Hook Gauge

Fly selection by weight of hook gauge is important to secure a good roll over of the longer “fishing section”. It is recommended to always have the heavier hook gauged flies or weighted flies on the point position to assure roll over. The 0:0:0, 0:0:1, *0:1:2 are effective Washing Line setups. The *0:1:2 and 1:1:2 are excellent setups for descent line and straight-line techniques. 0:0:0 also make excellent team selections for surface fishing a mixture of dry flies and emergers.

*For large surface feeders

Top Dropper

Mid Dropper



















* Good buzzer/nymph setup for fishing deeper water.

* Both sink quick without added external weight.

These types of plastic containers are suggested for quick storage and for access to your leader and tippet materials for both fluorocarbon and monofilament casting and fishing sections of your lake leaders. They protect the line from UV sunlight, debris and general elements.


Prebuilt fishing sections with dropper tags are used to store on foam spools for quick changes of the fishing section while on the water. Mark and label them for future use. A tip that competition anglers use is that these same spools with flies of the lake are pre tied to the droppers. Just a bit of preparation is required to be competition ready on any given lake after pre-fishing and determining the mostly likely effective flies for the day.

All in all, this is a small part of what we cover in our Lake Fishing Course. I am sure there are many other things of value in the class to the lake angler.