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Braided loops. A nightmare to the newbie, but oh so simple in reality. Once you’ve read this blog post you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.
There a more ways to connect a leader to a fly line than you can shake a stick at, each with its own pros and cons. The nail knot has been used for more years than it took to get the first man into space but is a painstaking knot to tie, regularly catches on the top guide of the rod and also necessitates cutting precious inches off the front of the fly line. In our day, almost certainly the most widely used connection is the braided loop, made from hollow, braided backing. It can be used to attach the backing to the fly line in addition to the leader to the fly line. They make for speedy and trouble-free leader changes as there are no awkward knots to tie and they last for a very long time when put together by the book.
No doubt about it, braided loops are tricky to attach when attempting them for the first time. I’ve literally done thousands at the fishing store and could probably do them blindfolded with my hands coupled behind my back. It all comes down to practice. Just like anything else, the more you do it the better you get. Packets of braided loops come with anything from three to ten loops per pack as well as a long, coloured or translucent tube for securing each loop. I’ve found that it’s better to make use of the clear tubes when fitting loops on floating fly lines and the coloured ones for sinking lines. When fishing, the coloured tube assists you in seeing when you’re approaching the front of your line after retrieving so that you can start the next cast with a sufficient amount of fly line out of the tip of the rod.
STEP 1: Prior to having a shot at fitting your first braided loop, make certain you have the following at arms reach. A pack of braided loops, (there are saltwater and freshwater varieties so have the correct ones ready for your required fishing application) a pair of sharp scissors, a spool of 12lb monofilament and a tube of quick-drying super-glue.
STEP 2: Take one braided loop and one tube out of your pack and trim off half an inch from the open side of the loop. Fray the ends open a little with your fingers. Clip the front of your fly line at a 45° angle taking care that you cut off no more than a millimetre off the front. This helps the line to slip effortlessly into the loop. Insert the fly line into the loop and inch-worm it all the way to the spot where it’s super-glued. Ordinarily around two centimetres under where the loop is doubled back into itself. Don’t be slothful and go only half-way up the loop. It will most likely hold but won’t be as resilient as it ought to be.
STEP 3: Now cut yourself a 15-centimetre section of mono fishing line, like Maxima, of around 12 pound breaking strain and cut off a 15-millimetre piece of tube. A huge slip-up amongst people doing braided loops for the first time is that they believe they have to put the whole length of tubing over the line and this is certainly not the case.
STEP 4: Put one end of the Maxima through the head of the braided loop and bring the two ends of the section of Maxima together. Slide the tube over the two ends of Maxima, wrap the Maxima once or twice around your index finger and pull the tube down the monofilament and over the head of the braided loop.
STEP 5: Carry on sliding the tube down the braid with your thumbnail until it covers the juncture of the braided loop and the fly line. This is adequate to secure the join, but because many flyfishers clean their fly lines, like you’re supposed to, you can add a droplet of super-glue to each end of the plastic tube to ensure it doesn’t slide off during cleaning. The tube can also function as a form of heat shrink by holding a mild flame beneath the tube so it crimps down tightly over the join, but the loop and fly line is too often harmed when doing this.
STEP 6: Tie a Surgeons Loop or preferably a Perfection Loop into the butt section of your leader. Now a simple loop-to-loop connection can be used to attach your leader to the fly line. Don’t tie a knot directly onto the loop as this will cut right through the loop once enough pressure is exerted.
Fishing puts me in touch with another of nature's species, in beautiful surroundings that are as old as time. That is where I want to be; that is how I'm renewed.