How to Make a Fishing Leader for Fly Fishing

By Debbie Hanson

Mar 14, 2018

Get easy steps on how to make a fishing leader for fly fishing. Learn how long each section of a tapered leader should be, which weight line to use, more.

Learning how to make a fishing leader for fly fishing is easy and won't take you much time at all. While there are specialized big game leaders and shallow water leaders, the 50-25-25 tapered fly fishing leader is a good standard fly fishing leader that you can build for freshwater or saltwater.

Tying a Fishing Leader Using the 50-25-25 Formula

You might be wondering what the 50-25-25 formula means. Don't worry though; it's not a complex mathematical equation. 50-25-25 simply refers to the percentages of leader material with regard to line strength.

Say, for example, that you need to make a tapered 50-25-25 10-pound leader that is 8-feet long. These are the steps you would follow:
  1. The butt section will be 50 percent of the total length of your leader, or 4 feet. When tying a tapered 10-pound 50-25-25 leader, you would use 30-pount test line for the butt section (the weight of the leader material will then "taper" down from the butt section). Choose a knot, such as the uni-to uni, to connect each section of leader material.
  2. The mid section of the leader will be 25 percent of the total length, or 2 feet. You would use 20-pound test for the mid section of your tapered leader.
  3. The tippet section will be 25 percent of the total length, or 2 feet. Yes, you guessed it, you would use 10-pound test for the tippet section. This tippet section is the portion of your leader that is tied to your fly.
  4. If you want to tie a heavier or longer leader and tippet for different situations, you can just increase the lengths and line weights using this easy 50-25-25 formula.

Whether you're tying a fishing leader for your fly rod or learning how to make fishing rigs to use with your spincast gear, you'll have the process down in no time with just a little practice. Just as with building different types of fishing rigs, there are different ways to build fly leaders. However, the best fishing leader you can use for fly fishing is the one you know how to make with confidence.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.