French Long Line Leader Formula

Photo: David Lambroughton

Photo: David Lambroughton


  • 45cm .022 Maxima clear
  • 50cm .020 Maxima clear
  • 55cm .017 maxima clear
  • 60cm .015 Maxima clear
  • 65cm .013 Maxima clear
  • 65cm .012 Maxima clear
  • 65cm .010 Maxima Clear
  • indicator section
  • Tippet section of your choice.

This French long Line leader formula was adapted from the book Nymphing the New Way by Jonathon White. Over the course of my fly fishing career, I have refined and modified many different leader formulas. This is my best nylon monofilament leader formulas to date employing the French long line technique most useful on large western rivers such as the Deschutes, Colorado, Madison and Roaring Fork rivers.

Total butt section length of this leader is 13.25'. I use this leader in conjunction with a 10' 5wt nymphing rod. Because of big rivers and big fish a 3wt competition rod is impractical. This formula has the power to deliver a multitude of rigs including the French long line and Dacron two-tone sighter, close in Polish or Czech style, indicator and jig along with a dry/dropper configuration. For joining the butt sections together I use a simple blood knot.

After the leader is constructed, prepare a conditioning acid dye bath to soften the leader material. European nymphing techniques favor a supple leader. In a medium sauce pan combine 2 cups water, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 tsp acid dye. I use Jacquard in brown and olive to make camo colored leaders. Simmer the leader at a slow boil for 5 minutes in the conditioning dye bath. After 5 minutes, remove the leader from the dye bath and pin up the leader up along a wall with just enough tension to remove any slack to straighten out overnight. I tie a small sacrificial perfection loop at both ends of the leader and use thumb tacks to pin up along the wall. This acid boil will soften the leader material making it very supple while removing coil memory. Do not worry, there is little or no harm in boiling monofilament.


I also boil my factory leaders such as those extruded  3-packs of RIO to soften them and to remove coil memory. If I buy a multi pack of non-competition leaders, I will condition the all of the leaders at once in a simmer bath for 5 minutes, pin up straight along a wall and allow to cure overnight. I store my prepared and conditioned leaders on foam spools which keep storing leaders in my guide pack convenient.