Using that old adage ‘If I had a pound…’ every time I read or heard that putting loops in your leader system does nothing but hinge, I truly would be a millionaire.
Is this sweeping statement made by many actually a true one?… read on and decide for yourself.
Loop to Loop
A simple connection used to link 2 pieces of material together assuming that each has at least one loop formed at a given end.
Tapered or level braids, nylons, fluorocarbons, monofilaments and copolymers are our chosen link between the fly and fly line bespoke or pre-made. The makeup of such materials offer the angler a wide variety of essential properties to consider that can better inform us of how that link will ultimately perform: a taper, the diameter, its stiffness or suppleness, the stretching properties, the degree of translucency, its refractive index, the density and finally its ultimate breaking strain… these are most of the properties although we’re seldom informed of them in any reasonable detail!
How is the connection made?
I’ve taken and micro gauged the same leader material straight from the spool(s) of a reputable supplier.
Cutting similar 12 inch lengths from a range of diameters, they have been suspended off a straight edge without weight so as to provide a visual picture of the stiffness/suppleness of each strand.
I’ll call it the ‘Droop’ for simplicity… between 0.11mm and 0.18mm it was the same, as was that between 0.20mm and 0.30mm. However between the 2 groups they were different as can be see in the adjacent picture.
Without going into structures and mass properties, as the same material becomes thinner there is a fine threshold at which point it will droop more easily for the same length, the threshold in this case being visible at 0.18mm.
Doing the above against other brands is a very simple way to establish the stiffness/suppleness of one versus the other. By doing so you can then make an informed choice as to which you’d use for a butt section, mid section or tippet section of a leader you’re constructing (Stiff, medium stiff then supple perhaps!). As for a tapered leader there’s not really much you can do other than understand the tip section against that upon which your going to attach.
I prefer a loop (circa 25mm) with which to connect the butt and mid section leader joints, from the mid to the tip section I will halve that diameter give or take.
With the odd exception, the thicker diameter is at the butt section of a leader, getting thinner into the mid part and so on down to the tip. The thicker & stiffer the leader material and smaller the loop, the more resistant the loop is to collapse. Certainly with the materials I often use.
For example: the picture below is a loop to loop connection with 2 similar pieces of 0.30mm line and 15mm loops. The connection is made but the knot won’t bed in, once I remove the tension it slides open. All be it fractionally, it’s more than I want it to!
This is the same line but now with circa 25mm loops, with the connection applied it beds together snug and there is no movement at all. My preference!
My leaders generally call for 3 or 4 loop to loop connections, I will make the loops smaller as I taper depending on the suppleness in each of the different materials I choose to apply.
I also take into consideration whether I wish my fly to pass through these loops, I regularly alter the length of my leaders at the butt & mid sections, sometimes with level additions and others tapered, the loop to loop connection aids this process.
Here is a loop to loop connection below, this is NOT what I call a hinge… for me the transition in the cast with this is as good as any other upon which an intersection in a given leader can be applied.
This is the same branded 0.30mm attached to 0.20mm as pictured previously (Droop similar)
This however IS a hinge as would be described by anglers, caused so by the steep drop between diameters and therefor lack of stiffness as a consequence.
This is the same branded 0.30mm attached to 0.11mm as pictured previously (Droop different)
There are reasons for purposely applying a hinging connection in your leader, think about tippet and energy dissipation onto currents… that’s another blog article right there so I’ll leave that one with you for now.
You can successfully build some exceptional leaders and avoid the dreaded so called hinging joint, just understand better the materials you use. Give it a try, none of it’s rocket science, just believe in what you actually see and change it accordingly with some of the above perhaps in mind.
So going back to that sweeping statement at the top of this article: putting loops in your leader system does nothing but hinge.
The answer is Yes and No… but it’s up to me to decide.
P.S – A quickie edit after a question was posed… the loop I use for these connections is the perfection loop, see here for translation in pictures.