2 Methods to Tie a Leader to a Fly Line Without a Loop

Not all fly lines have welded loops to attach your leader, or in some cases, the loop may break.

In these situations, you may need to tie your fly line to the leader without the loop. 

The best method to tie your fly line to the leader without a loop is by using a nail knot or a braided loop.

Best way to Attach Fly Line to Leader Without a Loop

Welded loops are a quick and easy way to attach a leader to your fly line.

However, as mentioned above, there may be times you need to tie your leader to the fly line that has either broken its welded loop or simply didn’t come with one.

These are the best methods to attach the leader to the line. In some cases, people prefer not to use a welded loop and prefer one of these methods.

Braided Loop

If you find yourself in a situation where the welded loop on your fly line has broken, or you bought a line without a loop, a braided leader is one of the best alternatives.

Braided loops are exactly what they sound like. A braided loop consists of many fibers that are tightly braided together.

The biggest advantage of using a braided loop instead of some of the other options is the ease of use.

Braided loops are extremely easy to attach to your fly line and could be done beside the water in less than five minutes.

Once your braided loop is attached to the fly line you can make a loop-to-loop connection with the leader.

However, braided loops do have some drawbacks. Braided loops are not as smooth as a nail knot and many die-hard dry fly anglers find braided loops too cumbersome.

Braided loops can get snagged up and are not as fluent as a nail knot. With that being said there is not much difference between a braided loop and a factory welded knot.

To fit a braided loop to your fly line:

Braided loops come in many designs, but the process is mostly the same.

  • Slide the tube on the braid as far as you can towards the loop
  • Snip the end of the fly line at a 45-degree angle and insert it into the braided loop
  • Work the fly line all the way to the top of the loop
  • Apply a very small amount of super glue at the bottom of the braid
  • Slide the sleeve back down the braided loop until it reaches the glue
  • Gently squeeze the sleeve to ensure full contact with the glue
  • Trim off the frayed ends of the loop with a clipper or scissors

As you can see a braided loop is a very easy and convenient way to attach a fly line to a leader.

Nail knot

2 Methods to Tie a Leader to a Fly Line Without a Loop

The nail knot or needle knot is one of the most well-known knots amongst fly fishing anglers.

The name comes from when people used to use a nail to make this knot. Now people use many other things, such as coffee stirrers or needles hence the name needle knot becoming more common.

The benefit of a nail knot is that it is much more streamlined than a loop-to-loop connection when done properly.

A properly tied nail knot can easily pass through the eyes of the rod.

To attach your line to the leader using a nail knot instead of a loop you will need a piece of tube or any other long narrow device.

Lay the tube against the line and then the leader against the tube, so that the tube is sandwiched between the line and leader.

Wrap the leader around the line and tube 5-6 times.

If using a tube pass the leader through the tube. If using anything else pass the leader through the loops that you created. The tube makes this easier.

Pull the tag ends on both the leader and line to tighten the knot.

Snip off the excess tags.

Drawbacks of Using a Loop to Attach Fly Line to Leader

Some people simply don’t want a loop-to-loop connection and I get that. Sometimes you are fishing for pressured brown trout with a dry fly and only the best delivery will work.

Using a loop-to-loop connection here may not allow you to offer up your best delivery.

Loops can create splashes or drags that you just don’t want in these delicate moments.

Another time a loop might not be the best option is when you know you are going after particularly heavy, strong fighting fish.

The security of the nail knot will offer peace of mind knowing it is one of the strongest knots you can use.

Advantages of Using a Loop to Attach Fly line to Leader

2 Methods to Tie a Leader to a Fly Line Without a Loop

One of the biggest advantages of using a loop is time and effort. Loop to loop connection between a leader and line is the fastest and easiest method of connecting the two together.

By not using a loop to connect your leader you need to learn to tie special knots to connect them. 

Tying these knots takes a little bit of practice and isn’t always the fastest when you are out by the water and in a hurry.

On the other hand, a loop-to-loop connection can be done even while you are wading down a stream.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to attach a line to a leader without a loop. The best method will depend on whether you purposely don’t want a loop or your factory welded loop has broken.

If the factory loop has broken then a braided loop is going to be a quick and easy fix. 

However, if you purposely bought a line without a factory loop you may be wanting a better presentation, then a nail knot is going to be the best method to attach the leader to the fly line.

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