I have often been asked to describe how to set up the leader for French nymphing. The sketch above is my current go to set up that is the result of years of tinkering, trial and error. It should serve as a useful starting point if you are starting out with this style of fishing. Many of the details of this set up were gleaned from my friend Jonathan Hoyle to whom I must doff the hat in this department and admit that he is the more skilled nymph fisherman.
Notes on the above set up, starting at the reel end:
The leader: After testing many different leader set ups I always seem to come back to the Hends Camou Leaders, either Plain Camou or Fluoro Camou but always in 9 meter length. They also make a 4.5m but when you don’t need the extra length of the 9m you won’t notice on your reel and when you do need to go longer it is there ! Jonathan prefers not to cut back his Camou leader whereas I find the tip section a little too fine and trim back the last few feet.
Other set ups such as french nymphing fly lines or other makes of leader probably have their place and for competition restrictions may well apply depending on the regulatory bodies involved. The set up described is what I use for pleasure fishing.
Nylon section after the indicator: The purpose of this section is to help turnover of the leader system from indicator to the tippet. Jonathan uses 6lb Maxima here, I favour 0.20 Stroft ABR the main thing is the diameter which should be around 0.20-0.24 mm.
Rig ring: The type of ring used here is very important, the following photo shows the difference between some cheap tippet rings sourced from e-bay and nicely rounded, drum polished Stroft® rig rings. If you use a poor quality ring here you will create a weak point in your leader system.
Tippet: Fine tippet at around 7X is best for nicely presenting the flies. If the water is snaggy you might want to go heavier.
Flies: The beauty of this set up is it can be fished in many ways. With heavier flies it can be fished in a two fly Czech nymph style, for duo it is possible to replace the dropper with a dry fly and use a small bead underneath. The main stay of the method is small beaded flies with 2.5mm tungsten beads.
For more on French Leader see: French Leader – What, Where, How