Capt John Quigley is an accomplished guide in the San Francisco Bay area whose specialty is targeting striped bass using fly gear. In addition to that primary business, he applied his experience both as a guide and a fly fisherman in creating some of the best furled leaders on the market.
I started to use furled leaders in early 2009 after reading about their performance compared to traditional leaders. I started with another vendor's implementation that was created out of stiff monofilament. Quite frankly, I did not see much difference between it and the normal leaders available at Bass Pro Shop made out of fluorocarbon or monofilament. They were just stiff as the traditional version with the only advantage being they did not retain as much memory. You do not have to stretch them to take out the tight loops that are characteristic of a normal leader.
I saw John's product when I was browsing around eBay and clicked the "buy it now" option to order a few. I was stunned at the immediate response and great service that John provided. Within a very short time, he wrote and asked the following questions to custom-make the leaders:
Size -- 2 sizes available to match different size fly lines - 2/3/4 OR 5/6.
Color -- Pale yellow (John's favorite), sky blue, chartreuse, gray, green, light olive, tan, or rusty dun (a dirty tan color, very stealthy).
- Length -- 4', 5 1/2' or 7' (Length of the furled leader to which you add 2 to 5 feet of mono tippet material)
John's recommendation is to use the 5 ½ foot leaders, his most popular, on small and medium sized streams. He says, "The 4' length is primarily for short, light rods fishing creeks and small streams. 7' length for spring creeks and stillwater use. Tested strength of all leaders is 6-7#."
He makes his leaders out of something called Uni-Thread, a fly tying thread, that is suppler than traditional mono. I was interested to see if it would lay my fly out with less splash than I had experienced with the other brand. So, I asked for a mixture; getting one of the 2/3/4s and a few of the 5/6 wt versions, completed the PayPal transaction, and waited anxiously to see what would come in the mail.
Sadly, I did this transaction late in the season. I only had time to do one fly fishing trip into the Shenandoah after brook trout in November using the 2/3/4 wt and exercised the 5/6 wt version at a small community pond in North Carolina over Christmas vacation. I was amazed at the performance of this product! Everyone is aware of the need to be quiet on a mountain trout stream. I noticed a significant difference in the softness of the presentation with the 5½ ft length. It was much easier to drop a fly gently onto a pool using the Uni-Thread furled leaders. There was no splash and I felt like I had more control over the presentation.
On the small bass pond in North Carolina, I found that the heavier version, tailored for 5/6 wt weight line, did a great job of turning over poppers built on a size 4 hook using my FFB mountain pack rod. While an elegant presentation is not as important for a pond bass, I felt like it was much easier to control the throw and that I achieved greater distance with the Uni-Thread furled leader than I did with the mono version I used earlier in the year.
The only negative to these particular leaders is that they are not as strong as the monofilament version. The mono version terminated with what I think was the equivalent of 30 lb strength. According to John, the tested strength of his leaders is approximately 6 lb. Now, that's clearly not a big deal when fishing for mountain trout, but could be a challenge with larger bass. The good news is that he makes furled leaders that are more suitable to bass fishing than the ones I bought. The furled leaders I used came directly from his eBay auctions where he only sells trout leaders. If you go directly to his website, you can purchase a 7/8 wt furled leader that is tailor-made for casting bass bugs. These feature a heavier butt and tippet section and test out between 10 and 11 lb breaking strength. Beyond that, there is the special "Heavyweight" furled leader with a breaking strength of between 16 and 18 lbs. If you need to go "nuclear", John sells twisted leaders built from monofilament that test out at 20 pounds and are perfect for saltwater applications. Case closed! I am sold.
Bottom Line: I recommend these and will buy some more in the coming season to make sure I have one of these on each of my reels.
You can purchase these directly from John on his website at this link.
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Disclaimer: I paid for these leaders except for one. John sent me an additional one in a different color to see another choice.