Our Man In Canada
March 19th, 2007

Well, There's Your Problem
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

I've been tying my own tapered leaders for a long time now. I use the blood knot to piece together the different lengths of leader material. I guess I started doing this (instead of buying tapered knotless leaders) to save some money.

Later, I learned how to adjust my leaders to better suit specific casting and fishing conditions, as well as different casting styles.

Drop into any fly fishing discussion on hand tied leaders and the question will often come up, "Doesn't the knot make a weak spot in the leader?"

Hmm,...a true source of anxiety.

You see, I make all our leaders...for the family, to give away to visitors as well as for clients. Several friends have gone back to level leaders of 20 or 30 lb mono after losing salmon in the past (when one of their knots failed). I'm always a bit concerned about leaders failing, especially with newcomers.

This past season, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Angela and Carl Lions. We were on the tail end of the Atlantic salmon season so they had high hopes of hitting the second part of sea run trout season (the juvenile trout that come into the river in hordes starting in September). Since the salmon season wasn't closed yet, there was still a fighting chance to connect to a salmon too.

After a first day of trout fishing and a long second day of dropping in and out of various trout holes, we settled into the #23 for a mix of adult and juvenile trout as well as adult salmon.

Carl would be casting over salmon, while Angela tried for trout. I strung up a salmon rod for him. We were a bit rushed to get down into the pool, so I left the old leader on the line and quickly attached a new 8 lb tippet. This particular leader had already landed a half a dozen salmon that season.

Carl set up quickly at the head of the run while I waded down to the tail with Angela. We had just started to get her casts out and over to the pod of bruisers in the seam when I looked up to see Carl's rod fully loaded over...fly line pointed straight out 40 feet to a thrashing boil of very unhappy salmon!

I waded out of the pool as quickly as I could and sprinted up the beach. Carl was new to big fish and had a severely tight line. I looked down for an instant in order to scramble over a few boulders. When I looked up again, all I saw was Carl's fly line lobbing back towards him...he had broken off.

A sinking feeling of dread dove directly into my heart. Had the leader given up the ghost?

As I walked the last several yards to Carl, I could see him inspecting the fly. Oh well, ... if the fly was still there, at least the leader must still be intact.

Carl holds up the #14 double salmon fly (actually an bomination of a Doc Sprately)...I can see that BOTH hook points have been broken off.

I quietly mention "Well there's Yer problem."

The hook still had a bend, ...enough to hold the salmon for several minutes.

Quality salmon hooks are very strong and aren't prone to being straightened out. They are a bit "brittle" though. A wayward back cast into the rocks can easily bust off the points of a hook.

Just a little reminder to inspect your fly often and to "Keepeth thy back cast uppeth." ~ Christopher Chin - Bay Comeau, Quebec

About Chris:

Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops, British Columbia. He has been fly fishing on and off ever since he was 10 years old. Chris became serious about the sport within the last 10 years.

"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in central Quebec. I've been fishing this river for about 10 years now and started guiding about 5 years ago when the local guide's association sort of stopped functioning."

Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more interested in promoting the river than making cash. I like to get new comers to realize that salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares to try it. Tradition around here makes some of the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on the cucumber sandwich side and more toward chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."

Chris is 42 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend, Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent started fly fishing with me in October 2002."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/.

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