You will need two hooks—one for each leg. For the first leg that you will
twist (it doesn't matter which leg is twisted first) you'll need a
hardware store screw-eye made of 3/16 inch material. It needs to be
modified for the work it will do.
For the second leg you will need a 1/0 fishhook made of at least 1/16-inch diameter wire
(most drill chucks won't hold a shaft smaller than this diameter). It
must be modified, too.
- Pry open the eye enough that you will be able to slip the leader
material through, but not so open that the screw-eye would slip off the
nail indicated on the jig.
- File a flat area in the location shown. This creates clearance
necessary for when both legs get twisted together.
For the second leg you will need a 1/0 fishhook made of at least 1/16-inch
diameter wire (most drill chucks won't hold a shaft smaller than this
diameter). It must be modified, too.
- Cut off the eye.
- Carefully file off the barb and any sharp edge going away from the point.
Leaders can be made of a variety of fibers depending on the weight and strength
desired. I have successfully made them from 2- and 4-pound test
spinning reel monofilament (e.g. Stren, Berkley, etc.), from 6/0 Uni
fly tying thread, and from "invisible thread" (This is a monfilament
sewing thread, equivalent to about 7X tippet). One I made from size A
rod building thread would have made a dandy dry fly leader for a
15-weight, if there were such a requirement—so there is a practical
upper limit. Normal monofilament is just slightly denser that water so
it will tend to float, especially if greased with floatant. For a
sinking leader use fluorocarbon line, which is about twice as dense as
Assembling the Two Legs
Each leg of the leader is rigged as shown in the illustration.
That means you'll go through the following procedure once on the right side
of the jig and once on the left side of the jig.
You should be working with your chosen filament material on a
spool. Keep moderate tension on the spool as you form the series of loops. The
whole affair wants to be tight enough that it's not drooping between
the pegs, but not under any great tension.
- Start with a small overhand-knot loop hooked over the
screw-hook. There is no need for a fancier knot like a double surgeon loop.
- Wrap five whole loops between the screw-hook and the first
- After the fifth complete wrap, take the fiber material
(hereafter refered to as the strand) down to the second peg
(on the same side as the first), come around peg two and back to peg one.
- Don't go around peg one; rather, pass the strand (and the
spool it is on) through the space in between the right and left sides of the
five loops, then draw the strand to the side of the first peg away from
the screw-hook. This strand is looped through the first five strands,
but not wrapped around peg one.
- Go to the second peg again, around, and back to the first
peg, again going between the five loops. There are now two complete loops
between the first five loops and the second peg.
- For the last segment, take the strand down to the end peg,
back once through the two loops at peg two, and back to peg three.
- Finish with an overhand-knot loop hooked over peg three.
- The other leg must be laid out now. Repeat these steps, but
wrap around the pegs on the other side of the jig. Notice that they are not
positioned the same as those for the other leg, but the length of both
legs is the same.
When done you will have two legs ready for twisting. Each leg will have
this composition: eleven strands (five full loops plus one strand going
to the second peg) between the hook and the first peg: six between the
peg one and peg two; and three between peg two and peg three. When the
furling is done, on account of the difference of longitudinal
positioning of the pegs on the two sides, there will be: twenty-two
strands, followed by seventeen, followed by twelve, nine, and finally
six. Thus the desired tapered effect is created.
Twisting the Individual Legs
- Put the screw-eye (with the filed-flat top) in the drill
- Set the drill to turn in the right-hand direction.
- Pick up the loops on peg three with the screw-eye (that's
now chucked in the drill.)
- Slip the other loops of this leg off the pegs. You are
ready to begin twisting this leg when it is stretched between the screw-hook at
the top of the jig and the screw-eye chucked in the drill.
- The twisting is the next step, but how long should you run
the drill? As the leg gets twisted up, it tends to shorten. When its length
has shortened by about ten percent, it is about time to stop twisting.
This does vary a bit with the material. Another approach is to do an
estimated number of turns. My drill turns 1000 rpm. For 4-pound mono,
for the jig dimensions shown, I find about 750 turns (forty-five
seconds at 1000 rpm) is about right. Two-pound mono seems to want about
1000 turns (sixty seconds). For the Uni thread and the "Invisible
Thread" about 1250 turns (seventy-five seconds) will do it. YMMV (Your
mileage may vary).
- Keep the side you are twisting well away from the other side or it
will tend to grab the other side creating an unsalvagable
- The twisted leg will have to be kept under tension while
you are twisting it and when you are disengaging it from the drill. If the
tension is eased, the leader will furl up on itself. You will have a
hopeless snarl on your hands if it does. Zero your stop watch. Put some
tension on the leg and start the drill.
- Stop twisting (by time or by shortening).
- Carefully release (keep the leader taut) the screw-eye
from the drill chuck and hook the screw-eye over the nail, which is
positioned to maintain tension.
- To twist the second leg, chuck the fishhook in the drill,
hook the strands of the second leg on peg three, and twist up this leg the same
amount and the same direction as the first leg.
Twisting the Two Twisted Legs Together
- Now things get a little tricky. You have to transfer the first
leg you twisted from the screw-eye to the fishhook. The reason that a flat
area was filed on the top of the screw-eye was so there would be more
clearance for slipping the fishhook into the tiny gap between the
tightly twisted leader and the hook-eye. So
- slip the fishhook (with leg two still on it) into the
- capture the multi-strand loop of leg one
- slip leg one's loop off the screw-eye (while keeping both legs taut
- Now we are ready to do the final furl to complete the leader.
Reverse the direction of the drill.
- Before you start the drill, check both legs to make sure that bits
of them haven't self-furled during the process of transferring leg one
to the fishhook. If that has happened, these self-furlings will be
sticking out at right angles to the leg and will be in the first twelve
inches or so of the thin end. This is not fatal; the cure is to apply a
bit more tension and massage the little self-furls out with your fingers.
If, after you have started the final furl, you discover one of these,
reverse the drill and unwind to the starting point. Massage it out. Resume
- So how long to run the drill? Do it until you feel the leader start to
shorten up a bit. That much is actually a bit too much twist, but it's not
a problem, as it's easily worked out as soon as one end of the leader is free.
The nicest way to finish a furled leader is the Shorb Loop Technique.
This is done at each end. The preferred tool for doing this is a large
size Cortland splicing needle. There is a similar gadget called a "Knit
Picker" for fixing snags in knit cloth which will work. An alternate method
will also be shown.
- Make a lasso with the loop at the end of the leader formed
in the construction.
- In the standing side of the lasso (the side away from the loop), insert
the splicing needle between the two major strands of the leader.
- Grab the opposite side of the loop with the hook of splicing needle,
and draw it back through the two major strands, and pull it all up tight,
which will form a fixed non-slip loop
- Lacking a splicing needle it can be done with a short piece of stiff
monfilament. As above form a lasso.
- Push both ends of the monofilament between the two major strands of
the leader on the standing side.
- Capture the opposite side of the furled leader loop in the mono loop
that has been formed and draw it through.
- Either way the final; result should look like
Obviously there is much scope for experimentation in making furled leaders.
They can be made longer or shorter by varying the peg spacing
proportionally. The taper can be adjusted by altering the relative
spacing between pegs and/or the number of loops in each segment of the
legs. Other materials can be used to get different performance.
The basic ideas for making this leader come from an article at
globalflyfisher.com by a Dutch fly fisher, Henk Verhaar. See
Also see Claude Freaner's web article
Making Furled Leaders.
The Shorb Loop was originally described by Skip Shorb in note
The Shorb Loop
.Click for PDF Version of this article