Stroft GTM Tapered Leaders review

Stroft GTM Tapered Leaders come in a wider range of lengths, diameters and breaking strains than pretty much any other leader. They're high quality, reliable, turn over perfectly and there's a model for pretty much every fly fishing application you can imagine.

Stroft GTM Tapered Leaders review
© Fly and Lure
Stroft GTM Tapered Leaders review
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Stroft GTM Tapered Leaders review
Estimated reading time 11 - 18 minutes

What are Stroft Tapered Leaders?

Stroft GTM Tapered Leaders are made from Stroft's GTM monofilament line and come in an extremely wide range of lengths, diameters and tapers to suit fly fishing of all kinds. Put simply, the thick end attaches to the tip of your fly line and you tie your fly to the thin end, ideally via a length of matching tippet attached to the tip. Their tapered profile is designed to aid fly turnover so you get improved presentation and, hopefully, catch more fish. 

The Stroft GTM itself is slightly translucent very pale blue-grey colour and is strong and soft (hence the name - "Stroft" is a portmanteau of "strong" and "soft" in case you didn't realise). It hangs much limper than most tapered leaders I've used and is very strong for its diameter. Stroft GTM has a very good reputation with serious and competitive fly fishers, especially those who fish rivers - so these leaders are made from top-notch raw materials.

Stroft GTM tapered leaders can improve fly presentation.

Why use a tapered leader?

As you'll no doubt be aware, fly lines have a profile or taper which is thick at the head end of the line and narrows down to a point at the tip where it attaches to your leader. This gradual taper is to ensure your line doesn't splash down on the water surface and also so the kinetic energy stored in the fly line from the cast transfers to the thick bit of your leader, down to the tippet and turns over your fly.

By applying the same approach and gradually tapering the diameter of the leader down from a very thick butt section to a very thin tippet section, the energy transfer is improved and presentation and turnover are better. 

Many years ago, the tapering used to be done by knotting together sections of line with different diameters, but nowadays most people use tapered leaders instead. They're less hassle, much more reliable and last longer. You can fish a level leader all the way through, but presentation and turnover won't be as good as with a tapered one.

Using a tapered leader gives better turnover and presentation than a level line.

What size leaders are available?

When it comes to tapered leaders, few - if any - manufacturers have a wider range than Stroft. Its tapered leaders are available in a bewildering array of 44 different lengths, diameters and breaking strains. There are four lengths (2.4m or 7.5'; 2.8m or 9', 3.75m or 12' and 4.7m or 15') and 11 diameters from 7X to 06X.

That covers everything from fishing tiny dries to trout in brooks and burns to bigger, chunkier leaders for turning over big trout and salmon patterns, or even big saltwater patterns. The butt diameter and tip diameter for each X rating are the same across all of the lengths, so the shorter versions have a more aggressive taper than the longer ones, which makes them a bit better suited to bigger, heavier flies.

Number X rating Length Tip diameter Butt diameter Tip breaking strain
1 2.4m / 7.5' 7X 0.10mm 0.40mm 1.2 kg / 2.6 lb
2 2.4m / 7.5' 6X 0.12mm 0.44mm 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb
3 2.4m / 7.5' 5X 0.14mm 0.50mm 2.2 kg / 4.8 lb
4 2.4m / 7.5' 4X 0.17mm 0.52mm 2.9 kg / 6.4 lb
5 2.4m / 7.5' 3X 0.20mm 0.54mm 3.6 kg / 7.9 lb
6 2.4m / 7.5' 2X 0.22mm 0.56mm 4.3 kg / 9.5 lb
7 2.4m / 7.5' 1X 0.25mm 0.58mm 5.3 kg / 11.7 lb
8 2.4m / 7.5' 0X 0.27mm 0.60mm 6.3 kg / 13.9 lb
9 2.4m / 7.5' 02X 0.32mm 0.66mm 7.5 kg / 16.5 lb
10 2.4m / 7.5' 04X 0.37mm 0.70mm 9.0 kg / 19.8 lb
11 2.4m / 7.5' 04X 0.42mm 0.72mm 11.0 kg / 24.2 lb

2.8m/9'

Number X rating Length Tip diameter Butt diameter Tip breaking strain
12 2.8m / 9' 7X 0.10mm 0.40mm 1.2 kg / 2.6 lb
13 2.8m / 9' 6X 0.12mm 0.44mm 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb
14 2.8m / 9' 5X 0.14mm 0.50mm 2.2 kg / 4.8 lb
15 2.8m / 9' 4X 0.17mm 0.52mm 2.9 kg / 6.4 lb
16 2.8m / 9' 3X 0.20mm 0.54mm 3.6 kg / 7.9 lb
17 2.8m / 9' 2X 0.22mm 0.56mm 4.3 kg / 9.5 lb
18 2.8m / 9' 1X 0.25mm 0.58mm 5.3 kg / 11.7 lb
19 2.8m / 9' 0X 0.27mm 0.60mm 6.3 kg / 13.9 lb
20 2.8m / 9' 02X 0.32mm 0.66mm 7.5 kg / 16.5 lb
21 2.8m / 9' 04X 0.37mm 0.70mm 9.0 kg / 19.8 lb
22 2.8m / 9' 04X 0.42mm 0.72mm 11.0 kg / 24.2 lb

3.75m/12'

Number X rating Length Tip diameter Butt diameter Tip breaking strain
23 3.75m / 12' 7X 0.10mm 0.40mm 1.2 kg / 2.6 lb
24 3.75m / 12' 6X 0.12mm 0.44mm 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb
25 3.75m / 12' 5X 0.14mm 0.50mm 2.2 kg / 4.8 lb
26 3.75m / 12' 4X 0.17mm 0.52mm 2.9 kg / 6.4 lb
27 3.75m / 12' 3X 0.20mm 0.54mm 3.6 kg / 7.9 lb
28 3.75m / 12' 2X 0.22mm 0.56mm 4.3 kg / 9.5 lb
29 3.75m / 12' 1X 0.25mm 0.58mm 5.3 kg / 11.7 lb
30 3.75m / 12' 0X 0.27mm 0.60mm 6.3 kg / 13.9 lb
31 3.75m / 12' 02X 0.32mm 0.66mm 7.5 kg / 16.5 lb
32 3.75m / 12' 04X 0.37mm 0.70mm 9.0 kg / 19.8 lb
33 3.75m / 12' 04X 0.42mm 0.72mm 11.0 kg / 24.2 lb

4.7m/15'

Number X rating Length Tip diameter Butt diameter Tip breaking strain
34 4.7m / 15' 7X 0.10mm 0.40mm 1.2 kg / 2.6 lb
35 4.7m / 15' 6X 0.12mm 0.44mm 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb
36 4.7m / 15' 5X 0.14mm 0.50mm 2.2 kg / 4.8 lb
37 4.7m / 15' 4X 0.17mm 0.52mm 2.9 kg / 6.4 lb
38 4.7m / 15' 3X 0.20mm 0.54mm 3.6 kg / 7.9 lb
39 4.7m / 15' 2X 0.22mm 0.56mm 4.3 kg / 9.5 lb
40 4.7m / 15' 1X 0.25mm 0.58mm 5.3 kg / 11.7 lb
41 4.7m / 15' 0X 0.27mm 0.60mm 6.3 kg / 13.9 lb
42 4.7m / 15' 02X 0.32mm 0.66mm 7.5 kg / 16.5 lb
43 4.7m / 15' 04X 0.37mm 0.70mm 9.0 kg / 19.8 lb
44 4.7m / 15' 04X 0.42mm 0.72mm 11.0 kg / 24.2 lb

Which size should I use?

With a massive 44 different versions to choose from, it could be a bit of a challenge for some people to pick the right one for their needs. Stroft obviously understands the finer points of matching the tapered leader to the fly in tremendously geeky detail as they provide an incredibly in-depth guide to getting the perfect match. They even provide charts giving you precise details on the taper!

I'm using the 9' or 280cm long tapered leaders in sizes from 1X, which has a breaking strain of 11.7 lb at the tip, to 5X which has a breaking strain of 4.8 lb at the tip. The 1X size is ideal for stillwater trout fishing, while the 5X one is ideal for finer fishing for smaller trout and grayling on the river. In a nutshell, I'd suggest choosing a leader with a tip breaking strain a little heavier than the tippet you'd normally use, and then extending the length of the overall leader using some tippet of a similar or slightly thinner diameter until your leader is the length you want.

The leaders come attached to a card which makes unwrapping easier.

How long do tapered leaders last?

Whenever using a tapered leader I'd always recommend immediately attaching a tippet ring or leader ring as soon as you open the packet. Without a leader ring, every time you attach a fly you'll be reducing the length of the tapered leader, shortening its lifespan. By attaching a leader ring, you can simply tie on a level piece of tippet of similar diameter to the tip and replace it when it gets too short. This is also what Stroft recommends - and it makes matching leader rings designed to work with these leaders.

With this approach, providing you don't get any serious tangles or nicks in the leader from accidentally casting into trees, for example, you should be able to feasibly use the same tapered leader on several trips. I've got some similar leaders that have lasted me almost an entire season and are still in decent shape.

Extend the life of the leaders by attaching a tippet ring.

What are they like to use?

Unsurprisingly, these leaders work very well. They're easier to remove from the packet than some other tapered leaders on the market and any inevitable memory coils in the line from storage quickly drop out when you give the line a gentle pull after removing it from the packet. They're impressively soft and hang very limp, which means flies land delicately and loose line doesn't coil up on the water surface.

Unlike some other tapered leaders, these aren't fitted with a loop at one end, which I personally prefer. I tend to use a nail-less nail knot to either attach the tapered leader itself straight to the bare tip of my fly line, or attach a similar diameter length of butt section to the tip, then attach the tapered leader via a tippet ring. If you prefer a loop-to-loop connection, you'll need to tie your own perfection loop in the butt section.

Turnover on all sizes was really good. Bulky, wind resistant flies flipped over nicely and smaller dries landed gently. When fishing dries, I used some Fulling Mill Fuller's Mud to take some of the shine off the leader and help it sit below the surface tension better, as it did sit on the surface in the calmer water. That improved things but it did take a couple of applications to get perfect settlement.

At the tip end, I used a Stroft Leader Ring with a length of Stroft GTM tippet material of similar diameter to the tip section. It's the recommended combination and it obviously works well. Knots tied very well with a little salivary lubrication and there was little if any pig-tailing when using a gently pulled uni or grinner knot. Although I was fishing well below the line's limits, I also didn't experience any snap-offs and it feels very strong for its diameter.

I used my Stroft GTM leaders with matching Stroft GTM tippet material.

How much do these leaders cost?

Stroft Tapered Leaders cost around £3.75 each, which is about the norm for a tapered leader. As far as I'm aware, nobody else in the fly fishing world produces such a diverse range of shapes and sizes when it comes to tapered leaders, so the range should include something for everyone, no matter what fish species they're targeting on the fly.

More information: WAKU GmbH

About the author

matt

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