What is the Stroft Leader Spools System?
The Stroft Leader Spools System is a tipper dispenser from German fly fishing manufacturer WAKU. It's basically a little holder for spools of tippet that you can attach to the front of your vest, chest pack or lanyard to give you direct access to leader material without the need to rummage around in your bag.
While there are lots of fly fishing spool tenders on the market, and while most lanyards are also fitted with a spool system, all of them have some annoyances, which the Stroft Leader Spools System seeks to resolve.
Firstly, on the regular spool tenders, the tippet comes off rather easily so you can end up catching it and getting tangled, which wastes costly leader material. Secondly, you need to use your nippers to get it off the spool and ready to tie on. Neither problem is an issue with this neat gadget.
What's so special about this tippet dispenser?
The Stroft Leader Spools System is innovatively designed to tackle the problems that present other tippet bars and tippet tenders. The spools are enclosed within a central body and the tippet sits within a tight rubber lined groove, so it's far less likely to unspool and waste your valuable leader material. A little pressure is needed to pull tippet off the spool, so it won't unravel on its own either.
Secondly, the spools have a really clever line-cutter built-in, so you can extract tippet and cut off the correct amount far quicker than you can with any other system. I've honestly yet to see a tippet dispenser which works better than this. It really is excellent and there's no quicker way of cutting off the amount of tippet you need.
How does it work?
The Stroft Leader Spools System consists of a centre pin with a hollow centre into which the spools and the containing outer rings attach. Each spool of tippet material gets inserted into one of the outer rings, which are then pushed onto the centre pin, before attaching the lid and sliding through the strap.
Each of the outer rings into which the spools of tippet are inserted has a little exit hole for the tippet and a tension bar which presses against the line within the spool. The tension bar stops the material unravelling and means you need to use gentle pressure to pull off your length of tippet.
Cleverly, the spools have little lugs in them which lock together to prevent rotation so everything holds together tightly. This also means you can choose where the tippet comes out. If you're a bit OCD, you can line them all up, or you can stagger them to give you easier access.
How does the line cutter work?
The line cutter feature on the Stroft system is really neat. Some others I've seen have the potential to nick the tippet and cause snap offs and breakages, but this one is nigh on perfect. You simply pull off the length of tippet that you want, tuck the line under the cutter area and pull, and it cuts it off cleanly. There's no way the cutter can cause damage to the line anywhere else and it's so quick and easy to use. It's way less fiddly than using nippers.
How many spools does it hold?
The original Stroft tippet dispenser held five spools, but the new one I've been using holds just three, which is enough for most people and makes it lighter and more compact to wear and carry. The spools and fittings on both versions are all the same, the only major difference is the length of the centre pin.
Can I use any tippet in this dispenser?
Since the Stroft Leader Spools System needs to hold the spool firmly in place and there's no standard spool size in the fly fishing you will need to use Stroft GTM tippet or leader spools for this gadget to work.
Stroft makes a very wide range of different of tippets and leaders in many sizes, so you will have plenty to choose from and they have a good reputation, including on the competition circuit.
If there's a special tippet material you really want to use over Stroft, then you could always decant it from the spool and attach it to an empty Stroft spool. However, I think you'll be impressed with Stroft GTM if you try it, and it's very good value for money, too.
What's it like to use?
This is hands-down the best tippet tender I've used. Tippet doesn't fall off easily, so you get far fewer tangles and waste less leader, and the tippet cutter is really clever. It makes connecting droppers and lengthening leaders far quicker, especially if you attach it to your lanyard or the front of your vest so it's in easy reach.
Initial assembly of the system is a little fiddly, and my instructions were in German, but it's easy enough to figure out and you won't need to disassemble and reassemble very often. There are also some helpful coloured stickers in the box so you can label your spools to make identifying the right tippet a bit easier.
How much does it cost?
The Stroft Leader Spools System costs around £20-26 in the UK, not including the tippet material. The three spool version is probably enough for most people, but there's also a five spool option if you need lots of different diameters to hand.
The price is obviously more than a standard tippet spool tender, which can be picked up for a fiver or so, but this one does make life much easier, you'll save more tippet and more time with nippers and it should last a long time so is pretty good value for money.
More information: WAKU GmbH