Hends Camou French Leaders

I quite fancied the French Leader technique for fishing nymphs in the winter and was toying with making my own. There are a few videos on You Tube as well as articles on the web about them but I was having real difficulty getting info on the best line to use to make up the leaders and in what proportion.

In the end I decided just to buy a couple of the Hends Camou French leaders. I have two one in 4.5 metre and one in 9 metre lengths. I bought mine mail order from Tungsten-beads-plus.com who I would recommend for both leaders and good prices on tungsten beads.

Hends French leader

Hends French leader

The leaders come in 3.5 mtr, 4.5mtr and 9 mtr lengths. They are tapered from butt to tip down to about a 4x tip length. The nylon is camouflaged- which is I guess where the Camou name comes from. I believe Camou nylon is available in spools in France.

A couple of points about the French leader- you do – in my experience need a fairly long light fast action rod to get it flicked out, and there is definitely a technique to it. I have not ventured onto the 9 metre leader yet, but have spent a little time with the 4.5 metre one and have to say I think I have picked up the knack of getting it to load  the rod and cast out.

I have had the best experience with it using my 4# Greys Steamflex XF2 plus rod with the 6″ extension fitted- so 10 foot total length. I know Hanak sell a 3# weight rod specifically for the French leader set up. I have had a go with one but have to say at the time I was unfamiliar with the technique.

I also find you need to use a very heavy bug on the tip of your leader to get the best performance and to make sure that before you cast it, the tip fly is not submerged behind you. A steady motion at the bottom of the drift, sweeping round behind you and lifting gets the tip fly to the surface and the rod under tension, to roll into the next upstream cast. This way you get maximum distance which for me is the purpose of its use. I see it as a good way to extend reach and keep the normal fly line off the water. I fish this with only about two feet of fly line beyond the reel- so the end just beyond the stripping ring on my rod. All the rest is the French Leader.

Using French Leader this winter proved to be a killer technique for me and I only had one blank fishing for Grayling and that was due to bad river conditions, I do prefer the Hanak French Leader as its more visible and uses integrated indicator beads which allow me to double up as both a Czech Nymph set up and for ful on French leader use witha 3# weight rod.

I have been really pleased with these and I reckon I will get a good few seasons use out of then barring disasters!

How I set my French leader

The notes below show one of the indicator methods I use for French Leader. Using the Carp float sleeves certainly got me started but I found is a bit heavy on the line compared to either a Magic Marker Braid Indicator ( basically just a length of braid marked in two colours using Permanent markers) or a proper or home made resin bead Czech Nymph indicator. My preference is the beaded type, I have tried making my own and they worked but found the resin blobs tend to move after a bit use. The purchased Hanak ones have proved to be the best for me. The Hanak French Leader comes with an integrated indicator so this explains why its a little more pricey than most.

Carp float rubber indicator

I attach the French Leader to the main fly line and at the tip end I have fitted a home made indicator. The indicator I opted for here was a floating one made in the following fashion. Over the tip section I thread alternate lengths of fine coloured carp float  rubbers in Orange, Yellow spaced out with short lengths of black. This is about 6″ in total length. Finally a Hanak Micro Ring at the bottom. I have a small “stopper knot above the indicator to stop the rubbers sliding up the line.

Homemade French Leader Indicator

Homemade French Leader Indicator

Finally my tippet section – the length is going to vary by depth but typically a 2foot length of 4lb Flourocarbon to a top dropper, then another 2foot length to a second dropper and 2 feet to the point fly.

The indicator lets you see any takes as you dead drift as you are not fully in contact with the flies using this method in a dead drift.

You can read about using the Hanak French Leader with built in Indicators. You can read more here.



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