It was right during the beginning of the summer on the marvelous South Holston. I was with John Hardy and his wife Christy and I had just handed John my Sage rod that just happened to be rigged with a hand tied tapered leader. John had noticed how the leader gently collapsed on the surface, delivering the fly to its target with barely a ripple on the water's surface. His next cast was to a mid river ledge. John presented the sulphur dry I'd given him to the edge of the ledge and seconds later a nice brown of about 16-17" slowly rose and sucked in the CDC dry fly. It was game on.
Such has been the case all summer long on the South Holston, Watauga, and Smith Rivers and other waters where the leader makes a huge difference....and can be THE difference between catching fish and not catching fish. I often use both personally and with clients the Classic Leader in the 9ft length and then add a 12-18" tippet of 7X. That puts the leader at about 10ft and still makes it easy to cast in wind- - - which is a certain condition you'll encounter on big water. Technical tailwater fishing, at least successful tailwater fishing, hinges upon having a leader that turns over but doesn't straighten (straight leader = drag= no fish). A nice cast with the leader stretching out over the water nice and straight right to the fly is the last thing you want (contrary to what it might seem). Its the sloppy, pile the leader up throws that usually catch fish. The trick is learning to cast like that on purpose, and to use a leader that dumps tons of slack so the fly drifts naturally. This leader does just that.
Rio's Hand Tied Classic Leader is a great product, and over the past several months I have fallen in love with them. While I prefer to tie my own, with my guiding schedule I value fly tying time more than tying leaders, as I can buy these leaders and they are the closest I have found to what I custom tie for myself. Try one and see for yourself....its a great product.