20 Feb 2011
Maintenance: front loops
At the front end of the fly-line you need, of course, to attach a cast. The join between fly-line and cast is important: (a) old-fashioned figure-of-eight knot is bulky but reliable; (b) nail- or needle-knot a piece of 20lb nylon to the line - also OK, though if your 20lb nylon ends in a loop to which you attach the cast, loop-to-loop style, then periodicially you need to check the loop in the 20lb. nylon, because it wears during intensive fishing; (c) small loop whipped directly into the tip of the fly-line; (d) braid sleeve.
I can never make up my mind about braid sleeves. I've only ever had one pull (i.e. slip off the end of the fly-line) once, and that was when a pike streamer became fast in a log (eventually I went in naked and retrieved both the log and the streamer....a triumph of meanness over hypothermia). Yet I've known others who've had braid sleeves pull, almost invariably when a big fish was coming to the boat and the line was coming back through the tip ring at an acute angle. The tension on the line, plus the angle at which the line was coming back through the tip, caused the tip-ring literally to strip the braid sleeve off the fly-line.
That said, needle-knotted bits of nylon eventually wear, too - I had that problem in Ireland last summer, and was obliged to replace several 20lb butt-pieces - and figure-of-eight knots are clumsy. Therefore this season I'm going back (mostly) to braid sleeves, though I've made sure that any proud surfaces on any joins/sleeves are smoothed off by the application of Knot Sense (see below). Once the sleeve is in position I'll attach a foot-long piece of 20lb nylon to the end of the fly-line, and then attach the cast to that, which should ensure at least a relatively smooth transmission of energy from fly-line to cast.