What is the French Leader technique? Well that’s a whole other article and a can of worms to be perfectly honest! So, in short and without provoking too much controversy here is how I would define it. It is a method of sight fishing at short and long range for Trout or Grayling (in the UK) using inline indicators with nymphs or dry flies. When French leaders first came on the scene folks would regularly make up their own with various sections of different thickness of Camofil or other such products. Some got very good at it and you could buy bespoke leaders to meet your needs. The big companies were quick of the mark to bring these to market and soon there were lots of options out there to choose from. I have used most some are great others not so much. From the current crop the Hanak Camou and the Soldarini offerings are very good.
So, onto the review the range of leaders from Chalk Stream Dreams includes a Short Range French Indicator Leader, Long Range French Indicator Leader and a Dry Fly French Leader. They also offer a bespoke tying service if you are not content with the core range. The good news is that the tapers have not just been pulled out of thin air they are tried and tested by some of the French national team. Having moved away from knotted leaders some time ago I was worried that I may have an unconscious bias against these leaders. When I was getting it ready to attach to my fly line I ended up in a bit of a pickle and spent a while unknitting the thing before finally getting it on my reel.
As a matter of course, I always stick my leaders into some boiling water before using them, I find it helps with suppleness. I was going to do the same with the short-range leader that I had attached but was pleasantly surprised when after a quick stretch with my hand the leader lay perfectly straight. The indicator section was a tricolour affair yellow, orange and white to a tippet ring. The butt section had a perfection loop to attach to a fly line. I usually cut these off and attach the leader direct to the fly line, in this case though I left it as it was delivered.
On the river bank it performed well, it cast with no issues at all and the indicator was easy to pick out in the light conditions I had on the day. In slower shallow water the indicator section can be greased up and it worked well when fishing micro nymphs in the margins. All in all, I was impressed with the leaders and macro photographs of the knots show that there has been a great deal of time and effort in their construction. With a retail price of £9.99 they may seem a tad expensive compared to the big brand rivals but as with most things in life you get what you pay for. I can heartily recommend these and if cared for they should give you good service for many trips to come.