Dry flies need slack. So give it to ’em, George Harvey style

by | Jun 30, 2017 | 15 comments

Hatch Magazine published my article today: Dry flies need slack. So Give it to ’em, George Harvey style.

It’s about using George Harvey’s leader concepts to give the dry fly some slack. With s-curves and circles on the water, you fool a lot more trout.

Here’s what the leader should look like on the water.

Illustration by Dick Jones

I share a leader formula in the article. But more importantly, I also discuss Harvey’s leader concept, and why it’s so much different than a standard leader approach.

Find the full article over at Hatch Magazine.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. Love the artical. Trying to find a way to reduce the times my dropper is wrapping around the leader. Blood knots are not doing it for me… does it happen to you? Any tricks?

    • Hi Taylor,

      No dropper on the dry fly leader in this article. I think you might be asking about the slideable dry dropper system from a couple weeks ago. Send me an email. domenick@troutbitten.com

  2. Could you add a tippet ring to the end of the 4x so you don’t have to keep making new leaders or will it affect the drift

  3. Domenick, why the Gold Stren? What advantage does that bring?

    • Good question, man.

      Two reasons:

      First, when the leader lays on the water, the gold stren gives me some sight for a portion of my leader. I can see if it’s about to drag, judging its position in the currents.

      Second, I sometimes use the dry fly leader to nymph, perhaps with a tightline dry dropper system, or just tight to one nymph. In that case, the glod stren is usually above the water, and acts as a traditional sighter.

      Again, if you are fishing long flats and pools, in gin clear water over fussy trout, maybe don’t use the gold stren. But I honestly can’t say I’ve seen my trout ever spook from a foot long piece of gold stren going over them. It’s pretty subtle.

      Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you!



      • That makes perfect sense. Thanks! Love this site.

  4. Dom, thanks for another great article. Two quick questions. Is Maxima Chameleon and Maxima Clear mono interchangeable, and are their benefits or instances when you’d use one over the other to construct your leaders? Thanks!

    • Hi Justin,

      I’ve fished with 5 different Maxima lines for the butt section of a Mono Rig. They are not interchangeable, no. In fact, they are quite different.

      What I want in a butt section is the perfect combination of stiffness and handling. Stiff mono functions more like a fly line — you can get more fly line type performance from it because it doesn’t collapse (not too flexy). But most stiff lines coil too much and are a bother to work handle and work with coming off the reel.

      There’s a good reason that so many experienced long liners choose Chameleon. It has just the perfect mix of qualities, stiff but in a good way.


      Here’s a quick rank of the Maxima lines I’ve used. This is just my own preference.

      Hi Vis — just SLIGHTLY less handling
      Ultra-Green — softer
      Clear — a little too stiff, handling suffer
      Crystal Ivory — no good for a butt section, in my opinion. Too stiff. Bad Handling.

      Hope that helps.


      • As always, thanks for the advice.

  5. Howdy! Long-time reader, first-time commenter here. I made the switch to tight line techniques two years ago – only technique I fished during that time. Starting to work other presentations back into my repertoire, starting with suspended techniques over the last month or so. Next step is adding back dry flies, which I aim to do with this leader formula (plus some experimentation).

    Here’s my question: to what do you connect this leader? Fly line? More mono? I have Cortland competition nymph line rigged on my reel now (wish I didn’t, since I haven’t once needed it for nymphing purposes). Wondering if I should get a traditional floating trout line for throwing dries off this or a similar leader, or whether I can get away with my current setup, sans brand-new $80 line.

    Thanks for the great stories and instructional material. It’s really changed my fishing for the better 🙂 >~‘;>

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the question.

      I strongly recommend keeping a fly line on the spool that matches your rod. Give yourself the option to swap out leaders quickly and get back to casting fly line and a standard leader. It makes no sense to me to limit yourself by attaching the Mono Rig to a bunch of backing or a competition line. I love options. I love versatility. You could carry an extra spool, but WHY? It’s much easier to just swap out leaders if you do it this way . . .


      Couple applicable things in here too:


      Hope that helps.



      • Dom, thanks for the explanation. Helps a lot!

        I think you are right that the competition line doesn’t offer as much utility as the traditional weighted/tapered fly line. My goal for the next year is to continue adding back techniques (tightline -> indicator -> dries -> streamers -> wet flies), and I think the traditional fly line will better help me to do that.

        Thanks again! Looking forward to getting your book.


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