(VIDEO) The George Harvey Dry Fly Leader — Design, Adjustment and Fishing Tips

by | Aug 3, 2023 | 3 comments

Slack sells the dead drift for a dry fly. It needs freedom to move with the current and not drag against it, and good dry fly anglers build slack into the leader before their fly ever touches the water. Providing the necessary slack is one part casting and two parts leader design. So good dead drift starts with the right leader and with a tippet that is well matched to the dry fly.

The George Harvey Dry Fly leader is a slackline leader built for dead drifting. With intentional casting, with the right stroke, the Harvey lands with slack in all the right places, with curves and swirls through the entire leader and not just in the tippet section. The Harvey is a masterful tool built for the art of presenting a dry fly on a dead drift. But success begins by understanding how the Harvey is different, and why it works.

The Harvey is the only dry fly leader I fish, and I’ve written about it here on Troutbitten over the years . . .

READ: Troutbitten | Dry Fly Fishing — The George Harvey Leader Design
READ: Troutbitten | Dry Flies Need Slack — So Give It To The George Harvey Style
READ: Troutbitten | Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop
READ: Troutbitten | Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve
VIDEO: Troutbitten | Casting Forehand and Backhand
SHOP: Troutbitten | The George Harvey Dry Fly Leader

Now, the latest Troutbitten video adds to that bank of resources for casting dry flies with a slackline.

Check out the video, then scroll below for more details and key points . . .

(Please select 4K or 1080p for best video quality)

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It’s a Lagging Curve

It’s important to understand that a lagging curve is the opposite of what most anglers think of as a curve cast. The traditional curve cast is created by overpowering the system. The lagging curve is created with an underpowered leader, with the right arm angle (as shown in the video) and the right cast — taking just a bit of power out of the finishing stroke.

Adjustment

Adjusting any dry fly leader can seem like a bit of alchemy. Add a little 4X and take away some of that 5X. Maybe choose 6X for the terminal tippet on a #20 Olive Parachute to help create more s-curves on a stop and drop.

There is simply no better way to learn the necessary adjustments than to do it yourself. No one can predict for you what tippet size or length you may need, because the variables are too complex. Strength and direction of the wind, the chosen fly, the casting distance, the power of the rod and fly line, your casting stroke and your own preferences all factor into the choice for terminal tippet and even the adjustments on other part of the tippet section.

Test your choice with your baseline cast, with a good stop and drop. If the fly struggles too much to turn over, the leader needs more power, with stiffer tippet or shorter tippet sections. If the fly punches out and turns over too easily, the leader needs less power, so lengthen the tippet section or make it thinner.

After a few changes and experiments, everything clicks. Eventually, it makes sense, and adjustments become intuitive.

What About Mending?

Mending can provide more slack to a dry fly and keep a good drift from ending, but the best mends begin with slack in the leader.

I’ve seen instructors teach a straight line cast with the dry fly, and then use repeated mends to introduce and feed slack to the dry fly. Again, we are doing the opposite with the Harvey. So, build the slack into the cast. Then, throughout the drift if needed, mend the line and leader; put that slack somewhere else to keep a good thing going.

Let’s See More

I mentioned in the video the Fish Along series that is coming to the Troutbitten YouTube channel. These videos will begin in early October and will show first person style footage, mixed in with other camera angles, of the fishing itself. The goal with the Troutbitten Tips series on YouTube is to highlight some good ideas and present the tactics. The Fish Along series will put these techniques to use.

So look for the Fish Along series coming soon.

Here are the companion resources again for this video:

READ: Troutbitten | Dry Fly Fishing — The George Harvey Leader Design
READ: Troutbitten | Dry Flies Need Slack — So Give It To The George Harvey Style
READ: Troutbitten | Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop
READ: Troutbitten | Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve
VIDEO: Troutbitten | Casting Forehand and Backhand

Fish hard, friends.

 

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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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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3 Comments

  1. Hello!

    Nice video! In it you mention that each of the four Chameleon sections get progressively shorter and then each of the non-Chameleon sections (mid to tippet) get progressively longer. I jumped to the leader design link. The design there doesn’t show each section being different lengths. Granted it does indicate

    butt getting shorter and the tippet getting longer, but some sections are of equal length:

    20” — 15# Maxima Chameleon
    20” — 12# Maxima Chameleon
    10” — 10# Maxima Chameleon
    10” — 8# Maxima Chameleon
    12” — 2X soft nylon tippet material (or 8# Gold Stren)
    12” — 3X soft nylon tippet material
    14” — 4X soft nylon tippet material
    20-48” — 4X, 5X or 6X soft nylon tippet material (to match fly and conditions)

    Would you recommend changing some of these material lengths so as to be more in line with what was mentioned in the video? What is the formula for the Harvey dry fly leader that you sell?

    Thanks for all of your hard work and insight…always appreciated!

    JC

    Reply
  2. Hate to quibble, but I could have sworn I’ve already read here that nymphing is more difficult than dry fly fishing. Thoughts? Just curious, not trying to be a jerk.

    Reply
  3. Here is a modified version I fished last night on a spring creek and it worked terrific. The reason I modified it was because I was looking to utilize the midsection softness while also allowing for a longer distance cast. I tried it on both a WF (weight forward) and DT (double tapper) line, and it worked great on both. The only difference was that the DT line had a softer lay down..of course. Here is what I came up with, and thought I’d share…

    24″ – 20 lb. Maxima Chameleon
    22″ – 15 lb. Maxima Chameleon
    20″ – 12 lb. Maxima Chameleon
    10″ – 10 lb. Maxima Chameleon
    10″ – 8 lb. Maxima Chameleon
    12″ – 2X Maxima Green
    12″ – 3X Maxima Green
    16″ – 4X Soft Nylon
    20″ – 5X Soft Nylon
    24″ – 6X Soft Nylon

    Troutbitten is my favorite online site. Thank you for all the great information…. that works!

    Best,

    Josh

    Reply

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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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