Uni-Body to Harvey Style Leader

I had a note from Jeff Passante asking how to convert the Uni-Body nymphing leader into a Harvey style leader for dry fly fishing. I want to expand on the reply I sent to him.

The Uni-Body leader is one that I modify as needed to allow me to fish nymphs, dries, long flies, poppers, and others without having to build a completely new leader from scratch. For example, the Uni-Body leader that I use for my 4-6 weight rods consists of a butt section of 4 feet of 0.020 inch Maxima Chameleon (MC; one can also use the new Maxima Clear—green Maxima is softer and requires larger diameters). This is followed by the tapered section, which consists of 1 foot of 0.013 inch MC. The Butt section and Tapered section together make up the leader Body. The idea behind the Uni-Body leader is that no matter the fly style, the butt section and the tapered section remain the same.

I use a 3 mm leader ring (or tippet ring) at the terminal end of the 0.013 section of MC. I tie a 5/8 inch long Perfection Loop at the top end of the Butt section. I use a Needle Knot to attach a 12 to 15-inch long piece of 0.020 inch MC to the end of the fly line and then tie a 5/8 inch long Perfection Loop in the end of this “connector.” The leader can be looped off and on the connector as needed.

For nymph fishing, I tie a 4-foot (or occasionally longer) section of 0X, 1X, or 2X to the leader ring at the end of the 0.013 inch MC. The size of this section depends upon the size of the nymph I’m fishing.

Nymphs size 2-8, use 0X
Nymphs size 10-14, use 1X
Nymphs size 16 and smaller, use 2X

I then add a 2 mm tippet ring to the end of this 0X, 1X or 2X section. The final 10 to 12 inch section of the tippet is tied to the tippet ring. This final section is appropriate to the hook size being used (hook size divided by 3 = tippet “X” e.g., size 12 hook/3 = 4X). Split shot is clamped on the leader just above the tippet ring.

To convert this leader from a bottom nymphing leader to a dead drift, Harvey-style leader for fishing the film, I remove the 10 to 12 inch chunk of tippet (and the shot, of course) and add a 3 to 4 foot tippet of appropriate size. This leader will fall is “S” curves and dramatically help reduce, or eliminate, drag.

To convert to a long fly leader from either the nymph or Harvey Style leader, I cut the 0X, 1X, or 2X back to 2 feet, tie on the fly and go for it. If I have to switch back to the nymph or Harvey Style, I clip the 0X, 1X, or 2X back to the leader ring at the end of the 0.013 inch, and add a new 4-foot piece, a tippet ring and the necessary end tippet piece.

Use a loop-to-loop connection to attach the leader to the connector.


  1. otis48 says:

    Good thinking.I`ve been experimenting along somewhat similar lines…with tiny snaps and swivels instead of expensive tippets rings [$6 for 10 2mm rings is absurd]
    I`d like to find something which floats..posibly made of some modern plastic like lexan or something…

  2. Gary Borger says:

    Tippet or leader rings are really “jump rings” from the beading industry. They are available on line at several sources. Gem Mountain is one I use frequently. They are available in brass or silver plated at a very reasonable cost.

  3. otis48 says:

    What about attaching a furled leader to this uni-body deal?
    Does this make sense?

  4. Michael Calvin says:

    So what’s the real point of the tippet ring? Why not just surgeon knot ? Wont the tippet ring sink the leader ?

  5. Gary Borger says:

    The tippet ring is so small that the leader keeps it afloat; small enough so that its minuscule weight can’t pull the leader under. It’s purpose is to allow connection of the tippet time and again without shortening the leader, as tying knots does. Further, it makes a positive connection between nylon and fluorocarbon. Many angler’s find making this connection of dissimilar materials a bit difficult. In addition, some experiential evidence suggests that the fluorocarbon materials may cut nylon polymers and copolymers, and the tippet ring prevents this. Furhter the tippet ring allows very fast changing of tippets and gives the angler a point on the leader at which dropper cad be added or removes easily. I have used them for several years and find them to be a great boon to my fishing.