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Fly fishing FAQs Find answers to the some frequently asked fly fishing questions...

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Old 01-25-2008, 11:18 AM
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Default What size tippet do I use?

The size and weight of the fly determines what size tippet works best with that fly. A 3wt rod is for smaller flies and the leader will have a lighter tippet. If you were fishing a size 16 fly a 5X tippet would be used. If you were fishing an 8wt rod with a size 6 fly, a size 2X tippet would be called for. The companies making the leaders size the butt of the leader to match a group of fly lines it might be used on. All you have to worry about is what size tippet you will be using for a particular sized fly.

Tippet DiameterTippet SizePound TestFly Size
.0038x1.224-26-28
.0047x220-22-24-26
.0056x316-18-20-22
.0065x414-16-18
.0074x512-14-16
.0083x610-12-14
.0092x76-8-10
.0101x8.52-4-6
.0110x101/0-2-4
.012x1122/0-1/0-2
.013x2143/0-2/0-1/0-2
.014x3165/0-4/0-3/0-2/0
.015x4186/0-5/0-4/0-3/0

NOTE: Leader diameters and strengths vary from manufacture to manufacture and with different materials or processes.


Here is a quick way to calculate the best size tippet to use on the water. You take the fly size and divide it by 4 and then add 1. For example, take a size 6 hook, divide 6 by 4 and you get one. Add one to that and you get 2. So for a size 6 hook use a 2X leader. You will note that the chart says 1X or 2X will work. The formula is a guide to get you close to the proper sized tippet on the water. In this case you use the leader that is most appropriate for the size of the fish.
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Last edited by Frank Whiton; 07-12-2010 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 04-27-2016, 09:52 PM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

I like the quick formula. Never thought of that before!
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Old 04-27-2016, 11:48 PM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

Great chart Frank,

To determine tippet to fly size I tend to use the rule of threes.
Fly size uses approximately 3 times the tippet size.

3x tippet - 3 x 3 = 9 good for size 8 - 12 flies
4x tippet - 4 x 3 = 12 good for size 10 - 14 flies
5x tippet - 5 x 3 = 15 good for size 14 - 18 flies
6x tippet - 6 x 3 = 18 good for size 16 - 20 flies
7x tippet - 7 x 3 = 21 good for size 20 - 24 flies

At least that's what I learned, it's easy to remember and it seems to work.
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:00 AM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

Just me, but I prefer just to go by the size of fish I may hook. I really wouldn't want to get in to a 30+ inch brown trout with 7x just because I'm fishing small midges.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:40 AM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

Good chart, Frank.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 04-29-2016, 05:34 PM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

I have heard or read several guys say that the spookier the trout (clear water, heavily fished, wild fish, or what have you), the finer tippet one needs to be using in order to have success. Then others seem to be of the opinion that trout don't care about tippet size.

There was an article a few years back which followed someone who swam in scuba gear with the trout and observed how they reacted to various fly presentations as some fisherman they had there cast next to him. I guess somehow his presence in scuba gear didn't bother the fish. I can sort of believe that because I've had them refuse my fly presentations but feed right around my feet.

Anywho, the scuba man came to the belief, it seems, that tippet size didn't matter to the trout, much. It was all about presentation, drag-free drifts, and to avoid "lining" them, that is casting or allowing the line to drift over the fish such that the shadow of the line, especially, entered their vision.

Then again, I've seen them rise right next to my line on the water, so I donno! They say educated trout are wary of indicators. Okay, so why do they rise and nip at my indicator so often. Are those the trout "school" dropouts?

Any opinions?
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Old 04-29-2016, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

Correct presentation I do believe trumps tippet size. But that being said there are spots where you just sometimes have to go to small flies and tippets on heavily fished streams.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:52 PM
 
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcorfey View Post
Great chart Frank,

To determine tippet to fly size I tend to use the rule of threes.
Fly size uses approximately 3 times the tippet size.

3x tippet - 3 x 3 = 9 good for size 8 - 12 flies
4x tippet - 4 x 3 = 12 good for size 10 - 14 flies
5x tippet - 5 x 3 = 15 good for size 14 - 18 flies
6x tippet - 6 x 3 = 18 good for size 16 - 20 flies
7x tippet - 7 x 3 = 21 good for size 20 - 24 flies

At least that's what I learned, it's easy to remember and it seems to work.
I also use the rule of 3 for veteran fly fishers, rule of 4 for newbies.
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Old 05-11-2016, 05:06 PM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

1) Position yourself to make as easy a cast, where mending will be at its easiest to keep a fly's drift natural. A tippet that doesn't overpower the weight of the fly will let it drift more naturally, especially if there is slack in it...not a tight straight line to the fly. NOTHING is set in stone...each line has a certain amount of stiffness in it...as does each diameter of leader material. It's up to the angler to make the decision as to what LENGTH of each section and what taper to put into a leader = affecting the leader's stiffness or looseness for delivering slack in the leader. ALL the leader/tippet material on the market today is Miles ahead of what leader material used to be just 20yrs ago... People have to learn how to set the hook while preserving the tippet's integrity. These days it's not difficult, just takes a little PRACTICE!
2) Judge a trout's location by what type of current there is. If it's strong...the presence of somekind of rise will be further downstream from there the trout actually holds, but it the current is a slow one....there might not be any difference from where it holds and where it rises. Observing/learning this makes it easier to understand how not to line fish.
Frank Whitton's tippet diameter table is pretty good but here's a few options:
5x = #12-14
6x = #14-18
7x = #18-22 (#22 is the smallest hook I use, if you need to go w/smaller fly..tie it smaller but on a #22 hook...you'll get more hookups).
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Old 05-11-2016, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: What size tippet do I use?

i encourage everyone to use the strongest tippet you can which provides you with satisfactory results. in more turbulent water and/or cloudy days or under limited light like late evening early morning one can often get away with larger diameter tippets but below i share an exception to the general rule which has provided me an increased level of efficiency.

my father was my fly fishing mentor growing up and there are few better mentor's to have then him. i was taught a similar system that has been mentioned in this thread; general size flies to use with x tippet. a couple years ago i tried something out and the results i have experienced speak for themselves. i often try to target larger fish feeding on the surface in almost stagnate water. i am often using large flies to help stimulate these fish into the feeding response; i.e. size 10-12. i now use a long extra fine, wide gap 14 for this job just to make the difference between 7x and the eye of the hook smaller. when the sun is still out and the water is next to flat(where the large fish often feed on surface) this setup provokes the feeding response the best i have seen. that 7x liberates your fly to act like nothing in the larger tipper diameters. as flat as the water looks there are often these micro current; vorticies which cause the fly to "beetle" around as my father has coined. i find my presentation allows much more forgiveness than the larger diameter tippets. in the last handful of years it has become my secret, a secret i enjoy sharing. the point is, guidelines can sometimes create limitation which can hinder progress; keep an open mind.

live long and prosper!
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