hey, so i went and bought everything today but my flies. pretty stoked. and the winter season ends in a week and half so i will be fishing soon! but the guy handed me 5x leader and 5x tippet. from what im reading i should of wanted a lower lb tippet so (i think its the higher x lower lb right?) like 6x or 7x? im not upset that i bought 5x i will probably use it, but not sure if when i buy my flies that i should pick up more tippet. also i tie my leader on and then tie on 2-3ft of tippet or just use the leader untill i loose a bit then add tippet?
EDIT: also just noticed my fly line has no loop in it. what knot do i use to attach the leader?
Use the nail knot, I haven't done a search yet but will look for a recipe to show you how to tie it. I am sure you can utube a video of it also. I fish with a 5x tippet and have no problems picking up the small brookies.
I don't usually go lower than 5x unless it's really picky fishing. if I go 6x or 7x, what really happens is I break off a lot of flies, and lose some nice fish.
If you were at some gin clear spring creek then 6x and 7x may be appropriate.. but for me, those are rare occurances.
What you might do, is put a butt section onto your fly line with a nail knot, then you can tie on new leaders to the butt section with a blood knot, or tie a loop in the butt section.
Truth be told, I can't tie a nail knot, I'll have the guys at the fly shop do it in 2 minutes.
If you're starting with a 5x leader, I wouldn't tie any more on, it'll just make the leader harder to turn over. If you're starting with a 4x.. I'd time on a little 5x, if the conditions warrant it. 4x is fine if the water can take it.
I prefer a loop to loop connection to attach my leader to fly line. Makes changing them much easier (as I am starting to tailor my own leaders to different situations so they get swapped out often). To create the loop in a fly line, I just fold it over and tie in a nail knot with some 6-8lb mono, and then snip off all the tag ends nice and close. The guys at your local fly shop can probably do it for you. I use something called a 'tie-fast' tool. They are $5 at the shop and allow you to tie nail knots in about ten seconds (and I believe you can tie a clinch very quickly too). You can use a hemostat for the same knot if your creative too.
For tippet, a spool of 5x is good for general trout use, or other smaller fish. Using a lighter tippet will become more important as you start to learn more about fly fishing and cast to more challenging fish. Fishing in scenarios where you need 7x tippet as a beginner will only be a lesson in frustration. I don't even currently own any, because I am nowhere near skilled enough to fish the few spring creeks up around Bend. Though, I might give it a go sometime over this summer
Like Dan said, your tippet is based on what size fly your using. To figure out the tippet size, take the size of your fly and divide by three. So if your using a size 12 fly, you would use a 4x tippet (12/3=4.) Now if your going after spooky fish, you may need to go smaller (5x or even 6x in this case), but I always try to go with the heavies tippet the fish let me get away with.
I second getting the nail knot tool. It's only a couple bucks and it makes tying the knot almost fool proof (unless you forget how to use it and have to look it back up online....)
To attach my leader to my line, I have a 8" strip on Amnesia nail knotted to the fly line. The other end has a perfect loop on it so that I can then connect with a loop to loop connection. Amnesia is a red colored mono line; I like it because with the red color it works great as a build in strike indicator.
+ 1 on the Nail Knot Tool ... REALLY easy to use and it does have more than one function. Instructions that come with it are clear and I seem to remember that there IS a You Tube thingy that really show the use thereof.
I don't have a nail knot tool. I've always used a small cotter pin and I know others use a coffee stirrer or similar hollow items.
When I don't have any kind of tool handy, I'll tie a nail-less nail knot which is actually pretty simple. Gary Borger Nailless Nail Knot
Knots are easy to learn and an important aspect of fly fishing. To tie them well is just a matter of practice.
Congrats on getting started on the addiction. Everyone is giving you great advice on this, and I have only been flyfishing for two and a half years, So I am not an expert. But I had this same exact question when I started. At first, I tried the trial and error method, but 200 windknots later, I began asking questions at my local flyshops. One good samaritan friend of mine finally gave me a general guideline which I will now pass on to you.
My 'Rule of Thumb,' is based on windspeed/waterspeed and water clarity, and goes like this:
If the water is gin clear and/or flat as glass, use a 5x leader and 6x or maybe 7x tippet.
If there is a bare breeze and/or the tiny ripples (about 1 to 1.5 inches high) on the water, use a 4x leader and 5x tippet.
If there is a little more breeze and/or wavelets (approx. 2 inches high or greater) like you just tossed a small rock in the water, use 3x leader 4x tippet.
If you're fishing a stream, just subtitute current for breeze. So, for slow runs and still pools, I use 5x leaders and 6x tippet, IF the water is pretty clear. If it's murky, then I'll use 4xL/5xT.
For riffles I'll use 4xL/5xT, or even 3xL/4xT if it's pretty foamy. And so on.
Note: 99% of the streams I fish are pretty small, a few of them are no wider than my laptop screen. Most of them are no more than 10-15 ft wide at their widest points. If you fish bigger water, you can probably get away with larger diameter leaders and tippets.
Where I fish, it's generally breezy (10-20 knots), so I use the 3xL/4xT set up most of the time.
As to lengths. Leaders come in different lengths, but most of the time I use 7.5 foot leaders and 2 ft of tippet. This helps me defeat the wind, making it easier to aim and put my fly where I want it. In general, the shorter/larger diameter the leader and tippet, the easier it will be to cast and aim. Your loops will resist collapsing longer, which means fewer windknots and tailing loops, while making it easier to turn over your flies. The longer the combination is, the more precise your casting stroke needs to be to avoid tailing loops and collapsing loops, windknots, etc.
Longer leaders/tippets are useful when fish are particularly spooky and the water is calm and clear, however, they are more difficult to cast if it's breezy. If you're just learning to cast, I'd avoid using longer leaders at first, especially if there is a significant wind.
For myself, I've learned that most of the time I can get away with fishing a 7.5 ft 3x leader and 2 ft 4x tippet for streamers, buggers,etc., or 4xL/5xT for dries in 90% of my fishing situations. This gives me all the benefits mentioned above, and also resists abrasion and allows me to pull my flies free of bushes occasionally. Oh yeah, and it means fewer break offs with that big fish. Consequently, I usually only carry one spool each of 4x, 5x, and 6x tippet. And I use very little of the 6x. I bought a 30m spool of 6x about 2 years ago and I still have most of it. In that same timeframe, I have gone through at least three spools of 4x and 5x tippet.
Once you have developed some confidence in your casting, the longer, smaller diameter leaders and tippets will be a motivating challenge instead of a pure frustration.
In other words, you'll use that 5x quite a bit, so don't worry about it. Hope that helps.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark