Originally Posted by bigdon90
Is it necessary to use a tapered leader to attach to the fly line, or can I just use tippet material. If not what is the benefit of the tapered leader?
As is indicated you can use tippet or any level monofilament as a leader but your fly presentation will suffer greatly.
The tippet serves several purposes and it's the final link before your fly. Two feet of tippet is about right for starts and it should always be of less strength than your fly line backing. When considering the range of species targeted with the fly rod and the range of rod sizes, we find tippets ranging from the 8X teensie tiny fly tippet all the way up to 22 lb test.
For trout and most freshwater species you'll be using tippets in that 1-8lb test range with an emphasis in the 2.5-5 lb range.
Note the point above on your fly line strength. Fly lines in the 0 to around 4 weight size will have a core strength of between 12 and 15 lbs, move on up to the 4-7 weight lines and you'll find it rated around 20 lbs and finally go up to the 8-12 wt lines and you'll find 28 lb test or so for the fly line core. If you value your fly line when handling a big fish or attempting to unsnag a fly, keep your tippet strength below the line's core strength and your backing above it.
The tippet, by the way, is also know as the class tippet by many who at times fish for world records. When doing this it must be a minimum of 24 inches long I believe to conform to the rules of the International Game Fish Association, or IGFA.
The tapered leader is designed to cause and enable the fly to change directions and turn over without the fly falling in a muddle of tippet or turning over too fast and hard and thereby making a splash.
In general, I use a commercially tapered leader with the tippet that is built in when ever fishing a weedy area for Bass for instance, as less knots equate to less snagged weeds and hangups. Other than that I use a combo of commercially tapered leaders with new tippet added as needed and hand made leaders and tippet interchangably. The midsection and butt of a commercially tapered leader will often last me a season while going through a spool or two of replacement tippet.
For the smaller diameters tippet, I use the improved, or Stu Apte Blood knot or for it's knot strength over a regular blood knot.
Another strong connection for the finer tippets of 5x and smaller is the Surgeons Knot but with three times through instead of the customary
two. For larger tippets the regular blood knot does just fine.
To save time and your fly line tip, tie in about 20 inches of mono that's equal to or slightly heavier than your leader butt sections. I then tie a very small loop using the Perfection Loop knot in that and another in the leader's butt enabling a loop to loop fast change connection.
Tying the 20 inch section to the fly line I prefer to use a needle method to bury the mono inside the fly line tip. When fishing weedy areas I roughen the tip of the mono and then pull it into the tip of the fly line with a dab of super glue, using no other knots. On the remainder of my fly lines I use the needle method coupled with the knot. (needle knot) Once you finish the tip tie, you'll have about a 12 inch section of permentant butt with that Perfection Loop in it's end. It's a good thing to coat the Needle Knot with Knot Sense or other coating glue to protect and smooth it out once tied. That also applies to your other leader knots.