A fly-fishing author, and shop owner, wrote that he replaces his tippet material every year because he doesn't want to lose a good fish due to tippet failure. I've gone to fluorocarbon, so this would be really expensive. I have separate "vests" for trout and smallmouth, further increasing the cost.
My tippet doesn't get sunlight except when I'm fishing. Tippet failure is rare, probably a reflection on the size fish I catch, and usually involves something like a sharp rock.
How long to you keep your tippet material: one, two, three years? Three years seem reasonable to me.
Also, how do you convert lbs., e.g., 20 lb. mono, to x's, e.g., 1x tippet?
Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: Tippet material longevity?
I've got stuff that is older than some kids. I just keep it in the dark and it will last longer than I do. As for fluorocarbon, I hate to use the stuff because it does not break down in nature. I would certainly never make a whole leader out of it.
I think another consideration is what size and how fast the angler uses tippet up. If the angler rarely uses any think thicker than 4X, then why replace the the leader material that is 3X and thicker every year? The weakest part of the leader is the tippet; and even if you use 3X that is several years old to rebuild a leader, it will not be as weak as the fresh 4X and 5X that you are tying to it.
I never will understand telling newbies to always buy new tippet material every year. There is a lot of good 3X and 2X stuff being thrown away.
As an example, I use 4X and 5X tippet for 99% of my fishing. Rio Powerflex leader/tippet material in 5x is 5 lb test, 4x is 6.4 lb test, 3x is 8.2 lb test, and 2x is 10 lb test. It will take several years to weaken a 3x 8.2 lb test leader material to the 5.0 lb of the 5x material it is likely tied to. In the 30 plus years I have been fishing, I can't remember when a fish broke the older section of leader material below the tippet. The tippet always breaks.
Most of the time I use tippet fast enough that I do not purposely buy new tippet every year. Consider that the spool I was using at the end of the season was bought late in the season. Why should I throw it away for "new" tippet that may be at best 6 months "fresher".
I will use the same spool of nylon tippet I was using at the end of the last season; and during this season, it will run out and I will buy a fresh spool. Consider that I am still buying at least a new spool every year. Who cares if the swap is in during the season or at the beginning of the season? As long as you use at least one spool of the tippet material that you commonly use every year it makes no difference when that changeover is made.
While it is true that nylon monofilament breaks down faster than fluorocarbon, faster is a relative term in this case. Nylon mono takes 500 - 600 years of full environmental exposure to break down so lets not toss mono because we believe it "breaks down". It is faster that only because fluorocarbon takes about 4000 years.
If Christ's apostles had fluorocarbon fishing nets, they would still be on the bottom of the Sea of Gallilee.