I am getting kinda confused with how/why other anglers choose different size leader/tippet set ups for different styles of fishing. For the longest time I just used 4X fish everything. What is the importance of different diameter line (#X) for different types of fishing ?
Strength vs visibility - lower the 'x' the stronger but also tends to be more visible to the fish. Also ability to turn over a fly - fishing a small dry with 2x might not give a very subtle presentation. I tend to go with the largest tippet a fish will let me get away with. Around here I usually start with 5x or 6x for dries and nymphs and go from there.
That makes sense. So what do think about the difference in line material ? (Ie fluorocarbon, nylon, etc) I ask cause I currently use a 4x fluorocarbon, was informed flouro vanishes more in water, but I don't know if the line profile is showing at the fly
Location: South Florida & the White Mountains of New Hampshire
Re: Leader/tippet importance
I'm an amateur but I've been told to use the following rule of thumb to determine the right tippet to turn over the fly properly.
Divide the fly size by 3 and use that leader / tippet size. So a size 12 fly would get a #4 tippet.
I'm sure those with experience can comment on this. Where I get confused is in windy situations calling for a heavy rod & line but using small flies. It seems that one would want a leader with a heavy butt to match up better the fly line, but a fine tippet end to match the fly.
I'm looking forward to more discussion on this topic. Thanks to the OP for bringing this up.
I use nylon 90% of the time. It's cheaper and it degrades in sunlight. I collect my tippet waste but ends up getting into the stream either from break-offs or stuff that gets away from me. I don't think Flouro ever degrades so if you use it be extra careful to collect your waste.
Advantages, I think it is a bit stronger, and it does 'disappear' more in the water. It also tends to sink a bit though I don't worry about this fishing dries. Since it doesn't degrade you don't have to worry about it weakening like you do nylon. A disadvantage is that you have to be more careful tying your knots.
I keep a spool of 5x and 6x flouro with me and use it if I'm nymph fishing to fussy fish. Some people swear by it but I haven't found I need it for most of my fishing situations.
I think that explains a little about why my nymph/midge fishing is not very productive.
I went with the 4X because at the time I wasn't that educated on line material plus I thought I would be catching good size fish. Reality check, no big fish (yet) and numbers are low. How possible is it to land a fish larger than what your leader/tippet is rated for ? I know there are other factors that go into this question but I'm looking at mainly the line itself.
Like many aspects of fly fishing, one answer will not fit everyone or every condition. If fishing for trout most of the time, the largest tippet I use is 5x. I may use 4x if throwing huge wind resistant flies, but most of the time I am throwing 5x, 6x. I and others have landed huge fish on 5x & 6x. When fishing small flies, use small tippet. You may lose a couple of fish here and there, but you will get much more practice of actually hooking up. 4x on a small fly looks like a piece of rope... (Again, my opinion).
Heavier flies equal stronger tippet. That is basic fly fishing. If you get too techincal, then wind, fly size, casting ability, how pressured the fish are all come into play. If I am fishing small cuttys in the middle of nowhere that have never seen a fly, I still use 5x because I am throwing larger more wind resistant dry flies. When fishing for BIG spooky bows on local water that sees a lot of pressure, I may throw 7x and have a plan on landing the fish once hooked.
I personally use Mono on dry flies and flouro on nymphs. Most mono is neutral (if using a dry, it floats, if using a beadhead, it sinks). When using flouro and dry, I have witnessed the a slight belly in the tippet between the floating leader and the floating dry fly, this causes more drag, not a good thing.
You will lose some fish when playing with smaller tippet, but it does up your game. You will notice an increase in take rates for sure. You may not land all of these fish, but you will notice more strikes. I personally am a big fan of 5x. The line companies have made huge leaps in recent years to diameter / strength of tippet. If I had only one spool of tippet to use, I would choose 5x hands down. It works great on furled leaders as well, where you have much longer lengths of tippet compared to that of a tapered leader. Hope this made sense as I kind of got rambling onů
This chart provides a rough guide to tippet/hook size:
I use a lot of small Midge patterns because they work year round in the Eastern Sierra tail waters that I fish. I also use these:
They add 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. of strength to the tippet material I am using. I have used them for all my nymph fishing for a very long time...the first one's I used came from Andre Puyans' Creative Sports Enterprises here in CA, back in the early 80's.They are a good in-line indicator too. One may make their own using this method:
Williamhj and cutthroat leader, THANKS !! For the past few trips I've been struggling with catching fish (not saying that's all I want, it just helps) I've had to relook at everything I've been doing, learning bug life, fish bahavior, etc etc etc, and it may have been an equipment issue. I'm ready to hit the river and give it another shot
If I am fishing small cuttys in the middle of nowhere that have never seen a fly, I still use 5x because I am throwing larger more wind resistant dry flies. When fishing for BIG spooky bows on local water that sees a lot of pressure, I may throw 7x and have a plan on landing the fish once hooked.
Now that is a set of statements back to back that I will endorse whole heartedly Mike!
I figured out years ago that when in an environment where I stood to catch a lot of fish, it would be very good if I could land / net / grab, each fish quickly once they were securely hooked. I found the heaviest leader material that would be accepted by the fish and in doing so allowed for more fish to be caught in a given period of time.
The part about having a plan for landing a big fish is a stellar moment in posting history here! I have mentioned this a few times however I don't believe it was picked out by many readers. Therefor I am quoting your words hoping that people will think about what you wrote.
When I have reason to believe I may get something really strong hooked to my line I try to take time to observe the area of creek or river before I even present the fly. What I'm looking for is every little thing that will present a probable hazard if you hook a fish that goes wild on you. 9 times out of 10, trying to stand your ground with a really big fish won't go well for either of you. Waiting until your heart is racing and all you can think is 'Oh My God' will be a bad time to try to figure out what to do next. This is when lots of people fall in the river or get spooled.
To bring this to a close; look for obstructions either in the water (that the fish may get caught up in) or those on the shore that will hamper your ability to move with the fish. Last but not least, if you have the fish of a life time don't bother trying to net it while in the water. Simply 'land the fish', bring it to the shore line and then deal with it. Take care not to injure it but if you want to control a big one it's pretty easy when they are in an inch of water. This may sound harmful to the fish but the only way you're going to net a really strong fish out in the river is to play it until it is too worn out to resist. Call it 50/50, what is worse, dragging it to the very shore line quickly and gaining control there (with both hands or your net) or playing it until exhaustion and netting.