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  1. Default Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    I am a total fly fishing rookie. I have been out fly fishing once on a Colorado mountain stream with a co-worker using all of his gear. I am now trying to figure out a few things. I know what a leader is from fishing for bass with spin reel. I see that tapered leaders are the norm in fly casting. What are the advantages of shorter vs. longer leaders? What wright leader is preferred? What is a tippet? What is the function of a tippet?
    How do you match the size of your leader and tippet to your line? If I fishing with a 4 pound line weight what X leader and tippet should I use? Would I want to change leader and/or tippet if I am using dry flies vs. nymphs?
    Please help the rookie if you have a few minutes.


  2. Default Re: Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    Hi Kraig,

    If your are fishing a 4 weight line I am going to assume you are fishing for trout. In that case you would want to use a 4x or 5x leader. Tippet is what you attach to the thin end of your leader. This is usually 1x lighter in strength then your leader. So for a 4x leader normally you would use 5x tippet, 5x leader would be 6x tippet. Normal leader length is normally 8 to 9 feet. The longer the leader the harder it will be to "turn over" (basically it will pile and not flip out straight).

    Oh by the way, your tippet length should be somewhere between 1 and 2 feet in length.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Default

    The best advise I can give you is to go to a flyshop and ask them these questions as it can be a little tricky to explain on line,wich is not to say the functions of leaders and tippet is hard to understand,I'll try to awnser your questions.First as you change flies you leader get's shorter,the easy awnser is tippet is tied on to your leader to lenghten and replace the leader lost when changing flies,now to confuse thing's abit,different water and fishing conditions call for different leader lenghts and diameters,ie,low clear water with spooky fish that are taking small insects call for longer,finer tippet or leaders whereas casting big streamers towards the banks of a muddy river in runoff uasally calls for short thicker leaders.In general a 9ft 4x or 5x leader work just fine in most conditions most of the time.just make sure you bring a spool of 4 or 5x tippet to replace the leader as it gets shorter.When fishing dry fly's in "normal" conditions a 9 foot leader should be just fine,but if you find the fish not hitting ,then try adding another 2-3 feet of fine tippet to your leader,on the other hand when nymph fishing a shorter leader may be called for as shorter leaders give you more control of the fly.That is just the basics of the role leaders and tippet play,but as you learn more and flyfish more you will soon come to realize that the size of flies being cast and the wind,size of the target fish and other varibles also come into play when deciding what size,lengh of leader to use.2x=thick strong stiff leaders 7x=very fine limp and lower breaking point,also a basic knowledge of knots is very important as your leader is only as stong as the knot you use.
    hope this helps
    tight lines

  4. Default Re: Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    Hi Kraig,

    Good questions ... I think you will find comprehensive answers by reading my series, "Of leaders, Tippets, and Knots." Simply follow this link:

    I will be happy to field other questions that you might have.


  5. Default Re: Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    Quote Originally Posted by dougm

    I will be happy to field other questions that you might have.

    Some good reading there Doug. Thanks

  6. Default Re: Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    Glad to help...


  7. Default Re: Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    Hey Kraig

    Here is a fast way to figure out tippet/leader size. Divide the size fly you are using by 3 (size 12 fly = 4x tippet) when the number comes out as a fraction use the tippet closest to the number (size 14 fly = 5x as does size 16 fly) This way is fast and easy good luck fishing
    Golden Sides

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Rookie questions, tippets and leaders

    On the tippet vs. leader thing, it might help to know that to some degree, they are one and the same. Say you buy a 9' 5x leader. The last 3' or so of that thing is tippet. Once you have tied on and trimmed the excess for 6-12 flies, you will have used up the tippet section of the leader and will be getting into the tapered part.

    Instead, do this- after you've cut 2.5' off your leader in the process of tying flies on, pull off 3' of tippet from your spool and use a double surgeons knot to attach it to your leader. Now you have replaced the tippet section of your leader.

    The main point of using tippet instead of replacing your leader each time is to save time and money. Leaders will run you $3-4 each. A 30 yard spool of tippet will cost about the same. By replacing the tippet section of your leader with tippet off of your spool, you can get the equivalent of 10 leaders (3' x 10 = 30 yards) for the price of two. I think you'll find that you can tie on a new tippet faster than you can replace your whole leader, so you'll spend more time fishing and less time fiddling with your leader.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

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