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Thread: Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

  1. Default Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

    Ok, I'm going to ask a really dumb question here but I have to lol. I'm now officially confused.

    I've been fly fishing for about 2 years now but, as mentioned earlier, only really been dedicated to this fabulous past-time for about a year now and still get confused about some terminology and proper setups etc.

    my question is, since last Christmas I received a fly rod with backing, line, leader / tippet (the leader line tapers down to form the tippet) already set up. Now I've been using that setup because to my knowledge a single long leader tapering into a tippet was fine. But from talking to one of my friends, I was told that the long tapering leader actually doesn't have a tippet and I need to tie a true tippet onto the leader.

    Am I off base or is he? Or are we both? I've researched the leader / tippet structure and I did read about a tapered leader is also the tippet but I also keep reading about "needing to attach tippet line to the leader" and I don't know which avenue is the "proper" avenue to take.

    Also, if I do need to attach a tippet, do I just attach it to the tapered end of the leader or do I chop off the tapered portion of the leader to tie it on?

    I know, dumb question, but I am confused and want to make sure my pole is actually set up right as I'm going on a fishing trip this weekend.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

    you buy the knotless tapered leader by length and (usually) #test at the small end ---you use them right out of the package---as you change flies you will use up part of the small end and at some point it becomes too thick or short and you should add a piece of "tippet" from a spool of given diameter for your application---the "x" number of the tippet is the diameter in thousandths subtrracted from 11---a 7x tippet is .004 " diameter and tests some strength depending on the brand

    the connection of your new tippet can be tied directly to the leader or to a loop ---its your preference ---or you can tie a leader of varying diameters and make your own tapered leader as many of us do

    hope this helps
    "something is happening here but i dont know what it is"---dylan

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  4. Default Re: Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

    Here is my understanding

    The tapered leader tapers down to what is a tippet with a breaking strength equal (more or less) to the way the leader is labled. 10 lb. test leader ends with a 10 lb. tippet. However, as you use the leader that tippet section gets shorter and shorter as you change flies from time to time such that the leader gets shorter and the diameter and breaking strength gets greater. So when the leader gets too short or the section at the end gets too big, you tie on additional tippet of the desired strength and length. This tippet is tied on the the end of the leader using a surgeon's knot or other appropriate knot.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Central Florida

    Default Re: Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

    Hi wolfcry,

    Here is a post from the FAQ section about leaders. There is another post you might find interesting on how to size your tippet to match the fly. Check out the FAQ section.


    Is the tippet and leader the same thing?
    That is a good question and is always a mystery to many new fly fishers.

    The leader has a butt section that is the large diameter line with the loop on it. This is the end that you fasten to the fly line. The other end that is much smaller in diameter is the tippet end. On the package the leader came in is listed the tippet size of the leader in a X size. So you could have a 9' long leader that tapers to a 5X tippet. The tippet diameter is also stated on the package. The small diameter tippet is from 20" to 30" or so long. As you tie on flies you use up the tippet until it is quite short. You then take tippet material that comes on spools and tie on another tippet to make it a 9' leader again. Each time you use up the tippet you tie on another one. This allows you to use one leader for a lot of fishing. Make sure you replace the tippet before it gets so short that your leader end begins to get bigger.

    If you are using a 5X tippet and want to use tiny flies you may need to add a smaller tippet to the existing leader to change it from a 5X tippet to 7X. The larger the X number the smaller diameter the tippet is. You would take some 7X tippet material from the spool and tie it to the 5X leader and you now have a leader with a 7X tippet.

    Here is a very handy chart that may help you out.

  6. Default Re: Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

    I'll add just a couple of additional comments. Many nymphers see little advantage to spending the money on tapered leaders and construct their leader systems with straight mono tippet material.

    You will also add a length of tippet material to tapered leader in both surface and subsurface fishing when you need to either go deeper or separate your fly further from the fly line when casting to spooky fish.

  7. Default Re: Tippet vs. Tapered Leader

    Thank all of you for your help and advise it was all very helpful.

    Thank you frank for posting that table and post about tippets that definitely will help me. I searched for tippet information but I must have used the wrong search terms because I couldn't find anything.

    Again, thank all of you for being so helpful. Its very much appreciated!

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