If fly fishing appeals to you, the first thing you need to do is set yourself up with the right gear. Using the right type of gear is imperative to your success; however, with that said, choosing the right type of gear is easier said than done.
The tippet should be 2 to 4 feet in length and should match, or be smaller than, the diameter of the leader’s tip.
To help make the decision a bit less confusing and easier for you – and to improve your chances of achieving success, below, we’ll discuss what size fly fishing tippet and leader you should choose.
What Is A Tippet In Fly Fishing?
First, let’s define what a tippet is.
Tippet is a specialized type of fishing line that has the same weight, poundage, and diameter throughout the whole line, and these elements are consistent throughout the entirety of the line.
Each time you change out a fly and snip off the excess, you’re going to lose more length on the line.
After you’ve snagged some trees or reeds (it’s bound to happen), you’ve caught a fish, and you’ve changed flies, the line is going to get pretty short.
The easiest way to add extra length is by attaching a section of fly fishing tippet.
Related: Can You Use Regular Fishing Line As Tippet?
What Is A Fly Fishing Leader?
Of course, you also need to know what fly fishing leaders are.
In fly fishing, a leader is a tapered section of line that is designed to be tied onto fly fishing flies that are attached directly to your thick, colored fly line, either by a knot or a loop-to-loop connection.
They can be hand-tied, hand-woven or they can be machine-made; however, no matter fly leaders are made, they are always tapered and one end is thicker than the other end.
The taper on a leader has a specific purpose, and that purpose is to direct momentum and energy from the fishing rod to the fly while you’re casting.
Typically, fly leaders measure 7.5 feet, 9 feet, or 12 feet long.
The different lengths are intended for fishermen who cast in various types of conditions, and 9 feet is the standard length.
How Do You Use A Tippet?
Changing out a fly involves clipping off the thinnest end of the line, and each time you clip it, the line gets shorter.
Leaders are tapered, which means that with each clip, you get closer to the thickest part of the leader.
After prolonged use, leaders wear down, and eventually, they’re rendered short, thick, stubby, and ineffective.
Usually, the leader gets too thick, and tying a solid knot in it is impossible.
Fortunately, there is a way that you can add more line to the leader so that you can keep on using the leader and continue casting.
Instead of replacing the old leader with a new one, you can cut off a piece of thinner tippet and tie it onto the leader you are currently using.
With this method, you’ll be able to tie on a few additional feet of tippet, manually craft your own tapered lead, and continue casting your line.
Types Of Tippet And Leader Lines
There are two main kinds of tippet: monofilament and fluorocarbon.
The former has lower poundage, it can be used in a variety of ways and for catching various species of fish, and the price tag tends to be lower.
The latter is usually stronger and is intended to be used when you fishing in harsher conditions or you’re targeting bigger or more aggressive fish and need a more durable line, and the price tends to be higher.
Monofilament tippet is usually used for fly rigs, creating a fly line that can be used in pretty much all situations.
Do take note, however, that you should never leave monofilament exposed to direct sunlight, as the harsh UV rays of the sun will deteriorate the material.
It’s a good idea to check over your line for kinks, knots, cuts, and bruises (areas that have developed an opaque white color).
How To Pick The Right Size?
Trying to determine when it would be best to use a 4X tippet or a 9-foot leader rather than a 6X tippet and a 7.5 leader can be really confusing for fly anglers of all experience and ability levels.
Your success on the water greatly depends on the type of line you are using, so with that said, here’s a look at a few key factors that you should take into consideration that will help you decide what size tippet and leader will best suit your needs.
1. Tippet Size
Thicker tippets and leaders between 0X and 3X in size are stiff enough to be rolled over and cast with heavier flies with a higher degree of accuracy.
Mid-range tippets between 4X and 5X are best suited for fly fishing in small streams and for nymph rigs.
Mid-range tippets aren’t ideal for casting big files or for flies that are smaller than #8.
For small files and delicate casts, thinner tippets between 6X and 7X are ideal.
2. Fish Type
The size of the fish you’re targeting will also dictate the size of the tippet and the leader to choose.
Lighter lines are best for stronger fish that are going to put up a fight.
On the other hand, heavier lines are suitable for less aggressive fish.
3. Water Type
The type of water you’ll be casting in needs to be considered, too. in rougher waters, a 7X tippet is definitely the way to go if you want to increase your chances of success.
In calmer water, casing a line with a 9X tippet would be a wise choice.
I hope this article was useful for you! Thanks for reading!
Tight lines, bend rods, and may all your fishes come true!