How to Choose the Proper Fly Fishing Tippet and Leaders
There are a number of different sizes of tippets and leaders available. Each size fish will require one of a different size. Here I will outline the differences, so you are sure to make the proper choice for your fishing needs.
Leaders are always tapered from very heavy weight line on one end to quite thin on the other. They come in a few different lengths. You are likely to see 7.5′ and 9′ leaders at your local fly shop. Personally I tend to buy the shorter ones and add a little extra tippet on the end if I feel like I want it longer. For most of my brown trout fishing I will usually end up with a total leader and tippet length of around 9-10 feet. There are however always exceptions.
Shorter leaders tend to be much easier to cast and will give you more control over your fly. By using a shorter leader it tends to be much easier to cast in closely to the shoreline where the fish are laying without hooking trees. I will buy a 7.5′ 2x leader 90% of the time and add on some 3 and 4x tippet to the end. By using this method you will be able to hook trees and never actually be leaving any of your leader itself hanging from trees and rocks. The tippet will ideally break leaving your entire leader in tact. I go over some more of this, in the fly fishing basics/line page
As you can see on the image, tippets are sized from 0-8x the higher the number is the lighter weight the tippet is. Generally the fly fishing tippet size for brown trout will vary. It will depend on what size fly you are using and how picky the fish are. For instance, if you are using streamers you can use much heavier weight line than if you are using small dry flies. The 8x tippet shown in the diagram is a little extreme in my opinion and I would not ever recommend using it. It might work well for fishing in your fish tank for guppies, but it has no place on a trout stream. The lightest I have ever used is 6x. This will fit through the eye of even the smallest flies and will easily hook even the most picky trout.
For most of My fishing I will generally use 4x tippets. This is still high strength and will fool most trout in water that is flowing at a decent rate. The lighter stuff I usually reserve for either really slow water and picky fish, or if I am forced to use an extremely small fly. I try to carry with me a spool of each size from 0x to 5x and one spool of around 20# test. With that I can remake nearly an entire leader from scratch assuming there is some heavy stuff left at the base.
Fly fishing tippets come in small spools of either 30 yards or around 100 yards. They will all snap together nicely so they become very easy to organize and keep situated in your fishing vest. The diagram on the right is the sizes and weights of rio powerflex tippets. Different companies will have different weights and diameters for their particular brand. You can expect them to all be different, because there really is no industry standard for tippet rating sizes.
Average Sized Tippets and Leaders Used for Trout
Streamers and night fishing 0x-2x
Small dry flies 3x-6x
most nymph fishing 2x-5x
guppies and goldfish 6x-8x 🙂
Hopefully this has covered any questions on fly fishing tippet. If you happen to come up with any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will be sure to answer it as soon as I can.
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