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Maine Fly Fish
Vise Junkie

Leader Choice

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6 feet of 15lb ande green on sink tip        8 foot on floating line 12 lb.   nothing fancy

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Sink tip gets 20# straight mono,four feet. Floater gets twelve foot tapered leader with 12# tippet. Intermediate gets 15# mono about nine ft..

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I use Lefty's formula...I use soft Berkeley Big Game mono....an arm span of 40, an arm length of 30, an elbow length of 20 and then 18 to 24 inches of tippet usually flouro, 8,10, 12, 16...I have loops on both ends of the leader...one for fly line...one to loop tippet on....

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what's the difference between leader and tippet? I have two small spools of #5 &#6 tippet. Need to figure out how to tie it on. Does it mean its 5 pound test?

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The leader is a length of either monofilament or fluorocarbon material that is tied to the end of the fly line (typically with a nail knot, but there are other ways to do it).  Usually, it is tapered, being thicker and stiffer at the end attached to the fly line, and thinner at the far end, which will be attached to the tippet.  You can purchase a single piece, tapered leader, which is going to be relatively thick at the butt end, where it will be tied to the fly line, and relatively thin at the other end, where it will be tied to the tippet.  You can also make your own using different lengths of different diameter/strength mono of fluoro material.  For example, you would have a butt section of 30 pound material tied to the fly line; tied to the other end would be a section of 20 or 25 pound material; followed by 15 or 20 pound material, etc.  There are also furled leaders and poly-leaders, but for the sake of simplicity, we'll save those for another time.

The tippet is the material that bridges the end of your leader and the fly.  It is usually monofilament or fluorocarbon as well.  Typically, it is a finer diameter (or sometimes the same) than the lowest section of the leader.  When fishing for toothy species, it is often made of much heavier material, including wire; this is often referred to as bite tippet.

A "#" sign indicates pounds test, meaning the line is supposed to hold (not break) until there is at least that number of pounds force applied to it.  So, 5 pound test leader or tippet may not break until 5.5 or 6 pounds of force is applied.  Monofilament (and possibly fluorocarbon - not sure?) does have a shelf life that's subject to all kinds of factors.  Over time, it degrades a bit, so the actual breaking strength of older stuff may be less than what is indicated on the label.

The "X" designation is a relative scale, and it's not standardized.  With the X scale, a lower number means a higher diameter, higher strength line.  Not being standardized, Rio 5X tippet material is likely to have a slightly different diameter and breaking strength than Scientific Anglers 5X material. They will be reasonably close, though.  5X does NOT mean that it has a breaking strength of 5 pounds; it only means that it is smaller in diameter and has a lesser breaking strength than 4X of the same brand and material.   A very general rule of thumb is to divide the size of your fly by three to get the size of your tippet.  Example - a size 16 fly would be well matched with 5X tippet in most situations.  Of course, there are always exceptions for very clear water, slower water, selective, spooky, or "leader shy" fish (think smaller diameter tippet), and also for murky water, faster water, and more aggressive fish (think larger diameter tippet). 

More than you ever wanted to know about leader and tippet.  But it was a nice distraction for me from more serious work. :-)

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Well done Aldo. That post was like reading an encyclopedia. Hope it answers all the questions!!!:D:unsure:

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That was about the most detailed desciption I have seen about the leader/tippet difference. I am sure that will clear up any confusion for a lot of folks. That was very well done !!

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Aldo

This should be a pinned topic!  

Kevin if you are reading this consider doing just that. 

It is information like this that should be first and foremost readily available to anyone new to fly fishing.

Well done!

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Wait what’s a leader/ tippet? I can’t tie my fly right to my fly line?

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