Posts Tagged ‘tippet


Fly Fishing: Wicked Knots & Leaders

”Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”

Fly Line-Butt Section Connection (Kind of....)

When you buy a fly line and have it put on the reel, at the shop, insist on the shop employee attaching a butt section of 18″ not 6″.  Not with a loop, without! Learn the Surgeon’s Knot or Blood Knot and attach your nice, new tapered leader to the butt section via one of those two knots. From there repair your own leader by replacing lost sections with sections of progressively smaller mono. Carry these small spools of mono, in various sizes to repair the last half of your leader (depending upon the type of fish you are chasing) I usually have larger diameter spools of mono back at the rig should disaster strike and I have to rebuild the leader from scratch. Do not keep buying new leaders every time you break off 3′ of tippet/leader. This is your choice, your money, but over the long haul you save some money and develop the knot tying skills to avoid the disaster above.

There are previous posts here on SwittersB re leader construction and formulas. The ‘net has lots of information re formulas of so much (a % usually) of this X and then that amount of a different, smaller X. Study up on leader construction. May I admit to never having adopted the X concept? I have a basic memorization of X = # line size. I was a gear guy as well as a fly fisher for years. Leaders were built with so many inches of 10#, 8#, 6#, 4# mono. The fly fishing industry feels compelled to continue with the X diameter system and for you to memorize certain X diameters are equal to certain fly sizes etc. Whatever. If you chase trout, or whatever you pursue, have a good idea of the approximate pound strength of your mono related to the X factor. From there your finger tips will sense the approximate thickness (X or #) you have broken off at, on the leader, (my fingers feel the line is about 6# or 4X) and I am going to rebuild the leader/tippet with a section of 4# or 5X to maintain a taper and proper turnover. If my fly is of the miniscule variety then I will factor in a section of 6X as well, and so on. You should have the 3-4 spools you need with you on the water. If you travel ultra light, you may only carry a couple of spools.

Everything About Leaders at GFF…Excellent Resource

Nail Knot, Nipper, Hook Eye Poker

The above knot does not lend itself to proper, quiet presentations. It gets hung up on the guides as you pull your line through to string the rod. Hell, it looks terrible! I infrequently tie this knot myself, so I am by no means as adept as the kids that spool an re-spool lines all day and tie on new butt sections in a shop. There is a handy tool, I have had for years, and use four or so times a year (usually for some one else’s mess) is the ‘nail knot’ tyer device. Sometimes this comes with a nipper and a stylus to poke through hook eyes that have been glued shut. A handy little gizmo, it is well worth the initial expense. Of course, if you want to use a nail/needle then have at it. ‘Tie Fast Nail Knot’ is an excellent little tool as well and used by shops all the time.      Tie Fast Knot Tyer by DPruitt

'Tie Fast' gizmo

It you are going to deceive the fish, then no tangled webs…learn your knots and use them! These gizmo’s will help….if you practice.


Fly Fishing: Knots Landing

One of the basics of fishing how to’s are knots; the how to tie a certain knot. For the average, beginning fly fisher, fishing freshwater, there are only a few knots to learn. Most beginning books, classes, blogs (to include this one…see search box re “knots”) for fly fishing, have plenty of info on how to tie a cinch/clinch knot, surgeon’s knot, blood knot, nail knot, loop knot. 

The problem I encounter on the water with beginners, is they look past the importance of a maintained uniformly tapered leader/tippet. The proper leader is important in turning over the fly via the cast. It is important in the presentation of a soft delivery to not spook the fish. 

A knot that joins butt section to leader or leader to tippet should not look like a granny knot on steriods. Keep the knots lean and horizontal, not round, irregular and clunky. Knots create drag, so pay attention to this important, basic skill. Understand how to tie/construct/maintain a reasonably tapered leader of around the length of your rod if not more. Strive to maintain that butt section/leader length and only have to touch up the tippet length now and then after break offs or repeated changing of flies.  Presentation of the line, leader, tippet, fly includes a streamlined, properly tied knot. 


fluorocarbon comparisons (and a NW staple…Maxima Ultra)

Interesting study in strengths and weaknesses of fluoro’s. I have noticed a striking improvement in stillwater success since going to clear Intermediate line and fluorocarbon leader material. However, I always use Vanish because of cost and have little probs with it. But, Vanish does not rate very well against most of the other flouro’s. Hmm? Anyway, a review to study and draw what info that benefits you. Breaking, knot strength, mono to flouro have never been an issue for me. Under the stresses of steelhead and salmon, some may have had different experiences. I have never had a failure with bigger fish…yet. I included Maxima because, well, it is familiar and reliable.


Fluorocarbon tippets (all good, but you can save $$$)





I have spent the last five years fishing fresh and salt water venues with the fluorocarbon leader materials. I have only used it as leader/tippet material. I have tried all the name brands and spent tidy sums on small spools of tippet that make you ask ‘Is this stuff really better than mono?’ After five years, yes it is better, but so is my presentation and my fly selection. I admit I will try something new, while others penny pinch or nay say the innovations. So, the following is my humble estimation: They are all pretty darn good, but I do just as well with the considerably cheaper Berkely Vanish. I know, not the classic flyfishing vendor, but it does the job and for a considerable savings. If you like Frog Hair or Rio that is fine. Just my opinion. Also, fluoro has no place on the end of a floating line with a dry fly unless you want that tippet to sink. Fluoro sinks nicely. So, unless you are greasing that leader down to the last few inches to sink an emerger beneath the film, stay with the classic mono for dries. I principally use the fluorocarbon materials on my sink lines and it, I believe, has increased my success rate.
A concern of some:              

“I personally don’t use flourocarbon tippet because of it’s eternal shelf life! I used one spool of it when it first came out, that was before I found out that it basically never biodegrades.” Mike on Utah On The Fly forum, 2002. The only advice I have, to the degree this is true and a valid concern, is use small tippet sections and be careful with any stripped leaders, stripped spinning reel spools or level winds. You should not be dumping mono or fluoro into a body of water anyway. I lose very little leader material while flyfishing. A personal discision, for now, just like lead v. tungsten etc.
Scarecrow Flies~Mini Dragon~GM 2008

Scarecrow Flies~Mini Dragon~GM 2008

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August 2020

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