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KJC

Tippet spools vs standard spools of line

16 posts in this topic

I'm relatively new to fly fishing and am wondering if there is technically any difference in "tippet" vs a spool of 2lb, 4lb, or 6lb mono or fluoro line. I realize that there are likely more choices in diameter, but what if I'm not that fussy.

Also, if there are any others who generally buy spools of 100+ yds of line, do you have tricks to make it more portable... the obvious advantage of "tippet" spools.

Any other general comments on how to be prepared yet avoid carrying more line than necessary?

Thanks,

Karl

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I think you hit on the obvious point, tippet spools are more portable. I've noticed that on many of the spools, the line diameter is smaller than an equivalent line test of "traditional" mono fishing line. That being said, you are perfectly fine fishing with regular mono or fluorocarbon. To be honest with you, on my leaders for sinking lines, I use plain old fluorocarbon. If you tie up your own leaders, nothing's stopping you from using mono from the bigger spools. For more portability, use the smaller 110 yd spools. You might even want to consider using some of the ice fishing lines for tippet. They are often smaller diameters, and come on the small spools as well.

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I agree with Deadhead that tippet material seems to be smaller diameter per pound test than many conventional monofilaments.

Lefty Kreh makes an interesting observation in his newest book on knots. He says that heavier weight monofilaments work well for building knotted tapered fly fishing leaders because they're compounded to straighten out and have little memory - otherwise the material wouldn't come off a spinning reel's spool very well.

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good to know, thanks for sharing that little tid bit

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When you're building a leader you look at the stiffness of the material (subjective, depends on brand), strength (lb test), and diameter. With the fly fishing specific line you know those values, with regular mono you need to measure (diameter usually) and test (stiffness). In the smaller diameter/lighter test line used as tippet for dry fly and light nymph fishing you often want something that is fairly limp so that it will lay out nicely when you cast. Fly fishing tippet is typically designed for this (some brands are limper than others). So, when I'm out fishing for trout with smaller flies and fairly light nymphs I bring spools of tippet by fly fishing companies (usually Rio and Frog Hair) as they are sized right to carry and have the right properties for the purpose. Now, if going after Bass, Steelhead fishing, deep sinking line for lake fishing, and other activities then I choose some line with different properties and often that's line that you would normally see on spinning/casting gear. My Steelhead leaders are generally made of Maxima and/or Rio Saltwater as they're fairly stiff and resitant. Leaders for Chuck & Duck or other heavily weighted presentations are typical mono (Trilene XT) or floro, and a decent floro (or PLine) often resides at the end of a clear sink tip for a lake.

One could make up a nice kit of regular mono's that would serve well as tippet material for dry fly fishing but you would need to test a lot of mono to get an idea as to relative stiffness of the line. Or you can just go to a fly fishing store and buy some spools and be done with it.

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One thing I find odd about tippets is, almost all tapered fly fishing leaders are made from fluorocarbon. Florocarbon sinks. It just seems odd that a leader made for Dry Flys would be made to sink.

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 Originally Posted By: Muddog
One thing I find odd about tippets is, almost all tapered fly fishing leaders are made from fluorocarbon.

really? Most of the ones I see at your usual box store are mono. The scientific anglers and climax leaders carried by gander and cabelas are mono. But yes, fluorocarbon leaders IMO are not ideal for dries because they sink.

dinkadunk hit on a good point about the stiffness of your tippet/leader material. important stuff not to be overlooked, since fly trunover can be crucial when fishing to spooky fish.

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 Quote:
dinkadunk hit on a good point about the stiffness of your tippet/leader material. important stuff not to be overlooked, since fly trunover can be crucial when fishing to spooky fish.

Absolutely, and I wasn't very thorough the other day when I mentioned Lefty Kreh's statement. He was talking about dry fly leaders for trout, not big, beefy leaders for bass fishing or deep dredging for steelhead.

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Lets just make this easy. Get the book; Practical Fishing Knots. By Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh. Page 117. This book will tell you all you need to know about making your own leaders + tippet.

My Cortland 6* (3lb) has a .005" dia (.127mm). I have some 4lb Supreme Super Tough that has a .216mm dia. That is one lb differance but almost twice as thick. My 4* and 5* Scientific Angler doesn't show a line dia. Does all this make a differance? Only the fish can tell you that!

From the book; Half the leader (A) butt section should be 25lb test mono (not more then 25lb test). Section (B) should be half as long as section (a) and made of 20lb test mono. Section © should be half as long as section (B) and made of 15lb test mono. Add tippet.

For a 10.5 foot Bass leader section (A) would be 5' long, section (B) would be 2.5' long. section © would be 15" long. Add two feet of tippet. You now have a 10.5' leader.

It also says "a two foot lenth of monofilament works well as as a tippet".

For lighter work start with a butt section of 20lb mono. AS the book says: Medium-soft material in the but section assists in achieving better turn-over. It even gos on to say braided leaders seem to work well because of it's softness.

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 Quote:
Lets just make this easy. Get the book; Practical Fishing Knots. By Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh. Page 117. This book will tell you all you need to know about making your own leaders + tippet.

True enough, as far as it goes. In fact, I tie my leaders for bass and steelhead with the formula the book suggests. However, Kreh and Sosin caution at the outset, "With the exception of dry fly fishing, you only need a butt section, two intermediate sections and the tippet." The book goes on to suggest slightly modified commercial tapered leaders for dry fly fishing for trout. It's a small distinction, but an important one, I think, to understand that leaders perform differently with the various tasks we put them to.

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Lefty isn't the only person with relevant information on leaders. Do a search for the Leader Calc spreadsheet. It has a large number of formulas for different leaders from different sources (the sources are a good read BTW). I started tying my own leaders when I started using a one weight rod (standard 6x leaders have too heavy a butt section) for fun and games around W. Wisconsin and SE Minnesota. Many leaders are fairly simple to tie but it does make a difference on what you choose for leader material. You do need to do some testing to find what works for you. For example you can build a 9' 5x leader that will layout a fly completely and with slight modifications to the leader (either formula or a diffenent piece of mono) you can have the fly drop down and have some leader coil up to give you a more drift free presentation.

For normal 4wt-6wt trout presentations I like to use commercial leaders and then modify the tippet section. I generally start out with a 7.5' leader one or two weights heavier than what I use for tippet and then hand knot the final sections (2-3') for the delivery I want. Read Joe Humphrey's Trout Tactics. If you haven't read it in a while read it again.

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I think we as Fly Fisherman tend to buy into the myth that Fly Fishing is an extremely technical sport that only rich New York Stock Brokers can afford to do or something rustics who are sons of Doctors do while living in small towns in Montana.

We can over think fly fishing. Remember we are talking about catching fish here. Fish are NOT all that smart. If they were they would not bite on 99% of the flies we cast to them.

Of course, I will use tippet material when it is available to me. But I have used straight 4lb., 2 lb. and 1 lb. test mono before and it caught fish just as well as the best tippet material.

In some situation's I suspect mono would work better as a tippet material than the stuff we normally use. Certainly, it is stronger and holds a knot better.

I suppose I could get an argument over that last statement. I know that lots of fishermen and Fisherwomen are purists and only use the equipment they were told to use when they first started.

However, I tend to think that you ought not to be afraid to try different materials and experiment once in awhile to see if other things might work as well or even better.

One day you may be out there without the right stuff to use but if you have a bit of mono and have used it before having an adequate substitute may mean the difference between a ruined trip and one that catches fish.

Besides, do you honestly think the fish care? So long as the tippet is balanced vis a vis the fly and the leader and line doesn't hit the water to hard and spook the fish I never saw a fish that cared what material the fly was attached to.

Good Luck KJC. You have a lifetime of fun and excitement ahead of you! Welcome to the Fly Fishing community!

Tight Lines.

Uncle Kes

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Um, tippet material is mono, so what's your point again? There isn't anything special about tippet material. Each piece of mono you care to use for any type of fishing has it's own breaking strength, size, stretchability, limpness, and how it reacts to warm or cold water. For fly fishing leaders you choose what works for the specific situation. The fly fishing companies try to make it easier by putting forth product that meets certain criteria and has some consistancy across a product line (i.e. Rio leader material is fairly consistant in how it responds accross the differnt weights). If you want to test a bunch of different mono to find what works in a given situation feel free. I just find that exercise to be quite time consuming, but to each their own. I've fallen into a couple of different brands that give me the flexability to make the leaders I want to make and it's been worth it to me to take the time to learn how that material reacts in certain situations.

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 Originally Posted By: DinkADunk
I've fallen into a couple of different brands that give me the flexability to make the leaders I want to make and it's been worth it to me to take the time to learn how that material reacts in certain situations.

I think DinkADunk hit on a good point, it's worth noting that it is inherent that you become familiar with the limitations and capability of the tippet, no matter who made or designed the line, and it's intended purpose. Whether you use berkley vanish or rio tippet, you should know what your line can and can't do. Otherwise you surely in for some dissapointment on the water.

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I'm under the same impression.

 Quote:
The lad took a needle, a piece of fly line and a leader butt section and in 12 seconds handed me a perfect nail knot. I turned to the audience and said, “ forget what this expert showed you and let’s find out what this young man did”

It was there that I learnd to tie the speedy nail knot, which I have shared with many others. The important point to be made is a near-world expert on a subject can learn something from even a 12-year-old boy.

That is just one reason I love the sport of fly fishing.

Lefty Kreh.

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Thanks for all the discussion. I'm a little slow on the response- the flu visited our house in SE MN and was followed up early this week with a little strep throat. I'm now glad to have a little time to focus on things beyond my two kids.

I am new and like to be a bit creative, so in my limited research I had decided to make "furled" leaders and made several with mono and fluorocarbon for dry or wet flies. As far as I can tell (read as- this guy can't tell) they work well and I am able to turn over a fly, but have never compared to a purchased tapered leader or a knotted-leader, etc.

Has anyone thrown more than a couple casts with a furled leader that can compare it to hand-tied or tapered leaders?

KJC

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