How do I Know What Tippet is and What Size do I Need!?
Once you’ve got your leader, you’re going to need to grab some tippet line. I know, what the heck is tippet and why do I need another type of line!? Well tippet is an even lighter weight clear line that is then attached to your leader and then to the fly. The key to determining tippet size is understanding what tippet to use in order for it to be the strongest possible tippet without being noticed by the fish. Typically, you want your tippet to match the “X” of your leader or be one “X” lower than it. If the leader is much bigger than the tippet then tying it to the leader will be difficult and most likely the knot will just slip off. For example, on my rod for the fishing I do I use 5x leader, tie on 5X tippet to the leader then tie it to a medium size attractor fly like a leech and then tie 6X onto that fly and drop it to my much smaller fly like a midge. Sounds complicated now but with time and practice it’s really just connecting line to line and line to flies!
Below we see Tate, our VP of Operations, choosing his tippet. Tippet comes on circular holders to unravel easy.
The tippet you use is also determined by fish size but also fly size. Smaller fish and flies need smaller tippet and larger fish and larger flies need larger tippet. For example, a small creek with smaller trout need 5X-6X leader and then you’re using a small dry fly, say a size 16 Parachute Adams, you’ll want to attach 6X to your leader and then to your fly. Now let’s say you’re streamer fishing in a large river for some bigger trout, your fly is a size 4 streamer, you’re probably going to want to go with 1X leader and then attach either more 1X or 2X tippet down to your streamer. Of course, this is all up for interpretation, as different anglers prefer different sizes and you really just have to get a feel and determine for yourself what you’re comfortable with!
Below you can see what tippet looks like when you go to purchase it. You can buy one solo tippet or buy several at a time and a tippet holder which attaches to your bag! Tippet again comes in many brands and categories. It’s good to have a couple sizes on hand just in case one is spooking the fish or one is snapping off on fish then you can always change up!
I have found a good rule of thumb to determine tippet size is take the size of the fly and divide it by 3 or 4.