Tippet vs. Leader. What's the difference? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Tippet vs. Leader. What's the difference?

04-07-2006, 08:28 PM
Hello all. First time here, first post also. I have a nice cheap pole from Wally World. I've fished about 3 times so far and enjoy it. I have yet to catch anything. I'm putting new line on my pole and don't know what I need. I'm pretty sure, not positive, that my current pole (came pre strung) only has tippet. There is only one clear line, very thin, from the fly line to the fly. However, I've been reading and see there most pictures and knot guides show a fly line, leader, and tippet. I take it tippet and leader are different things since you can buy both at Wal Mart. Can some one explain the difference please? From what I have gathered, the leader ties to the fly line and the tippet ties to the leader. When you have clipped enough tippet away, you cut it off the leader and put more on. How long should my leader be and how long should my tippet be? I just bought that Scientific Angles L2L system with the plastic fly line to leader connector. My confusion is that I think that the fly gets tied on to the end of the leader which is tapered and like 9 feet long. I though that when it gets short from changing flies, you toss it and put on new leader. I don't see the purpose of tippet or its function. If I use leader and tippet, I'd have a very long section of clear line, 9 ft of leader, and some unknown length of tippet. I have no idea on how long the tippet should be or if I need it. Thanks for your help.

04-08-2006, 03:44 AM
Meaning no disrespect a side effect of shopping at stores that offer bargains but no knowledge is you have to ask things you'd get for free at a flyshop. You might have saved a dollar or two over a local flyshop but the things you learn are often worth their weight in gold. You might not have a local flyshop, that is understandable. However contacting a real flyshop by phone perhaps will get you a lot of information as well. Sorry for the mini-lecture...

The difference between a leader and a tippet is:

- A leader is the whole segment of mono between the fly and the flyline
- A tippet is only the final section where the fly is attached

A leader graduates from thick to thin to aid turnover of the fly, consisting of butt, taper and tippet. The butt is stout and should transer the energy from the fly line to the leader. The taper steps the diameter down to blend the butt with the tippet. It is a transitional piece between the two.

The tippet is the final piece that provides the presentation of the fly to the fish. It can be a different material from the rest of the leader, for instance low visibility flourocarbon. It is typically a straight (level) diameter.

One-piece leaders have no knots because they are extruded as one tapered piece. You only need tippet to replace the end of the leader after wear or to adjust it for certain flies and fishing.

Or you can use blood-knots to make your own leaders. Both work fine. I prefer to make my own because the cost savings are huge and you can fine tune for specific applications (e.g. fine trout leaders, long Spey casting, sinking lines, floating lines, bonefishing in wind, striped bass in surf, etc.). Tying your own teaches one a thing or two about leader design.

Hope that helps! Also if you post your home area maybe someone can direct you to a good flyshop, if you are interested.

04-09-2006, 07:53 PM
Ya, local shops are probably the best to hit. I do support my local hobby shops insted of the large chains due to great information which is usually worth the extra few cents or occassional dollar saved. I did find one, but need to wait til Monday to ask all my questions and buy a few flies.