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Thread: The "X" designation for leaders/tippets Compromised?? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
01-17-2007 05:35 PM
millerbrown This exchange is very interesting. The great flyfishing writer of the early-mid twentieth century, Sparse Grey Hackle, wrote about how British firms, most notably Hardy, would oversize their tippets to win breaking strength contests against the competition a hundred years ago. I also have a Flyfisherman Magazine article, circa 1970's, that suggested we purchase a micrometer because tippets don't match their "x' designation.

The beat goes on....

Millerbrown
01-16-2007 11:14 PM
chromedome
Quote:
Originally Posted by JR SPEY
chromedome,

I think you were right when you mentioned that maybe you weren't making your point clear early on. I agree that some materials are not the diameter that is stated on the spool. Also, many materials test out at a higher breaking strength than what is listed on the spool (and a few test out with less strength.) This has bothered the Europeans enough that there is now a testing procedure available that puts the EFFTA approval on materials that past the test for correct diameter and strength. Perhaps that's what will happen eventually in this country. For someone who consistently gets high readings on most materials he/she tests I often think that they may have a defective micrometer, but if most of the materials you check are accurate or very close and others are off, I would say that either the manufacturer is careless about which label is put on with each spool or is deliberately mislabeling its product. Truthfully, I don't really know why a company would want to do this as there really doesn't seem to be any marketing advantage to it, other than perhaps coming off as having a stronger material to those fishers who don't check the diameter. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm not sure what specifically can be done about it other than the rather costly prospect of having some independent testing concern test the product before it goes to market. Thank you, though, for clearing up the intent of your initial post.
Regarding break strength, one prominant fly shop owner told me that's the property that he see the most variation in. And good for the europeans! We need more of that kind of activity over here. On the micrometer, while it is a precision measuring instrument, I believe it is very hard for it to be inaccurate. If you get a zero reading fully closed, and if it checks out against some standard of known diameter then its accurate. More to the story of my original thread, and a good example of micrometer accuracy, is that the Mfgr. of the 0.011" dia tippet that should have been 0.010" did get back to me. They were quite concerned and sent me a spool they said would be truly 0.010" free of charge. Sure enough, it measured exactly 0.010" with my micrometer. Right now I'm quite pleased with them once more. It does look to me as if mfgrs may be oversizing for just the reason you give - ie, it makes them look better in the strength department. They've probably determined that few ever bother to check the diameter of the tippet they buy, and a great many others don't care. Judging from the activity generated by this thread it would seem they are right. In my case I got so comfortable with the aforementioned mfgr that truthfully I stopped checking the diameter each time I bought a spool. But the over sized spool I bought seemed to be over sized when I first started to use it and this prompted me to check it out.
01-16-2007 10:14 PM
JR SPEY chromedome,

I think you were right when you mentioned that maybe you weren't making your point clear early on. I agree that some materials are not the diameter that is stated on the spool. Also, many materials test out at a higher breaking strength than what is listed on the spool (and a few test out with less strength.) This has bothered the Europeans enough that there is now a testing procedure available that puts the EFFTA approval on materials that past the test for correct diameter and strength. Perhaps that's what will happen eventually in this country. For someone who consistently gets high readings on most materials he/she tests I often think that they may have a defective micrometer, but if most of the materials you check are accurate or very close and others are off, I would say that either the manufacturer is careless about which label is put on with each spool or is deliberately mislabeling its product. Truthfully, I don't really know why a company would want to do this as there really doesn't seem to be any marketing advantage to it, other than perhaps coming off as having a stronger material to those fishers who don't check the diameter. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm not sure what specifically can be done about it other than the rather costly prospect of having some independent testing concern test the product before it goes to market. Thank you, though, for clearing up the intent of your initial post.
01-16-2007 04:48 PM
juro Well there is a broad spread consisting of steelhead/salmon, striper, tropical, warmwater and trout anglers here on the Forum - unlike some communities that are very trout-centric so it's bound to produce a less concentrated point of view on well-established things like the X rating.

However there's always some value in learning things like this, one never knows when it will come in handy.

I like the trick of subtracting from 11, thanks. Just subtract the X number from the meaningful digits in .011 to get the diam, right? E-Z.

For instance, take river levels. Some guys have a mental image of gauge height in feet while others only in cubic feet per second. Frankly, I can tell which rocks stick out of one river based on gauge height alone but need the CFS to have a clue about another river's fishability because of the basis of how I came to know them each.

A system is right when it works for you, and to be open to many systems is to be a smarter angler IMHO.

So an 8x is only .003? wow talk about spider web! Couldn't even floss my teeth with that after shore lunch.
01-16-2007 03:27 PM
chromedome
Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
interesting discussion

Although I can be anal retentive about some things in flyfishing, when it comes to leaders and tippets I am a simpleton.

I buy maxima leader spools in graduated #test from biggest to smallest, skipping a few down in the real light sizes (where they increment by the pound) and try to make reasonable step-downs based on the 60%/20%/20% rule.

I have never used the X system in my life, although I understand what it is et al - however if someone could explain the benefit of using it I will gladly adopt it.


Hi Juro,

I'm beginning to think I'm the only one using the X system!! I think it all started when I began fly fishing way too many years ago. I suppose the X system was referred to in articles I read and I felt I should be thoroughly familiar with it. I came to think more in terms of X rather than actual values (inches or mm) since I found it easier. As a retired scientist I should point out that dealing in thousandths of an inch is no problem either. To get the X value of a tippet take its diameter to the nearest thousandths of an inch, multiply that by 1000 and subtract that value from 11. For example, 0.011" would be 0X and 0.009" would be 2X. For me it just became simpler to live in the world of X. I should point out that had I known how little it is used by fly fishermen, I wouldn't have mentioned X at all since this was supposed to have been simply a discussion of how tippets as supplied by mfgrs. are oversized relative to the diameters (stated in inches or mm) shown on spool labels.
01-16-2007 02:52 PM
juro Let me add a little to this to be more clear... and maybe sound like less of a cromagnon angler

if the tippet X rating relates to fly size, then doesn't the whole arrangement fall apart when large, heavy, weighted, densely tied, epoxied flies or sinking lines are used? I've often heard people talking about how they had to got to a 2x to cast that fly, or it was so windy that... etc. So the X to fly size relationship is really loose once fly design is considered.

Also the stiffness of various monofilaments, flourocarbons, varies quite a bit. We all know that stiffness plays a role in casting and turnover.

The breaking strength has already been talked about but it can't be completely separated from this discussion as thick tippets are frequently used to prevent breakage.

If it's purpose is to aid the angler in deciding which fly or tippet to use, then I see a good 'rule of thumb' value there.

But I don't see it as being necessarily better than a good gut feel for using a thinner or thicker tippet for experienced anglers.

The X rating also applies to whole leaders, e.g. a 3x leader. I believe that leader is based on tippet size graduating back to the butt. I tend to match the butt to the fly line first then taper forward to the target tippet size, which can be achieved by lengthing (adding sections) or shortening (removing sections).

Butt to line matching does wonders for energy transfer.

Just a few more thoughts on the topic...
01-16-2007 02:14 PM
juro interesting discussion

Although I can be anal retentive about some things in flyfishing, when it comes to leaders and tippets I am a simpleton.

I buy maxima leader spools in graduated #test from biggest to smallest, skipping a few down in the real light sizes (where they increment by the pound) and try to make reasonable step-downs based on the 60%/20%/20% rule.

I have never used the X system in my life, although I understand what it is et al - however if someone could explain the benefit of using it I will gladly adopt it.
01-16-2007 01:56 PM
chromedome
Quote:
Originally Posted by JR SPEY
I think what Smolt was saying is that the X designation is archaic, and I tend to agree. If the manufacturer puts both the actual diameter and an accurate strength designation on the spool I don't see how they can be accused of "shoddy labeling." My guess is that there are a large number of flyfishers today who don't even really understand (or even need to understand) the X designation. Most of us who've been around awhile have come to depend upon it, but with so many types of materials today the X doesn't tell you anything you can't determine by knowing the other two pieces of information.
OK, so maybe its mainly us old guys who still think in terms of "X". And sorry if I offended anyone. And maybe I'm not getting my point across. On a typical spool of tippet you will find the X designation, diameter in thousanths of an inch, and strength written on the label. The X designation matches the diameter so there's nothing shoddy so far. Lets say for an example of what actually happened that on the label a diameter of 0.010" is shown with a designation of 1X. Where the shoddy comes in is if you then take and measure the diameter of the tippet and find it to be significantly greater than 0.010", and especially if the measurement goes up to the next X designation of 0.011" or 0X or even more as I have seen in some cases. Since a diameter of 0.011 will obviously be stronger in strength than a diameter of 0.010, a user of this material could be led to believe they have stronger tippet at the desired diameter if they just go by what they read on the label.
01-16-2007 09:05 AM
Smolt Thank you JR Spey.
01-16-2007 08:19 AM
JR SPEY I think what Smolt was saying is that the X designation is archaic, and I tend to agree. If the manufacturer puts both the actual diameter and an accurate strength designation on the spool I don't see how they can be accused of "shoddy labeling." My guess is that there are a large number of flyfishers today who don't even really understand (or even need to understand) the X designation. Most of us who've been around awhile have come to depend upon it, but with so many types of materials today the X doesn't tell you anything you can't determine by knowing the other two pieces of information.
01-15-2007 11:10 PM
chromedome
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smolt
Why use the X designation at? Just put the accurate diameter measurement and breakage strength on the label and be done with it. My $0.02., in inches and mm,
I'm assuming you mean "Why use the X designation at all?" So are you saying that just because a mfgr puts data on a spool of tippet he shouldn't have to stand behind that data? If so, you're just the kind of customer every shady business man dreams about.

Oh sure, I'm going to go through and start relabeling all my tippet material so a mfgr can continue with this shoddy practice of wrong labeling .
01-15-2007 10:17 PM
Smolt Why use the X designation at? Just put the accurate diameter measurement and breakage strength on the label and be done with it. My $0.02., in inches and mm,
01-14-2007 06:31 PM
chromedome
The "X" designation for leaders/tippets Compromised??

I recently purchased a spool of tippet made by a leading supplier labeled 1X. I've always believed that by definition this material should measure 0.010" in diameter, or at least be much closer to 0.010" than the diameter for the next X designation. The material on the spool measured 0.011" in diameter almost exactly. To me this is a product that is seriously out of spec because in reality it is 0X in size, again by definition. I then tried to get this same product from a very well known mail order/online supplier. Again it came to me as exactly 0.011" in diameter. Yet a third order for 1X tippet of another brand from yet another retailer was even larger in diameter than 0.011". A common thread here is that all material was made in this one same foreign country whereas some earlier bought tippet, that was in spec, was made in the USA.

On top of that, I came across an article on this new and improved tippet material from a well known, respected supplier where they are promoting this improved tippet material. They basically are saying the new stuff is so good in a certain X designation that they can make it a little thinner (and still call it 5X). I read that and said "WHAAAA". Specifically they say "As an example, previous generation 5X fluorocarbon measured .17 mm in diameter, whereas (the new and improved) 5X measures .16 mm." Hmmm! Now just by definition, 5X tippet is 0.006" in diameter. By my math, correct me if I'm wrong, this turns out to be 0.152 mm. So the unnamed supplier, while boasting of being able to decrease diameter size, is still selling an over sized product at .16mm. But to me that's not the worst part. It appears that this supplier doesn't see the connection between the X designation and diameter even granting that there is surely a +or- tolerance on the diameter.

It seems to me that if the trend shown in these observations continues we'll have an eroding in the meaning of the X designation and a degree of chaos in being able to rely on the X designation for knowing the diameters of our tippets.

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