We're all beginners ...
The term 'leader' covers the mono from fly line to fly; the 'tippet' is just the last section attached to the fly. As such, it will be the 'finest' segment of the leader. (Also the one that gets replaced most often as it get the brunt of 'ware and tear.')
(Over generalization here) Leaders come in two general types: continuous and 'step down.' The first will have no knots and is extruded from a larger/stiff butt section down to the final 'line test' (the tippet end). 'Step down' leaders are 'hand tied' and will use several sections of different leader testages (again, the butt being the heaviest, down to the last section ... the tippet.
How many sections is a function of how long you want the leader to be and the action you want it to impart in turning over the fly at the end of your cast. If you hit the search feature above you'll find one or more very good threads where folks really go into what they like and why.
Forgot to add!!! Welcome to the Board and your first post.
Last edited by fredaevans; 03-28-2004 at 01:34 PM.