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Old 05-09-2000, 10:02 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Steelhead country|striper coast|bonefish belt
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RE:Saltwater Tippet Question

Being an AJ McClane disciple, I follow the classic 60%/20%/20% rule with adjustments for length and line style.

AJ says:

Butt = 60% of total leader, where this is again split
60/40 for longer leaders (or left one-pc for stout
or short leaders)
Taper = 20% of length
- split three ways for long trout tapers,
- split two ways for midlength and high test tapers,
- or one-piece for short sinking lines
Tippet = 20% of length

May sound complicated but it's pretty easy and makes for a nice turnover on the leader. To keep things easy, I use small Maxima spools that come in graduated diameters corresponding to lb test ratings. You just buy from butt size to tippet size and one of each in between. When one runs out, you replace it. You carry spares in the glove compartment, etc. The tippet burns quickly but the other spools get good mileage. I also carry flouro tippet in 12, 15 and 20 for flats work.

Therefore a striper leader for intermediate clear lines according to my preferences is:

<font color="0000ff"><b>7 feet (84 inches)</b> (maxima ultragreen, 12# tippet)

<b>butt</b> = 30 inches of 30# plus 20 inches of 25#
<b>taper</b> = 8-9" of 20# plus 8-9" of 15#
<b>tippet</b> = 16" of 12#

<b>7 feet (84 inches)</b> (maxima ultragreen, 15# tippet)

<b>butt</b> = 30 inches of 30# plus 20 inches of 25#
<b>taper</b> = 16-17" of 20#
<b>tippet</b> = 16-17" of 15#

And a striper leader for sinking lines like the QD325 444 cortland is:

<font color="0000ff"><b>5 feet (48 inches)</b> (maxima ultragreen, 12# tippet)

<b>butt</b> = 22 inches of 30# plus 14 inches of 25#
<b>taper</b> = 6" of 20# plus 6" of 15#
<b>tippet</b> = 12-14" of 12#

<font size="1"> I rarely use this because 12# is kinda light for sinking line work</font><!--1-->

<b>5' 2" (62 inches)</b> (maxima ultragreen, 15# tippet)

<b>butt</b> = 20" of 30# plus 14" of 25#
<b>taper</b> = 14" of 20#
<b>tippet</b> = 14" of 15#

<font size="1">I use this most often for sinking lines, the ratios are tweaked a little to extend forward sections for fly/tippet changes</font><!--1-->

<b>54 inch sinking line leader</b> (maxima ultragreen, 20# tippet for big surf / outer beaches)

<b>butt</b> = 18 inches of 40# plus 12 inches of 30#
<b>taper</b> = 12" of 25#
<b>tippet</b> = 12" of 20#

You get the rough idea, you can play around within the general guideline of 60/20/20. Things to think about are graduation over the length to the desired tippet from the desired butt diameter (lb test#). You don't want to jump too quickly or the knot strength diminishes and the turnover is affected.

The shorter and stiff/stout the leader, the more fly weight it can turn over.

I use all blood knots and nail knot directly to the fly line unless I had the opportunity to do an epoxy splice for the butt section. Loops don't make sense to me because I rarely exchange the whole leader on a given fly line, the leader is generally matched to each line and I play games with the tippet for bigger flies and faster current depths. By carrying the small maxima spools with the elastic "bras" I am ready to play taper games at any time. The larger diameter line spools (40#, 30#, 25#) go in the back compartment of my chest pack, the smaller (20#, 15#, 12#) go in the front. The flouro tippet also goes in front.

Lost butt sections (leaders) are quickly replaced using a nail knot facilitated by a large eyed doll needle, which costs about $1 for half dozen and poke nicely into the foam of any flybox. This is a rare occurrence, but replacement of the leader after several hardcore trips is a good practice.

I tend to stay away from loop knots because (a) the fly moves just fine with a fixed knot (b) I fish with lots of guys who lose fish on loop knots (c) I am paranoid.

For lighter tippets or anytime the tippet permits I use palomar knots, the strongest terminal knot out there. It consumes more tippet than other knots, but no more than any doubled tippet knots, loop knots, uni-knot, or other clinch derivations with doubled lines. For stout tippets (15#-20#) I prefer to use a standard or doubled clinch because it allows quick fly changes and ties so quickly. Although the clinch is a poor knot on spider-web trout tippets it is not an issue with 20# tippet in the surf.

Who knows you might have had everything right but had a nick in the tippet from a rock or something. Maybe it's a reason to check it often.

tight tippets,
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