What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing? [Complete Guide]

What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a form of art, and according to many anglers, the only true form of fishing. You may or may not agree, but the truth is that this technique is a lot different than anything else.

From equipment to casting, there are many special aspects of it. One of those is a tippet. So, what is a tippet in fly fishing?

Tippet in fly fishing is a connection between the fly and the end of your leader line. It is thin, almost invisible, and very lightweight. Usually, tippets are made from a single strain of nylon, which makes them similar to mono and fluoro lines.

Fly fishing lines are very complex, and require the use of tapered leaders and tippets.

It would be possible to write a book about fly fishing and the suitable equipment, but here I will focus on the basics about tippets, as it can be very confusing for beginners.

So, if you are interested in fly fishing equipment, read on to find out more about tippets, their sizes, and their function.



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What are the Three Main Parts of a Fly Fishing Line?

Before I talk more about what is a tippet in fly fishing, I have to mention other parts of a fly fishing line because that explains the importance of tippets.

Between a fly line and a reel, we have a backing. It is a connection between the line and the reel, usually about 70-90 yards long.

Fly lines are weighted, and that enables their casting. To be heavy, these lines have to be thick. And yet, flies are extremely light and small, at least the majority of them.

So, naturally, it would be impossible to connect a fly to a thick and visible line. To make flies interesting to fish, you have to create a smooth transition between these strong lines and small lures.

At the end of a line, anglers use leader lines in the 7.5 to 12ft range, but those are not the same as the ones used in regular fishing. Fly leaders are tapered, which means that their butt section is thicker than the tip section.

And finally, we have a tippet! I will explain it in the following chapter.

What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing? And Why is it Used for …

As already mentioned, tippet is a connection between a leader and a fly. It is almost invisible and very flexible, because the fly has to be able to move freely and naturally.

Length of a tippet is usually between 2 and 4 ft, but it can be longer or shorter. Diameter can be same or smaller than a tip of a leader line.

Fly leaders are prone to damage, and using tippets can significantly prolong their lifespan. Tapered leaders come at a price, so it would be wise to keep them functional as long as possible.

And how to know what kind of a leader and a tippet to use with specific flies?

Well, manufacturers almost always recommend certain specifications, and that is great for inexperienced fly anglers who can simply follow those recommendations.

Tippets, together with leaders, have a crucial role in casting too. Energy transfer from the line to the fly is very important, and it is possible only with a proper setup.

What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing - Flies

What is the Difference Between Tippet and Fishing Line?

To know what is a tippet in fly fishing, you have to know how it differs from similar products.

I already mentioned that it is made from a single strain of nylon, but that doesn’t mean that it is the same as regular mono or fluoro lines, although there are some similarities. Manufacturing and transparency are one of them.

Same as with the regular lines, mono is stretcher and floats better. Anglers choose them in accordance with flies and fishing conditions. Fluoro enables stronger hooksets.

Fluoro goes well with streamers and nymphs, while mono goes better with dry flies. For a beginner, using mono is better due to the fact that tying knots is much easier.

Although made from a single strain of nylon, tippet material is usually stronger and thinner than conventional mono lines, at least when talking about quality-made tippet.

Some may say that regular lines can be used at tippets but experienced fly anglers mostly disagree. Tippets are more flexible and that is extremely important for fly presentation.

What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing - Infografica

Is Tippet the Same as Leader in Fly Fishing Line?

Leaders and tippets are not the same thing! I already mentioned the differences in the previous chapters.

Leaders are much longer and their diameter varies along their length. Tippets come at the end of a leader, and their size is described with an X. The higher the number, the smaller the tippet. For example, 0X has a bigger diameter than 8X.

When it comes to sizes, some medium size, like 4X works well for many situations and beginners could start with that, together with a 9ft leader. It is perfect for some basic trout fishing.

The thinner the tippet the more natural it appears, and it can be paired with very light flies.

What Size Tippet Should I Use for Fly Fishing?

Size of a tippet is chosen in accordance with the fly. Smaller ones are usually for smaller flies, but some anglers will use thin tippets with larger flies for fish that are easily spooked.

The largest tippets, 0X, go well with 1/0-4 fly size. Slightly smaller, 1X, goes with flies in 2-6 size range. The 3X tippet is suitable for flies in a 4-8 size range.

As you can see, there are some overlaps, so fly size 4 can be used with all three tippet sizes mentioned above.

And what about the smallest tippets, size 8X? Well, those can be paired with flies in 22-28 size range.

The size also depends on fishing conditions. Thinner ones are suitable for clear water. When fishing in murky water, you can get away with bigger ones.

How Long Should Your Tippet Be When Fly Fishing?

Length of a tippet depends on a situation, and many anglers have a few different ones ready in their tackle box.

There is no simple rule to follow, and anglers have different personal preferences that come with experience. Some will add several feet to get more length on their leader, while others will add a foot.

Some average length is 2-4 ft. The length of it should match the length of your leader. With longer leaders, you can use longer tippets. These lengths correspond with previously mentioned average leader lengths.

Besides this, anglers often use longer tippets for dry flies and shorter ones for wet flies.

What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing - Fish

What is the Best Tippet for Fly Fishing? [Type and Brand]

Well, there are various excellent brands that produce different types of tippets; however, I will mention mono here when it comes to the type.

Mono is more flexible and enables more natural presentations which is important for beginner anglers, who need all the help they can get. Additionally, you will handle them and tie knots with ease.

When choosing a brand, choose a reputable one. I know that these things are not always cheap, but trust me, it is worth a price.

According to your needs and budget, you can choose any of the following and rest assured that you will get a good product:

Scientific Anglers
KastKing Paramount Tippet
Rio Fly Fishing

What Are Tippet Rings and How to Set Them Up?

Tippet rings are small metal rings between a tippet and the end of a leader line. This small item is extremely useful as it allows you to cut the tippet without having to shorten an expensive leader when changing flies.

Rings come in a few different sizes and you can choose the ones that go with the size of your tippet.

Setting them up is not easy for beginners, however, you can find numerous useful videos online that will show you step-by-step procedure. I will briefly mention it here.

Step 1: Take a D ring that contains multiple tippet rings and select one but don’t remove it from it yet.

Step 2: Take the leader line, insert it, and tie a clinch knot.

Step 3: Remove it from a D ring and tie the tippet on the other side of it in the same way.

And that is it! Beginners struggle due to the fact that these rings are tiny, not because of the complicated procedure. The process, as you can see, is quite easy.

What is a Tippet in Fly Fishing - Angler


Fly fishing is not easy, but it is extremely fun and rewarding. For a beginner, introduction into the world of fly fishing equipment can be hard, and it is easy to get lost in so many different things.

Tippets are very important and knowing what is a tippet in fly fishing has a great influence on fly selection, as well as your other equipment.

Before you gain some experience, follow the instructions stated by the manufacturer and choose some medium sizes and lengths.

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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