Fly Fishing Leaders and Tippets Connection
For anyone who has seen the rash of movies related to snipers and sniping recently, it should be clear that equipment aside, stealth is the name of the game. It doesn't matter whether you are an enemy or a fish, you want to get as close to your prey as possible, without them knowing what you're up to. And for a fly fisherman, the efficient use of a fishing leader and tippet is one of the keys to success.
What is Fly Fishing Leader and Tippet?
If there is a skill that nearly every good fly fisherman has mastered its stealth. This goes for everything from the way you approach a fishing area to the flies, and everything in between. This begs the question, what about the transition between your line and the fly?
Quite simply, the leader and tippet are the answer. The leader and the tippet are the invisible connection between your fly and your fishing line. They come in many shapes, sizes, materials, and colors, all in the effort to give fish something to bite into without being scared away by the connecting line you use.
Another purpose of the leader and tippet is to continue the energy that is built up when you cast your line so that the line straightens up in a relatively straight line.
Regardless of the purpose, you favor, manufacturers have met the demand with a variety of products that meet the needs place on it. Before we begin, however, let's take a look at what a leader and tippet are.
Definition and Purposes
One of the first questions that most new fishermen ask is what the difference is between a leader and a tippet. Simply put, the leader is the material usually clear that connects to your main line and tapers down to where it connects to your tippet.
If you are familiar with conventional fishing techniques and materials, the leader is usually the same materials as your mono-filament line used for spinning and casting.
The end of leader line that connects to the fly line-usually called the "butt" end--starts at about 20 test then tapers down to about 4 test. The leader line is usually about nine feet long.
The tippet is a lightweight portion of the line that attaches to the leader on one end and the fly on the other. The key to having a good tippet is to use one that is light and vigorous enough to be effective, but not enough of either to have the fish recognize it. It's usually a good idea to keep the leader line attached, but change your tippet depending on the situation as it arises.
The Leader Tippet Setup
As has been discussed earlier, the heavier end of the leader material is attached to the fly line. It is also important to remember that the typical fly fishing line is nine to 10 feet in length, depending on the preferences of the fisherman and the situation.
The purpose you are trying to achieve with the leader line is to create as much a taper between the fishing line and the tippet as possible. This length and taper give the fisherman as much control as possible to cast his line and transfer that energy to the tippet so that it will straighten out as much as possible.
The final analysis is that if you are looking to fool a fish, start out with at least a 20-pound test leader that you attach to your fly line that tapers down to the last few feet of your line, which has the tippet on it. This will give you the optimal amount of control over your line while also giving you the best chance of fooling a fish because they will be unable to see your line leading to the fly.
If you look at the analysis above, it doesn't take much to note that when you are dealing with only 9 feet of the line overall, incorporating an appropriate length of leader and tippet, can be quite a challenge. This is why this whole subject can be so vast and varied.
A Solution, Please
As complicated as all of these challenges may seem when they are reviewed, the truth is that with a little study and a trip to your local tackle store, the wide variety of products that are available present some solutions.
Among these are knotless leader lines that don't take up the valuable line with knots and also prevent getting tangled in weeds and other debris under the surface of the water.
Naturally, when you can select an appropriately sized leader, part of your problem is already solved for you when it's time to add your tippet to the end. This will save you considerable amounts of time and effort to achieve your desired tippet size. It's also much easier than having to build one of these with your hands.
Leader and Tippet Materials
Another beauty in the effectiveness of leaders and tippets is the variety of materials that they are made from. Leaders and tippets are made from two main types: monofilament and fluorocarbon. The importance of these materials depends primarily on the types of fishing being done. Monofilament is lighter and floats on the surface of the water better.
It also stretches better than fluorocarbon. By contrast, fluorocarbon doesn't stretch as well and relays more sensitivity and stronger hooksets. Fluorocarbon is more durable and is almost invisible to fish. On the other hand, fluorocarbon is more susceptible to breaking unless you use lubrication before tying knots in it.
It should be noted that despite their advantages and drawbacks, both of these line types are suitable for fishing. It's just that their pros and cons need to be considered when being used. Much of this depends on the preferences of the fisherman, and frequently each angler's experience will be different. What matters most of all, however, is how different lines are used in various situations to the advantage of the individual fisherman. Happy fishing and tight lines!