Tippet ring, oh tippet ring how I love thee

Key Points:

• Base leader never affected by tippet changes
• Tippet rings stronger than knots
• Enables transition from widely varying diameters
• Will float if greased

Traditionally, fishing leaders end with a final section called tippet. This final portion is where the fly is tied to the end. Tippet serves many purposes beyond just a final piece of leader material that fits through the hook eye. For example, it makes for a smooth transfer of energy transmitted from the fly line, leader butt, and finally to the fly. Also, it serves as a means for creating slack to offer drag free presentations. These two primary examples demonstrate the critical role that tippet serves.

During the course of a fishing day, leaders and tippet take a lot of abuse especially tippet material. Due to its fine diameter and proximity to all of the elements around the business end of the fishing fly, rocks, trees, mud, split shot, and other damaging items, tippet takes a lot of abuse during the course of a fishing day. Combine that abuse with adding and removing tippet sections, and changing flies you quickly realize the labor involved with leader and tippet maintenance.

A tippet ring solves so much of the maintenance equation that I use them often and in many applications. When changing flies at some point you will end-up with a nub or short piece of tippet material and need to add a new piece. Often you can simply add another piece to the nub and you’re good to go. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes you’re going to have to cut off the nub and start over with a new piece of tippet. This means cutting into your base leader beyond the tippet section. When this is done you have changed the overall taper formula of the leader. If you are good at this you might get away with cutting at the knot and after tying in the new section only losing a few inches of base leader and not greatly affecting the taper, but that is usually the exception. More often, when it’s all said and done, you have lessened the leader by at least 8 inches if not more. Now if you really want to restore the leader back to its original taper shape you are going to have to add more base leader material then add your tippet.

This is one major reason how a tippet ring solves a problem. By adding a tippet ring to your base leader the length of base leader never changes. You simply add tippet at the ring.

The next point is short and sweet. For trout leaders, tippet rings are stronger than knots. The knot will break before the ring.

Maybe the best attribute of using tippet rings is the ability to put two extremely different diameters together. This is how many of my nymphing rigs are made. For example joining a butt portion of 6 lb. monofilament with 5x fluorocarbon tippet. If not using a tippet ring, I accomplished this using an Albright knot, But a tippet ring provides the nice attribute of not having to chop your base leader (the 6 lb in this example) when replacing the tippet.

I’ve fished dry flies using tippet rings without issue. Just as greased monofilament has trouble breaking through the water surface, so does a measly tippet ring. Optimally, I prefer knotless or handmade dry fly leaders without tippet rings but I use dry fly leaders with tippet ring leaders occasionally absolutely no problem.

Common tippet rings sizes: 2.0 mm, 2.5 mm, 3.0 mm. I prefer nickel and black over silver.

So my love affair with tippet rings continues. Yes there are many leaders rigs where they do not apply but when the right opportunity comes along it’s tippet rings all the way.

5 thoughts on “Tippet ring, oh tippet ring how I love thee”

  1. Leo,

    Great to get this issue of the Pa Fly Guide but I have to tell you that “you’re killin’ me!” If I hope into my waders and get out to midstream, I might never be able to get back and reading over your publication really gets me itchy to go!

    But seriously, you are publishing some incredibly good material that I believe a lot of other enthusiasts would love to read. Do you have any plans or thoughts to increase “circulation” as I’m guessing you would not mind doind this full time?

    I look forward to seeing you in the near future.


  2. I love tippet rings as well and always use them. But to be honest, although they are indeed stronger than knots, they require two knots instead of one.

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