Fly Fishing for Beginners - Leaders and Tippet

Leader and tippet are a strong, durable, transparent material between the end of the fly line and your fly and are essential for catching fish. Leader and tippet allow for a smooth, invisible presentation of your fly, yet are strong enough to bring in that large fish you have been trying to catch. Using the correct leader and tippet is just as important as using the correct fly.

Material - Leader and tippet are made of either a nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon material. Both materials are near transparent in the water and make your fly appear to be attached to nothing at all. Monofilament has been around for a long time while fluorocarbon is relatively new. Fluorocarbon is however a superior material. It is more transparent in the water and is stronger at the same diameter. Fluorocarbon is more expensive the monofilament

Description - So what is the difference between a leader and tippet? A leader is usually 8 to 9 feet long and is tapered. The thicker butt end is tied to the end of your fly line and your fly is tied to the thin end. The taper allows for a smooth presentation of your fly. Leaders cost under $5.00. Each time you tie on a new fly, you will cut off part of the leader. Soon your leader will become thicker as you move up the taper. This is where tippet comes in play. Tippet is a uniform diameter material that you can tie to the end of the leader so you don’t cut off your leader when changing flies. It comes in spools of various diameters and is relatively inexpensive. Spools of 50 yards cost several dollars.

Designation – Leaders and tippet are designated by the diameter and pounds it takes to break the line. You will see it labeled with a number and an “X” behind it (for example 6X) The designation is little confusing, but it comes down to this, the larger the number, the smaller the end diameter and the less pounds it takes to break it. Generally, leaders and tippet have the following tip diameter and break strength:

Tip diameter: 0X – 0.011”, 1X – 0.010”, 2X – 0.009”, 3X – 0.008”, 4X – 0.007”, 5X – 0.006”, 6X – 0.005”, 7X – 0.004”

Breaking Strength: 0X – 10 lbs, 1X – 9 lbs, 2X – 8 lbs, 3X – 6 lbs, 4X – 5 lbs, 5X – 4 lbs, 6X – 3 lbs, 7X – 2 lbs.

Recommended Outfits

These outfits have everything you need to get started. The packages come with the highest quality rods, reels, and line from very respectable manufacturers.  You'll also save yourself some money by purchasing preconfigured outfits. 

Wild River Starter Package

Wild River Fly Fishing Package

This outfit is a top quality package at a great price. The package includes rod, reel, line, leader, and even a few flies. The equipment has a lifetime warrenty.

Orvis fly fishing outfits

Orvis Fly Fishing Outfits

Orvis is the leader in fly fishing equipment. Select from one of their preconfigured fly fishing outfits or build your own.

Cabellas fly fishing outfits

Cabela's Fly Fishing Outfits

Cabela's has a great selection of equipment for the beginner and advanced fly fisherman.