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Buyer's Guide to Fly Fishing Tippet

This is a rough guide, but hopefully it will get you on the right track since there is no exact equation on what size tippet to use all the time. Bigger flies require bigger tippet, smaller flies require smaller tippet. Not so much because the trout can see it, but more because the tippet is what allows the fly to move and travel naturally in the water. Also, keep in mind that larger tippet tangles less, casts better, and is easier to tie. For beginners, it is best to error on the side of slightly larger tippet. Also consider the fact that bigger tippet removes itself from grass and trees much better than smaller stuff. There is a fine line though (no pun intended!). You still need to fool the fish, so please stay relatively close to the guide below. The tippet must let the fly move naturally in the currents so light tippet is essential for smaller flies. Flies that are being moved like baitfish patterns, streamers, leeches, big grasshoppers, etc. are much less sensitive to tippet size as flexibility is not an issue.
Guide to Tippet Size and Fly Size
  • Nymphs size 18 and smaller: 6-7X Fluorocarbon
  • Nymphs size 16-12: 5X Fluorocarbon
  • Nymphs size 12-10: 4X Fluorocarbon
  • Stonefly Nymphs/Streamers size 8-6: 3X Fluorocarbon
  • Stonefly Nymphs/Streamers size 4 on up: 0-2X Fluorocarbon
Steelhead Spey - 10-12 pound Maxima Ultragreen is pretty standard
Steelhead Nymphs 1X to your big flies, 2X to your small to medium, and 3X to small flies in clear water (Summer Runs)
  • Dry Flies size 18 and smaller: 6-7X Powerflex
  • Dry Flies size 16-12: 4-5X Powerflex
  • Dry Flies size 10-8: 4X Powerflex
  • Grasshoppers, Big Chernobyl Ants, etc. size 6: 3X Powerflex
  • Anything bigger use 1-2X Powerflex