Fly Fishing 101, Part 6
Leaders and Tippets
By now you have heard both terms. It's the piece
on the end of the fly line you tie the fly to, right? Well, no. Let's try to
make this rather easy. The 'leader' is a length of tapered
monofilament, the thick end of which is tied to the end of the fly line.
The 'tippet' is a length of level monofilament, one end is
tied to the thin end of the leader and the other end is tied to the fly.
Ok, first the leaders. They are about
nine feet long, but can vary some. For now, don't worry about
it. What they do is transfer the power of the cast gently toward
the fly. You will be totally confused by the numbering system,
however. Here is what happened. Since the size (diameter) of
the small end is important, (it must go thru the little eye of the fly)
a numbering system was devised to reflect the diameter of the
small end of the leader.
At that time most monofilament of the
same diameter had pretty much the same breaking pound test.
Anyway, the size was more important. Figuring no one wanted
to try to learn the decimal system (.005) etc., they took the number
eleven and started with that. Eleven thousandth
equals 0X. Ten = 1X. Nine = 2X. Eight = 3X. Seven = 4X.
Six = 5X. Five = 6X. Four = 7X.
Got all that? Sure ya do. The easiest way
is this; the bigger the number (6X), the smaller the end of the
leader is. IT'S BACKWARDS! But, SO ARE THE FLIES;
the bigger the number is, (size 28) the SMALLER THE FLIES
At least they match, somewhat; deal
with it. Oh, yes, now the tippets. They are just like the leaders.
A 6X tippet will have the same diameter as the small end of
a 6X leader. That makes it nice to tie them together. Yup, you
tie them together, at least a short piece of the tippet is tied to
the end of the leader.
Why? Briefly for this reason, most of
the so called 'wind knots' you get casting happen in the two
feet ahead of the fly. Knots weaken things. If they are in the
leader, it could get rather expensive cutting off the knots, and/or,
changing flies. So you tie on about a two-foot length of tippet
material. The stuff is not expensive and when it gets too short
from knots, or flies, tie on a new length of the stuff.
So there it is. You have a weight forward
six floating line (WF6F), a four X (4X) nine foot leader, and a
two-foot length of 4X tippet tied on the end of it. Tie on the fly
and go fish! ~ JC
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