Saturday, June 27, 2015

New England Fly Fishing Lessons: Leaders and Tippets

Fly Fishing Lessons: $5 per Hour!

We believe, in order to get more people into the sport of fly fishing, you deserve the very best instruction, at the lowest price possible.  This is why we offer lessons based on a donation only fee system.  In other words, if you have a well paying job, do the right thing by paying the suggested minimum donations.  If money is tight, make a donation that works for you and your family.  It's that simple.

Beginner Casting Class Donation Rates

  • (1) Angler: suggested minimum donation is $20.00 per hour
  • (2-3) Anglers: suggested minimum donation is $10.00 per hour, per person
  • (4-6) Anglers: suggested minimum donation is $5.00 per hour, per person
  • Minimum Course Time: 2 hours
  • Age: Under 12 years old, must be accompanied by an adult  
  • Monday- Sunday

You can read more about our lessons and guiding programs at

What is a Leader?  A leader is a tapered monofilament fishing line attached to your coated and colorful fly line via, most often, a loop to loop connection, having an overall length between 6ft and 15ft. Leaders can be bought pre-made, or some anglers prefer to make their own by simply buying various diameter monofilament fishing lines. See Graph.

What is a Tippet? Generally, tippet is the last 2ft of your tapered leader.  Tippet sizes range between 8X and 0.015.  The higher the tippet number (8X) the lower the pounds, or break strength. See Graph. 

Note: To size your tippet to your fly, remember the rule of 3 or 4.  For Example: #16 size hook divided by 4 equals a 4x tippet.  If you were to use 3x or 5x instead of 4x, you should not have a problem.

Leader Length
Best suited for…
6 foot
Sinking fly lines of all types, panfish, bass, trout in tiny, brushy streams
7.5 foot
Trout in streams from 10-20 feet wide, intermediate and sinking tip lines in lakes and saltwater conditions where the fish are not terribly spooky. Also streamer fishing for trout with big flies or with heavy nymphs and big indicators
9 foot
Trout streams larger than 20 feet wide where the water is mostly riffled, or else the fish are not spooky. In salt water, fish in shallow water under bright, clear conditions.
12 foot
Trout in most lakes with floating lines. Trout in streams with flies smaller than size 16 when the water is flat, low, or very clear
15 foot
Spooky trout in extremely clear water in both lakes and rivers.

Tippet Size
Tippet Diameter
Approximate breaking strength in Super Strong nylon (pounds)
Balances with fly sizes:
22, 24, 26, 28
18, 20, 22, 24
16, 18, 20, 22
14, 16, 18
12, 14, 16
6, 8, 10
4, 6, 8
2, 4, 6
1/0, 2, 4
5/0, 4/0,3/0, 2/0
5/0, 4/0,3/0, 2/0
5/0, 4/0,3/0, 2/0

Final Word

As a beginner angler, you might find yourself going through a lot of leaders.  At one time in my angling career, I was going through leaders often.  These days, I may use one leader per season. How? I may use a tippet ring or from the start, I may add more tippet to my leader.  For example:  I'll start with a 9ft 3X leader and add 2ft of 4X tippet; 9ft 2X leader and add 2ft of 3X tippet. Either way, while casting, if you find your fly not turning over, adjust your tippet size to the size of your fly.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you on the river.