leaderfinalThe leader and tippet is the invisible line connecting fly to the heavy colorful fly line. The leader plays a very important role in casting and delivering the fly in a proper fashion.

Fish are very spooky and any disruption from the heavy fly line landing on the water will make them second guess your presentation/fly.  Leaders are built with nylon monofiliment fishing line or fluorocarbon line. For sinking purposes such as nymphing Fluorocarbon is recommended as it sinks and is invisible to fish where Monofliment nylon line is better for dry flies. Monofiliment nylon line is buoyant, inexpensive and holds knots better, but with time material weakens as it’s not UV resistant. Fluorocarbon is practically invisible in the water, expensive and last a long time. Unfortunately this line is known for not holding knots as good as nylon lines.

Leaders have three section, butt section, middle section or body and the tippet. Butt section usually are 60:20:20 ratio corresponding to the total length of the leader ( as shown in the picture above). the butt section is heavier and thicker and it is attached to the fly line. Normally Butt section for trout fishing is 20lb test line. The butt section helps transfer energy from the fly line  all the way to the tippet and the fly. Butt section of the leader is connected in two ways, either via loop to loop or via nail knot. Loop to loop connection is much more efficient way to go when in need to switch out leaders quickly. Body or middle section is made up a few smaller diameter lines that act as taper/transition from the heavier butt section line to the lighter tippet section. Tippet section is alway at the bottom of the leader attached to the body of the leader. Tippet length  usually range in between 14-23 inches and attaches to the hook/fly. Tippet size will depend on the species you’re fishing for; large species, spooky fish, hook size and on.  Tippets are size with an X. The higher X the lighter the tippet line. Tippet size chart is listed on the next tab labeled Tippet Sizes.

There are two types of leaders: knotted and knotless. Knotless leaders are tapered down from the butt section to the tipped without knots. Knotted leaders are tapered down with lines hand tied together using  blood knots.

Fluorocarbon Nylon Monofilament
No water absorption, means line maintains strength. Suspends in water and is great for fishing top water flies
Density of this line reduces slack Water absorption, means more slack
Sinking line, good for nymphing rigs Very strong line and has very good shock absorption for hard strikes
More abrasion resistant than nylon lines Water absorption makes line weaker with time
Not very elastic line, harder to set the hook Line comes in many colors to match invisibility in different conditions
UV Resistant, longer lifespan of the line Can be used in freshwater or saltwater
Zero water absorption, means line maintains strength lot longer than mono lines Inexpensive and widely used between all experienced anglers. This is All purpose line
Extremely clear and impossible to see in the water
Can be used in freshwater or saltwater
Tippet Size Tippet Diameter Pound Test Hook Size
03X .015” 25 lb.
02X .013” 20 lb.
01X .012” 18.5 lb.
0X .011” 15.5 lb. 1 – 4
1X .010” 13.5 lb. 2 – 6
2X .009” 11.5 lb. 6 – 10
3X .008” 8.5 lb. 10 -14
4X .007” 6 lb. 12 – 16
5X .006” 4.75 lb. 14 – 18
6X .005” 3.5 lb. 16 – 22
7X .004” 2.5 lb. 20 – 26
8X .003” 1.75 lb 24 – 28

It cat get a bit confusing at first when it comes to leader selection. Do i chose 6, 10 or 12 foot leader? Which leader material should i use, manofiliment or fluorocarbon? Stores usually have a few leader selections and tons of tippet spools.


shallower water = longer leader so you don’t spook fish with the fly line.

shorter leaders are easier to cast and of cours that would be used in places where it’s hard to make a good cast like small mountain streams and also makes it easier cast into the wind.