View Full Version : Leader or tippet?

03-17-2008, 08:36 PM
Fishing in a different location a few months ago, a guide advised discarding my tapered leader and replacing it with 4"0" tippet to insure the 2 nymph rig rapidly reach the bottom of streams. After changing as advised, my hook-up and catch rate immediately improved significantly (wild rainbows/browns 12"-24"). The streams reminded me of the GSMNP in terms depth and flow.

Have others adopted this or similar practices? What are the advantages or disadvantages to this technique? Thanks for your comments. I enjoy and learn much from your threads and responses.

03-17-2008, 09:25 PM
those are very nice size trout. were you fishing in ky , bark camp or the gorge area?

03-18-2008, 08:39 PM
They were very nice trout but not caught near this part of the world. But the fishing technique was suggested by the local guide and it seemed it might be applicable to the GSMNP streams. I am not the most experienced fly fisherman and hoped to get some advice from the real experts that post here every day.
Thanks for the interest.

03-18-2008, 10:21 PM
I take it to mean you were fishing one of those knotless tapered leaders, huh? Well, I read this somewhere, and it's certainly true - sooner or later, you'll end up with a knotted leader anyway. It's inevitable that you'll lose length off the end of the leader due to retying, etc, and you'll have to replace that section with tippet material anyway. I avoid this situation by using a furled leader, where all I have to replace is the final length of tippet, but that doesn't work too well for a deep nymphing situation.

David Knapp
03-19-2008, 12:18 PM
Pedipop, I believe that Hugh Hartsell uses a level piece of tippet material in place of a leader when he is fishing nymphs. Hopefully he'll chime in and explain but I think it is what you were saying about getting the flies down quickly...he is one of the best fisherman around so if he does it, it is probably worth looking into...;)

03-19-2008, 06:38 PM
When I first started flyfishing I used the tippet only method because I had to order leaders mail order or drive 60 miles to purchase one. It worked real well for me. When I finally got around to buying tapered leaders I never went back to tippet only. I think that the next time I go small stream fishing I will give it another try. By the way, the tippet that I was using was actually 4 lb. test stren.

03-19-2008, 06:43 PM
I vote tippet.

Hugh Hartsell
03-19-2008, 07:22 PM
Hi Pedipop,
I started to reply to your post earlier and then, I thought I would see what other comments were given that are related to your question. For many, many years I have pursued the art of tandem rig nymphing by using just plain tippet material. The biggest reason that I stayed away from using tapered leaders was because of the memory coils that are so hard to get out of a tapered leader. At this time of the year when the air and water temperatures are pretty cold in the early part of the day, you will see both flyline and tapered leaders really holding onto kinks and coils from being on the reel. A good soft 8ft. piece of 5X tippet works much better if the flies that you are using are weighted. This piece of tippet material is tied onto a loop connector with a Pitzen Knot and then onto the fly with a Pitzen Knot. If you choose to use a dropper, then it is tied onto the hookbend of the top fly with a Pitzen Knot tied in the air, and finally the dropper fly is tied on with another Pitzen Knot. The purpose of using this particular setup is to have a fly coming back downstream toward you that is about as straight and unencumbered by slack or coils as it can be. This is one of the best ways to fish nymphs consistently and be able to detect strikes that I have found. One of the quickest ways to see the difference in the two methods is to stand at the top of a hole where water is pouring over a set of rocks and place a short lob into the head of the hole. With the line about 6 inches out of the water, look at the line that is between the water and your flyline. You will see coils if it is a tapered leader. That means slack! It is hard to detect strikes with slack. Do the same thing with a section of tippet material. You will see a slight arc from the flyline to the place where the line enters the water if you do not put any tension on the line. That puts you in direct contact with what is going on down deep where your fly is moving with the current. You can detect strikes much easier and respond to them if you need to set the hook. The biggest difference in fishing this method is that you will make a softer and more rounded type of casting stroke than if you are fishing with a tapered leader. Give this method a try and see if it does not work for you.

03-19-2008, 10:18 PM
Mr. Hartsell and others,
These responses are what makes this msg board so great! I knew that you collectively would offer expert advice. The tippet technique proved so successful in swift waters that reminded me so much of our GSMNP that I wanted to give it a try. Now I have more reasons to do so and some understanding of why. Now to master the Pitzen Knot!
Thanks everyone and leave a few for those of us who get there whenever we can but never often enough.