Fly Fishing Tippet & Tapered Leaders

Fly Fishing Tippet & Tapered Leader

What is a Tapered Leader?

A tapered leader is the connection between your fly line and your fly. It is a mini fly line. Designed properly it transmits the energy from your fly line to your fly. Fly fishing brands do not specify the tapers, the fishing line manufacturers do. This means that other brands leaders are defined by factories that don't fish. The tapers are too thick for too long and then drop, dramatically to a very thin tippet.

Some tapered leaders have a 40lb butt section which tapers down to a 2lb point! The butt of the leader is very thick and wiry, it also shines, reflecting light of it's wide surface area. Sunray tapered leaders are designed by us, the creators of the micro thin fly line. We made our own machines in the manufacturers factory so we could define tapers. This means that our butt sections are not overly thick for the tippet end and that our leaders do not reflect light. They do not coil like springs and they lie straight on the water without the need to stretch them.

Our fishing leaders are a dull grey colour at the thickest butt section to prevent light reflecting from them and spooking fish. Then, they change to clear transparent line at the point to give the perfect turnover for flies. The best fly fishing leader material, whether it's dry fly or large flies, is tippet that doesn't spook fish.

Sunray's entire philosophy is to reduce our impact on the water, whether it's a thin fly line, soft fly rod or an anti shine, thin fishing leader, we create a lower foot print than other brands. Put simply, our leaders and tippet catche more fish as a result.

Do I need a tippet with a tapered leader?

No, not necessarily but we recommend you do if only to prolong the life of your tapered leader. Also, depending on your fly fishing leader length, you may need to extend the overall length of your leader. We recommend a 3 turn water knot to attach tippet to your leader. We don't recommend tippet rings. We are searching for the lowest impact on the water possible and a water knot gives us that.

How to choose the right tippet.

If your knotless tapered leader ends at a 5lb point, we recommend you either add 5lb tippet or approximately 50% less, ending at 2.5lb point but no lighter than that. We have made tapered leader and tippet combinations on all our product pages to take the guesswork out of choosing the right tippet for your leader.

Myths and Facts - Fluorocarbon and nylon, monofilament or copolymer

Our material for leaders and tippet is fluorocarbon coated copolymer (nylon.) In order to understand the advantages of combining both materials, you must know the differences between fluorocarbon and nylon. The most important differences are the following;

  • Fluorocarbon is stiffer, harder and more abrasion resistant than nylon.
  • Nylon stretches more than fluorocarbon.
  • Fluorocarbon does not absorb water and does not lose its knot strength.
  • UV radiation does not harm fluorocarbon.

Myth : Fluorocarbon is invisible under water

This may be true in a glass of clear water or an aquarium at least to the human eye. On the river, however, different conditions prevail. The refractive index of water is dependent on the water temperature and of solutes in the water. This optical density of water is therefore different from day to day or hour by hour, from river to river. The refractive index fluorocarbon does not change however. If fluorocarbon is invisible or not when fishing, remains a presumption. 

Myth : Fluorocarbon is heavier and sinks in water

Yes, this is true. However, will it make a difference? Will it actually sink a nymph to the bottom more quickly than nylon?

In light line nymph fishing using European nymphing techniques and dry fly fishing, weight is negligible. Fluorocarbon is only slightly heavier than nylon, around 0.64 to 0.74 grams per cubic centimetre. This is a difference of maximum 0.000074 grams per centimetre of a 0.10 mm diameter tippet. One meter tippet of 0.10 mm diameter will be 0.0074 grams heavier than the nylon. This tiny difference will not make a nymph sink faster. In the overall picture and in flowing water, this minuscule value is negligible.

Best knots for droppers

Fluorocarbon is stiffer than nylon. Flies stand much better off droppers and they do not wrap around the main line as much. This is an advantage in strongly turbulent water and while fishing with heavy nymphs. On the other hand, the stiff fluorocarbon will hinder the movement of lightweight nymphs or wet flies. Sometimes this makes the difference between catching a shy fish or not. We combine the ease of knot tying with nylon with the stiffness of fluorocarbon.

Tippet for nymphing

On some days, the fluorocarbon also has an advantage. Unlike nylon, the fluorocarbon leader material is less elastic. Once stretched it does not return completely to its initial length. This is usually the case with tight line nymphing. After a few drifts you will snag somewhere in the riverbed. Likely you think it is a fish. Automatically you raise the rod to set the hook. This happens one or two times and your fluorocarbon is stretched out. Also stretching the material while trying to release the nymph from a snag will stretch the tippet.

The stretch remains in the material and a better direct contact to the nymph is the result. You have a more sensitive feeling compared against an elastic nylon tippet. However, beware! By stretching the leader, the fluorocarbon loses some of its break strength. We combine the lack of stretch with fluorocarbon with the wet knot strength of nylon.

Knot strength & abrasion resistance

Sunray fluorocarbon coated copolymer tippet has very high wet knot strength. A knot reduces the strength of leader material whether fluorocarbon or nylon or fluorocarbon coated nylon. Fluorocarbon does not knot very well because it is stiff, hard and snaps without moisture. Sunray is easy to knot because of the nylon. This means you can reduce the tippet diameter and still have a strong connection to your flies. A thinner tippet cuts better through water. You fish with less effort and get deeper. Getting faster to a certain depth means you can cover more water effectively.

In addition, it remains soft and mobile and kinks much less than pure fluorocarbon. Normal nylon, on the other hand, shows signs of wear very quickly and has to be replaced more frequently. Fluorocarbon does not absorb water. But this is exactly what happens with nylon. Water molecules are embedded in the structure of nylon and it loses some of its breaking strength. Because our nylon core is coated with fluorocarbon, no water can penetrate. It remains strong. Fluorocarbon is very resistant to abrasion, making our coated tippet very resistant to abrasion.

We combine the ease of knot tying you get with nylon, with stiffness, knot strength and abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon.