Deeter: Tips on Tippet

Do you give unsolicited advice when you’re fishing with a friend, and he (or she), is making an obvious mistake? … Continued

Do you give unsolicited advice when you’re fishing with a friend, and he (or she), is making an obvious mistake? I’m always hesitant. Maybe I shouldn’t be.

Classic example occurred the other day. We were fishing dry flies (red quills) to rising trout. My friend and I were casting the same fly pattern, about a size #16 generic red quill. I’m getting bit, he’s not.

After about 10 minutes, he can’t stand it, so he decides to switch things up. He knows the fly pattern works, so he doesn’t change that. Instead, he switches his tippet to 6X flurocarbon.

I’m thinking, “dumb move.” Why?

I’ll tell you…

First, and most obviously, flurocarbon sinks. I never fish fluoro with dries. It can cause micro-drag, and the subsurface fish is more likely to encounter the sagging tippet before the fly. Secondly, my pal didn’t ask, but I was using 4X. He (like so many anglers often do, prematurely) assumed the fish were tippet shy (or leader shy). And that is rarely ever the culprit.

In my experience, there are so many other factors that turn fish off–most notably a bad drift and presentation of the fly–that the smart angler should address those issues first and foremost. Adjust where you are standing. Mend your line properly for a perfect, drag-free dead drift (or position directly downstream of your target). Then think about changing your fly (you don’t necessarily have to change the pattern, just go one size smaller).

Were I in his position, I would have changed where I stood, I’d have focused on the drift, and then changed my bug, in that order. About the last thing I would have done is change my tippet.

Sure, there are situations when that does make sense (especially in still or slow-moving clear water). But by and large, I think the tippet decision is hugely overrated. I carry three spools: 4X for nymphs (and dries); 5X for small dries; 2X for streamers… and I’ve never thought twice about it.

After all, it’s better to land the fish you catch than leave trails of thin tippets dangling out their mouths as they bolt downstream.

Agree or disagree?

Deeter (and I did speak up)