How to Tie a Fly Line Leader and Tippet

Kristian Ole



How to tie a fly line leader and tippet is just a simple do-it-yourself you’ll need to learn as a fishing hobbyist.

How to tie a fly line leader and tippet may seem complicated until you try it. Oh, man! I didn’t know it’s just as easy as ABC. I always sought help from other anglers until I decided it was enough; I needed to be a veteran.

Some little mistakes like the wrong tying of the line leader and tippet can take a toll on your fishing day.

The most important part of fly fishing is taking the challenge. And the fun starts when you acquaint yourself with all the basics. And the first is how to maintain your fishing line.

The fly fishing challenge starts at home or before you get into the river. Especially when you have to prepare your fishing gear.

Tying a surgeon’s knot and blood knot is the best experience you can have. Read to the end to learn their basics.

How to Tie a Fly Line Leader and Tippet: Understand the Fly Fishing Line

Fly fishing line is connected to several other components. To equip you with full knowledge, first, learn the components.

Let’s dive in;

1.      The reel

The reel is a cylindrical device that holds the fly line and allows the angler to fight the trout using drag. You spin the reel to adjust the fishing line to any length.

2.      The fly rod

The fly rod size and the weight you may choose depends on the type of fish you intend to catch.

3.      Fly line backing

It’s the first part of the line attached to the reel. The line is usually made of high-strength material to fill up the inner part of the reel.

The main functions of the fly line backing are;

  • Offers a better ratio when reeling up the fishing line by filling the inner reel space.
  • Creates for length in case you catch a large trout that moves to a further distance.

4.      Fly fishing line

It’s the bulky floating line connected to the backing. It’s usually passed through the fly rod hooks and extends to connect to the leader.

5.      Leader

The leader is the heaviest tapered piece. It’s monofilament and connects the colored fishing line to guide you with a transparent connection.

6.      The tippet

The last part of the fishing line is the tippet. It’s the smallest gauge line that you tie the fly. The tippet is made of monofilament and is usually invisible to the fish.

It’s light enough to allow the fly to float or swim naturally.

Related article: Fly fishing vs. spinning

How to Tie the Leader and Tippet

Connecting every component to the other as the line moves to the end requires certain knowledge. With that said, you can now learn the detailed procedures on how to tie tippet to leader.

There are two main knots used in connecting the lines. Read on;

1.     The Surgeon’s Knot Method

Step 1: Hold the leader and the tippet with your left and right hand.

Hold the ladder and the tippet at around 6 inches from the end tags. Ensure the ends face upwards for easy estimation.

Step 2: Set the Leader and Tipper to overlap by 6 inches.

Position the two with tag ends facing opposite directions. Lay them against each other and pinch them between your fore thumbs and forefingers.

Step 3: Make a loop with the two lines.

Create a loop with the two lines and pinch the point at which they intersect with the fore thumb and forefinger of the left hand.

Use the right hand to pass the leader, and the tippet tag ends through the loop. Let the loop remain open.

Ensure your loop looks like a pretzel at this point.

Related article: How to organize your flies in your fly box

Step 4: Pass the tag ends through the loop for the second time.

Twist the leader, and the tippet tag ends again into the loop by twisting them. Do not tighten the loop.

At this point, the intersection point looks like a braid.

Step 5: Moisten the loop and tighten the knot.

Hold the tippet tag end that extends from the intersection point with your left hand. Lay it on the leader line.

Hold the leader tag end with the tippet line together on the right hand. Then, moisten the loop using your saliva or some water.

Pull each side slowly and tighten the knot.

Step 6: Clip the tag ends at the closest point to the knot

Use a pair of scissors or pliers to clip the end tags. Ensure they are close to the knot to eliminate loose ends.

You have your surgeon’s knot.

Related article: How to attach lures to fishing line

2.     The Blood Knot

Step 1: Hold the tippet and the leader lines separately

Hold the tippet and the leader lines with your right and left hand, respectively. Ensure you pinch the lines between your fore thumb and forefinger of each hand.

Step 2: Overlap the end tags by about 6 inches.

Overlap the two lines and pinch them together at the center. Keep your right hand free to tie the lines.

Step 3: Twist the tag ends

Use your right hand to twist the tippet end tag five times on the leader line as a coil. Then, pull the tag end to the central part where the two lines meet.

Carry out the same process for the leader line end tag. At this point, the central part will look like a coiled spring.

Take the ends and pass them through the winding parts at the center. One end should face up, and the other should face down.

Step 4: Pull the lines to tighten the knot

Pull the lines using your hand to drive the coils closer and tighten the knot. Use a pair of scissors or pliers to clip the end tags close to the knot.

The blood knot may not be as strong as the surgeon’s knot, but it will give the line an appealing straight look.

Do You Tie a Fly to a Tippet or Leader?

Always tie your fly to the tippet. You will save some dollars you would use to replace the tapered leader at all times.

What Knot Do You Use to Tie Tippet to Leader?

Surgeon’s knot is the strongest and most commonly used to tie tippet and leader.

How Long Should a Leader Line be on a Fly Rod?

It should be between 7.5 and 12 feet.


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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