What Type Of Tippet To Use | Choosing The Best Tippet

Written by: Paul Procter

What Type of Tippet To Use

Something all river fly fishers’ wrestle with from time to time is what tippet strength to use? In the interests of making our imitations behave as naturally as possible the finer this connection the better. However, going to the extremes brings with it a risk of breakages, which nobody wants. Conversely, by ramping up breaking strains, increased thickness now tethers our flies, making them appear lifeless. To help you figure out what type of tippet to use, here are my thoughts on four different types. 

Even modest sized trout are armed with pin sharp teeth that can wreak havoc on fine, gossamer type tippets
Photo by Paul Procter


When considering what type of tippet to use, I’ve leaned towards copolymer type materials for years for its supple nature, which readily conformed to current lanes and the likes. That bit more stretchy too, you have peace of mind when holding boisterous trout on a short rein. Admittedly though, copolymer didn’t always stand up to the razor sharp teeth of trout when it’s not uncommon to suffer a severed leader every now and again. This I’m sure isn’t trout purposely biting down on monofilament, but a more likely cause will be our tippet being dragged across the jaw line of fish in the throes of battle.This isn’t a supper impact-resistant tippet choice.


You can afford to step up in tippet diameter when wielding lager flies like bushy mayfly patterns for example
Photo by Paul Procter

For years I’ve baulked at fluorocarbons, principally because they tend to be stiffer than both copolymer and nylon. Such wiry characteristics seldom sit well with dry fly enthusiasts, especially when it comes to presentation. That said, the blurb reckons fluorocarbon tends to be a  tougher and more impact resistant tippet choice, making it one of the best tippet choices for guarding against toothy trout.

Mirage 5X

Mirage 5X is more than suitable for flies in the size 14-18 bracket
Photo by Paul Procter

The early signs of using Mirage were extremely encouraging with no breakages and better still, trout seemed just as happy to accept flies knotted to this apparently springy material. Better still, its resilience meant that finer diameters would stand up to the rigours of a fight. Having experimented with the various sizes, my favorite mirage tippet choice is the 5X (0.152mm dia) that’s fine enough for size 16-18 flies to have sufficient freedom, yet remains tough to guard against the bony mouth parts of trout.

This stunning wild brown was duped using Orvis 5X mirage, which clearly is up to the task in hand
Photo by Paul Procter


The only time stouter material is my go-to tippet choice of say 4X (0.17mm) or 3X (.20mm) is when using larger, more air resistant patterns, like mayflies and daddy long legs. This has more to do with preventing a twisted leader during casting than battling large trout. Remember too that due to their bulk, huge flies still behave in a natural manner, even on heavier tippets lengths.

There are a lot of different things to consider when figuring out what type of tippet to use, but I hope My thoughts on the four above will help you decide what the best tippet for you is.

About Paul: Life long Orvis supporter, AAPGAI Master Instructor, Orvis Endorsed Guide and Wild Trout Trust vice president, Paul Procter is a dedicated flyfisher with over 40 years experience under his belt. Aside from being a regular on the Orvis Blog, Paul is a leading contributor to Trout & Salmon, Trout Fishermen and the Fieldsports Magazine. Travelling extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Southern Hemisphere, Paul has gained extensive knowledge in both fresh and saltwater disciplines. His abiding love though is to target large wild brown trout using dry fly techniques.

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