Tippet Rings: Use Them

Unless you like wasting money, you should probably be using tippet rings
Tippet Rings
That is magnified. Big time.

Unless you're fishing for what would traditionally be considered big game species, you should be using tippet rings. It doesn't matter whether you're fishing machine-made extruded leaders, furled leaders or hand tie your own. Tippet rings have their place in all of these scenarios.

In an earlier featured entitled Tip: Stop Wasting Money on Leaders, we detailed how we feel machine-made tapered leaders are one of the biggest money pits a fly fisherman encounters. Adding tippet rings to the tips found in that article take the whole picture to the next level of practicality and good sense.

If you're not familiar with them, tippet rings are tiny metal rings (typically made of nickel alloy) that are intended to be tied at the terminal end of your leader. Instead of attaching tippet material directly to the body of the leader, the tippet ring serves as the junction between your tippet material and your leader. Because of their tiny size (2mm and 3mm diameter are most common) and nickel alloy construction, tippet rings float, making them viable for fishing nymphs and dries. Concerns about strength should be set aside, as tippet rings are rated at 25-30 lbs.

As mentioned above, tippet rings aren't reserved for folks that are tying their own leaders by hand. In fact, they serve to make the biggest impact for those of you that are still paying up to $10 per fluorocarbon leader. Instead of chopping that leader up and quickly needing to buy a new one, you can modify your store-bought leader with a tippet ring and make it last you a year or more. Typically, you'll want to cut off around 24 inches from the end of your extruded leader. Attach a tippet ring to the resulting end using a simple improved clinch knot (or the knot of your choice), and off you go.

Fishermen that are introduced to tippet rings often initially worry about leader/fly turnover and drag, but these concerns have largely been set aside. Tippet rings turn over flies just as well as a leader with a direct line-to-line connection and drag worries, which are most likely not a concern anyway, can be resolved by placing a dab of floatant on the tippet ring to keep it riding high in the water. If folks like Gary Borger and Lefty Kreh are comfortable using them, so should you be.


I've been using these for the last two seasons. They've saved me a boatload and haven't affected my fishing one bit!

What brand are the rings in the photo? The ones I tried were rough and cut the line.

If memory serves, they are Climax brand.

I totally agree the use of tippet rings will save you lots of money over a season. I use the 2mm version for 5X and smaller and 3mm for 4X and larger.

I must need One! Hatch mag says I need this to be a flyfisherman... I'll pay ANYTHING! I need trout pics on my website before May 1st...LOL

What kind of (long term) impact does the tippet ring have on the guides of a fly rod? What kind of wear and tear results from their use?

Mark - the tippet ring is attached at the terminal end of the leader -- usually within a handful of feet from the fly -- so it is rarely, if ever going to pass through your guides. Even if it did, the rings are so lightweight, I can't imagine they'd have any impact whatsoever.

since the ring is tied to the tippet, the ring does not enter the guides, therefore no damage.

I use tippet rings integrated into a leader so that I can droppers of a smaller diameter tippet to them. Saves me time and fluro. In my experience the do not "float" as stated in the article.

I use tippet rings a lot. I fish a lot of tenkara as well as traditional fly fishing. If you're using a fluorocarbon level line in tenkara, you really should put a tippet ring at the end of it. I've found I have far fewer break offs at the tippet/level line junction with a tippet ring as compared to the traditional stopper knot at the end of the level line.