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Chaznsc

Fly leader jargon

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X is part of the designation for the breaking strength of the leader/tippet material. For example, and this varies with brands,

 

11X = 1 lb Test

 

7X = 4 lb Test

 

3X= 8 lb test

 

0X= 12 lb test

 

After 0X the spools of leader/tippet material have the same designations as regular fluorocarbon and mono. 15 LB test, 25 LB test, etc. Not sure how or why the system was developed. This will most likely develop into a debate whether one should spend $10 for 30 yards of 3X leader material or $10 for 250 yards of 8 lb fluorocarbon.wink.png

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The X-scale has nothing to do with breaking strength. It's an old rating system developed when anglers used gut leaders and is used to designate the diameter of the tippet material.

 

Just think of "the rule of 11."

 

So you've got a spool designated as nX. Subtract n from 11 to get the tippet diameter expressed in thousands of an inch.

 

3X tippet has a diameter of 0.008"

0X tippet is 0.011"

 

When you get to 0.012" material, you may find it designated as 01X (and 0.013" material as 02X) to add some confusion.

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Since "X" designates the diameter of a tippet based on .011 inch and the HIGHER the number, the thinner the diameter; and since HOOK sizes also vary so the higher the number the smaller the hook; the the X tippet size and the hook sizing can be used to indicate what X size tippet to use based on the hook size of the fly. The above deduction may take some time to digest and to fully comprehend so lets illustrate with examples.

 

There are two "rules" for choosing the correct tippet size for a given hook size. They are the rule of 4 and the rule of 3. The rule of 4 is for beginners and the rule of 3 is for intermediate to advanced casters. You divide the hook size by either 4 or 3 to get the tippet "X" size. The rule of 4 results in a thicker tippet than the rule of 3, and beginning fly fisher needs a thicker tippet than an advanced caster to deliver the fly as accurately.

Example: For a size 16 fly, the beginner would use a 16/4 (rule of 4) or 4X (0.07") tippet and the advanced caster would use a 16/3 (rule of 3) or 5x (0.06") tippet.

The length of the tippet depends on the length of the leader. Most leaders are built on the 60% butt - 20% transition - 20% tippet formula. You can use this 60/20/20 formula to decide when to add new tippet to a worn leader. Using this "rule" a 9 ft leader would have a 22" tippet.

Realize that commercial leaders have to work for beginners as well as experts, but experts can cast a longer tippet section with accuracy. So I recommend that as beginners become better casters, they lengthen the tippet. Using the 20% tippet rule, I tell beginners to start with a 22" rule of 4 tippet, then as they get better, lengthen it to a 26" and then a 30" rule of 4 tippet. Then switch to a rule of 3 tippet and gradually lengthen that to 30". As they become better casters, the tippet gets longer, then thinner and longer.

Everything starts with the fly we need to cast. Fly selection determines leader and tippet size; and also determines the increasing weight of fly rods that are needed to cast that fly as fly size increases. This is actually no different than spin fishing in which the weight and size of the lure determines the line, rod and reel that are used to fish that lure.

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IMO both X (diameter) and lb designators do not address some key characteristics of leader material.

 

Stiffnesss varies quite widely across strength and bulk in many leaders and it makes a huge difference in turning over a fly and delivering it the right way. Some leaders should be stiff throughout to deliver a fly so it can be worked appropriately or set hooks right from contact with the water. Others require suppleness for "S" curves to get longer free floats over wary fish. Combos -- stiff butts, slack curved tippets -- are one good reason why knotted leaders still have their niche (nitch?).

 

Abrasion resistance also comes into play in some cases. For example. I still use Maxima on Great Lakes Salmon and Steelhead.

 

Rocco

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This is like discussing whether to have kids or not.

I have come up with hundreds, if not thousands of reasons why I am glad I never had any. So far, I haven't figured one reason to have any.

I use a straight piece of mono ... from fly line to fly. While I don't have quite as many reasons why I don't use leader material ... this thread is giving me a few more.

 

Thanks, guys.

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Mike this discussion is nothing like a discussion about whether or not to have kids, that's a really strange thing to say. Secondly you cant cast a size 18 dry fly on a 12 foot straight mono leader and I've tried nymph fishing a straight 9' foot leader and it was terrible it simply didn't work.

 

While a tapered leader does add an extra degree of complexity (a very small degree) the straight mono leader doesn't work for most fishing situations. In my opinion it isn't the answer in most situations and in a lot of fly fishing situations it just flat out wont work. Tapered knotless and hand tied tapered leaders are a necessary part of fishing for trout with a dry fly and in my experience a straight mono leader doesn't work for nymph fishing for trout.

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I guess I should have started with, "In my opinion ...". But you are partially correct ... there are MANY more reasons not to have kids than there are not to use tapered leaders.

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Well, I have a teenage son and he can be a gigantic expensive pain in the ass, but he is without any doubt the best thing which has ever happened to me. It is my opinion that a person does not understand love until they look into the eyes of their own child. Be that as it may, I prefer tapered leaders because they work better than straight mono for me in most situations. I do not pay attention AT ALL to "X" designation but I do pay attention to breaking strength and stiffness of the tippet. In the summer I fish a lot of surface flies with rubber legs and on a tippet which is too light or too soft they can spin something terrible and make a twisted knotted mess.

 

Mike, in a previous thread you mentioned frequently getting wind knots and needing to replace at least a couple of your leaders nearly every outing. That might be problem which is solved by using tapered leaders....

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Mike, in a previous thread you mentioned frequently getting wind knots and needing to replace at least a couple of your leaders nearly every outing. That might be problem which is solved by using tapered leaders....

You are most likely correct, my friend. But I can put a new line on in a couple of minutes, and a spool last me for a couple of years.

If I DID get a wind knot on a tapered leader, I'd be cursing myself for buying the darn thing ... while tying on a new piece of mono.

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Since "X" designates the diameter of a tippet based on .011 inch and the HIGHER the number, the thinner the diameter;

 

 

Actually, what the "X" really designated in the days of gut was the number of times the strand of gut had been run through a die. ("X" = "times"). Each time through the successively narrow die made the strand about .001 inches thinner (the first die was .01 inches, this is why the rule of 11 works.)

 

BUT... since when a modern manufacturer says that the material is, say 4X, all they're really saying is that the material is the same diameter as a piece of gut that had been passed through a die 4 times, it doesn't have to be exactly .007 inches in diameter since gut varied in thickness depending on whether it was wet or dry (and other factors). It gives the manufacturer some wiggle room. If they want to be able to advertise that they sell the strongest 4X available, all they have to do is make it a bit thicker, say .0075 inches thick. Or if they wanted to get the most from a given amount of material, they could make it a bit thinner, say .0065 inches. This was more common in the past, but the X number doesn't guarantee an exact thickness, just a ballpark figure.

 

I've owned spools of tippet material that claimed to be 11X (made by Varivas). I believe they also made a 12X.

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Since "X" designates the diameter of a tippet based on .011 inch and the HIGHER the number, the thinner the diameter;

 

 

Actually, what the "X" really designated in the days of gut was the number of times the strand of gut had been run through a die. ("X" = "times"). Each time through the successively narrow die made the strand about .001 inches thinner (the first die was .01 inches, this is why the rule of 11 works.)

 

 

I've owned spools of tippet material that claimed to be 11X (made by Varivas). I believe they also made a 12X.

 

 

Varivas is an example of a manufacturer that does not keep to the standard. They exagerate the thiness of their tippet material in an attempt to stand out from the other manufacturers.

 

They play to the false pride of the fly fishers who beleive that if they use a "8 X" tippet to land a trout, they are superior to an angler that used a 7X. Varivas 8 X is actually 0.038" diameter which is a 7X tippet,

 

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So if you were recommending a tapered leader for my fishing style, what's a couple of starter numbers? I'm a freshwater, southern panfishes / bass guy.

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Varivas is an example of a manufacturer that does not keep to the standard. They exagerate the thiness of their tippet material in an attempt to stand out from the other manufacturers.

 

They play to the false pride of the fly fishers who beleive that if they use a "8 X" tippet to land a trout, they are superior to an angler that used a 7X. Varivas 8 X is actually 0.038" diameter which is a 7X tippet,

 

 

That was kind of my whole point: there is no actual standard. If manufacturers sold leader material measured in mils, then they'd have to adhere to a real standard. By measuring in "X" they don't have to adhere to anything. It's all about marketing.

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