Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #14 — Tippet Rings — Thank you, tiny circles

October 29, 2017
“Those tiny rings change everything,” said my father. He stood in the water beside me, looking curiously through his glasses at my little metal circles.

“Sure do.” I replied, and I neatly swapped out a double nymph rig for a two streamer rig in about a minute. Dad whistled with approval and chuckled.

An hour later, I changed out the long Mono Rig to a dry fly leader. I fished Comparaduns to the pod of rising trout that I’d accidentally happened upon. I caught about half of them, I figure. They were spunky brown trout, eager and willing to take whatever fly I threw that looked much at all like a Blue Winged Olive mayfly. And when I’d either caught or put down every rising fish in the small pool, I changed back to the nymph rig, clipping and tying on pre-rigged leader sections at a tippet ring.

It was likely the last Olive hatch I would run into this fall, and for the remainder of the day, whenever I spotted two or more rising trout, no matter how small their noses seemed in the center of the rise form, I changed leaders, just for the fun of it. And fun it was. I made my last leader change around dusk, and I finished the day with rare satisfaction.


Tippet rings are a godsend. They make leader and tippet changes quicker, and they save material. I spent years trying different methods to accomplish the same convenience offered by the tiny rings, but never was satisfied. There were also minor, annoying troubles with every other method I used before I learned about tippet rings.

My best substitute was a simple figure eight knot tied at the end of a piece of my leader, then the added piece was clinch knotted above and around it with the new leader piece slid down to the knot. What?? See what I mean? It’s a sub-par solution — even the description sounds more complicated than it should be.

Contrast that description with this one: Davy Knot the added section to the tippet ring. There ya go. Much simpler, right?

Which Ones?

You can find tippet rings in many fly shops these days, so buy them there. I often order mine from Streamside Leaders too. I like black nickel, I like oval, and I like them in the smallest size, 1.5mm.

The 1.5mm rings are plenty strong, and I can fit two of the butt section pieces of my hand-tied leaders (20# Maxima Chameleon) into one ring. I swap out my leaders at a tippet ring, ten inches from the end of my fly line.

The specifics of the ring probably matter very little, but I know what I like. I’m just saying that if your fly shop only has 2 mm, silver rings, buy them anyway and be happy.

Attach ‘Em

Do yourself a favor and put the tippet rings on a snap swivel or a safety pin. Some tippet rings are sold this way, and some are sold free swimming in a bag. Trust me, it’s worth the few minutes to thread the tippet rings onto a snap swivel or safety pin. Tie the line to the tippet ring from there, then open the clasp and slide it off the swivel already attached. Easy peasy.

Love Your Life

The tiny circles do not affect the casting or the flotation of your leader in any way. Honest.

Some things are hard, but they don’t have to be. Tippet rings makes leader changes and rig swaps a super simple, less time consuming process.

Bonus Tip: Try Loon Rigging Foam for storing those leader sections.

Use them both and love your life. Fish hard, friends.

Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky


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  1. Reply

    Alex Argyros

    October 29, 2017

    Yes . . . tippet rings. Love them because I know exactly how long my leader is above a ring. Plus, I use them to attach droppers. A dropper tag knotted to the leader above a ring and pulled down to the ring is super simple, doesn’t tangle, and is easy to replace.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      October 31, 2017

      Good call.

  2. Reply

    Jay Mandino

    October 31, 2017

    I’m curious how many tippet rings you have in one leader. Do you use three in a nymphing rig? One 10 inches down from your fly line, one above the sighter and one below? So you’ll swap out at the ring right above the sighter to fish a streamer, but you’ll swap out at the topmost ring for a dry leader? I’m mostly curious when you swap at the ring above the sighter and when you change the whole leader.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      October 31, 2017

      Hi Jay. Cool question. Yes, you have my Mono Rig setup correct. 3 tippet rings there. And yes, I swap out above the sighter when I switch to a two streamer rig with a smaller sighter, or go back to a two nymph rig. You got it.

      Lastly, yes, I swap out the whole Mono Rig for a dry fly leader when I want to fish classic dry fly style, using fly line and fishing longer distances.

      Importantly, if you swap out the whole Mono Rig, you need to wrap it onto something, I use an old Maxima spool. Wrapping it up on your hand won’t do — too big of a mess with over 20 feet of a leader.

      Does that all make sense? That’s how I do things, because it matches my own goals. I’m sure others would make different use of those tippet rings, swapping out sections for different occasions.

  3. Reply


    January 9, 2018

    Thanks for the article. Do you have any evidence that tippet rings might reduce contact/sensitive to feeling takes and/or nymphs touching bottom? It’s just a hypothesis I have (some days I seem to have better contact/feel than others but haven’t worked out why yet).

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      January 9, 2018

      Hey buddy,

      No, I honestly don’t believe that any contact or sensitivity is lost by using tippet rings. Any vibration from one side of the ring will be passed to the other side of the ring because it’s metal. If the ring was constructed from rubber, I could see some sensitivity loss . . . maybe.

      Also, it’s SO tiny. I think about this kind of stuff too, but really, I think such things are mostly insignificant. It’s what my grandfather used to call “flying too low,” meaning that we’re zoomed in too much on the details and it’s probably not worthwhile to look so closely at the situation.

      That’s my answer, but I also would not discourage you from testing it out more yourself. That’s where the fun of fishing is for me, and maybe for you too — testing things out, coming up with theories (no matter how small the detail) and trying to improve the catch rate.



What do you think?

Domenick Swentosky

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, writer, musician and fisherman. I fly fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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