PODCAST: Talking About Tippet — Size, Strength, Length and Rigging — S7, Ep7

by | May 21, 2023 | 11 comments

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The leader might be the most important piece of gear that we have — more consequential than the rod, the fly line, or even the fly itself. And of course, at the tail end of the leader is the tippet.

All anglers must make decisions about tippet every day. What size and strength? What type of tippet? And how long should the tippet section be? Because, what might seem like a small decision, can have a big impact on the presentation of the fly, leading to failure or success.

Some of these decisions are almost right and wrong. Meaning, there’s a way to do it that works and a way that just does not work. However, there’s a lot more room for personal preference, style and situations in these tippet decisions than there is right or wrong.

In this episode, the Troutbitten crew talks through these tippet decisions around the scenarios of fishing streamers, fishing dry flies and fishing nymphs.

We Cover the Following
  • Fluorocarbon vs nylon
  • Fly size and tippet selection
  • The importance of flexibility in tippet
  • The importance of turnover in tippet
  • Dry fly leader tapers in the tippet section
  • Durability and abrasion resistance
  • Do you really need 8X?
  • Are trout leader shy?
  • Tippet selection for improved sink rate
  • . . . and more

READ: Troutbitten | The George Harvey Leader Design
READ: Troutbitten | Why You Might Not Need of the Crutch of 6X and Smaller Tippets
READ: Troutbitten | Fly Shop  Fluorocarbon to Expensive? Try Invizx
READ: Troutbitten | You Need Turnover

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Next Time

Season Seven of the Troubitten Podcast continues with episode eight, next week. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I 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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Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


  1. After listening to your podcast on tippets I didn’t hear anything about leader length. When do you go from a 9′ or longer leader to a 7 1/2′ or shorter leader?

    • Hi Rod,

      Thanks for listening, and thanks for your questions. Honestly, this podcast was not about the leader. Rather, it was about the tippet.

      I know that anglers want easy answers to things, but fly fishing tippet and leader talk just isn’t that way. I know that the fly shops and fly fishing companies try to simplify things by offering 12′, 9′, 7 1/2′ leaders and others, but most of us don’t really think of things that way. Most of us build our own leaders because we can’t get what we want in those extruded leaders anyway.

      This discussion was really about the tippet section of a leader only — sounds like minutia, right? But that’s the best way to tackle these topics, I believe. We also broke the tippet talk into three different sections, because fishing dry flies, nymphs and streamers require dramatically different tippets. And even then, we still didn’t cover everything or even close to it, through the podcast.

      All that said, I think my best answer to your question is that I might choose a leader shorter than 7 1/2′ only when fishing very small streams, with a dry fly or nymph. You can hear us talk about that in the previous podcast, actually. However, I might go shorter than seven feet on a streamer leader, even on large rivers, when fishing streamers. And that’s something we did talk about in this podcast.


  2. Gentlemen, I’m a loyal listener and customer; would like to stay that way. With today‘s episode, a bit too much bleeping out needed. And there’s been some in the past. Would like grandkids to learn from these podcasts later, but I don’t need to answer “why was that bleeped, Grandpop?” You have young ones too, and I know it’s said they hear worse on the school bus; but you don’t need to add to it, right?

    • Hi Jim,

      I respect where you are coming from. I don’t know if you listen to many podcasts, but this podcast is really clean for six grown men talking. The podcasting world is not network television. So the bleep outs will stay there. The occasional swear words will also stay. It’s a natural conversation. It’s not staged, and I won’t cut out every instance of moments or words that might offend. Do we need them in there? My answer is yes. And it’s a choice I’ve made consciously. Yes, I understand too, that it won’t make everyone happy. But for the sake of putting together the most compelling, fun, engaging, natural and informative content, I make the decisions that I do.

      So this is not a G rated podcast. Again, most podcasts across the spectrum are NOT G rated. But the Troutbitten podcast pretty cleanly comes in around a PG rating. And I’m proud of that.

      Thanks again for listening. I know that’s not the answer you wanted, but that’s the truth.


      • I thought most of the bleeping was to prevent spot burning or protect “secret Troutbitten flies” it’s very rare to hear a swear word on the podcast.

  3. Loved the podcast. As always, thank you for the humor and discussion. I’m curious what you and your crew think about how long tippet lasts before it needs to be replaced. Does it need to be replaced every year? Every two years? This might be a great question for Dr. Wool.

    • Good call. Fluor lasts forever, basically. And thin nylon of about 4X or less should be replaced every year or so. Thicker nylon holds up a lot better. Also, store nylon out of UV light.


  4. Good work guys. I was interested in your discussion of Joe Humphreys in the podcast. Even though he was one of the first anglers to discuss a mono rig, his preferred method of nymphing seems to have been using a fly line with a tuck cast. I know of very few people who fish like him these days (certainly none of the comp folk). Do you have any thoughts on his style of nymphing and why it has fallen out of favor?

    • Right on, that’s how Joe fishes, to my knowledge. First, the trouble is that all you hear about in the industry is the preferences of those in the competition scene. There are many, many different ways to set up a great tight line system, and I know that you are student of all them, Alex.

      Anyway, that’s why Joe’s style has fallen out of favor — because it’s not the current trend. But also . . . the introduction and common use of better colored lines for sighters and of tungsten beads did certainly change things. I used to fish Joe’s system. But I went to a full Mono Rig when I brought in the sighter.

      I use Joe’s system, essentially, when I fish what I call a Harvey Gold leader. It’s a slightly modified Harvey leader that I build a subtle sighter of Gold Stren into. Then I do a little of everything with that leader.

      Fun times.


  5. I have listened to every episode of the podcast and I look forward to it every week. I am in the season of my life where I am migrating away from spin fishing and enjoying the challenge of catching fish on the fly. Growing up I used to help my father in the professional walleye tour and that is what got me into “technical” fishing. Fluorocarbon has a faster sink rate than nylon and I have noticed that it can affect the action of my spin lures. Have you noticed a difference in drag or action between the two when using a mono rig?

    • Honestly, no. I don’t believe you’ll notice any difference in drag, as you asked. Fluor and nylon are close enough in sink rate that nylon will not cause more drag under the water, especially in the diameters that we nymph with. I do use fluoro for underwater presentations, but that is for abrasion resistance more than anything else.



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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I 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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