When rigging my fly rod, I always set up my leader to include a tippet ring. You might be asking, why would this obscure item be a necessity in my rig? They take up so little space and look so simple that I can understand why you may have never given them any serious thought. Don’t be deceived, I’ve been fishing with tippet rings for the last five years and am never looking back. Here are my four reasons to absolutely convince you to pick up some for yourself. My guess is, after reading this, you’ll want to be using them too!
1. Reduce knot tying time.
By tying my leader to my tippet via a tippet ring, I can rig up my leader, tippet, and flies while only using a clinch knot. You would not believe how much time I can save when switching tippets. For example, if I notice that fish are really spooky, I can cut my tippet off at the tippet ring, and adjust to a thinner tippet in a flash. Re-knot the tippet, re-knot the fly, and I’m back fishing. No surgeon knot, no shortening of my leader every time I add new tippet. By simplifying my knot tying I can rig up faster, and spend more time fishing. Plus, I have gotten really good at tying my clinch knots, giving me confidence that my knots will hold when pulling against a large fish.
2. Tippet rings can reduce time fighting with nasty tangles, and save your leader.
I can usually work the big birds nest tangle to below the point where I connected my leader to my tippet ring. When a tangle is bad enough, I can simply clip off the mess, knowing my leader is still intact, and speedily re-rig the tippet and flies. As a result, tippet rings can greatly increase the lifespan of a leader. For my fishing needs in Colorado, I’ll typically start with a 3x or 4x leader, and connect down to my final tippet size 4x, 5x, or 6x. If I need to adjust my tippet, I’m only a clinch knot away.
3. Tippet rings can easily convert a double nymph rig to a dry fly rig.
People might think that small metal rings don’t mix well with dry fly fishing. Don’t listen to those people! The surface tension of water will easily keep a tippet ring on the surface if you’re fishing a dry fly, and with a long enough leader the fish won’t know that you even have a tippet ring on your rig. I’ve caught very selective fish on 7X while using tippet rings. Also, tippet rings really shine when you are fishing a deep double nymph rig and you start to notice fish rising on the surface. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to resist fishing a dry fly. By simply clipping off your nymph rig at the tippet ring (leaving your tippet connected to your flies), you can add some dry fly tippet and a dry fly and get to fishing dries VERY QUICKLY!
4. Add an additional small section of tippet off of the tippet ring to apply split shot.
Sometimes I notice that split shot really chews on my tippet, and weakens its strength. Other times, split shot won’t stay put on my tippet and inevitably slides down to right above my point fly. I now bypass that mess by simply attaching a small segment of tippet onto the tippet ring (in addition to the leader and tippet connections) and crimp my split shot to this tag. This stubby short piece of line, that’s neither part of the leader nor tippet, can easily keep the split shot away from flies, prevent tangles, and make for easy removal of split shot when adjusting weight. Just remember to add an overhand knot at the end of the small piece of tippet to prevent the split shot from slipping off. If it’s short enough, it won’t tangle on my line or affect my casting.
How to Handle Tippet Rings
Tippet rings are tiny and hard to handle, so when you’re tying your leader to a tippet ring for the first time, leave the tippet ring on the swivel that they’re sold on. Just find the outermost tippet ring and use the swivel as your base for tying your clinch knot. Then you can open the swivel and slide out your attached tippet ring. I wouldn’t try to handle them without a ring being attached to line.
Though tiny and easy to overlook, they can make a huge improvement to fishing enjoyment. No one likes standing on the bank trying to work out a tangle, or watching your friends catch fish while you’re just trying to get your line in order. So avoid that mess and keep your eyes peeled for tippet rings next time you’re shopping for fly gear. It’ll pay off.
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Author: Andy Witt
Andy is a key contributor to Due West Anglers blog, writing about the intersection of the natural world and fly fishing, to inspire conservation through recreation. He also works as a Conservation Scientist, holds an MS in Ecology, and has long thought about trout in both a recreational and professional sense.
Visit duewestanglers.com for more. Find Andy on Instagram @duewestanglers