Tuesday Tip: How to Use a Tippet Ring (and, Perhaps, Join the Dark Side)


Written by: Phil Monahan


We are so accustomed to watching the brilliant tying videos from Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions every Wednesday that it’s easy to forget what a twisted sense of humor the man has. (Anyone remember his proctologically inspired “Why I Need a Sling Pack” video?) Well, this week’s tip features Barbie as a spokesmodel for Tim’s explanation for how to use a tippet ring.

“A tippet ring?” you may ask. “What manner of atrocity is this?”

Surely, there will be some folks who will object to inserting a small piece of metal between the leader and tippet, but others will see the benefits in being able to quickly change tippets with just a clinch knot. Either way, Tim brings his usual skill and clarity to his instruction, and there are several tricks of the trade for everyone here.

Whattya think of the tippet ring: advantage or apostasy?


Barbie sez: “Always use a leader gage!”
Photo by Tim Flagler

35 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip: How to Use a Tippet Ring (and, Perhaps, Join the Dark Side)

  1. Jason Klass

    I’ve tried tippet rings and don’t see any advantage. I can tie a surgeons knot just as fast as a clinch knot. Also since the majority of tippet rings on the market actually have square (not round) profiles, in my experience, they lead to increased tippet breakage.

    Reply
    1. Tightline

      I too have tried those square edges ones and disliked them intensely. The ones in the video however, are truly donut shaped, without an edge to be found. The packaging indicates they are made in Germany.

      Reply
      1. Notrab

        It is not Knot kying speed. it is about using up the leader that is terminated by the tippet ring. Tying a surgeons knot you are always going to be decreasing the aize of your leader till you have a pieced together mess.

        Reply
  2. Rob Kirsch

    I like to use tippet rings, especially when fishing light lines. I should try the swivels fro heavier lines. Wonder if the swivel would hold up to a steelhead?

    Reply
    1. Tightline

      The micro swivels have held up really well for me on bluefish, striped bass and albies so I imagine steelhead should not be a problem.

      Reply
  3. Nick Yardley

    While I don’t use them all the time – when I do I love them! I can put one on a new leader a the beginning of the season and keep changing tippets as aggressively as I like without ever shortening the leader – with the price of floro leaders being what they are, that’s a good thing!

    Reply
  4. Steve Root

    I agree that you should check and replace tippets especially after fighting a good fish. What was overlooked in this video was the knot between the leader and the ring, which is just as susceptible to failure. I don’t see any point whatsoever in replacing BOTH knots on the tippet ring when a Surgeons knot or even a blood knot is faster, smaller, and trimmer.

    Reply
    1. Tightline

      Yeah, this is where things start to get a little more complicated than I could include in the video. But in the video for example, where 3x was tied to the leader side of the ring, you would always be tying lighter tippet 4x, 5x, 6x to the other side. Unless the 3x knot gets severely compromised, the lighter tippet should always break first. That said, I have lost rings because that leader end knot has failed. This has never happened on a fish, only when pulling real hard to break things off from an unretrievable snag.

      Reply
      1. Steve Root

        Good point.

        I make my own furled leaders and have often thought about incorporating a tippet ring in the end instead of forming a Shorb loop. I might have to make some up this winter.

        Reply
  5. Lane

    I like tippet rings when fishing rivers, but use micro-swivels when indicator fishing lakes. The mini-swivel acts like a split shot and helps the rig get down faster, but is easier to cast than a bunch of split shot.

    Reply
  6. Scott S. Floyd

    Lefty Kreh told me in March to try using the Spro size 10 Swivel at the end of twisted leaders while also being able to easily speed up my tippet changes on the river. He was right. My son and I landed plenty of big rainbows and browns while in Montana and southern Canada this summer. No issues whatsoever. Not sure about a steelhead, though. I plan to keep using them. The line casts cleanly and the swivel still floats for me. Got them on Amazon, BTW.

    Reply
  7. T.L.

    Barbie says yes, use a tippet gauge, Tom R. repeatedly tells us no, just eyeball the leader and tippet. Sorry Tom, I go with Barbie on this one.

    Reply
  8. Bill Callan

    I recently started using a furled leader that already has a ring at the end and love it. I plan to buy a bag of rings to use with plain leaders.

    Reply
    1. Casey Wisniewski

      I have seen swivels used, however never used them. I feel loops on the leader and tippet will cause less wind knots and provide an easy tippet change.

      Reply
  9. dp

    The past two years I have been using the smallest Spro swivels I can find. I find that I can use smaller tippet sizes on my poppers, terrestrials and bass bugs. This gives me a more realistic presentation and the swivel keeps the smaller line from twisting up. I’m a total believer in swivels between leader and tippet.

    Reply
  10. Karl Schmuecker

    Here are three advantages to tippet rings,
    one is for the beginner ,he only has to know one knot,the same knot used for the fly can be used on the tippet ring.
    the second is increased life for the leader,the tippet ring stops leader shrinkage as you change tippets.
    and finally (the reason I like them) you can easily connect the ends of two very different diameter
    lines.

    Reply
  11. Paul

    I have just started using tippet rings on my furled mono leaders, one huge advantage I see not mentioned is when using fluorocarbon tippet the ring solves the problems of joining fluoro to mono e.g. knot slippage and cutting into the mono.

    Reply
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  13. david

    Tippet rings – useful apostasy

    I havent tied a leader to a tippet since I discovered tippet rings. Ive even used glass seed beads as substitutes, just to see if they would work.

    They did.*

    I also have the same leader in use, month after month…because it never gets cut down to a nub replacing tippets.
    Are they sacrilege? To the purist, absolutely.
    To everyone else, they are simply valued.

    Reply
  14. alberto parajon

    I use elastic silicone rings i bought in spain and relly like them.The knots never slip and they are remarkably strong uo to 3x tippet.Great for tandem fishing ,multiple nymphs etc;and you may incorporate 2 o more rings if you want to.best wishes.

    Reply
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  16. Joe Early

    I saw this trick during fall while fishing in North Carolina. I think the concept is a no brainer. Please explain again on a 9′ leader where you snip. Is the goal to pick a length your comfortable with and apply the ring.

    Reply
    1. Jonathan Galentine

      I’m also curious about this. On a 7.5 ft 5x leader do I need to trim before adding the ring or can I just add it onto the end? Do you trim so that the weight of the tippet ring is more ‘balanced’ along the length of the leader + tippet – or is that just convention so you can use heavier tippet on your leader? I’ve been using rings for a while but haven’t really assessed how they affect my casts – I just wanted to stop eating up leaders 🙂

      Reply
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  18. Scott James

    I am a Bass Fisherman and Part-Time Trout Fisherman, with that said…
    I am a Stickler about Good Knots and Good Equipment… Using the Tippet Rings
    make sense, but most of the Brands I first bought had the Finish of a Cheese Grater…
    One I found to appear Polished is Hanak – they are the best I have seen…
    Priced around $ 5.00 per 10 – Not Cheap…

    Reply
  19. Dennis

    I started using Tippet rings last year, small for dry flies, medium for nymphs. I was able to use just 2 leaders for the entire season (about 25 fishing days), sorry Orvis my leader purchases will be reduced. Not having to cut and tie a new double surgeon’s not for every Tippet change made a big diffence.

    Reply
  20. Kellen Davis

    So, these rings intrigue me, but I have a question for you all. Do you feel like they screw up the presentation of your flies at all? Would you use them if you’re fishing a super clear spring creek where the slightest irregularity in presentation can make or break a day of fishing? Maybe it’s a stupid question, but it’s the only thing keeping me from picking up a pack, I’m fairly new to fly fishing.

    Reply
    1. Scott F.

      No not at all. I cannot stress how small this thing is. The smallest split shot has more of an influence on the line than this hahaha caught plenty the first time using a tippet ring, so you’re good!

      Reply
  21. Ed Laine

    I’ve been using the rings on the end of Blue Sky furled, tapered leaders for two years. I’ll never go back to buying regular tapered leaders. Never had a bit of trouble with the rings….but as mentioned, make certain that the cross section of the ring is round and smooth. The best I found were from Japan.
    The rings are so small that they do not hinder flotation . 2mm, 2.5mm or 3mm , they all work, but 2.5 are my favorites.

    Reply
  22. Andy

    I use a #7 swivel between the leader and tippettoo old to be retrying every change. Saves time and line and I catch plenty of trout.

    Reply

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