Fly fishing lines, tippets and fly sizes
- matching fly fishing tackle

Fishing instructor, fly fishing tuition and fishing trips based in Scotland. Salmon and trout fishing advice, flies and articles.
 
 
 

Choosing fishing flies, tippets and fly lines

Matching fly line, fly size and tippet diameters for fly fishing is not as difficult as it first appears. The first question that the angler has to ask himself is what size of flies does he want to fish with? This depends on the species of fish that he is interested in catching and what they prey upon, the larger or heavier the "fly" the heavier the fly line must be in order to cast it because the fly is of course a passenger on the vehicle of the fly line during the cast. I used the word "fly" in inverted commas because a "fly" need not represent an insect, a fly is anything that can be cast and fished with a fly rod and fly line and that definition includes for example imitation fish, frogs, mice, leaches, insects, eels and even bread! Due to the large variation of "flies" the chart that I give below is is based upon "standard" fly dimensions (bulk) and weight so please no complaints if your solid tungsten #10 nymph is tough to throw on an AFTM 6 outfit! Or a seagull sized pike fly is impossible to cast even with a #9 line! Another time tried rule of thumb method for determining fly and tippet dimensions is to divide the hook size by 3 so for example a hook size 12 fly will match with a 4X tippet. There are some variables that can change this simple relationship between diameters and hook sizes. In addition to weighted flies that may require heavier tippets some tippet materials are stiffer than others and can safely be used with larger flies than those indicated and then another rule of thumb can be used.

The 2" leader test
Leader too thin Leader OK Leader too thick
Leader too light Leader OK Leader too thick

This is the "2 inch test" and to check yourr leader suitability attach the fly and whilst holding the leader vertically two inches from the fly (with the fly upwards) the short portion of leader should be stiff enough to stay clear of your fingers and the fly should hang downwards. If the fly lies horozontal or higher your leader is too stiff and it will adversely affect presentation. If the leader lies accross your fingers and does not support the fly it is too limp or weak and the fly is likely to crack off.

Flies, tippets and lines

Dia - inches
Dia - mm
"X" gauge
Single f ly hook size
Fly Line AFTM
0.011
0.279
0X
2, 1/0
9
0.010
0.254
1X
4, 6, 8
8
0.009
0.229
2X
6, 8, 10
7
0.008
0.203
3X
10, 12, 14
6
0.007
0.178
4X
12, 14, 16
5
0.006
0.152
5X
14, 16,18
4
0.005
0.127
6X
16, 18, 20
3
0.004
0.102
7X
20, 22, 24
2
0.003
0.076
8X
22, 24, 26
1

Please bear in mind that these relationships between fishing flies, leaders and fly lines are simply my opinion. Rod ratings are not an exact science, they too are just someone's opinion and so two rods of the same "rating" from different manufacturers may be require different line sizes to suit your opinion.

 

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.