I have been fly fishing with my dad for a number of years but recently I went on my own and hit quite the stumbling block... I didn't know how to set the kit properly, normally I drive the boat while my dad sets up the rods, and as much as I try to watch what he is doing I also have to not crash the boat. The main issue I had was setting up the line.

I have a reel which has a loop on the end of the fly line (floating line) and I was unsure how to connect that to a leader, and the leader to the tippet. I already know how to attach the fly to the tippet (I use a tucked blood knot).

What I would like to know is:

  1. How do I attach a leader line to a fly line that has a looped end? (What knot do I use?)

  2. How do I attach the leader line to the tippet line? (What knot do I use?)

  3. How long should the leader and tippet lines be?

  4. How strong should the tippet and leader lines be?

I am targeting 0.5-2 kilo brown trout in natural rivers & lakes, trout have good sight & the water is very clear in the Swedish mountains so I like to keep it as thin & hard to see as possible. Likewise the knots should be neat and small, in my experience big lumpy knots will deter the fish & make casting more problematic.

  • 1
    How about a simple double fisherman's knot for the joining ? link
    – Mwigs
    Aug 15, 2013 at 9:03
  • @MarcusWigert looks like it would work for the leader to tippet joint
    – rg255
    Aug 15, 2013 at 9:11

3 Answers 3


Make a surgeon's loop in the end of the leader.

Use a loop-to-loop connection to join the leader to the fly line.

Use a surgeon's knot to join the leader to the tippet.

This isn't the strongest knot, but it is small, quick to tie and reliable. Look on the Grog's Knots website to find lots of other knots.

The tippet is usually 3-4 feet, with a total length of leader and tippet about 9-10ft.

Buy a tapered 4x leader to start off with. In most good monofilament brands that will be 6-8lb breaking strength, 3-4kg, which is plenty for most trout. You should buy some tippet spools in 4x and 5x. The 5x is thinner but weaker, use it if the fishes are wary.

All of this applies to monofilament. If using flourocarbon tippet/leader, knots are very weak, and you have to get something specialized.

  • Thanks - this looks like a really good answer, I'm in an airport right now but once I get home next week I'll give it a test!
    – rg255
    Aug 18, 2013 at 4:46

In addition to the great answer by user737012:

How strong should the tippet and leader lines be?

Tippet size also affects how natural your fly looks in the water. Bigger tippets are stiffer and make the movement of small flies seem unnatural. On the other hand, it is very hard to cast big flies on thin tippet because a smaller tippet will not be able to turn the fly at the end of the cast.

There is a rule of thumb for deciding tippet size that stipulates that tippet size should be close to hook size divided by three. So, if you fish a fly tied on a hook size 12, the most appropriate tippet size would be 4X. Then you can go one size larger (3X) if you expect to fight bigger fish or if the water is turbulent/murky. You can also go one size smaller (5X) if the water is clear and still, or if the fish are wary. Bear in mind that this rule will not work for very big hook sizes (1/0 or above).


The orvis tippet knot for joining two sections of leader together is very strong, reliable and quick to tie after a bit of practice. The only downside is that you ending wasting more tippet on the tag ends than you would with a double blood knot.

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