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

22 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.

    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.

  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?

    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.

  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!

  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.

    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.

      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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    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.

  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.

  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

  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.

  12. Pingback: A beginner with a question? - Page 2 - The North American Fly Fishing Forum

  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.

  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.


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