Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tippet Tantrum

I hate 6X tippet.  It’s difficult to see, a pain in the ass to tie, and impossible to avoid wind-knoting within the first half-dozen false casts.

7X?  Forget about it. Spider-webbery.

8X tippet cannot be seen with the naked eye. One should take extreme care when purchasing 8X so as not to buy an empty spool by mistake.

9X is only one molecule wide and is often used by science fiction villains as a weapon to slice through everything – wood, steel, human flesh.

10X, I believe, is the basis for the particle physics string theory, hypothesizing the sub-atomic base material for all matter, space, and time.

Einstein loved light tackle.

So I think I’ll give up on the skinny stuff. Any trout wary enough to spook at material more substantial than 6X is too smart for me. Besides, fish unable to break such flimsy stuff are simply not worth catching.

Well, I don’t actually believe these things - except for maybe the "too smart for me" part - but the little bass-fishin’, bi-focaled devil that sits on my right shoulder keeps whispering such notions into my ear. "Let's go throw big bugs at big fish," he implores, and suggests that any material not measured in pound test alone belongs in a sewing basket, not a fly box.

As counterpoint, the Waldenesque, native brookie loving, dry fly angel that sits on my left shoulder sings sweet songs of the inherent beauty of the tiny colorful creatures that inhabit the woodland streams and the dainty, ethereal wisps that it takes to engage them. It suggests that the devil on my right is a cretin and that I should embrace my delicate side by throwing #24 pieces of fluff on silky material to fish that the devil would consider too small for decent bait.

They both have a valid point. They are also, each of them, full of crap. So I do both.

Either way, I hate 6X tippet.

For any non-fishing persons reading this post (though I can't for the life of me imagine why) tippet is the final piece of fly fishing line to which the fly is tied. As you might infer from above, it is the finest of material and gets smaller as its rating gets bigger – just another absurdity in the arcane numerology that weaves its way throughout the sport.  Someone should write a post.


Feather Chucker said...

Well do I have news for you. Kevin Howell a 3 time fly fishing master said at his last presentation that several studies have been done on tippet. What they found is trout acted no different to 7x than 3x. The only advantage of using a lighter tippet was a softer presentation. Visible leaders were not a deterant. I could totally relate to your story when trying to tye 6x on my sz20 midge last weekend. I think I cussed more than I fished.

Clif said...

I'm with the devil - I can relate to pounds but X's make no sense. To make sense of it all, I've developed a simple system that doesn't even rely on numbers. But you'll have to wait because you've inspired me to post about it.

I can't imagine a situation where 10X is the proper selection. That's just quarky!

Fair Weather Fisher said...

I use 12X on all my gear. I love to feel the *snap* at the end of a hook set. ;)

Great post Mike.

Blake said...

Just found your blog. It looks great. Can't wait to keep reading.

Ryan said...

Yup. I agree. I refuse to use anything finer than 6x and even then I need a pair of cheaters to tie the stuff. I also refuse to use a fly smaller than a 16. I used a 22 dry as a trailer once. Hated it.

I can relate

The Average Joe Fisherman

TenkaraOnTheFly said...

I think I haven't fished with anything heavier than 4x for a few years, unless fishing with streamers. Most of the time I tie on 5x or 6x which is still ok for me to land +20" trout. More recently though, I have fished Tenkara style (old traditinal Japanese style fly fishing with no reel but modern equipment, see my blog). Due to the "fragility" of the gear, you shouldn't fish anything bigger than 5x or might break your equipment. So much for fishing super light and simplifying things. Still, tippet breakage hasn't been an issue to me - yet. I actually like how lighter tippet is easier to tie knots with.

Karel (www.tenkaraonthefly.blogspot.com)