As you might have noticed, I write a lot of articles about fly fishing on this website. The fact is, I absolutely love fly fishing. It is one of my favorite hobbies, and I am absolutely a junkie for anything related to it. If I’m not actually fly fishing, I’m writing about it, tying flies for my next trip, or shopping for some new gear or accessories to try out. I have been lucky enough to have family members who also enjoy it, and have made many friends who will drop what they are doing to go wet their line with me. Below, I will talk a little about the importance of terminal fly fishing tackle to your efficiency on the water.
Efficiency = Technique + Tackle Choice
I have noticed that over the years, my approach to fly fishing has shifted from being obsessed with the technical aspects (casting, retrieving) to being more focused on the fly fishing tackle that I am using. Techniques won’t catch fish alone, and I have found that choosing the right fly and using the right sized tippet will do a lot more for landing a fish than a perfect fly presentation. Fish are more forgiving, I have learned, if the terminal tackle (fly, leader, tippet) is right, even if the presentation might be a bit sloppy.
I am not saying that casting techniques shouldn’t be mastered, or you don’t have to be careful when casting to finicky fish. All I am saying is that I believe that choosing the right tackle is more important than just about anything else in fly fishing, including the cast and presentation.
I also believe that choosing the right fly fishing tackle takes more time to learn and master than casting said tackle to a feeding fish. Most anglers refer to this as ‘matching the hatch,’ but tackle refers to more than just the fly pattern. Terminal tackle includes your leader, tippet material, any strike indicator or weight that is used, and the manner in which you apply your fly floatant (to some extent). All of these items need to be incorporated in the most natural way possible, and they will all affect how the fish views your presentation.
Fly Fishing Tackle – Terminal Requirements
Lets look at the leader and tippet, for example, since I have already talked about the importance of matching the hatch with trout flies in other articles. The leader and tippet material provide an even taper from your fly line to your fly. Your leader will start out thick at the junction with the fly line, and taper down to a specific diameter, which depends on the size. These sizes are given a number with an ‘X’ designation, such as 3X, 4X, or 5X. Lower numbers have a thicker terminal diameter than higher numbers. Tippet material will have a consistent diameter, which also corresponds to the number associated with it (the same as leader).
Now that the number designation is explained, choosing the right size of leader and tippet needs to be addressed. The size of the leader and tippet relates to its strength. The higher the number, the thinner the diameter, and therefore the weaker its strength. This strength involves not only the ability to withstand big fish, but the ability to turn over heavier flies, possibly with weights. Higher numbered leaders and tippet material are best suited for casting small dry flies on small streams for smaller fish. The opposite is also true (larger numbers = larger flies and larger fish).
One more thing to consider here: the thicker the leader and tippet material, the more likely the fish will be able to see it. On spring creeks and other streams with high clarity, fish might be spooked by thicker leaders. Backing off a few numbers will decrease your overall visibility and make your presentation look more natural, but will also decrease the overall strength of your setup. You will need to be more careful with your hooksets, and you will need to play the fish more rather than dragging it towards your net.
Don’t Forget The Natural Fly Fishing Tackle Look
I can’t stress enough the importance of natural looking fly fishing tackle. The more natural it looks to the fish, the more likely they are to take your fly. If you are on the market for cheap fly fishing tackle, be sure to look for online fly fishing tackle shops. You will be able to shop around and compare prices better than if you were to shop your local fly fishing tackle shop. For increased organization, be sure to invest in a fly fishing tackle box or fly fishing tackle bag.
My favorite fly fishing leaders are Umpqua brand. You can get 3 packs from Amazon for $10, which is a good deal. Click here to buy some today. As for tippet material, I also go with Umpqua most of the time. Click here to buy some tippet material from Amazon for a great deal. And as always, happy fishing!
What do you think about this article? Did we leave anything out? What does your terminal tackle consist of? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section below. Thanks!