This photo shows a tippet ring attached to a fly fishing leader and tippet as well as tippet rings on a snap swivel.

The Best Tippet Rings & How to Use Them

Fly Fishing Gear

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Tippet rings are one of the simplest yet most powerful fly fishing accessories you should start using right away. They’re fantastic for beginners, very handy for experts, and they will save most every fly fishing angler money and time.

If you’re a fly fishing beginner, you’ll want to buy some tippet rings right away. Let’s take a closer look:

Table of Contents:

What are tippet rings for fly fishing?

This photo shows a fly fishing tippet ring attached to a fly fishing leader and tippet material.
Tippet rings let you easily connect fly fishing leaders to fly fishing tippet.

Tippet rings are very small metal rings that anglers tie between the end of a tapered leader and the tippet material used to extend the leader to the fly. Typically, tippet rings are tied 6-8′ down a tapered leader just as the material, usually a kind of nylon monofilament, starts to thin and allow for good knots. Next, anglers tie an additional 3′ or so of tippet material to the tippet ring, resulting in a ‘leader’ with a total length of 9-12′ before it ends with a fly. Anglers, of course, modify length and positioning of tippet rings and tippet material to match their desired casting and fishing conditions.

 

What is the point of using tippet rings?

If you can easily join the end of a tapered leader to tippet material with a simple and effective Surgeon’s Knot, what is the point of using tippet rings?

The most important reason to use tippet rings is to stop wasting leader material by tying traditional leader-to-tippet knots. As you change flies during a day of fishing, you use up tippet material with each fly you tie on, eventually ending up with a tippet that’s too short to use. When you add more tippet to your leader with a Surgeon’s Knot, you then use up additional leader material. If you do this multiple times a day or multiple times a weekend, eventually your tapered leader will be too short to use and require replacement. Instead of buying and replacing multiple tapered leaders every fishing season, anglers can use tippet rings instead. By using a tippet ring, you can likely use a single tapered leader for months, if not all season long.

In addition, tippet rings make it very easy for beginners to easily change or add tippet material to their leaders. Advanced fly fishers will sometimes create or keep two-fly rigs — basically sections of tippet that already have two flies tied to the tippet. With such a pre-tied rig, you can quickly swap from fishing a dry fly on very light tippet to a dual-fly nymph rig tied with a heavier tippet. If you spend less time tying on flies, you’ll spend more time fishing!

How do you attach tippet rings to leaders and tippet?

This photo shows a tippet ring tied to a leader and tippet with a stand clinch fishing knot.
Standard Clinch Knots work well with tippet rings.

The simplest way to attach leader and tippet to a tippet ring is with standard fishing Clinch Knots.

However, here is a tip to make tying a tippet ring on much simpler: Instead of removing the tippet ring from the snap swivel clips they’re sold with, choose the tippet ring that will be first to come off of the snap swivel. Leave it on the snap swivel and tie your leader and tippet to the tippet ring. This method will keep you from dropping the tiny tippet ring as well as keep it manageable while you tie your Clinch Knots. Once both knots are done, it’s easy to remove the tippet ring from the snap swivel.

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Can you use a tippet ring for dry flies?

Yes, you can use tippet rings for dry flies. Tippet Rings are very light and typically don’t cause sinking or overwhelm the floatation of your leader or buoyant flies. Smaller 2mm tippet rings are generally better for smaller dry flies. However, some fly fishers prefer to not use tippet rings when fishing very small dry flies to skittish trout in very clear and slow water situations.

Do tippet rings cast well?

Because tippet rings are so small, they don’t appreciably affect fly casting effectiveness: Your leaders and tippet will turn over almost exactly the same as leaders and tippet tied with Surgeon’s Knots.

How long do tippet rings last?

Tippet rings can last all season long, if not longer. Quality tippet rings are very strong — rated to around 20 pounds or more — and break offs at the leader knot are rare. A pack of 10 securely attached to a snap swivel inside of a fly fishing waist pack, chest pack, fly box or vest will usually last years.

Which size tippet rings should I buy?

Most tippet rings range from small versions that are 2mm to larger versions that are 3mm. Choose 2mm for lighter leaders and tippet and most trout fishing. Choose 2.5mm for heavier leaders and bigger flies for trout fishing. Choose 3mm for steelhead and salmon fishing.

The Best Tippet Rings

This photo shows tippet rings on a snap swivel.
Tippet Rings are usually sold in packs of 10 held together by a standard fishing snap swivel.

Tippet rings are super simple, but don’t buy cheap tippet rings or knock-off tippet rings. Why? Poorly manufactured tippet rings often have flat edges or even tiny sharp burrs that can weaken or sever your knots. The best tippet rings are completely round and polished so that they are very smooth. We’ve had excellent success with Orvis Tippet Rings and Rio Tippet Rings. They work great and are well worth the cost. The biggest difference is that the Orvis 2mm tippet ring is rated to 17 pounds while the 2mm Rio tippet ring is rated to 25 pounds. Will it matter? Highly unlikely. Your tippet or knots will break before either tippet ring ever fails.

Orvis Tippet Rings — Orvis offers three sizes: The 2mm Small is a great all-purpose tippet ring for trout. We like this size especially when we’re using smaller dry flies. The 2.5mm Medium is a great all-around trout size. It’s still small enough for most dry flies, but it’s a bit easier to use for heavier leaders and stronger tippets (for nymph rigs and streamers). The 3mm Large is great for steelhead or salmon.

Rio Tippet Rings — Rio keeps things simple with two options: 2mm Small tippet rings for trout and 3mm Large tippet rings for steelhead and salmon.

All-in-all, tippet rings are cost-effective fly fishing accessories that help you use a single tapered leader for many fishing trips, if not all season. Plus, beginner anglers benefit from tippet rings because it makes adding tippet to the end of their leaders easier and more effective. In fact, if you’re looking for an inexpensive fly fishing gift for beginners, tippet rings are a good option.

 

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