Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Assembling Your Combo - Part 4

Hunter continues our discussion on the perfect flyfishing setup. Today we simplify leaders and tippet. We’ll start with an explanation of the role each plays, as it can be confusing for beginners. We'll end with the basics you need to get started with trouting in north Georgia.

First, the leader is a section of clear line (monofilament or fluorocarbon) that connects the thick fly line to your fly. It’s tapered, meaning it goes from thick to thin. Leaders come in different lengths and diameters depending on your situation. The diameter is only referencing the line thickness at the thin end of the leader where you tie the fly on.

Second, the tippet is a spool of mono (or fluoro) that is all the same diameter, not tapered. You add tippet to the thin end of your leader to extend its life or customize it. Let’s talk options.

When choosing leader and tippet, think about the kind of fishing you will be doing. Small, overgrown creeks call for shorter leaders (7.5 ft, 4X) whereas larger streams or low, clear water and spooky fish call for longer leaders (9 ft, 4X).

First, you can use tippet to repair a leader. As you change flies or break off, the leader will get shorter and thicker, so using sections of tippet to replace the broken portion can help your leader last much longer and save you a few bucks.  Google "triple surgeons knot" to learn a quick and easy connection!

A great way to get the most out of your leaders is to customize them. Here are some examples:
1) You can use the leader as-is (4X) for most stream fishing situations.
2) You can cut a foot off the thin end of a 4X leader and use the thicker end (about 3X diameter) for bigger flies or murky water.
3) For small flies or spooky fish, you can add 5X or even 6X tippet to the leader’s thin end before tying on your fly.
4) You can also use tippet to tie multi-fly rigs, increasing your shot at finding what the fish are looking for. Google “dropper flies” to learn about multi-fly rigs.

In summary, buy a few 7.5 ft, 4X leaders, a few 9 ft, 4x leaders, and one spool each of 4X, 5X, and 6x tippet. With that small supply, you’ll be ready for trout fishing this spring.

Next up is bugs. We’ll help you with a basic selection of trout flies for success this spring. As always, swing by the shop or give us a call if we can help you further with your new flyfishing setup!

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