During the course of a guide day, it’s not unusual for anglers to ask questions about what size tippet I am tying on.
Like most aspects of fly fishing, selecting a tippet size can also be very situational. Although, I think there are a few guidelines that could be followed to help an angler select the right tippet size.
While guiding for trout, I usually carry tippet in the range of sizes from 1x to 6x. Anglers that carry sizes 3x-5x could get by in most situations, but I like to be prepared for all situations.
The larger diameters, 1x and 2x, are mostly used to rebuild damaged leaders. However, just a few weeks ago I was using these diameters while fishing large dry flies during the Green Drakes.
The core sizes, such as 3x, 4x, and 5x, are tippet sizes that could all be used during the course of a typical day on the water. Selecting one of these three sizes can usually be decided by which size fly you are fishing. On our water, a base guideline would be using 3x for hook sizes 8-10, 4x for sizes hook sizes 12-16, and 5x for hook sizes 18-20.
I use 6x tippet for very technical situations or smaller hook sizes such as 22-24. There are very few times that I use 6x tippet beyond these smaller hook sizes (or slow and clear water).
Using these general guidelines will help steer you in the right direction for your next day on the water. It’s a good time of year to put your tippet to good use.