Use Tippet Rings to Extend Leader Life and Save Money

2 mm and 3 mm tippet rings

Tippet Rings. 2.15 and 3 mm closed rings.

When I first started fly fishing, I hated the fact that I was nibbling away at the leader every time I change flies or tippet.

I’ve been using using tippet rings for over four years now, but still rarely see other anglers using them.

Why don’t you use tippet rings?

Seems like everyone I run into on the river is using the latest and greatest equipment; some of which is worth more than my old truck, but I rarely see anyone use tippet rings.

Depending upon how nimble our fingers are, we could be losing a couple of inches off the leader every time we change a fly or the tippet. That is a big waste if you’re paying between $4 – $10 each to buy leaders.

When I first looked for tippet rings at my local fly shop, they didn’t have any. They must make more money selling new leaders than tippet rings.

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Interested in Tippet Rings?

I asked several people what they thought about tippet rings and got several different perspectives. Most of the negative comments were really questions from people that never tried them.

The tippet rings sold specifically for fishing cost about 60 cents each, which seems expensive for such a tiny ring, but if 60 cents keeps me from buying a new tapered leader, then it’s worth it.

Tippet rings are very similar to jump rings sold for arts and crafts. If you buy jump rings for fishing, make sure to buy, closed rings (soldered). If you are willing to look, you will find closed rings in the sizes you want for less money.

I found silver rings at a craft website for about 13 cents each. I had to order about $10 worth to get free shipping, so I received 50 2.15 mm rings and and 25 3 mm rings, which should last a long time.

When I offered some tippet rings to my fishing buddy Jim O’Neal, he was glad to have them. His supply had run out, otherwise I would have learned about them sooner.

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We use tippet rings for casting dry flies and for nymphing. I haven’t noticed any negative issues with the rings except that they collect algae like any knot does. Using tippet rings, I can use the same nymphing leader for years at a time…

(Yes, I have the same leader on my nymphing rod for at least two years now – yes, it’s kinked and curled, but it doesn’t matter for the bounce rig).

You will change tappered leader on your dry fly rig a little more often, but still much less than without a tippet ring.

I always carry new tapered leaders with me, but rarely need them.

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Comments about Tippet Rings

Some of the comments I found online about tippet rings are a little confusing. Some use them only for dry flies and others use them only for nymphing.

Some suggest that tippet rings make changing flies quicker, so you were back in the water faster. It seems like tying one knot either way should take about the same amount of time, but it does allow you to tie a simple clinch knot to the ring instead of a more complicated blood knot (or simple triple surgeon knot) to attach leader to tippet.

tippet rings floating on water

Tippet Rings (2.15 mm and 3 mm) floating on water.

Many people question whether the rings will affect the float of the line or the fly. The short answer is no.

When I took the photo, I dropped both rings in the water and they sank straight to the bottom.

When I gently placed them on the surface, they floated.

Point is, a tippet ring may not float on its own, but when tied to tippet material, they will float due to the surface tension. They do not cause the tippet to sink. Some people add a drop of floatant to the ring to make sure. I use floatant on flies, but not on tippet rings.

 Video Shows how to tie Tippet Ring to Leader

After reading all the online comments I could find about using tippet rings. Some people love them, but most people haven’t tried them. There were a few negative comments, but most seemed based on opinion and not on fact, so I listed the most common comments for you to consider.

Obviously, these small 2-3mm tippet rings are for catching small fish in fresh water, but I have never had a 20 inch trout break a tippet ring.

Positive Comments about Tippet Rings

  • Extends the useful life of the leader
  • Leader is always the same length and taper does not change
  • Avoids complicated knots (blood knot)
  • Less time changing flies or tippet (??? – should be same)
  • Less used line left at the stream
  • Easy to tie droppers (??? – should be same)
  • Easy connection of difference sized tippet material
  • Used with Czech nymphing rig to reduce loss and quick replacement

Negative Comments about Tippet Rings

  • The knot tied to the tippet ring is a weak point, especially on rings with square shoulders.
  • Unnecessary complication; Use perfection loop instead
  • One more small thing to loose
  • Ring collects algae (??? so would any knot)
  • Can’t slide strike indicator past ring when nymphing
  • Ring effects drag free float (??? more than knot?)
  • Prefer to tie one surgeon knot instead of 2 knots tied to ring

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  1. Is the jump ring as strong as tippet rings?

    • Hi Carl..

      I don’t know if the jump rings are as strong as tippet rings or not, but both are always stronger than the tippet that I use. I have never lost a tippet ring or jump ring when I’ve gotten hung up and had to break off.

      I have both tippet rings and jump rings and have several sizes of each ranging from 2 to 3 mm. I keep them on a safety pin and usually just grab first one I find.

      I tie the ring to the end of a tapered leader (usually 4x or 5x with breaking strength of at least 5 lbs) with an improved clinch knot and then tie either 4x or 5x tippet to the other side of the ring (also breaking strength of at least 5 lbs with another clinch knot).

      We use tippet rings for dry flies, nymphing and bounce rigs. Most of our fishing is for rainbows and brown trout, but we have landed many 18 – 20 inch fish with this set up.

      I hope that answers your question.

      • Thanks so much for getting back with me. I am just getting started to try making my own leaders and want to use them when I do. Still a lot to learn and trying to find the best way for me. But with the winter weather I thought this would be a great way to past the winter blues.

        • Yes, I am relatively new to fly fishing, but my fishing buddy is a retired fly fishing guide with over 50 years experience. He uses tippet rings.
          As for Winter Blues… I don’t know where you live, but we fished our stream last week with temperatures as low as 15°F. Hard to keep line free and hands warm, but we caught a few fish but had one nice 17 inch rainbow… Went back a few days later when temps were above freezing and caught over 50 fish.

  2. John Bennett says

    Good article, I’ll have to give these a try. I’ve used loops and braided loops connections for many years and finding the correct braided nylon is getting hard. This sounds like a good alternative. Thanks.

  3. Are tippet rings suitable for sunk fly fishing on lakes? Anyone used them on a floating or slime line for fishing below the surface?

  4. Paige Loomis says

    I use tippet rings with most of my fly fishing. I really like them with my 2-3 fly indicator rigs. I tie a ring on the end of my tapered leader and then add my sections of tippet and nymphs. If I need more weight, I just mold tungsten putty around the ring. I hate split shot unless I’m in some obviously big water.

    • Sounds like a good plan to use tippet ring as the connection between leader and tippet and provides a good surface for the Tungsten putty to grip onto.

      Hate is a strong word to use for split shot, but I guess you have your reasons. If hanging up in the rocks is the reason, try using 3 or 4 tiny weights in a row instead of one big weight. They ride over the bottom better.

      I guess what classifies as big water differs. My relatives from the East laughed when they saw my river. “That’s just a little ole creek”.

      Thanks for the comment. I think I will get some Tungsten putty for fishing my little waters.

  5. Paige Loomis says

    The reason I don’t like split shot is that I just never got very adept with using them. Your idea of using a few smaller shots is a good one. I’m impressed with those that nymph all day and do their adjustments with nothing but shot. I just find it easier to use some combinations of bead heads and putty. Big water ( such as Wyoming’s Grey Reef ) is not the only reason to use shot. I know of guides on the S. Platte that use tiny shot for very delicate situations. They say the putty can be too heavy at times. I just prefer tiny bead heads in this situation. Thanks for the reply.

  6. Keith oliver says

    Hi Carl, thanks for all the great info. I became aware of the rings awhile ago, and put one on my salt water leader for a trip to Aruba this past Oct. However, did’nt get to use it, but will use one here in Colo. Instead of using extra line by tying cinch knots, I now use the davy knot which you should Goggle. It is a very easy knot to tie an is quite strong. Vaya con Dios, Keith

Comments, Opinions, Questions?