How to Save Your Leader: Use a Tippet Ring

How to Save Your Leader: Use a Tippet Ring

Tippet rings are extremely useful but can be an extreme pain if you have clumsy fingers.

For those of you who are not familiar with tippet rings, they are an excellent way to extend the life of your tapered leaders without compromising the strength or buoyancy of your leaders and line. In other words, they are tiny metal hoops that you tie the butt section of your leader onto. This will allow you to attach additional tippet with speed.

They are fantastic because instead of trimming back and wasting your precious leader, you use tippet to extend it and continue fishing. To boot, tippet rings are light and can be used for dry fly fishing. Being able to convert your nymph or streamer rig in a jiffy to fish dry flies will come in handy when fish begin to rise to surface insects.

Let’s dive into how to attach one to your leader so that you can save time and money.

Attaching A Tippet Ring

Here is a quick video by Tim Flager of Tightline Productions. This is the best video I’ve found explaining tippet rings and how to use them.

Step By Step Guide

I would highly recommend that you sit down to tie one on before your trip. Attaching a tippet ring can be quite bothersome while on the water.

Most tippet rings come in two sizes, 2mm and 3mm. The 2mm diameter rings are 25-pound-test and the 3mm diameter rings are 45-pound-test.

Tippet rings come on a snap swivel for convenience and ease of use. The snap swivels are there for a reason. Never try to handle these microscopic tippet rings if it is off this snap swivel, you will surely lose it.

(1) Instead of removing an individual tippet ring, single out the one closest to the opening.

(2) Next, feed the butt section of your leader through the ring.

See! Much easier than trying to hold it.

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(3) Once you feed your line through, tie a simple Clinch Knot or Improved Clinch Knot (both work just as well). I chose these two knots because they are simple to tie and most anglers know them, but you can use whatever knot you’d like.

Great, now you can slide the tippet ring off the snap swivel.

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Before you lose any, close the snap swivel.

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Finally, tie a section of tippet on by using another Clinch Knot or Improved Clinch Knot.

I, personally, prefer to use tippet rings for my nymphing rigs, but you can use them however you like.

Many anglers will include them in dropper rigs as well. You can add a dropper fly with ease by attaching a second section of tippet to the tippet ring with a clinch knot. Now simply tie your dropper fly to that new section of tippet and within 2 minutes you have a two-fly leader.


A lot of anglers worry that tippet rings will drag dry flies down and prevent them from being presented naturally.

On the contrary, tippet rings do not cause an excessive amount of drag on your setup. Tippet rings turnover flies just as well as any leader or connection you have in your average rig, and you can always slap a bit of dry fly floatant on it to keep it sitting high on the water.

Save On Leader

Overall, tippet rings can be a blessing for us anglers who don’t have deep pockets.

With many leaders being priced at over $9 a pack, it can really add up fast. One tippet ring can save you meters of leader. I’ve fished with a french style indicator that contained a tippet ring at its base for over a year. I can only imagine how many leaders I would have gone through if I hadn’t.

Give tippet rings a try. If you like them, great. If not, that’s great too. Everyone has their own preferences and tastes.

Take a look here.

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Comments (6)

  • Raymond Collette

    I started using them about a month ago because I was going through way to much leader and now I haven’t change my leader yet. The other thing is I feel it gives you a tighter connection to your tippet then tying the tippet onto your leader. Worth every penny!

    May 16, 2017 at 10:06 pm
    • Nate - The Fly Crate

      Love it when tippet rings fulfill their purpose. I’ve used the same 1 tippet ring for about 6 months out of a 10 pack I grabbed from stock (shhh… don’t let my staff know). Haven’t had to change it since. I’m a 1 rod kind of guy, so I have to continuously change my rigs from dry flies to nymphing then to wet flies and then back again. It becomes a pain after a while. Thankfully, a tippet ring saves me from having to tie a blood knot every time I switch. A simple clinch knot and I’m done.

      May 19, 2017 at 10:33 am
  • Barnett Williams

    What size and length leader are you using? Are you tying the ring directly on to the end of your leader or are you altering the leader before attaching the ring?

    July 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm
    • Nate - The Fly Crate

      Hello Barnett, we were using a 9ft 4x leader. We tied the ring about 3-4ft directly up the leader. So when we used the leader as far up as we could and it got too thick for flies, we tied on a ring to it to add some 4x tippet to the ring. You can alter a brand new leader when tying it on initially. Clip 3-4ft of the leader off from the thin side. You tie the thick end to your main fly line by the loop or use a nail knot. Tie the ring to the thin end.

      July 29, 2017 at 8:58 am
  • Keith oliver

    Try tying the davy knot instead of wasting line with cinch or other knots. Google shows how to tie it.

    November 4, 2021 at 10:56 pm
    • Nathaniel Treichler

      Agreed, it is a simple knot and just as strong. If anyone is looking here’s the link to a video on how to tie it:

      December 31, 2021 at 12:23 am

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