Tippet & Leader X Rating Conversion

Deciding on the right tippet rating for the right application can be a tricky and somewhat difficult decision with all the different ratings, strengths and X standards out in the market place. At REEL Fly Fishing we strive for simple transparency with our products* and through the information provided below in a simple chart to help guide you. This simple chart really comes in handy when matching certain tippets to tapered leaders as well as different types of tippet materials.

The chart below covers traditional Mono-Filament tippets and tapered leaders, but can also be used as a rough guide for Fluorocarbon tippets and tapered leaders.


Our Top tips for tippets

  • The X rating of the tippet can help determine the rating of the tippet needed to fit the fly. This is done by multiplying the X rating by 3 (x3) resulting in Y, this will give you a good idea of how well it will work for that particular fly size. (example:  3X tippet x 3 = 9 or a size #9 fly)
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight, like most fishing lines prolonged exposure to direct sunlight drastically reduces their lifespan and is the leading cause in brittle, damaged and weak tippets.
  • Often dropping down in tippet rating can be the difference it takes to catch that reluctant fish you have been trying for – not only is the visibility to the  fish decreased but the action and presentation is drastically increased the lighter you go.
  • Smaller South African rivers are where your lighter tippets are predominantly used, these range from around the 5X -7X rating
  • Still waters where there is good visibility but larger fish are generally fished with 2X-5X ratings
  • Trophy still waters and off colour waters where large fish will be encountered are where heavy X rated tippets are well suited, these typically range from 00X – 1X ratings (these can also be used from lighter salt water applications)
  • Replace your tippet often throughout the day – tippets are generally the first part of your setup that pickup scratches, cuts and abrasions
  • Run your tippet through your fingers after each fish successfully landed to ensure it doesn’t have abrasions or weak spots (replace if you feel any roughness)
  • When tying one fly directly onto another flies hook bend try and use a slightly lighter tippet than that of your main tippet – if your rear fly snags at least you won’t snap off your entire setup
  • Don’t go too light when setting up tandem flies like above, light tippets become very delicate when knotted and even more so when tied onto the “working part/bend” of the hook shank (try 5X upwards)
  • When using a dry fly dropper setup, tryout fluorocarbon for the dropper as it naturally sinks and will make your dry sit more realistically in addition to having the “dropper section” suspended below the waters serface
  • While fluorocarbon is generally known to sink due to its weight, the lighter X ratings from 6X upwards tend to be lighter then the waters meniscus – this results in inconsistencies with how the fluorocarbon floats/sinks. Don’t be alarmed if you see your light fluorocarbon floating that is completely normal.



























*The chart above is an approximation of the tippets we generally stock and while we strive for perfection in all products some variations may occur.