The Great Debate - Nylon vs. Fluorocarbon
It is not just Mono, choose your tippet wisely.
One of the most debated issues in fly fishing, and in fly shops, is...
"Do I really need fluorocarbon? Can't I just use nylon?"
(Food for thought - they are both monofilament.)
The simple answer is yes, you can just use nylon in any and all fishing conditions, but... ...you may not get the most out of your fishing.
-It is cheaper-
Nylon is the best all around leader and tippet material that you can buy, it will do it all, and even excel in some situations. When fishing dry flies or poppers, or subsurface in shallow water, nylon is our go-to tippet and leader material choice.
Not all nylons are produced equally; each product has specific properties that are ideal for certain situations. Click on the images below to read up on how they differ. Some are more supple for better dead drifts; other are made with power in mind to turn flies over.
-It sinks- -It is far less visible underwater- -It does not deteriorate nearly as fast as nylon- -It is far more abrasion resistant than nylon- Fluorocarbon has big benefits over nylon. For nearly all sub-surface applications, fluorocarbon just makes sense; it sinks, it is nearly invisible and it is tougher material. Fluorocarbon is even an excellent tippet material for fishing dry flies to very fussy fish in big long slow pools on a river, and in still water; just make sure your entire leader is not fluorocarbon, only a short length of tippet. Adding on 6"-12" of fluorocarbon as your terminal tippet will sink your tippet just below the water's surface without dragging your dry fly down. Sinking your tippet removes any impression on the meniscus of the water which may be putting off very selective and spooky fish. When removing tippet impression on the surface matters, it matters!
Not all fluorocarbons are made equal either. Click on the images below to learn how they differ. Like their nylon counterparts, some are more supple for better dead drifts; other are made with power in mind to turn flies over.
My Uncle Bob's friend's cousin told me I can't tie nylon and fluorocarbon together? Is this true?
No. You can attach fluorocarbon to nylon, no matter what incorrect popular opinion your acquaintance told you. Avoid using a blood knot, and use a double or triple surgeons to perform the task.
Regardless of the monofilament you use, always... always... lubricate your knots when seating and tightening them.
Still don't trust it? There are always tippet rings to make the connection!
Drift Outfitters Pro-Tip
Most spools of tippet come with an elastic band keeping your tippet from unraveling and ending up in a nasty bird's nest. What you will find often on the elastic bands is a small metal ring which holds the end of your tippet protruding from the spool so you can grasp it easily. As convenient as these rings are, they also cause your tippet to curl if pulled through them. Much like running a piece of ribbon across the edge of a blade to get it to curl, you will find the same result with your monofilament running along the side of the ring. This effect is far more dramatic on lighter tippet.
Tip 1: Do the Tippet Slide
Guide your tippet through the ring while gently sliding the elastic band against the direction it was spooled, giving you slack and the tippet length you need. This will allow you to keep using the ring and keep your tippet neat and tidy, but it does take a little more time to get the length you need.
Tip 2: Abandon the ring
It may not be as neat, not as tidy, and a little harder to locate your tippet end, and you may have your tippet escape from the side of the spool occasionally and unravel, but it is faster to access your tippet when speed and frequency of tippet extraction matters.