Poor Eyesight and Trying to Work With Small Tippets

I am getting a late start in fly fishing being in my mid-sixties. I am having one heck of a time trying to see to tie 5X / 6X tippet’s let alone thread tippet thru the eye of a small hook / fly. How have you who like me are not blessed with great eyesight? I already wear glasses with bifocals.


Active Member
I'm not at the point where I struggle with threading flies yet but one of my fishing partners uses a tippet threader. I think he picked it up at Cabelas or Orivs and it seems to work for him.

Dan Nelson

Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum
These are VITAL for me any more. I've got them permanently attached to my regular fishing hat and after seeing how well they work for me, several other people copied me -- my wife, two of my brothers, and a few friends (one of whom even added one to his bike helmet so he could read his GPS when out mountain biking).


You can see the Flip Focal on my hat in my avatar pic.

NOTE: After about 3 years of heavy use, the hinge on mine started to get sloppy and the magnifier would slow drop down when not needed. I simply wound some tippet material into the gaps in the hinge pivot and its nice and tight again.


Active Member
While most of my life I was blessed with exceptional eye sight in recent years my vision has declined and now I a proud wearer of bifocals and what I had always take for granted when it came to tying knots can now be pretty challenging.

In addition to magnifiers have a couple other suggests that may help.

Working with good light can help (if wearing sunglasses remove then) and it can help to help the fly up against the sky or in dim light toward a light source.

For the smaller hooks Orvis (other brands?) makes a hook called "big eyes" which have larger than normal eyes. Originally I used then to accommodate a heavier tippet when chasing large trout on small flys (20 to 24s) but now appreciate the large eyes for the knot tying.

You might try taking a black felt pen and coloring the first inch or two of the tippet to make it more visible to thread the eye and just leave the colored portion of the tippet as the "tag end" to be trimmed.

I use the flip downs and they work okay. That gizmos looks enticing, but all I need is one more thing hanging off my vest or lanyard.



"Chasing Riseforms"
The threaders are probably the answer. I guess I must be damn lucky being nearsighted as heck. I can tie size 20 flies and smaller (not that often) without any help from lenses. Same with tying on a fly, I just peak over my glasses and I am 65. I wore contacts for about 10 years long ago now. Pain in the but, because then, I had to have reading glasses to see close up.
I've tried the flip down magnifiers that attach to the bill of your cap, as Dan and Lugan suggested, but found them always to be a little out of the focal range or not in the right position, depending on the cap and how it was situated on my head. I prefer the flip down magnifiers that attach to my glasses. Since they are attached to your glasses, they are always in the correct position when you flip them down. Since you already wear glasses, I'd recommend you look for them. You can get them in a range of magnifications. I also wear bifocals when fishing and the combination works great for me.



Old Man

Just an Old Man
Get better glasses. I got my eyes checked and got new glasses over the winter. I can now thread the eyes of size 20 hooks with ease. I wear tri-focals. So don't tell me you have bad eyes. I'm 78 and going strong. I try to make sure that I have someplace to set my hands and I'm in the sun. I have to keep my hands steady or I couldn't thread a size 2/0 hook the way my hands shake.


Active Member
I always have a pair of readers, 3.0 strength on croakies hanging around my neck. If I don't have those, I might as well go home. Just put them on when needed, and let them hang when you don't.


Not to be confused with Freestone
5x-7x tippet and size 18+ hook eyes is a pain in the drain no matter what age you are. I've worn glasses since my early 20's and the best thing I've found is the flip down visor mag's that have been recommended by others. My last set of glasses were progressives and after I go t use to them, could see really well up close just looking through the bottom.

I use forceps to hold my flies while I thread the tippet... I find that and making sure you clear the head cement a big help.

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