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Skunk Happens
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1,015 Posts
Tippet is the last section of a tapered leader. The material is usually the same.

Edit: The purpose is to put the smallest diameter section near the fly. It dissipates the power of the cast and allows the fly to move more naturally in the current than would be possible from a larger diameter.
 

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previously micro brew
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4,663 Posts
Also, as you clip the leader, you can add sections to keep a taper. Like Stewart noted, there may be times that you have to go to something very small, and you may need to reduce the diamater of the tippet to pass throught the eye of the hook.

MB
 

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Remember when you could remember everything?
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7,182 Posts
why doesn't the fly attach to the leader?
You certainly can tie the fly directly to the end of the leader. But the problem with doing that is that every time you tie on a new fly, the leader will get a bit shorter by the length of the material used to make the knot plus the tag end you clip off once you tie the knot. As most folks use a tapered mono leader, every time you shorten the leader by tying on a new fly, the leader diameter gets larger and the length gets shorter.

Since leaders are a lot more expensive than tippet, most folks tie a hunk of tippet onto the end of a leader. That makes the leader last longer while maintaining a consistent diameter as the tippet attaches to the fly. As a rule of thumb, use tippet that's one X smaller that the end of your leader (remember, smaller diameter means a bigger X number.) Thus for a 9 foot 4X leader, you'd want to tie on a couple feet of 5X tippet, making the overall leader/tippet 11 feet long. Tying on a smaller diameter tippet helps insure that if you break off, it's the replaceable, cheaper tippet that gives way instead of the more-expensive leader.

In tying tippet to leader, most folks use a blood knot or triple surgeon's knot. Problem with those is that every time you attach new tippet, you have to shorten the leader, just like tying a fly to the leader directly, but less often. As an alternative, some folks tie a perfection loop in the end of the leader and in the end of the tippet and then use a loop-to-loop connection that eliminates shortening the leader when you change tippet. Doing so allows one to vastly extend the life of a leader, sometimes to several years or longer.

K
 

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Free Man
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1,872 Posts
It's mostly a semantical thing. The fly is attached to a leader of course, the final section of the leader is called the tippet to make it sound more complicated. It's just the tip of our our fly fishing icebergget.
 
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