It’s fall and big fish with big teeth are beginning to get active. For fly fishers and hardware throwers alike here is a simple – yet effective – means for constructing a tippet that will withstand the rigors of pike, muskie, pickerel, bluefish, specks and other fish with major molars – or incisors or whatever.
First you will need a few tools. A good pair of hemostats, a pair of diagonals or wire cutters with cutters at the tip of the tool, a pair of needle nose pliers, and a pair of serrated scissors. If you don’t already have them in your tool box a trip to the hardware store may be in order. As long as you are going to the hardware store, a hammer, anvil, acetylene torch, concrete mixer, a box of 16d nails, and a grinder can be purchased as well. You won’t need them for this project, but didn’t you really want that stuff ? Oh what the heck; throw in the arc welder and a string of Christmas lights.
The next item you will need is the actual leader material itself. My favorite is Rio Wire Bite. This is great stuff but it’s a bit on the pricey side. Don’t expect your nippers to cut it. That’s what the serrated scissors are for. Any knotable coated wire will work, and this tippet method will help you save a few bucks.
Then you will need some snaps such as those found at the end of a snap swivel. Whether you use the type shown or the all wire snaps is a matter of personal preference.
Now to begin the construction, liberate the snap from the swivel using the diagonals. Carefully cut the wire of the swivel allowing the snap to come free. The snaps can also be purchased separate from the swivel.
Then cut about two feet of the desired tippet material, (24 inches or 61 cm or 0.0003291569 nautical miles) from the spool.
At one end tie a Non-Slip Mono Loop or Perfection Loop. This will enable you to use the loop to loop method to connect the tippet to the leader. At the other end you can attach the snap to the wire by using an improved clinch knot or a figure 8 knot. You may need the needle nose pliers or hemostats to pull the knots tight. Be sure to lubricate the knots before pulling them tight.
The snap will move some but that is okay. It gives more action to the fly and field tests (well actually lake tests) have shown that its effectiveness is not diminished. In fact, it seems to impart more action into the large flies used. Changing flies is simply a matter of opening the snap, removing the fly, replacing it with another fly, and closing the snap. With the Rio Wire Bite, you can tie on individual flies, much as you would with monofilament, but I don’t see the need for it with a leader like this.
An advantage of this over a crimped leader or tippet is that the loop or knot at the snap is not as likely to pick up “lake salad” as a crimp will be.
This tippet can also be attached to the business end of a rod throwing plugs and it works just fine.
Tie up a bunch while sitting in front of the TV before going fishing. Make them in various lengths and test strengths of wire. Then you will have a supply when you are ready to go fishing.
There are some comments from a couple of contributors to the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide that I feel are worth noting:
Ed Jaworowski wrote:
I’ve made numerous trips to northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan for pike, and taken them as well in Alaska, Ontario, Quebec, and Labrador. The leaders you recommend are fine, but here’s another approach. You only need a pair of sharp cutters. Connect the mono to the knottable/tieable wire with an overhand knot in the wire, and a uni-knot in mono. I thoroughly dislike a perfection loop in the wire. The uni-knot connection is much smaller, neater, catches grass and junk a lot less. To the fly, a simple figure 8 works fine. Obviously, a snap on the end has great advantage for changing flies, and I generally use snaps now. But this method is quick, and you can rig up with just a spool of wire and the diagonal cutters in seconds. I’ve taken easily 5-600 pike, many 36-44″ and never had a failure. I’ve also used it for many bluefish, which are far stronger and tougher than any pike.
I like Ed’s idea of “overhand knot in the wire, and a uni-knot in mono. ” More research is required – I guess I have to go fishing again.