Tippet Size Chart: Mono & Fluorocarbon Diameter and Strength

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In one way, the tippet can be considered the most important part of your fly fishing tackle.

If it fails, that fish you’ve hooked escapes and you are left rueing the missed opportunity.

So choose the right sized tippet for the fish you are chasing and the kind of water you are fishing is really important.

But there is some confusion in the way tippet sizes are categorized, which we’ve tried to simplify with this table below.

How is different sized tippet labelled?

Tippet Spools
Tippet has both an X rating (diameter) and a strength or breaking strain

Tippet can be labelled both via the ‘X’ system or via breaking strain. 

The ‘X’ system describes the diameter of the tippet – the higher the number, the lower the diameter with 8X tippet just about the thinnest on the market and 0X a much thicker tippet.

The breaking strain is obviously more straightforward and measures the strength of the tippet.

One thing to remember is that different brands of tippet have different breaking strains for the same diameter (or X rating). 

The chart below gives typical measurements for monofilament tippet for fly fishing, but what you end up buying may differ slightly in terms of breaking strain. High quality tippet is both thin and strong.

Monofilament Fly Fishing Tippet Size Chart: 8X to 0X

Tippet size (X rating)Tippet Diameter(inches)Approx breaking strain in poundsFly Size
8x.0031.75#22 to #28
7x.0042.5#18 – #24
6x.0053.5#16 – #22
5x.0064.75#14 – #18
4x.0076#12 – #18
3x.0088.5#6 – #12
2x.00911.5#4 – #8
1x.01013.5#2 – #6
0x.01115.51/0 – #4

Fluorocarbon Fly Fishing Tippet Size Chart: 8X to 0X

Fluorocarbon tippet diameters and strengths differ slightly from mono tippet.

For an equivalent diameter, fluorocarbon tippet has a lower breaking strain, although it is more abrasion resistant and is nearly invisible under water – handy when you are fly fishing clear water.

The table below shows the diameter/X rating for Trouthunter Fluoro fly fishing tippet material and the equivalent breaking strength.

Tippet size (X rating)Tippet Diameter(inches)Approx breaking strain in poundsFly Size
8x.00351.1#22 to #28
7x.0041.5#18 – #24
6x.0052.3#16 – #22
5x.0063.24#14 – #18
4x.0074.8#12 – #18
3x.0085.7#6 – #12
2x.0097.4#4 – #8
1x.0108#2 – #6
0x.01110.81/0 – #4

What about even stronger fly fishing tippet material?

Once you go above 0X tippet size, tippet is described directly with its diameter in inches and its breaking strain.

How do I choose fly fishing tippet sizes?

You should choose the right tippet size to fly fish with based on a few different factors:

  • How strong is the fish you are chasing? You need the line not to break.
  • Is the water clear or dirty? You don’t need to worry about using thinner tippet in murky water and can go up a tippet size or two. But say you are trout fishing in gin clear water fishing to spooky fish, you might need to go very thin to fool the big fish
  • Is there any structure the fish can get into? You might need to use a thicker tippet. Note also that fluorocarbon is more abrasion resistant, although it has a lower breaking strain for a given diameter of tippet
  • Are the fish very spooky? You might need to fly fish with a really thinner tippet size or go with fluoro to tempt large trout.
  • What type of fly are you fishing. You can use 2X tippet size when fishing streamers and other bigger flies, but it is tough to get that through the eye of a #18 Parachute Adams.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water.
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