How long should the tippet be?

Also, do you recommend fluorocarbon leaders and tippets?

Q: When using a tapered leader, how long should the tippet be for fish like redfish, bonefish, stripers and other species where no bite leader is required? Also, do you recommend fluorocarbon leaders and tippets?

Bill Edwards,
Richmond, Virginia

A: When fishing salt water, there is almost always a breeze of some sort, Bill, and tippets that are too long have a tendency to create "wind knots." For years, I've used tippets no longer than 14 to 18 inches. The shorter the tippet, the less likely that knots will occur. An added advantage is that the leader begins slowing as it unrolls toward the target. The longer and thinner the tippet, the more likely it will not turn over the fly. Remember: Fish don't run up to leaders to examine them! If the fly is 18 to 24 inches from the next section of leader, I've found that fish never seem to notice.

There is certainly no advantage to using an entire leader made of fluoro-carbon. While I've noticed a slight advantage in some freshwater situations, I have not been able to determine that it is more effective in saltwater scenarios, except possibly when targeting big-eyed fish, such as tuna, in a deep, clear-water environment. As for sink rate, the flies determine how fast the patterns will sink.