It wasn’t till I got a dry-rotted spool of fluoro off a fly shop shelf my first year in Colorado that I decided to go down the tippet rabbit hole. I couldn’t figure out why I had busted off two fish in a row that morning until I started applying some pressure to that “fresh” fluorocarbon and found it flaking apart at the slightest bit of tension.
From that point on, I’ve lived in fear that a lemon spool of tippet was going to cost me the fish of a lifetime and started making it a point always to have the best tippet available attached to my flies.
Honestly, at the time, I was on more of a budget than I am now. So I was not only looking for a tippet I could trust in all situations but something that also provided a lot of value in terms of cost per meter. This led me to try just about every brand fluoro I could find and look for the intersection of performance and value.
Before we dive into my opinion, I want to break down a few of the factors I was consistently thinking about and judging these products on.
Key Fluorocarbon Tippet Attributes To Consider
Aside from performance and bang for your buck, there are many things to consider when choosing what is best for you and the angling situations you frequently find yourself in. So let’s take a look:
- Diameter – This one is key. Not everyone’s 5x is the same, which is very important to understand. For example, some brands advertise increased breaking strength, but they’re not telling you that their 5x is thicker than everyone else’s, which hinders movement and increases visibility & reflection.
- Strength – Pretty simple. Higher-quality tippets have a greater breaking strength than cheaper options.
- Suppleness – Is it stiff or super flexible? This is super important based on what type of fishing you’re doing, but suppleness generally comes at a cost, weaker breaking strength.
- Abrasion Resistance – I first learned about the importance of abrasion resistance back in my hardcore bass fishing days. It’s equally important for trout anglers.
- Stretch – Stretch is more of a factor with monofilament & nylon tippet.
- Invisibility – This is why fluorocarbon has become so popular because it is “invisible” underwater and its sinking properties. With that being said, it being underwater is the key; floating on top, it is just as visible as mono.
So without further ado, here are the fluorocarbon tippets I prefer to use and that are regularly available at local fly shops.
Note* These are my personal opinions based on personal experiences. If you feel you have something to add, that would be of use to other readers, feel free to drop it in the comments at the bottom of this article.
Top Fluorocarbon Tippets
Umpqua Deceiver X & Phantom X
My top choice proves how far Umpqua has come with its new fluorocarbon tippets. I say this because the horror story I described earlier where I bought a brand new spool, and it was junk. It was Umpqua. It took me quite some time to give their new stuff a shot, and I never would of if the shop I was working at, Angler’s Covey, wouldn’t have given the staff some of it to try. And even then, I only gave it a fair shot as I was out of TroutHunter.
I’m sure happy I did. It has surpassed all expectations and has been great for me for about a year now.
- Value – The deceiver fluoro is cheaper and comes with 50 meters while maintaining excellent strength. I buy the 100-yard spools of everything through 0x to 6x. For 7x, I buy smaller 30 yards spools of the higher-quality Phantom X. I find that the cheaper stuff provides more than enough strength for everything down to 6x.
- Strength – Both have way above average breaking strength while not sacrificing diameter.
- Abrasion Resistance – I’ve had some great fish run me into weeds and rocks over the last year, and I honestly can’t think of a break-off where I felt like my tippet didn’t hold up its end of the deal.
- Pro Bands – The spools these come on are well designed and include the new probands that are labeled and keep your tippet managed. This is a subtle feature that I think adds a ton of value.
- Suppleness – Not so much with the Phantom X, but I feel like the Deceiver X isn’t the most supple tippet out there, but I certainly don’t feel like it is costing me any eats. Like mentioned, I fish it down to 6x and still get just as many eats on small flies.
TroutHunter makes excellent products, and their tippet is no exception. At this point, everyone knows their tippet is stellar, but I think it’s worth noting some of the qualities it possesses that make it a great choice for your next outing.
- Strength – It is slightly stronger than Deceiver X and marginally weaker than Phantom X from Umpqua, solidifying it as one of the pound-for-pound strongest tippets out there.
- Suppleness – The reason I love TroutHunter and used it so much before the Umpqua stuff came out was its suppleness. It feels thin and soft while retaining incredible strength. For personal use, if all I did was fish technical tailwaters, this is what I’d probably rock with.
- Value – This is was the main driver in my switch. It’s relatively expensive in comparison to other 50 yard spools out there. This becomes increasingly important when you’re going through copious amounts of tippet and rerigging with every fray or nick.
- Abrasion Resistance – I don’t feel like it’s quite as tough as others in this category which is probably a result of the increased suppleness.
I ran a poll on my Instagram page to see what many of my followers preferred to fish. Here are some of their favorites that I haven’t mentioned yet. With that said, TroutHunter was the overwhelming favorite with them.
You can’t go wrong with Rio. I fished it for quite a while as it was the primary brand my local shop carried. It’s excellent, dependable, and a solid choice, just not my favorite.
Cortland Ultra Premium
A lot of folks said they like Cortland. I’m not a huge fan. Their tippet is super strong but is definitely thicker in diameter than industry standards, and they’ve been criticized for this by many sources. Overall, their products are okay I’m just not a huge fan of the false advertising and how they offer their “pro” discount to everybody who picks up a fly rod.
Cortland Ultra Premium
Scientific Anglers Absolute
SA makes excellent products, and their absolute fluorocarbon tippet is no different. Plenty of guides use SA tippet; I just haven’t had the best experiences with their stuff. Although I will say, their fly lines are some of my favorite.
Best Tippet Holders for Fly Fishing
I get asked this question a lot. I prefer to use a lanyard to hold my tippet. While there are many options out there that do a great job, I have found a fly fishing lanyard to be by far the best and most convenient solution.
I like the lanyards because it gives me access to all my tippet, tools, and floatants without ever having to open up my pack. I’ve tried a few lanyards, and the best ones I’ve found are made by a small company called Golden Trout Lanyards. Steve, the owner, is an awesome dude and will help you customize a lanyard to your needs. He even makes ones with integrated fly boxes.
Overall, I fish Umpqua Deaciever X and Phantom X 99.99% of the time. I use the Deceiver X for most of my presentations and the Phantom X for super technical presentations where stealth and strength are crucial.
Any thoughts or questions, comment below or hit me up via email, IG, whatever works!