Fly Fishing Tippet Tip
A few years ago I had a tippet problem that cost me a 10 inch fish. I know, so what, a ten inch stocked rainbow is nothing to cry about. The problem - this little pellet head I lost just happened to be the only fish I had hooked in a 3 hour session with 4 minutes left on a particularly bad beat drawn at an already tough lake during the National Fly Fishing Championships. Catching no fish in that, my 2nd session, probably cost me 10 places and made it tough, if not impossible to get back in the running in the remaining 3 sessions.
What happened? Tippet broke. The strange thing is it was 2X and no 10 inch stocked rainbow should ever break 2X. On closer inspection I found that my spool of 2X that I kept as the top spool on my lanyard was actually pretty old and had probably grown weak and brittle from time and many days spent in the sun.
This served then as a good reminder to check all of my tippet. I generally do it every six months or so now or before any particularly exciting or important fishing trip. Most tippet will actually last quite a while but it is good to go through it periodically and change out those spools that you know are old, weathered, or that just look weak.
How To Check Your Tippet
To check your tippet first see if there is an expiration date. Don't always trust that date, however. Take a section of tippet off the spool. Inspect it to see if it is discolored or visibly frayed. Then run your fingers along it to see if you can feel any nicks or roughness. Lastly and most importantly tie it to a good sized streamer or nymph that you can hold easily and pull on it firmly to test knot strength. If it seems to break too easily for the size then it's probably best to just discard it and get some new tippet.
You never know when you're going to hook that fish of the day or even fish of a lifetime and it would be a huge bummer if you lost it due to wimpy tippet - trust me.