Tippet Rings

I have been having on ongoing issue with tippet breakoffs at a 2mm tippet ring with 5X and smaller tippet when I encounter a snag, and even an aggressive trout in the 10" range. I would much rather have a breakoff of at the fly because of leaving tippet in the environment, the time along with cost to rig both new tippet and a new fly. Typically there is no curly-cue at the break that might indicate a failed knot. I’ve tried different knots at the fly vs the tippet ring but can’t see a pattern that follows the knots. I usually use 2mm rings. I’ve gone to using 4x blood knotted to the end of the fluoro line ending at the a tippet ring to reduce the length of 5X and smaller tippet required. What I haven’t done is extensive testing to determine the cause. I am wondering if, and suspect it is a brand of tippet ring with rough edges or the diameter of the metal of the tippet ring being smaller than that of the hook eye is the problem.

I’ve used 3mm tippet rings for Pacific salmon for fly fishing from the beach (including Chums aka “Dog” salmon that can be tackle busters) and not had failures. I’ve ordered some 2.5 mm rings to see if that makes a difference.
Has anyone else run into this and found a solution?
Ahhh, I found this thread:

but the “in detail” TUSA discussion is long gone. However this post has piqued my interest

@Gressak ,what was the mfg that you found had the problem? Did you provide feedback and have they improved their product? (would you PM me if you don’t wish to disclose publicly?)

1 Like

I pmed Brian with the one with failures. It was isolated mostly to that one brand but the info below notes other things I have done.

I like these. Pretty much the only ones I use. Easy to get and are great.

I do a davy knot at the fly connection and an improved davy at the tippet ring.

Davy is weaker than the improved davy so it forces failure most often at the hook. This is by design. I do not want to litter nature with my leader if I can help it.

The davy, and the improved davy are low friction knots. I suspect most knot failures are due to line to line friction or line to metal friction. Yes, I always moisten knots, so even wet knots will fail do to friction. Rule of thumb, it any tippet curls, I retie. With a davy, I never see any distortion.


Try tying 2 Perfection Loops into your line system: 1 at the end of your Tenkara line, and the other one at the back of your tippet to Loop-to-Loop your tippet onto your T-line. The Perfection Loop is a 95% knot strength knot and will save you from having to cut your line to re-tie your line every time you need to add a new tippet, just like the tippet rings do, and it casts and fishes better than the tippet rings.

For your tippet to fly knot, use any knot you like as long as it is weaker than the Perfection Loop Knot. That way, the fly should normally break off your tippet before the tippet fails at the line’s end. You already know how well the tippet rings are working for you, it is time to try something different to see if you can do better.

Perfection Knots usually break on the line below the knot on the weaker side of the loop-to-loop knot connection. So split the loop and cut one leg as close to the Handshake Knot as you can.Then, grab the long leg and pull what is left of the loop off of your T-line to add a new tippet, looped-to-looped back on to the end loop on your T-line.

Most anglers use a Clinch Knot to tie tippet rings on with, which is an 89% knot strength knot. The Improved Clinch Knot is only a 66% knot strength knot. The Perfection Loop, @ 95% beats them both by a fair margin and saves the cost of buying tippet rings, which are often defective. Also, the Double Davy knot is also slightly (3%) weaker than the Single Davy Knot.

Using a long ONI Style loop on the tippet provides a transitional Step-Down between the larger line diameters and the much thinner tippet diameters that improves casting accuracy and line performance over all. Happy knot tying…Karl.

I wouldn’t discount the bad tippet ring theory…

After a few too many failures I conducted my own informal knot strength test with my tippet rings, tippet and fly system. I must have tied hundreds of knots, many of them duplicated multiple times. My conclusion was that for knots in 7x TroutHunter Flourocarbon tippet, some of the normally high performing knots(dbl San Diego Jam) could not be tied properly on a consistent basis by me.

What I have settled on for the above mentioned tippet is a Trilene knot between tippet ring and fly, a quadruple surgeons for any tags with 7x flouro, and a clinch knot at the fly.

I found the effort of tying a bunch of knots and informally breaking them to be highly educational.

The extra turn on the surgeons for the 7x was an absolute game changer that came out of that session. Also, the inconsistency of the dbl San Diego Jam which is a staple for me in heavier fluorocarbon just didn’t work the same on 7x…


In general, I think Harry hits the nail on the head.

We need to be scientific about our own systems and a lot is lodged in personal preferences. If you dont test your systems with a hand scale, you should. In general I dont put much stock in other peoples data. Breaking strength of knots is a big one for me and their rig was not the same as the one I am using. Find a knot that performs to your liking. Do tests. Track their failures. What works for one guy might not work for the next guy.

I suspect more knot failures are just bad ties…or contact with structure…or simply the angler has been catching a ton of fish and did not retie. I think we should get as much as we can out of the knot strength, but there are other things important as well. Speed an economy of a tie, I value a bit.

@T-stillwater I always appreciate your data, but I have found failure in both clinch and improved clinch in 5x and below tippet because of line friction. In salwater striped bass fishing I always use improved clinch. So do 90% of the big fish hunters. No one uses clinch, which sort of contradicts the data and is a real world application. I have landed striped bass to 40# on the improved clinch. I cannot ever recalling having a leader knot failure.

I shared my system above and it works reliably for me. I have landed some giant trout on that system. The devil can be in the details. From connection choice, to tippet choice, to tying precision, to hook choice, to the environment we fish in. I use mono tippet. I do not believe in fluorocarbon tippets. Mono has more stretch and is cheaper. I am more apt to change it out. Using the same tippet over many fish over multiple outings is just a terrible idea.

In my testing I did not use a scale. I used the same piece of tippet, tying the knot competitors to the eye of the same hook and applied slow, steady pressure to the line until one knot failed. Science, for sure this was not. But if enough knots were tied, eventually trends were discovered. There were never any clear winners for me. More often than you would believe, neither knot failed, with the line breaking between the knots and not at the hook.

Another factor is that, for the most part, all the line makers conduct their knot strength tests only with nylon lines because nylon has a higher breaking strength than FC does and they do not want to discourage anglers from buying their higher profit margin lines.

More recently, it turned out that wetting the line before tightening with some, but not all, knots did not provide superior knot strength with all lines. So if that is an automatic habit for you like it is for me, I guess we will just keep on doing it the way we always have out of habit.

With ONI and the Long Loop Tippet Joining Method, he uses a Stopper Knot at the end of his T-line and girth hitches the tippet loop to the T-line. So there are all kinds of ways of doing things. If your system works for you and you are satisfied with it, happily go on down your angling road with a big smile on your face and contentment in your heart…Karl.


This nugget is most excellent as when i have tested lines on a hand scale, it is exactly what happened. Not as a big surprise but line breaking strength on a digital hand scale was way lower. Brand new lines, one 55# diawa the other 50# power pro braid. Both failing not at the knots but along the interior segment consistently. The 55# failing at 29#. The 50# at 27#. Needless to say i dont fish those lines anymore.

Make sure your tippet isn’t the failure point, especially if you’re using nylon. Nylon should be thrown out at the end of the season generally. Flouro on the other hand can last much longer. I only use flouro anymore.

I haven’t had breaks at the tippet ring, usually on the hook side. Interestingly with the Oni system where you use a stopper knot and a loop on the tippet side I notice it usually breaks at the loop knot.

1 Like

I tie a stopper knot at the end of my level line and then use a Davy knot to connect my 5x tippet. No tippet rings, no problems.

1 Like

I read through a bunch of responses and see a lot of good info.

Having spent many tens of hours on this particular problem, I’ll share what I found:

I have a hierarchical scheme for choosing knots – it seems extreme, but I got tired of the same thing, so I tested my knots with my hooks – and my tippet rings and stopper knots. Based on the findings, I stopped using stopper knots. I’ve also started using thinner hooks when I can afford to because of the trends I found over hundreds of trials.

  1. there are good and bad tippet rings, but diameter is very important as well.

I found that when testing knots, the same knot would often fail on the thinner diameter (say a tippet ring) rather than the hook (often heavier wire).

  1. I found no universal fix, but for smaller tippets (6x, 7x), I found that doubling the tippet over and tying a double-davy knot to the ring (with two strands), if cinched appropriately, was more reliable than other knots that sometimes test stronger, but are not as consistent for me. I universally use a single/basic davy knot at the hook.

  2. For moderate tippets, 5x and up, I often use double davy at the ring and a single davy at the hook. Occasionally I will use an orvis knot at the ring and the single davy at the hook.

I tested many knots, but the most consistent for me and strongest first were Orvis, Double Davy, Davy. But at times, they were hard to distinguish double davy and orvis – I just find double davy easier.

I started doing only A/B comparisons but eventually added a scale and would do 4-6 trials of each knot pair on each ring/hook wire diameter test to get a baseline and I tried to record the breaking strength.

The trends were pretty usable – but I found that my knot consistency (which knots work better for me and being in a habit of tying them) was probably more important. So 99% of the time, I’m double davy or orvis at the ring and a regular davy at the fly, and at least 80% of the time, the break is not at the ring anymore when it was flipped before (especially using the same knot at both ends).

Anglers image/orvis/SA rings are pretty good I found (microscope and testing) and there were several others that were pretty good too. I would just say to make sure you account for diameters of all terminal ends when setting up your test cases.

-Lance (if you send me your email, I can share some raw data, it’s not pretty but it gives you a flavor for how I setup my tests and how I eventually recorded it.)

1 Like

I examined those 2mm rings in question, plus some others I have with a 10x double loupe and found several with at least one 90° edge; not radiused at all. So I took some macro photos.
I don’t think it matters what knot I use. That (double) 90° edge is going to cut 5X and smaller tippet, leaving the clean break at the loop I’ve been experiencing.
Here is another mfg’s ring on the left that I seem to recall was a problem some years back along with the black ring above. Note the acute angle on the radius on the left, and again no radius at all on the black ring at the right.

This 2.5mm ring is made by the black ring’s mfg. There is some minor pitting in the wire but notice the nice smooth radius.

I’m going to spend an hour or so to swap 2mm rings for the 2.5 rings to test my theory.

1 Like

One thing that I found was that many rings looked much rounder on their outer edges than on the inside of the ring, which is the opposite of what I would prefer if I had to choose one of them to be sharp.

I didn’t collect any real data on this aspect, but I found that some rings would show a definite warping/twisting after repeated tests. My memory could be failing me, but some of the matte rings (pitting/coated) were perhaps the worst – it may be that the “grab” of the surface prevented graceful pressure/reseating which led to premature breaks.

I noticed that a ring too small for a larger tippet would be problematic if the knot didn’t seat without crowding itself. That’s probably common sense, but it seemed to prove to be true. The same was true of my “doubled-over-double-davy-knot” when it crowded a smaller ring with somewhat less fine tippet.

While I feel that I made big improvements in my rigging, when I have gone back to specifically rerun particular combinations, the results are not always the same. I have, however, had much more consistent performance on the water with very very few breaks at my tippet rings and the majority at the hook. Knots seem to be mood dependent and keep me from feeling too confident about anything :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

I have had no problems once I switched to using Japanese made tippet rings, even used 7X tippet on them and it works fine. The Chinese ones you almost have to use 4x tippet or bigger. Chinese tippet rings are flatter like a thin washer, Japanese tippet rings are slightly thicker and not flattened like a washer. That flatness is what is most likely causing the tippet to break more than anything.


Yeah no doubt those rings are a problem regardless of knot.

My notes on knots is more about getting the most from good rings and good hooks. In general, the less friction against metal the better.

BTW as far as knots go, here is an article that I’ve used as a reference for tippet and knots. It may be getting a little dated on tippet but I think it’s still a valid reference for knots.

Here is a link to Masami Sakakibara’s knot tying, voiseless, video:


Remember when tenkara was promoted as just a rod, a line, and a fly? Tippet rings are a product of Western Fly Fishing. And as can be seen from the above posts, tippet rings are making tenkara fly fishing considerably more complicated with out providing that much positive over what can not be accomplished using just your line and tippet with the right knots. And there is considerable debate about which are the right knots to use and how to tie them with tippet rings.

Part of the Scientific Method advocates using the simplest alternatives and solutions possible when there are a number of competing solutions available. It seems to me that the use of tippet rings is making our tenkara fishing more complicated than it needs to be…Karl.

I rewatched the videos and can appreciate not wanting to use more stuff than you have to, especially when fishing traditionally with thick tippet for small fish…

In my personal tests to failure, I could not consistently tie any of the casting line to tippet connections as reliably or quickly as I could using a tippet ring with the 7x or 8x tippet I find to be most productive on the highly pressured tailwaters I fish most often.

I notice a decent decline in strength from 5x to 6x, but from 6x to 7x I feel like a lot of the knots are not interchangeable.
Any recommendations as to connection knots for those of us using 7x tippet?

If I am being honest, in my crazy mind, I think I can feel the difference in casting accuracy and drift control when tippet terminates from my casting line parallel versus perpendicular when fishing traditional Tenkara or Tenkara Dry fly fishing. The line terminating perpendicular may be just visual, but to me it feels like I have to add a slight amount of extra line tension to get the 90 bend out of the line; kind of like a kink in a casting line that requires extra tension to straighten.
Again, this may be because I am fishing light tippet, generally with #2.5 line if Tenkara or dry fly and #1.25 or lighter if contact nymphing…


I agree with you on the principle of simplicity. I used tippet rings and then stopped for a while due to various annoyances and my belief that they were the weak link.

When I went back to test and collect data in a non-fishing setting, I found that almost always the tippet to line/stopper knot was where things failed. I did experiment with some loop to loop, various stopper knots, stopper knots with line doubled over, even melted line with a more round ball as the stopper rather than a regular knot with pinch points, but I could not achieve results as consistent as I could with tippet rings to my chagrin. My main motivation was not wanting to leave tippet in the trees/snags/water, I wanted the breaks at the fly.

One of the strongest knots I found for finer tippet was using a loop – a spider hitch to be exact. It wasn’t as consistent as I would like and was not always the easiest, but it wasn’t too bad. Anthony Naples shared a picture of something that included that knot and I tried it for a while. I have experimented with using loop-to-ring as well as loop-to-loop connections. Like a lot of things, when executed well, they can perform exceptionally, but my consistency wasn’t as good as with simpler knots.

So, for 7x especially, I fold the tippet and twist it/wet it, and tie a double davy knot on the ring with the two strands. For me, that pushes the break in the 7x to the hook (davy on the hook) most of the time. I tried the Trilene knot and some others where I added another loop around the ring, but the double davy won for me – likely more due to exploiting my muscle memory for tying/cinching them consistently. If you find something you like, I would love to give it a try.

1 Like

Hi Harry, when FC first became available I was doing a lot of lake fishing for golden trout, which almost requires 8X tippet to get good results in calm conditions. But what I found was that I could get comparable results using 5X FC.

More importantly, the FC was many times more durable in nightly subfreezing conditions at altitude and the high Ultra Violet and Infra Red Light found at 10,000 feet and higher. Where the Nylon tippet materials can degrade significantly in less than a day, that’s why anglers are supposed to replace their nylon lines yearly. FC takes about 5,000 years to fall apart.

So I do not have any experience in tying knots in FC below 6X. I use the Cone Man No Slip Loop Knot for the tippet to fly connection because it breaks very consistently below the other available knots with FC, which is rated at about 80% knot strength but is probably breaking at considerably less than that, to keep from loosing the fly and my tippet.

For the tippet to line connection I use a Long Loop Perfection Loop, which is a 95% Knot strength Knot, Looped to Looped to the other Perfection Loop on the end of the Level FC T-Line or the end of my tapered leader on the end of a Tenkara Floating PVC Line. The Long Loop is X2 lengths of tippet material and provides an intermediate Step-Down between T-line DIA and the tippet DIA for better casting accuracy. In my opinion, these knots are better than the ones ONI used in the Video. With a No Slip Loop Knot, hook wire thickness and tippet ring wire DIA are of no concern. But burrs on the rings are still a big problem.

I have pretty much settled on a #3 L Line unless fishing a rod that loads better with a #3.5 line. The Perfection Loop and the Canoe Man Knots are both quick and easy to tie with practice. The loop provides ultimate fly movement and action and helps set the hook at any fly to line angle, with out the kinking that closed knots cause when tightened to the hook. And since I have been using the Canoe Man No Slip loop Knot, I have not had the tippet break at the T-line end of the joining.

If you prefer using the rings, go right ahead and continue to use them. But it might be worth tying and fishing these knots to see if they work any better for you than what you are now using.

What I wrote above pretty much applies to Lance’s post as well. In all of this, the Devil is always in the Details. No matter which knots are preferred, they must be tied consistently and well or all is for naught. Simple knots are just easier to tie well for most of us. We all have to pay our Dues if we really want to learn what will do the best in our hands and fishing. And often, it is the things we learn from our knot failures that secures our successes in the future…Karl.

Figure 8 stopper knot in my level line. Clinch knot to attach tippet to level line. Clinch knot to tie fly on.

I’ve had my tippet/fly knot fail, but I’ve never had my line/tippet knot fail.