Tippet Material, Fluorocarbon or Co-Polymer?
Long before I became a Fulling Mill ambassador I was a fan of their tippet material. Having seen the majority of England’s top Stillwater anglers using the original ‘world class’ in light breaking strains to fish highly pressured still waters. I have never felt the need to look elsewhere. In my opinion, small, clear still waters which are regularly fished by competition anglers are the most line-shy fish you can find. It is a simple fact that standard ‘reservoir’ setups using heavy fluorocarbon with nymphs or dries will struggle to get interest from anything other than the recently stocked fish.
Of course, there is a flip side to this, trying to use the fine diameter leaders required on small waters to fish the large lures or the long multi-fly setups needed for modern day reservoir setups is also a recipe for disaster, as tangles and broken tippet material will be a constant issue!
The wide variety of still water venues available to the UK angler dictate the need to carry a variety of tippet materials. At one time the debate was fluorocarbon versus co-polymer, I now believe that there are 3 options available to the angler. These are standard fluorocarbon, co-polymer and now soft, high-quality premium fluorocarbon. I genuinely believe that there is place for each of the three materials. There are situations where premium fluorocarbons are a tremendous advantage to the angler, and in these occasions, I believe it is worth the extra investment. I also feel it is important to stress that it is not required in every situation, and in some situations, you are paying extra for inferior performance!
Below is a summary of the three tippet materials and the best situations to use them, based on where you fish you can hopefully make an informed choice to get the most from your fishing.
Tippet Material: Co-Polymer
I do not intend to go into detail on the advantages of copolymer over fluorocarbon as they are well documented in recent years as being best suited for fishing dries and lightweight nymphs. This is highlighted further in the higher breaking strains where heavier fluorocarbon will sink too quickly to give a better presentation, particularly if the flies are being fished slowly or dry flies are left static for long periods.
When to use co-polymer?
- Dry fly with diameters greater than 0.14 mm
- Fishing large surface patterns e.g. floating fry
- Fishing nymphs and wets slowly when the angler wishes to keep the flies high in the water column e.g. washing line in shallow water.
Keep an eye out for Fulling Mill’s new Co-Polymer, Available soon! (more info available in the new FM Catalogue)
Tippet Material: Standard Fluorocarbon
Fulling Mill World Class is my go-to tippet material in many situations, it is a strong, reliable material which is ideal for the majority of still water and reservoir situations. The main characteristics of this tippet material are that it has a relatively high diameter for its given breaking strain and is also significantly stiffer. Whilst being higher diameter and offering less mobility to the flies in comparison premium materials may initially seem to be a poor choice, there are numerous other advantages which in my situations outweigh those advantages.
In anything other than gin clear water I am not convinced that the premium fluorocarbon offers any significant advantages in the number of takes, so if you are fishing coloured or peat stained venues this needs to be considered.
The stiffer material is an advantage when fishing long leaders and teams of flies, as tangles are greatly reduced and if you do get a tangle it can usually be removed without having to replace the leader. Standard fluorocarbon is, in my opinion, a must for turning over large flies or casting into the wind!
I feel that the softer more mobile premium material is only an advantage with smaller flies fished slowly. If you are fishing large weighted patterns most of the action comes from the fly itself and if you are retrieving the flies quickly the action comes from the retrieve anyway.
Finally, cost needs to be considered by many anglers and it is fact that Fulling Mill’s World Class Fluorocarbon is one of the best value brands on the market if premium material offers no advantages for the situation or method it I difficult to justify the extra cost.
When to use Fulling Mill World Class Fluorocarbon?
- Coloured or peat stained water
- Large mobile flies or lures, particularly with flies prone to twisting e.g. boobies
- Long leaders with droppers
- Windy conditions, bank fishing casting into the wind
- Fishing with a fast retrieve
Tippet Material: Premium Fluorocarbon
Fulling Mill’s Masterclass Fluorocarbon is a premium tippet material which, when compared to the standard material offers several significant advantages. The premium material is lower in diameter for any given breaking strain, this gives the angler two options, either use the same diameter and enjoy the increased security of the extra breaking strain or fish the same breaking strain and use a much finer diameter. For these reasons, the extra cost of the premium fluorocarbon is worth the investment in certain situations.
In my opinion, the benefits of using this tippet material are when fishing small flies in clear water for difficult resident or wild fish. This can be in small waters, reservoirs or rivers.
Masterclass fluorocarbon is also available in lower diameters than the standard World Class, so fans of Fulling Mill can now fish diameters below 0.14mm, in fact, it is available down to 7x (0.11mm). This gives anglers the chance to fish fluorocarbon with very small flies where they were previously restricted to co-polymer. When fishing small nymphs or buzzers on a clear pressured small water the reduced visibility of fluorocarbon can make a real difference to your catch rate.
Masterclass fluorocarbon is also an advantage is when nymphs with French leader or indicator methods on clear rivers, where again the reduced visibility can fool educated fish. This can particularly important when grayling fishing in winter when rivers can be very clear, and anglers are fishing slower water where fish have more time to inspect the fly.
Masterclass fluorocarbon is already very popular with competition reservoir anglers and for good reason. It has advantages when used for two of the most commonly used methods by the modern-day competition boat angler.
Firstly, it is ideal for nymph fishing in clear water, during completions fish are often under high angling pressure and the reduced diameter gives extra movement to the flies and can really increase both confidence and more importantly the number of takes. Also, as the boat angler is casting with the wind at their back as they drift tangles are less of an issue.
The second method is ‘pulling’ often with blobs and boobies in this situation the angler is using fast retrieve and looking to bully fish to the net, sometimes with double or treble hookups. In this situation, it is best to take advantage of the extra breaking strain for a given diameter to avoid broken leaders, lost fish and time. The same theory also applies when fishing for large fish, including pike, salmon or saltwater fish, premium fluorocarbon allows the angler to fish with a significantly stronger leader for the same diameter and increase chances of landing specimen fish.
When to use Fulling Mill Masterclass Fluorocarbon?
- Clear-water – pressured fish
- Fishing fine leaders on small waters and rivers
- Fishing for large fish powerful fish
- Reservoir competition nymph and pulling methods
Hopefully, this summary will help you choose the correct material for your fishing situation and method. It highlights that all three tippet material have their uses and whilst the relatively expensive premium fluorocarbons may not be required (or even the best option) in some circumstances they can make a significant difference to your catch rate or help you land that fish of a lifetime in the right situation.