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What's the difference between leader and tippet? Whenever we're asked that, we try to make the answer easy to remember and simple. Leader "leads" the fly line to the tippet. Tippet "tips off", or finishes, the whole set up. It's that "tip" that you tie the fly to. This is generally speaking. When you're in a fly shop and don't want to look stupid, here's a clue: Leaders come in packages, whereas Tippet material comes in spools. So you can tell the difference if you don't have your readers on.
This is a simplified version. Here's more: the leader transfers energy from the line to the tippet. It is tapered, because it has to follow the profile of a tapered line in order to turn the line over in the air. It tapers to a certain diameter and it is that diameter that is usually (not always) picked up or matched by the tippet and carried to the fly. The tippet is not tapered. There's lots more on the subject and we can help you out with any of it. Just call the team of experts at The Painted Trout Fly Shop at 734-580-2102.