Nov 15, 2012

The Best Tippet for Swinging Steelhead Flies and Trout Streamers

Maxima Ultra Green Tippet
 It can be pretty daunting walking up to the wall in the fly shop wondering which tippet to choose. Well if I could throw in my 2 cents I would mention that there is one tippet brand I keep reaching for over and over, when restocking for my steelhead fishing:  Maxima Ultra Green. Maxima is the tried and trusted leader material for most serious steelhead anglers. Whether you are spey fishing or single hand casting, this should really be your number one choice for swinging flies. And it doesn’t cost that much either. Why is Maxima the number one choice for steelhead guides? Well, here are few proven facts about Maxima.

1. Strength
Maxima stands up to serious abuse. Rivers are not only home to fish that will tug like crazy, but they are also home to boulders and logs and sometimes things like sunken cars that can snag you up and break you off. It amazes me, some of the logs that I’ve pulled out of the depths while trying to retrieve a snagged fly. Not only that, I’ve witnessed blistering runs over and under things like logs and boulders while tethered to wild fish that you never thought would end successfully. But they often do. Break-strength-tests on Maxima has led people to believe that Maxima actually understates their pound rating.

2.  Stretch
Swinging flies for steelhead and trout demands a line that can take the initial shock. Flies that are under tension – essentially pulling one way through the current – are more likely to be busted off on the immediate impact of a mouth pulling it in a different direction. There has to be some give, or else it may bust. Maxima has exactly this. While staying sensitive enough to detect subtle takes, it also affords some stretch. Setting the hook is also a very pivotal moment with these fish. If you rear back and apply pressure just as that fish is turning the other way, then your tippet is in serious jeopardy. You really need some give during moments like these.

3.  Fly Turnover, Fly Action, Knot Strength
Maxima Ultra Green lends a nicely-blended texure to your fishing. It is stiff, and thick enough to help you turnover your flies on the cast and stay sensitive during the presentation. However, a degree of suppleness is added to the Ultra Green allowing for stretch as well as keeping your flies moving more freely in the water column. This suppleness also adds to knot integrity. Wraps draw in tight while staying flexible in nature.

A few notes about Maxima and Trout Fishing.
Maxima is my go-to tippet when streamer fishing for the reason’s mentioned above. While swinging and pulling streamers for trout, the same conditions apply. The line needs to be able to stretch, the fly needs to turnover, the fly needs to swim naturally and you need a tough tippet for those times when you hook the tree branch.

Visibility in water
Most of the time Maxima Ultra Green is invisible when wet. However, there are times when it does show up when the sun is at just the right angle. This doesn’t really help the cause, but it shouldn’t be a frequent concern. If conditions are very clear then use a smaller diameter Maxima.  Or if you think you need to use flurocarbon (which is virtually invisible in water) don't settle for anything other than Umpqu Big Game Fluro (12lb,16lb) if you are swinging flies for steelhead.  By nature, Fluro does not absorb shock as well as traditional mono.

Tippet Size
I like 12 lb Maxima for most of my steelheading needs. It is strong and it turns over well. If fish in a particular river are overly timid or the conditions are just downright clear, there are times when I will use 10 lb. I would caution against using anything stronger than the 12 lb for fear of losing sink tips or even fly lines to the river. As far as streamer fishing for trout goes, I like Maxima 8 Lb.

Some notes about Maxima Chameleon and Maxima Clear.
These two tippets are a bit stiffer than the ultra green. The Chameleon disappears better when fishing deep, while the Clear supposedly blends in better when fishing closer to the surface. They are both a bit more rigid than the Ultra Green which I think removes a little life out of the fly as it’s swinging.

Have a good time,

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