What Size Leader For 5-Weight Line? An Ultimate Guide To Leader Size 

You have a 5-weight line and are ready for your fishing trip. However, the preparation step is not complete. You need to attach a leader. 

You may wonder: What size leader for 5-weight lines? The leader is a crucial section of the fishing line, so choosing the right size helps a lot with your cast. 

For a complete guide to the leader size, let’s follow our post! 

What Size Leader For 5-Weight Line? 

Leader size refers to its butt diameter and tippet size. If you fish with a 5-weight line, the tippet size should be 3X to 7X; the butt diameter should be 0.019 inches.

Tippet and leader are two different sections of the fishing line. Since they are connected, their tips should fit. So, the tippet size is a part of the leader size. 

What does 3X stand for in the tippet size? We use the X system to measure the diameter of the tippet in inches.

The X also refers to its fly size. We will discuss the X system in the tippet section of this post. 

What is a leader?

A leader is a section of a fishing line used to tie a fly to a fly line. It acts as a thin, transparent connector to the fly to prevent fish from getting frightened.

Meanwhile, the heavier line gives the weight required to finish a fly cast. When looking for a leader, you notice that the stores note its thickness on two ends.

  • The thick end (also known as the butt section) links to the fly and provides strength to the leader tip.
  • The thin end attaches to the tippet and presents the delicate fly. 

Although many different types of leaders are obtainable from 6 to 15 feet in length, most are roughly 9 feet long.

How long should a leader be? 

The answer depends on your situation. A short leader is more suitable for less scary fish, while a longer one works well with wary species in calm water. 

Although trout might be startled by the slightest motion of such a rig, other species, like bass, aren’t very line-averse.

what size leader for 5 weight line
The leader is an important part of your fishing line.

Recommended Leader Size For Different Line Weights 

It’s necessary to decide on the leader size based on your fly line weight, fly size, and the fish you want to catch. This chart will give you a detailed guide. 

Butt diameter (Leader size)Tippet size (Leader size)Fly line weightFly sizeBest for
0.0174X to 8X3 to 414-28Trout and freshwater fish
0.0193X to 7X512-22Trout, freshwater fish, and panfish
0.0210X to 5X6 to 74-12Freshwater fish, panfish, and bass
0.023> 2X8 to 94Saltwater fish, salmon, pike, steelhead, and bass
0.025> 0X10 to 152Saltwater fish, tarpon, billfish, bonefish, and striped bass

How To Choose Leader Size? 

The following four factors will help you choose the ideal leader size for your fishing line. 

Water condition

Shorter leaders can perform nicely when the water is murky and makes visibility poor. You can also use them for high water speed and turbulence. 

On the other hand, longer leaders are good choices when you fish in shallow, clear, and slow-moving water.

The easier the fish can scrutinize your fly, the longer your leader should be. 

Type of fly

There’re different fly types, each with a different requirement for the leader size.

If you use dry flies, streamers, or nymphs, the butt diameter should be somewhere from 0.017 to 0.021 inches.

Meanwhile, minnows, divers, and deceivers need a butt section that is 0.023 to 0.025 inches in diameter.

Type of fish

As you can see from the table above, the ideal leader size is also different depending on the fish type.

Freshwater fish and trout need thinner leaders, whereas thicker leaders are better for saltwater species. 

Extra tips 

Here are some final things to remember while choosing the leader size: 

  • If you have a large fly line, do not choose a shorter leader size because the cast speed could be faster, and the fish could more easily see the strangeness of your fake flies.
  • Do not use a large leader for a small fly line. 
  • A leader with a very small or extensive butt section is not something to buy. Such leaders will perform poorly in casting. 
  • Choose a leader that is one-third your fly size. 

What Is A Tippet? 

The leader works as the foundation for the connection between the line and the fly. Meanwhile, the tippet improves the setup’s degree of precision.

Tippet is a crisp line, like a leader. It attaches to the leader’s thinner end. Hence, it gets the name “tippet” as its position at the tip of the leader. 

Tippet size

Tippet is thin, despite being marketed by the spool in different sizes and labeled with a numbered “X” scale. Now, we will dig into the X system. 

A 6X tip is thinner than a 3X tip because, in general, tippets with higher “X” values are thinner. For most trout fishing circumstances, a 5X tippet is a standard. 

Fly fishers often carry multiple tippet sizes to handle various situations. In an emergency, they make a leader using the tippet by linking bigger and thinner portions to form a taper.

what size leader for 5 weight line
The tippet is important for your casting.

How to choose the right tippet size?

Tippets come in different sizes because manufacturers hope you choose the best one for your situation. Here are your rules of thumb: 

  • A thinner tippet may be beneficial for tricking more intelligent and spooky huge fish. Yet, it works best for smaller fish.
  • Larger flies, bigger fish, and warm water fish that are not line-shy do well with thicker tippets.
  • The fly moves in the water more naturally on a thin tippet.

This table will give you more information when choosing your tippet:

0X0.0111 to 4
1X0.0102 to 6
2X0.0094 to 8
3X0.0086 to 10
4X0.00712 to 16
5X0.00614 to 18
6X0.00516 to 22
7X0.00418 to 24
8X0.00322 to 28


1. How strong is a 5X leader?

This leader size has an approximate breaking strength of 5.30. 

2. What is a 5-weight fly rod good for?

For freshwater anglers, 5-weight fly rods are the most well-liked and useful. They use the tools to catch trout, perch, whitefish, bluegills, bass, and catfish. 

3. Should tippet and leader be the same size?

The tippet often has a length of 2 to 4 feet and a diameter equal to or smaller than the leader tip. We use the tippet to extend the leader’s lifespan. 

We use the tippet to extend the leader’s lifespan. If you change the flies frequently, the leader’s taper will eventually get lost.

4. Should leaders be stronger than line?

To enhance the delivery of their baits and protect against damage to their fishing rod and line, most fishermen use a leader that is weaker than their line.

And a weaker leader goes with a thinner line to help reduce the leader’s visibility in the water.  


Each section of a fishing line should fit well in your situation for the best result.

So, when choosing the leader size, consider the fly size, fly type, water condition, and the fish you want to catch. 

Fishing is not an arduous task as long as you know the rules. Thanks for reading! 

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