RIO, Scientific Angler, and TroutHunter Tippet Comparison

Tippet Brands

Headhunters stocks tippet from RIO, Scientific Anglers, and TroutHunter. All three companies make great tippet. I’ve used all three and they have all performed well. So what kind should you buy?


Cost is a primary consideration. It can be hard to tell what kind of value you are getting in a spool of tippet. Different companies put different amounts of tippet on their spools. Some companies measure the quantity of tippet in meters. Other companies measure the quantity in yards. Just like buying food at the grocery store, it can be hard to determine the best value unless you do some math.

Nylon Price Comparison

If you look at the price per yard value for each brand, you’ll find that TroutHunter offers the cheapest nylon at $0.14/yd, then Scientific Anglers at $0.15/yd, and RIO Powerflex Plus at $0.20/yd.

Fluorocarbon Price Comparison

If you look at the price per yard value for each brand, you’ll find that RIO Guide Spools offer the cheapest fluorocarbon at $0.36/yd, then TroutHunter at $0.42/yd, Scientific Anglers at $0.46/yd, and regular spools of RIO Fluoroflex Plus at $0.50/yd.

Price Discussion

If you are looking for the best value, it might not be immediately obvious. RIO and Scientific Anglers offer spools with similar quantities, 30 yds and 32.8 yds, respectively. TroutHunter offers spools with a greater quantity at 50m (54.7 yds). As a result, TroutHunter spools have the highest price but actually offer a better value per yard. Similarly, the RIO Guide Spools of Fluoroflex Plus seem expensive at $40.00 each, but they offer the best value per yard for fluorocarbon.

You should take into account how many days you fish in a year. If you fish a lot, you use more tippet. Fluorocarbon is stable over time but nylon weakens as it ages. Therefore, it might make sense for you to focus on the best price per yard for fluorocarbon tippet and the overall cost of the spool for nylon tippet. The brand that offers the best price per yard might not be the most economical for nylon if you ultimately end up throwing a lot of the material away.

If you doubt you’ll use a full spool of nylon in a year, the Scientific Anglers nylon is a great buy at $4.99 a spool. It is cheap to replace each season if you don’t use it all.

The RIO Guide Spools offer the best value for fluorocarbon if you know you will use it eventually.

RIO also offers 3-packs of tippet in popular sizes that cost $5.00 less than if you purchased them individually. Each of the packs pictured below contain a spool of 3X, 4X, and 5X. If you are looking to replace your tippet to start the season off with a fresh start, this might be the option for you. Nylon 3-packs are $24.95 and flouro 3-packs are $39.95.

Breaking Strength

You should also consider the breaking strength of each brand of tippet. If you are the type who breaks off a lot of fish, you’ll probably want to buy RIO nylon and Trouthunter or RIO fluorocarbon since these brands offer the greatest breaking strengths.

Nylon Breaking Strength Comparison

For this comparison I chose to look at each brand’s 3X tippet material.

If you look at the manufacturer’s listed breaking strength, you’ll find that RIO Powerflex Plus offers the strongest 3X nylon at 9.5 lb, then Scientific Anglers at 8.5 lb, and TroutHunter at 8.2 lb.

Fluorocarbon Breaking Strength Comparison

For this comparison I chose to look at each brand’s 3X tippet material.

If you look at the manufacturer’s listed breaking strength, you’ll find that TroutHunter offers the strongest 3X fluorocarbon at 8.6 lb, then RIO Fluoroflex Plus at 8.5 lb, and Scientific Anglers at 7.1 lb.


RIO, Scientific Anglers, and TroutHunter all make great tippet. If you are already loyal to a brand that you trust, then stick with them.

If you are looking for the best price per yard, TroutHunter offers the best value for both nylon and fluorocarbon. However, the RIO Guide Spools offer an even better price per yard for fluorocarbon.

If you want the greatest breaking strength, RIO offers the strongest nylon. RIO and TroutHunter are about tied for the strongest fluorocarbon.

fly fishing gear, Review, RIO, Scientific Anglers, tippet, trouthunter
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  • Carroll Jenkins
    April 17, 2017 8:52 am

    Good info. Well done.

  • My Own Party
    April 17, 2017 9:18 am

    Braden, great overview. Any truth to the different brands not working together well when you tie them together. Seems if I bought Rio nylon leaders and then used Trouthunter flourocarbon tippet that would be the best value. Maybe a different test but any guidance?

    • I regularly use Rio leaders with TroutHunter tippet. I don’t think there’s much truth to those claims.

  • Great! I know what to buy when we get there in June!

    I think Mark and John need to watch themselves, there is a new Blog Sheriff in town and his name is Braden Lewis!

    Just kidding you guys are all great.

    • John and Mark are giants. Let’s see if I’m still at all interesting after a few thousand of these…

  • Braden,
    what about the strengths and weaknesses as far as memory, limpness, ability to absorb shock/stretch etc? Thanks John

    • Those are all valid points, but they’re a lot more difficult to assess. For this post, I wanted to stick to hard numbers.

  • I stopped using RIO power flex years ago because I broke several fish off when they ran. It didn’t seem to have good stretch/shock power. This was true both for fresh and salt water applications. One of the best keys guides had the same impression. Tested strong on a machine, but broke when the fish surged or with the hook set . Maybe its better now. I love TroutHunter nylon for trout.

    • Braden Lewis
      April 19, 2017 9:05 am

      In my opinion, TroutHunter does seem to have a little more stretch. I use it a lot for trout too.

    • Jerry Speer
      July 12, 2017 1:38 pm

      Arch C amen to this. I know lots of guides love RIO, and because of that have tried it several times, but Orvis Super Strong (the old stuff) and Trouthunter just seems to worked better.

  • Hi Braden–my name is Larry—I use and have used Maxima tippet and leader for over 40 years–fished a bit here and there and everywhere—-yes, I know it is frowned upon–but you can ask Mark if I have any problems with it.

    • LT is right! Maxima gets it done!

    • Jerry Speer
      July 12, 2017 1:41 pm

      LT, a friend of mine who fishes all over the world uses nothing but Maxima, even in New Zealand where supposedly the trout are picky. According to him, several of the guides have adopted Maxima.

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