Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lackluster Fishing Advice #1 - Nymph Rigs

I don't claim to be an authority on anything, but every once in a while I run across truly great anglers who are generous enough to offer up their wisdom to a poor schmuck like me.  Most of my ideas are not my own by any means, and I will attempt to give credit where credit is due.  As the saying goes, "there's nothing new under the sun." 

The periodic "lackluster advice" posts are meant to share effective strategies, rigs, and other random bits of information that I have learned through years of observation, experimentation, asking ridiculous questions, and getting skunked more times than I'd like to admit.  Hope I can provide you with some food for thought. 

Oh, and please don't hesitate to share your thoughts/ideas in the comments section.  I'm always up for learning new things, I guess that's one thing that makes fly fishing great.  You never know it all, or in my case, much of anything.

Now if you ask ten fly fishermen about how they rig up when nymphing, you will probably get ten different responses.  When it comes to nymph fishing, everyone has a crazy theory about what works, what doesn't, and why.  If we talk about rigs, the standard and most common setup nowadays (at least to me) seems to be a lot like this one.

Now there's nothing wrong with this setup.  In fact, I've caught hundreds if not thousands of trout on this rig.  Hey, if it didn't work no one would use it right?  Now the rig I've been fishing for the past year looks more like this.

If you want an actually intelligent explanation of why this rig is really darn effective check out the Headhunters Fly Shop Blog article - Nymphing Techniques from a Wandering Angler.  I will however attempt to explain why I like this system and why I think it helps me consistently catch more fish. 

1. Tight Line to the Indicator - This I feel is critical to increasing your hookups and ultimately the amount of fish pics you will undoubtedly end up posting on Face-a-twitter-gram-book.  By using a system with the weight at the very end of your rig with the anchor fly, you effectively eliminate slack between your bugs and the indicator. Less slack equals more strike detection.

2. Smaller Indicator = More sensitivity - With this setup all you need is a medium sized foam indicator.  I love the Fish Pimp brand indicators as they float well and are easy to readjust.  The medium sized Fish Pimp's provide enough buoyancy to support a heavy anchor fly, and at the same time be crazy sensitive.  You will see the indicator twitch every time the fly ticks bottom, when a fish eats, you know it. 

3. 4x Tippet sinks! - when you use a long piece of 3-5x tippet, especially fluorocarbon, your flies sink exponentially faster.  Think about it.  It's a lot harder to sink a thick butt section of a tapered leader than a 4-6ft. section of 4x tippet.  Therefore you don't need a bunch of split shot to still fish deeper water.  Believe it or not, a tungsten beaded copper john is more often then not, all the weight you need.

4. More options - This rig will effectively fish nearly all water depths you will ever encounter.  Whether it be 6 feet or 6 inches, just slide your indicator to the correct depth and have a it.

Here's the skinny on how to rig up

1. Take an old dry fly leader that you are about to throw away.
2. Attach 12 inches of 2x tippet.
3.  To that, attached 4 or more feet (depending on the depth of the water and how spooky the fish are) of 4x fluorocarbon tippet.
4. Tie on a piece of 4-5x fluorocarbon tippet to the long piece of 4x about 12-18 inches long, and this is really important.  Using a triple surgeon's knot, leave the downward facing tag end long, about 6-8 inches. 
5.  Tie the anchor fly to the longer end.
6. Tie the un-weighted nymph to the shorter tag end.
7. Go fish.                 

Hope that makes sense.

Give this system a try.  You just might like it. 


  1. Thanks for sharing your system. I will give it a try when nymphing next time. You are right that asking ten different nymph fishermen how they do it will get you that many different answers. My theory is if it works, keep doing it!

  2. Beautiful paintings... I would like to purchase one please.

  3. Solid advice, will try the bum rig on the Poudre and let ya know how it works!