Time spent rigging is time spent not fishing, and some of you have asked for quicker ways to switch between different rigs, flies, and tactics. So, today we’ve compiled a few simple tips to help you change your rig quicker and easier to get your fly back in the water.
9 Tips for Quicker Rig Changes
- Pre-Rig. Rigging up a bunch of spare rigs ahead of time, especially if using rigs that require more than one step (bead rigs, tandem nymph setups, hopper/droppers, etc.), is one of the best ways to make efficient rig changes on the water. Should you break off, simply grab a new rig (tippet and all) and blood knot onto your leader. There are several great inexpensive options to store your rigs on the water; Our favorite being the Tackle Buddy Spinner Holder. However, rigs wrapped around a stiff piece of cardboard (with slits cut to tame tippet), or a cheap foam cylinder can work just as well too.
- Loop to Loop Connections. We all know loop to loop connections have made speedy work of connecting leaders to fly lines, so why not try looping your tippet to the rest of the leader? We wouldn’t recommend this for extremely selective trout, as a loop to loop connection is not overly stealthy, but for most applications, a loop to loop connection roughly 18 inches above the fly can make for easy rig swaps. Tie a decent size loop in the end of the leader (large enough to pass flies through), make another loop in the leader end of the rig (tippet and flies), and connect via a loop to loop connection. Should you break off, simply loop on another rig (you tied loops in your pre-rigs right?) and you’re back fishing, no knots needed.
- Hang Your Shot Above a Knot. When nymphing, adding split shot to the leader after a break off is yet one more step before getting your fly back in the water. Furthermore, everytime you have to slide a shot back into position, crimp on tighter, or replace because it came loose, is more time spent, that’s right, not fishing. To compensate, always hang your shot above a knot. Not only will the shot remain on the leader the majority of the time after a breakoff, but the shot won’t slide down the leader, or need to be tightened potentially causing damage to your weaker tippet section. Less need to fuss with your shot means less time to change what needs to be changed, and more time your fly spends in the water.
- Adjustable Indicators. Admit it, when you’re in the zone, even the most minute tasks can keep you from adjusting your rig as needed, such as adjusting your strike indicator. Try using indicators that can be adjusted by nothing more than sliding to a new position, like these, or by rigging one yourself to make changing your depth a piece of cake.
- The Double Surgeon’s Knot. Need to re-build a leader but struggle with the blood knot? Use the double surgeon’s knot! While it might not be as sleek as the blood knot, the doube surgeon’s knot is nearly as strong and far simpler to tie. Therefore, it makes for a great option when the light gets low, and visibility gets tough as well. Plus, it has been said that the double surgeon’s knot is actually stronger than the blood knot when connecting lines of marginal differences in diameter. Here’s how to tie it.
- Quick Change Sink Tips. Here’s one for the spey folks. When building sink tips, make sure to build the loop on the leader end of the tip large enough to pass the largest fly you plan on using through. Make the loop on your leader roughly the same size as well. That way, when it comes time to change sink tips, you can do so easily by unlooping your leader (with fly still attached) and looping back onto to your new sinktip.. No new knots necessary.
- Tie Your Flies With Depth in Mind. The beauty of tying your own flies is the ability to customize them to your specific needs. If you plan on fishing deep the majority of the time, aim to tie your flies so that they require as little split shot as possible to reach the targeted depth. The more shot needed to reach ‘the zone,’ the more you have to re rig when its time to make a change. Tip: In our neck of the woods, we like to use weighted stone beads either alone or incorporated into our flesh flies to make easy work of getting down without excess split shot.
- Tippet Rings and Micro Swivels. The use of tippet rings (tiny stainless steel rings) or micro-sized swivels have been growing in popularity for connecting heavy-ish leader material to finer tippets with nothing more than a simple clinch knot. Use leader heavy enough on the fly line end of the tippet ring or micro swivel to eliminate the risk of a breakoff and attach the appropriate tippet to the other end. That way, if you snag up deep, simply break off the tippet section and attach a new rig to the ring or swivel with an improved clinch knot. Simple!
- Practice Your Knots. Make no mistake, knot tying is a skill. The better you are at tying knots, the more apt you’ll be to make the changes necessary to rig and/or flies. Don’t neglect to change your rig because you hate tying ‘name-your-least-favorite-knot.’ Practice them! But, don’t waste your precious time on the water practicing knots, practice doing other things (like watching TV) instead. A few minutes a day and a cheap spool of mono goes a long way. Trust us on this one.