Last week we went over a technique called “level lining” or “right angle nymphing”, today we wanted to discuss a different way to set up your nymph rig, using a Drop Shot. In a traditional nymph rig, the weight is placed onto the leader, above the first fly. One argument against this set up is having the weight above the fly causes an additional hinge point that can make it harder to detect strikes. After a fish eats the fly, it takes a second for the indicator to register the strike and sink. The bite happens but it is not until the entire leader becomes tight that the indicator gets pulled down. Having a weight above the fly is an extra hinge point that causes a delay to occur from when the eat happens, to when the indicator actually goes down. Depending on the current speed and how tight the line is from your indicator to your fly, this extra time can cause the fish to spit the fly out before the indicator ever actually registers a hit.
With a drop shot rig, you place the weight off the end of the leader, after all of your flies. Doing this causes there to be less slack between your indicator and flies, (no hinge point from the weight) making it a more responsive set up. There are few different ways to rig this. The most common is having a standard 9 foot leader with an indicator attached onto the leader wherever is appropriate based on the depth you are fishing. Instead of tying on a fly to the end of your leader, you want to attach more tippet. You can either use a blood knot (if you do this you want to leave an extra long tag end) or a tippet ring. I think the tippet ring is the most efficient way. You can attach the tippet ring with a standard improved clinch knot. Next, off of the other end of the tippet ring, I attach another strand of 12 to 18 inches of more tippet. Then off of the side of the ring, you want to attach another smaller strand of tippet. This is where you will tie on the fly. I usually don’t use too long of a stretch here, 6 to 8 inches is fine, then tie on your fly. So you will have 3 different strands of tippet tied to the tippet ring.
Off of the longer stretch of tippet that is hanging off the bottom of the tippet ring, I usually attach another tippet ring. I then repeat the process of tying tippet off of the side of the ring, that allows me to fish 2 flies. Then off of the bottom of the second tippet ring, I tie another length of tippet, for this stretch you want to use lighter line than whatever you were using above. I prefer about a foot of 5X or 6X, then I tie a single, overhand knot at the end of the line. The weight gets placed above this knot. You want to use lighter line so that if the weight snags on the bottom, you just break off the weight, not all the flies.
Another option for this set up is to forgo the indicator all together and tight line nymph. With the weight being on the bottom of your rig, you will stay connected to your flies. Here you will be able to rely more on feeling the eats.
Like we said, one of the main benefits of this set up is having more direct contact with your flies which causes everything to be more responsive to subtle eats. It is also nice that when snagging up on the bottom, you usually just lose your weight and not your flies. If you do not have tippet rings, you can always use a blood knot and leave one tag end long. You can then attached your fly to that tag end. My favorite situation to fish this type of set up is when nymphing very deep runs. The weight pulls the flies down quickly while keeping the line between the indicator and your flies tight. Because of this tension, you will often times feel the fish eat before you see any movement! This set up is not very conducive for casting far so it is ideal in a high sticking situation.
More On Rigging: