Way back in 2011, Alaska West alum and trout guru, JEB Hall, gave us the details for his go-to rig when slinging beads for big leopard rainbow trout. It’s still as current as it was six long years ago, so if you haven’t checked it out, be sure to hit the link to give it a read.
An important component to JEB’s bead rig of choice includes attaching split shot to the tag ends of the leader-tippet connection as opposed to directly to the main leader. We recently received a great email asking for some clarification on this method, so today we thought we’d elaborate.
Nymphing Tip: Tag Your Split Shot
Whether you’re tossing beads or dredging nymphs, attaching split shot to your tag ends offers a number of advantages over attaching shot directly to your main leader, including the following:
- No leader damage. Crimping split shot directly onto your leader or tippet can greatly weaken it. By attaching split shot to tag ends, the strength of the leader or tippet is never compromised, which is a really good thing.
- Better drifts. Many believe that attaching split shot to the tag ends above your lead fly allows for a more natural drift than split shot placed ‘in-line’ with the fly when attached directly to the leader or tippet. Depending on the length of your tag end, the split shot is able to dip and dive amongst the varying structure on the bottom while allowing your fly (or flies) to hinge and ride slightly above it.. In theory of course.
- Less hang-ups. When attaching split shot directly to your leader, because it is placed in-line with your fly, its safe to assume that on a good drift the fly is closely following the same line as your split shot. Therefore, any piece of structure your split shot comes into contact with is probably fair game for your fly to hang up on. On the other hand, attaching split shot to a tag end above your fly keeps the fly from riding directly behind your heavy shot, helping it to ride up and over the snags your shot is bumping into.
Attaching split shot to your tag end is simple. Using a blood knot, attach a length of tippet (we recommend 18-24 inches for most scenarios) to your leader. If using a factory ‘tapered’ leader, and don’t want to add extra tippet, simply cut the leader 18-24 inches from the end of the tippet, and tie a blood knot.
Be sure to tie your blood knot with plenty of excess in order to leave a tag end long enough to crimp split shot to. Once you’ve tied your blood knot, trim one tag end close to the knot and leave one long – this will be what you crimp your split shot too. If tying a blood knot with materials of different diameters, we prefer to leave the tag end with the thickest diameter long, as the split shot tends to hold better when crimped on a thicker diameter line.
Before attaching your split shot, tie a small overhand or figure eight knot in the end of the tag to keep the split shot from sliding off. Then, crimp your split shot directly to the tag end, and chuck it in there!
The length of tag end can vary depending upon the situation. Generally, the longer the tag end (lets say 3 inches as an example) will allow the fly to drift more freely, while a shorter tag end (lets say, 3/4 of an inch) will result in less tangles over time.
Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you!