A Simple Drop-Shot Nymph Rig (Revisited)

After last week’s Nymph-o-Mania! post I received a lot of questions about drop-shot nymphing: how to build a rig, can you use it with an indicator, is it better for a tight line presentation, etc. Let’s start with the rig.

A drop-shot nymph rig with sighter for both indicator or tight line nymphing.

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And a PDF of the same diagram: SighterDropShotNymphRig

So: I’ve been drop-shot nymphing for quite some time now. Being the curious sort (and a confirmed autodidact and DIYer) I tend to change things around until I find what works best for me. What you see is my current default trout nymph rig. I’ve been using 6X for the drop shot tag to make it the weakest link in the system. I’m lazy, so I build a sighter into the system whether I’m going to indicator nymph or not. Maxima if the water is high or off-color, 5x if it’s skinny and clear. (Please, use your favorite material to build this rig. It will work whether or not you use Maxima, P-Line, or Stren.)

When to tight line and when to indicator? Chapters in books have been written on this. Here are some of my thoughts in brief.

When to indicator:

  • When I want to cover longer stretches of water
  • When I want to reach pockets and runs farther than a rod-and-arm’s length
  • When I want the nymphs to swirl around in a mixer-like pocket
  • In conditions where takes may be subtle/difficult to feel (winter, windy days, just to name two)
  • When the wind is blowing upstream

Note: The distance from drop shot to indicator on the leader is about 1.5 times what I estimate the deepest water to be. I use my own home brew yarn indicators almost exclusively. They are light, denser that store-bought kinds, don’t spook fish (it seems that every season I have at least one trout hit my indicator) and I am very dialed in to their nuances.

When to tight line:

  • When I’m fishing in close
  • When the water is low and clear
  • When I feel the indicator is difficult to manage/adversely speeding up the drift

Hope that helps. I’m sure there will be more questions and as always, I am happy to answer them.

 

Farmington River Report 5/23/19: Nymph-o-Mania!

You know it’s a great 2 hours of fishing when you lose count of the trout you land. Drop-shot nymphing was the method, straight line and indicator, and the action was hot from start to finish. Since the lower river was below 1,000cfs for the first time in a month, and I had limited time, that’s where I headed. I made it to three pools from 12:30pm-2:30pm. and in each of them the trout were eager to jump on: two produced fish on the third cast, the other the first. Despite a strong caddis hatch, I didn’t see any risers, and unfortunately I didn’t make time to swing wets. But if you’re ready to do some nymphing, and you’re looking to book a date, now’s a good time to do it. Thanks to everyone who said hello!

Indicator Nymphing Tips #1 & 2: An upstream wind is great time to indicator nymph, because it slows the pace of the indicator on the surface. Look for a reason to set the hook on every drift. If that indicator twitches, stalls, slows, deviates — it doesn’t need to go under — set the hook! This lovely rainbow was such a case. My yellow yarn was bouncing merrily downstream, then slowed for just a moment. Bam. Set. Fish on.

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When there’s a substantial caddis hatch, and you’re nymphing with two flies, it’s almost never a bad idea to make your top dropper a Squirrel and Ginger. About half my fish came on this pattern (point fly was a Frenchie variant).

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I also had plenty of dramatic takes on the indicator, as in: now you see it, now you don’t. Likewise when I was tight line nymphing. I felt every single hit. This guy, looking very wild, clobbered the fly and fought well above his weight class.

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Thanks Russell Library and nymphing tip of the day

Many thanks to the Russell Library for hosting me last night. We had a small but enthusiastic crowd for “The Little Things,” and if you were part of the group, thanks for coming out. Here’s a segment from the chapter on nymphing — three little things to help you catch more fish the next time you’re out on the water.

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Book Review: “Nymph Fishing” by George Daniel

I love the concept behind Nymph Fishing: after writing Dynamic Nymphing, George Daniel went out and did a whole bunch of nymph fishing with the goal of being able to write this terrific follow up — detailing what works and what doesn’t in multiple situations, what’s new, what’s changed, how he’s adapted, what he’s playing around with, all the while encouraging you to do the same.

And that may be what I like best about George. He’s a giver. He’s insatiably curious, and detail-oriented enough to take notes, write it all down, and share it. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good nymph angler — I teach nymphing, after all — but it’s evident that George’s nymphing knowledge base far exceeds mine. What’s more, he doesn’t think he’s all that, and that gentle yet confident humility is what often marks the dividing line between a good teacher and a great teacher. His writing style is easy to read and follow, which cannot be said of many how-to fly fishing books.

You’ll find all kinds of leader diagrams, step-by-step photographic instruction, and fly patterns (hooray for tying nerds like me). But what I like best is that George squarely addresses the pros and cons of contact vs. suspension nymphing, and guess what — I can now point to one major nymphing authority who won’t snicker at me with my home brew yarn indicators dancing across the surface of the Farmington. Fly fishing is problem-solving, and there are many, many ways to do so.

The copy of Nymph Fishing they sent me had a big sticker on the cover that read, “REVIEW COPY NOT FOR RESALE NON RETURNABLE.” Yeah, right. This one’s mine. You’ll have to get your own.

In the interest of full disclosure, George is a friend. Those of you who know me, though, know I’m a straight shooter. This is an excellent book, and if you want to become a better nympher, you should be reading it. Nymph Fishing by George Daniel, Stackpole Books, ISBN 978-0-8117-1826-4

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Farmington River Report 11/3/17: more anglers than fish

Holy crowds, Batman! But what else could you expect on a 70 degree mostly sunny November Friday? Water was 300cfs in the permanent TMA and probably high 40s/low50s. Leaves were a minor issue today. Hatch activity was virtually nil and I didn’t see any risers. I visited two spots in the PTMA and found fish in both, although the action was slow. I carpet bombed Spot A with nymphs for two hours and produced only two hookups. Indicator nymphing was the method, and both takes were very subtle twitches rather than total submergence. Spot B was a quick in-and-out, one fish in about 20 minutes. Thanks to every who shared water and took the time to say hello. (A reminder that if you see me on the water, you’re not bothering me with questions or hellos. I rather enjoy it!)

What the heck? This used to be a Snipe and Purple. I guess the bozo who tied it didn’t fully secure the silk. Out came the nippers and on went a Zebra Midge soft hackle.

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The ZMSH was a good choice. At least this lovely wild brown thought so.

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A batch o’ nymphs and wets for a client. I used a couple of these patterns today.

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Farmington River Report 10/3/17: On the edge of fishable

Once again, they’ve lowered the flow from the dam, giving us (with the help of the Still River) 75cfs in the permanent TMA. The water is plenty cold and the trout are still there, but it makes for some challenging fishing. David was up to the task, and we attacked multiple locations above and within the PTMA. While we found fish and had a few bumps, we were unable to bring any trout to net. David did a great job keeping up his enthusiasm — perseverance is a powerful asset when the fishing is tough. Short line and indicator nymphing were the methods. We saw a fairly strong caddis hatch above the PTMA at 10am. Most of the risers we witnessed came in the afternoon. The river was mobbed for a Tuesday afternoon in October — surprising given the conditions.

David fighting the good fight. We had a momentary rush of glory in this run in about a foot-and-a-half of water.

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Farmington River Report 3/21/17: Trout on the move

The fish didn’t feel that big, so I was surprised when I saw that it was a mid-teens brown. Almost immediately, its lackluster fight, dull colors, and ragged, undersized fins registered: this was a recently stocked fish that had already travelled several miles up or downriver. You see, I was standing in the middle of the permanent TMA, an area that hasn’t yet been visited by the DEEP tanker truck.

I fished two spots. I shared the first with another angler (thank you, kind sir!); he was Euro nymphing, and I went with a mix of tight line and indicator presentations with my trusty drop-shot rig. Despite the sexy water and a decent midge hatch, we both blanked. Off to spot two, where I hooked Mr. Recent Ward Of The State followed by two long-time residents. All fish came on the bottom dropper, a size 14 Frenchie variant.

The takes of the two wild fish were odd. The indicator made a little nudge, immediately followed by a dip. It was as if the nudge was the actual take, and the dip the trout retreating with the prize. I’m constantly trying to refine my technique: playing around with indicator positioning, drift speed, trying to figure what’s bottom and what’s not, ditching the indicator and seeing which takes I can feel and which I can merely see. Every day is different; once I knew what to look for with the indicator, I was ready for that little nudge, and on that second trout I was in the process of setting the hook after the nudge when the yarn went under.

The TMA was packed for a Tuesday in March. Most of the anglers I spoke to said the action was fair to slow. Water was 233cfs and 37 degrees. Runoff may have impacted the bite. Many road entrances and dirt pulloffs (like Greenwoods and Woodshop) were still inaccessible.

That’s more like it. An equinox wild brown with an impressive power train. Note the deep gold coloring from the underside of the mouth to the gill plate.

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