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Trouts Journal

How To Build A Dry/Dropper Rig

Ivan Orsic / May 7, 2014

The Dry Dropper Rig is a very useful rigging system here in Colorado and much of the Rocky Mountain West. One of the main benefits of this rig is that you get to explore two very different sections of the water column – the surface of the river as well as sub surface depths. It is a great set-up to use if you are not sure where fish are feeding and it is also works if fish are taking bugs on the surface and deeper in the water column. The best part of this rig: in addition to being effective, it is very simple and quick to tie.

This brief tutorial will walk you through connecting three pieces of terminal tackle (fly line, leader and tippet) to two flies.

Step 1 contemplates attaching your fly line to your leader. You can do this using a loop-to-loop connection if both your fly line and your leader have pre-built loops (most lines and leaders do these days). If your fly line has a loop at the terminal section and your leader does not, you can use a perfection loop (LINK) on your leader. If neither have loops you can always tie a nail knot. Most standard leaders we use are 9’ in length but they are also readily available in 7.5’.

Step 2 attach a piece of tippet to your leader using a double surgeon knot. Depending on the situation, I’ll usually use a 12-18” piece of fluorocarbon or nylon tippet. Other knots that work include a blood knot or an Albright knot.

In Step 3 is where we will connect our dry fly. For fly selection, you can either “match the hatch” or use a larger attractor or stimulator pattern. We will typically tie this fly with a standard clinch knot. Also in step 3 is where we will tie another knot from the shank of the hook on the attractor dry fly using tippet material.

Step 4 we will finalize the Dry Dropper Rig by tying our last clinch knot to our dropper nymph fly. This fly is used to imitate whatever emerging or sub surface insect we think the fish might be keying into.

The types of flies you use, the size and materials of your leaders and tippets will all impact the effectiveness of your rigging. And, you need to adapt all of these components based on the river you are fishing and varying conditions. For more on specific knots, see the diagram below. Feel free to call the shop with questions at 303.733.1434 – we’re here to help.



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