Trouts Journal

How To Build A Rocky Mountain Nymph Rig

Ivan Orsic / May 5, 2014

We spend a lot of time talking to customers and clients about fly fishing equipment, gear, local entomology and on the water tactics. Another important component we discuss is rigging. Here in Colorado, we are lucky to have the opportunity to fish for trout and other species in a number of different styles. When the hatch is on and fish are rising, we love to throw dry flies on the surface. When fish do not seem as interested in the upper echelon of the water column, sometimes it is a good idea to probe deeper.

This brief tutorial will walk you through connecting three pieces of terminal tackle (fly line, leader and tippet) to two flies. The goal with this rig is to be able to target fish deeper in a fast or slow moving river and also grab their attention with two different fly patterns. We will keep this rigging very simple and generalized. With most things related to fly fishing, we realize that there are many variations to this rig and this is intended to get you started effectively fishing two nymphs sub surface.

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 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 is where you want to attach your strike indicator to your leader. Depending on the depth of water you are fishing, you will want to adjust the distance between your indicator and your fly line. One very general rule is to estimate the depth of water you are fishing, and move the your indicator 1.5X-2X times that depth away from your first fly. I.e. if you are fishing a run that is ~3 ft deep you want your indicator 4.5'-6' above your first fly.

In Step 3 we’ll connect a piece of tippet to your leader. We’ll do this using a double surgeon knot. Other knots that work include a blood knot or an Albright knot. Above this knot, attached to the leader is where we typically affix split shot to help get the system deep as required. Putting the shot above the knot will avoid having it slip down to your attractor nymph.

Step 4 is where we will tie our first fly. One strategy we typically use is to use a larger “attractor” pattern – this can be a larger nymph, worm, scud, or egg pattern depending on the time of year and what is happening in the river system you are fishing. 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 fly using tippet material.

In Step 5 we will finalize the double nymph rig by tying our last clinch knot to our fly. This fly is typically the smaller of the two and is the fly we’re using to imitate whatever emerging or sub surface insect we think the fish might be keying into.

Again, this tutorial is intended to very general – the type of flies you use, the size and materials of your leaders and tippets, as well as your split shot 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. If you would like to know more about fishing effectively here in Colorado and beyond, feel free to stop in the shop or join our next Learn The Basics Class. This class will walk through each of these knots and connections and you will get hands-on instruction from an expert. Feel free to call the shop with questions at 303.733.1434 – we’re here to help.

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