Over the years our shop staff has spent countless hours talking to customers and clients about gear, local entomology, and especially 'on water tactics'. The most common question we get is in regards to fly rod rigging. We sifted through our archives and are excited to bring back a Trouts Classic: How To Build a Rocky Mountain Nymph Rig.
Here in Colorado, we are lucky to have the opportunity to fish for trout in a number of different styles. When fish are rising, we know we are throwing dry flies. When fish do not seem as interested in Hoppers or Stimulators it's a good indicator that it is time to fish below the surface. When this is the case we love throwing what we consider as The Rocky Mountain Nymph Rig. The goal with this rig is to target fish in deep fast or slow moving water. This rig also presents two different fly patterns at two different levels in the water column.
This week we are offering our take on the popular 'Rocky Mountain Rig'. 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.
The first step is 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. Most standard leaders we use are 9’ in length but are also available in 7.5’.
Depending on the depth of water you are fishing, you will want to adjust the distance between your strike indicator and your fly line. One very general rule is to estimate the depth of water you are fishing, and move 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.
Connect a piece of tippet of your choosing 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.
Now, this is where we will tie on our first fly. A staff favorite strategy is to first tie on an “attractor” pattern – this can be a larger nymph, worm, scud, or (god forbid) an egg pattern. This first fly can change 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. Once this fly is secured, we will tie another clinch knot from the shank of the hook of our attractor fly using tippet material. This is typically the same size tippet or smaller.
This step will finalize the 'Rocky Mountain 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 bugs are emerging or sub surface insects we think the fish might be keying into.
Again, this tutorial is intended to be 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.
If you would like to know more about effectively Nymph fishing here in Colorado and beyond, we highly recommend our Nymphing School. If you are interested in learning more about knots then check out our Knots 101 & 201 classes. This class will walk through each of these knots and connections and you will get hands-on instruction from one of Trouts expert Staff. If you are interested or have any other questions feel free to call the shop or swing by with your questions – we’re here to help.