Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Nymph-Rig for DFO's?

I finally got around to cleaning out the shop and setting up my fly-tying station. I was going to do a quick video on rigging up the "short-leash" and how to tie a really affective indicator but when I turned my camera on, no battery. Bummer. So I'm going to write about it with the hopes of a video to come soon and possible podcast.

Fly fishing isn't rocket science and there is no one-way to do anything. Some folks like to dry fly fish. Some like to chuck and duck streamers and some just like to catch fish. Some folks want to catch fish but don't like to "chase bobbers" all day. They feel a little dirty and somehow a little less of an angler. It's because of this that I decided to develop a technique of nymph fishing that the DFO's could accept.

To say I developed the short-leash is ridiculous. I get that. Guides have been doing it for years on the Mo now and undoubtedly have been doing it in other places as well. It's basically just a short nymph rig--dropping flies anywhere from 18 inches to about 3 feet below an indicator without much weight. The idea is that you can target those fish looking up in the water column as well as fish sitting in skinny water but it's not quite as technical as throwing dries and will definitely increases you odds as most of the bugs eaten by trout get mowed before reaching the surface. One of the challenges however, is finding an indicator that doesn't spook fish and is easy to cast since the indicator will most likely have to be farther away from your fly line in the more subtle part of the leader.

A couple years ago, I started experimenting with a few different systems. I used some of my clients as guinea pigs because I really wanted their feedback on how easy the short-leash was to fish how I was rigging it and just as importantly, how they felt about it versus more traditional nymphing rigs. Clients really dug the experiment because I think they felt like they were contributing to the industry. The cool thing about fly fishing is that it's not a science so much as an art and everyone has an opportunity to put their own stamp on it. My clients were proud to be part of the process. Having said that, not everything I tried was an instant hit and there were a couple reasons for that.

I tried the Palsa pinch-ons that most of us have used at some point. They definitely work but there are problems with them. One, they are hard to keep on the thinner part of the leader and b, they don't cast very well because they catch wind and again, if they are at the end of the leader some 7 or 8 feet from the fly line, it's difficult to roll the rig over so the flies where often piling up with the indicator.

I also just tried to use the thingamabobbers, which are great for deep nymphing but again, too heavy and too invasive to fish that are looking up. Plus, they don't stay in one spot on the thin end of the leader unless you wrap them multiple times, which is a nightmare to untangle if you want to re-rig.

So this is what I decided to do and once I found the materials to stand up to the test, it has been golden. Essentially, it's just a foam hopper with a tuft of died islandic sheep hair on a nymph hook that has been bent around so that instead of a hook on the business end, it's like a second large eye. When rigged correctly, you can throw it like a dry-fly but you get the benefit of having two nymphs. Plus, it's incredibly delicate when it lands and it doesn't spook fish. In fact, I've actually had clients say they see fish move towards the indicator and go for the nymph. That's pretty cool.

And for those guys that like the feel of casting dries and don't like the stigma of chasing bobbers; they love it. They can practice hitting targets along rocks and seems or even throw at rising fish and very often, they get those fish to eat.

So why not just do a hopper-dropper? Well, fishing with more than two flies is not legal although I know of plenty of guys that do. I don't. A lot of times when you're throwing a hopper dropper you literally are just throwing the dry as an indicator anyway because the chance of a fish coming up to the it is nil. It's not always the case but you guides know what I'm talking about. How many times have you thrown a hopper-dropper for hours and you catch fish but not a single trout even looks at the dry? Well, you might as well double your chances by dropping two nymphs legally.

As for the beginners, they also get a chance to throw a line that actually feels like what casting a fly should feel like. They get some real practice and they get to catch fish and as far as the drift goes; because the indicator is so delicate, the drift has to be perfect. If it's not, the indicator will drag under and they know they have to re-set.

The key to the rig is tying the indicator at the end of a 7 1/2 foot monofilament leader, either a 0X or 2X. That length will get your flies far enough away from your fly-line so you don't spook as many fish. That weight of a leader is stiff enough to get the rig to roll over. In fact, because the leader is so stiff and the indicator is so light, it's so easy to cast that clients are rewarded with accuracy and distance and they feel like rock-stars. It's a great teaching tool.

What you decide to tie off of the bottom of the fly is completely up to you and the conditions. You could literally go from a 0X leader to 6X fluorocarbon dropping a size 22 emerger if you wanted. And it would work. Or you could do what I do a lot, which is dropping a weight-fly off the indicator with a smaller nymph just to get it down a couple feet but still allowing it to suspend and again, incredibly deadly.

Check out this video if you want a better look.

Keep 'em where they live...

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