Tag Archives: fly knots

Fly Fishing Knots and the Dry Fly/ Dropper Fly Set Up

Take a look at the video to see how to tie a couple of important fly fishing knots. I will be going over the double surgeon’s knot and the clinch knot. These are the two knots I use most frequently and the only two I am absolutely confident teaching people to tie. After learning these two knots in the video, read on about the dry fly/ dropper fly set up, and when it is a good option to fish with.

The Dry Fly/Dropper Fly set up is not as difficult as it sounds. Yes, its an extra hook in the air you have to worry about casting, but it also gives fish a bigger menu. The dry fly can be used as a strike indicator or as a floating meal for fish feeding off of the top. The dry fly alone is how I do most of my fishing in the smaller mountain streams here in New Mexico. The dropper fly is a smaller, weighted down, sinking fly that is great for catching the big fat lazy fish who feed off of the bottom. Using a small dropper and a strike indicator is how I caught my massive 26.5″ rainbow trout on the San Juan in New Mexico. The dropper is usually a tiny bead head nymph of some sort. I’m not kidding, its tiny! I caught that 26 incher on a black bead head smaller that my pinky nail.

San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches
San Juan River, NM February 2015 26.5 inches

Both the dry fly, and the dropper fly can be used independently. as I’ve said, but they can also be used together in what many people call the dry/dropper combo. The combinations that I use most are the dry fly and emerger combo, and the attractor dry fly and nymph combo. When you are not sure what the fish are biting, you are getting sporadic and infrequent bites, or simply not landing any fish on the dry fly alone, this is a great time to try the dry fly/ dropper fly combo in any of its forms. It is also a great way to fish when the fish are only wanting to eat tiny flies. It is really important that when you are fishing a dry dropper setup that you have floatant to keep your dry fly on top of the water. You do not need to add a bobber or other strike indicator, that is more weight on your line than you need. Your dry fly is your strike indicator.

When you are making the decision to two-fly it, you need to assess what type of fishing situation you are in, and then make decisions about the way you want to fish. For example if you are wading near the bank into some faster moving water, you will want to set your dry fly closer to your dropper on the tippet. When there is a strong current, having your dry fly and dropper 8-12 inches (20-30cm) apart gives you a lot more control. This is also a great option if you are casting toward shallower banks. The harder part is when you are casting into deep, slower moving, wide water. In this case, you will want to have 18- 24  inches (45-60 cm) of tippet in between your dry fly and your dropper. While there is less control of your line, there is no fast moving water to misguide and entangle your line, just be sure that you are casting up stream.

Before all of this, you have to decide which type of flies to use. The best way to do this is to pay attention to what is hatching, and what is in the water. Take a moment to turn over a rock and see what is there and whether any adult aquatic insects are emerging (emergers) toward the surface. If you can’t see an active hatch, emergers, or other signs of surface life. Then use the attractor fly and nymph combination  since the nymphs are not usually on the surface. I hope this gives you a beginners introduction to the dry dropper combo. The best way to learn is to get out there and do it. That is the best way of learning to fly fish–DO IT!

Most of the places I fish and write about are locations that really only need single dry flies. I am still learning and gauging when it is the appropriate time is to use each method of fly fishing. Like everyone else, I’m still learning more and more every time I get my line in that water. If you have more questions than the ones I’ve addressed please ask your question in the comments, and I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge! I’m truly loving writing and sharing my fly life with all of you! Stay tuned, and please follow the blog by leaving your e-mail so that you can get an update when I’ve posted something new!