Instructional Posts

Rig Up for a Dry Fly

The easiest way to rig up your fly rod to start fishing is with a dry fly rig. The flies that will float on top of the water. For the ease of changing, we recommend a loop to loop connectionbetween your fly line (with monofilament attached to the end of the fly line, with a perfection loop) andyour tapered leader. We also recommend tying in some tippet material to the end of your leader, because you will be changing flies from time to time. At the end of your dry fly set up comes your fly.

Step 1: Use a nail knot to attach a 6" to 8" section of 20 pound test monofilament to the fly line. In the other end of the monofilament, tie a perfection loop.

Step 2: In the thick end of your 7 and 1/2 foot tapered leader, tie another perfection loop. Take the loop on the tapered leader and place it over the loop in the 20 pound test section. Then run the thin end of the tapered leader through the loop of the 20 pound section.

Step 3: Now that your tapered leader is on, use an improved clinch knot to tie on your fly.

*To prevent shortening your tapered leader after changing flies throughout the day, we suggest tying in 12" to 18" of tippet to the end of your tapered leader. Make sure the tippet is always the same size or one size smaller than the tapered leader.*


Rig Up for Nymphs

Setting up your rod with a nymph rig is a bit more involved than setting up with a dry. We have found in most instances it can be more productive. Especially when there is no fish taking insects off the surface. Ninety percent of a trout's diet consists of aquatic insects beneath the surface of the water. Here's how to rig up for nymphs.


Step 1: Use a nail knot to attach a 6" to 8" section of 20 pound test monofilament to the fly line. In the other end of the monofilament, tie a perfection loop.

Step 2: In the thick end of your 7 and 1/2 foot 5x tapered leader, tie another perfection loop. Take the loop on the tapered leader and place it over the loop in the 20 pound test section. Then run the thin end of the tapered leader through the loop of the 20 pound section.

Step 3: Take a 12" section of 5x tippet and tie it into the tapered leader with a double surgeons knot. *Just above the double surgeons knot is where the split shot will be crimped on.*

Step 4: Tie in your fly with an improved clinch knot. For a two fly rig, take a 12" to 16" section of 5x tippet and tie a Duncan loop in one end, place the loop around the bend of the fly you have already tied on and cinch it down. Trim the excess. Then tie in your second fly like the first.

Step 5: To finish rigging up for nymphs, attach an adjustable strike indicator (attach using the manufacturers instructions, it's simple to do) to your tapered leader. *You attach it so that it will be 1 and a 1/2 the depth you will be fishing. If the water depth is 3 feet, attach the indicator 4 and 1/2 feet from the first fly you tied.*

Step 6: Lastly, attach the split shot just above the double surgeons knot, so the weight will not slide down to the fly. *Often times, you will need to make an educated guess at what size weight to start with. The goal here is to get the flies on the stream bed. If the split shot, or flies, repeatedly get hung up on the bottom, switch to the next smaller split shot. Conversely, if your rig repeatedly drifts down stream without getting hung up, or not hooking fish, add one size larger split shot. Remember, deeper water, bigger weights, shallow water, smaller weights.*


Knots

Becoming a proficient fly fisher can be viewed as a daunting task. There are so many aspects to fly fishing, it often leaves the novice feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s identifying insects, choosing patterns to “match the hatch”, or learning all the knots, there are basics of fly fishing that will create a solid foundation.

The off season lends itself to the fine tuning of your fly fishing skills. When I am unable to get out to my favorite spots, I am relegated to practicing my casting techniques at the park or sitting in front of the TV tying knots. There is nothing more frustrating than struggling with knots when fish are rising all around you. The analogy I like to use when teaching fly fishing clinics is; most golfers go to the driving range to practice before playing 18 holes. Fly fishing is no different. When you practice, you are better prepared to perform on the water. Especially when the pressure is on!

This series of blog posts will focus on the essential knots of fly fishing. There are many knots, for many applications. We will focus on the six knots every fly fisher should know:

• Arbor Knot
• Nail Knot
• Perfection Loop
• Duncan Loop
• Double Surgeons Knot
• Improved Clinch Knot



Arbor Knot

The Arbor Knot is a knot that you will seldom have to tie. But when you need it, it is invaluable. Personally, I’d rather spend more time with my fly on the water, rather than, sitting along the bank enjoying the view.

Application: The Arbor Knot is used for attaching the fly line backing to the fly reel. Depending on the fly reel, the amount and size of backing will vary. Check the information provided with your specific reel.

Tip: Often times, when you purchase the backing and fly line from a fly shop, they will offer to put the line(s) on your reel. They have the equipment and expertise to do it. Swallow your pride and ask for help.

Step 1: Wrap the end of the backing around the arbor of the fly reel.

Step 2: With the tag end tie an overhand knot around the running line.

Step 3: With the tag end of the backing tie another overhand knot. Cinch the knot tight to the arbor.

*The overhand knot that is tied at the end of the tag line will prevent the backing from slipping through the initial overhand knot that is around the running line.


Double Surgeons Knot

The Double Surgeons Knot is a frequently used knot for most fly fishers. Since the tapered leader will get progressively thicker after a day’s worth of changing flies, adding some tippet to your tapered leader will allow you to keep the leader at the right length. This will also allow you to make the leader and fly land on the water without a plop. Since you will be using this one regularly throughout the day, practice this one and become proficient.

Application: This knot is used for lengthening the leader by tying in another section of leader or tippet.

Tip: Make sure you give yourself enough line to overlap. There’s nothing worse than getting close to finishing and then struggling to complete the knot. Especially when fish are rising and your buddy is landing fish left and right.

Step 1: Take a section of tippet material in one hand and the leader in the other hand and overlap the two sections about three to four inches and hold the lines together.

Step 2: Make an overhand knot by running the longer end of the tippet and the shorter end of the leader.

Step 3: Make second overhand knot, just like the first.

Step 4: Lubricate the knot/loop with saliva or water, pull tight, and trim close.


Duncan Loop

The Duncan Loop is my favorite knot of all. Not that I’m a knot nut, or an entomology freak, but there are aspects of fly fishing that make the experience a memorable one. Hard to believe any of that has anything to do with a FISHING KNOT! It doesn’t. The Duncan Loop is the most used knot in my fly fishing arsenal and the most useful. Learning this knot will make you a better fly fisher.

Application: The Duncan Loop, sometimes called the Uni Knot can be used for tying a fly to a leader/tippet and for tying a section of tippet to the hook shank for multiple fly nymph rig. It is also useful for any fishing application that needs a knot that is adjustable.

Tip: With any knot, it’s always best to lubricate the knot/loop with saliva or water, then pull tight, and trim close. Tightening a knot without moisture can cause the monofilament to burn making the knot weaker.
*Weak Knots=Lost Fish.

Step 1: Make a loop with the line leaving approximately 4 inches.

Step 2: While holding the loop make a bend in the running end of the line and hold them both together.

Step 3: Take the tag end of the line and wrap the line around the running line and through the loop 3 to 4 times. *This knot/loop will slide along the running end of the line allowing you to cinch or loosen the loop as needed.*

Step 4: Lubricate the knot/loop with saliva or water, pull tight, and trim close.



Improved Clinch Knot

The Improved Clinch Knot, or sometimes referred to as the Fisherman's Knot is one of the most well known and easy knots to tie. When the pressure is on, fish are rising all around you, and your buddies are landing fish, tying knots goes into auto pilot. That's the way it is for the Improved Clinch Knot. Growing up as a kid and fishing with your dad or grandpa, this is the first knot they teach you.


Application: This knot is used to tie flies to the leader or tippet.


Step 1: Feed the leader/tippet through the eye of the hook.

Step 2: Wrap the tag end around the running line approximately 6 times.

Step 3: Bring the tag end back through the area between the eye of the hook and the first wrap.

Step 4: Take the tag end and place it back through the area between all the wraps and the line.

Step 5: Lubricate with saliva or water, pull tight, and trim close.



Nail Knot

The Nail Knot can be tied by hand with a few utensils, either a nail (hence the name) or a narrow straw. It has been my experience; the easiest way to tie a Nail Knot is with a product called the Tie-Fast Knot Tool. It can be found in fly shops or where fly fishing equipment is sold. This is one of the tools I could not live without. Just like the name describes, it makes tying a Nail Knot a cinch!

Application: The nail knot is used to attach the fly line to the backing, the tapered leader to the fly line, or the 20 pound monofilament section that has a perfection loop for the loop to loop connection. Just in case you don’t have the tool, here is how to tie the Nail Knot.

*Cut off approximately two to three inch section of coffee stir straw or use a nail.*

Step 1: Hold the straw near the end of your fly line and overlap the monofilament and fly line approximately 4" to 6".

Step 2: Take the end of the leader and wrap it around the straw or a nail, the fly line and itself toward the end of the fly line.
Step 3: Make about 5 wraps toward the end of the fly line.
Step 4: Tighten the monofilament by pulling on the tag end with one hand and the leader with the other. Trim the tag ends of the leader and the tag end of the fly line.
Step 5: Tighten the monofilament by pulling on the tag end with one hand and the leader with the other. Trim the tag ends of the leader and the tag end of the fly line.


Perfection Loop

Tying the Perfection Loop is a matter of preference. Some fly fishers prefer to tie their tapered leader directly to the fly line with a Nail Knot. And others, like me, prefer to utilize the loop to loop method of attaching a tapered leader to the fly line. It has been my experience that there is no significant difference in casting with the loop to loop. In fact, it is much quicker to change out a damaged leader for a new one. It’s all about keeping your fly on or in the water.

One of the issues of tying the tapered leader directly to the fly line is that every time the leader needs changing, the fly line has to be cut. After some regular changes, the fly line can be altered to the point of negatively affecting the usefulness of the fly line.

When using the loop to loop method, a 3 to 4 inch section of 20 pound test needs to be attached to the fly line with a nail knot and a perfection loop on the other end, thus, creating one half of the loop to loop. The other loop for the loop to loop connection is tied to the thick end of the tapered leader.

Application: Any fly fishing application that requires a static loop and for the loop to loop connection for attaching a tapered leader to the fly line.

Tip: There are some brands of leaders that have the perfection loop already tied.

Step 1: Make a loop to the rear of the line. The end of the line should be going to the tier’s right. Make sure you leave yourself some extra line.

Step 2: Take the tag end and wrap it around the base of the first loop. This will create a loop in front of the first loop. Be sure to hold both loops together.

Step 3: Take the tag end of the line and place it between the two loops and hold it all down. The end of the line will be pointing to the tier’s left.

Step 4: Reach behind the first loop and grab the second loop (the one closer to you) from behind and pull it through.*It is important to make sure that the tag end of the line doesn’t slip out.

Step 5: Lubricate the knot with saliva or water, tighten, and trim the excess.