Efficiency: Part 2 – Leader/Tippet Changes

by | Jul 28, 2015 | 11 comments

 

My best days on the water are usually full of changes.

The morning fog burns off, and I switch from streamers to nymphs; a half hour later, a swirling back eddy looks like the home of the next nameable brown trout (two footer), and I go back to streamers, trying to nudge Mr. Nameless from his rest; then maybe it’s back to nymphs for the pocket water; and after working to the top of the run, I see just enough trout snouts poking through the surface of the tailout to interest me in fishing dries ….. and so I change.

I’ve shared the stream with a lot of fishermen, and the most deadly anglers are those who adapt.

You can try to fish everything with one rig, using the same leader and tippet for streamers, nymphs, wets, and dries, but the compromises that you have to make by tying a three inch streamer to the long, thin tippet that you were just using for an X-Caddis on the surface are just not worth it, and you’ll have far better opportunities for good fishing by using the right tool for the job.

In Part 1 of the this series on efficiency, I tried to stress that you will be best served with a group of simple knots which you can tie quickly. You can’t be afraid to change, and if you don’t have your rig alterations down to seconds instead of minutes, then you’ll be afraid of wasting time and missing fish, and you won’t make the changes that you should.

I constantly search for solutions and try to develop a system that suits my own intentions for a day of fishing. It’s a system that is constantly in flux and often changes with my goals on the water, but in the last few years I’ve found some things that have helped refine these rig changes to something very, very efficient.

Tippet Rings

In my early years of fishing, I occasionally used tiny barrel swivels as a location for swapping out leader pieces, but I gave it up, because they weren’t tiny enough. Tippet rings are perfect. I tie my own leaders, and every one of them has a tippet ring in it somewhere.

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These are some of my favorite tippet rings. 12 rings, $5, Free Shipping.

In fact, I use a tippet ring for full leader changes. Permanently attached to my fly line with a needle knot is a six inch piece of Maxima Chameleon and then a clinch knot to a tippet ring.

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I swap out my leaders at that tippet ring, and I store the leaders on old Maxima spools. It’s much easier than hand-wrapping and storing them in a leader wallet; the leader quickly comes off the spool, ready to use, with no tangles.

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One of my wife’s hair ties holds the leader. She loves when they go missing.

These days I only use two leaders: one for dries and then one for nymphs and streamers,  I make the nymph leader work for streamers by using another means of line storage …..

Rigging Foam

Loon Rigging Foam is the solution to a storage problem that I have struggled with for over a decade. Previously, I used half of an old foam fly box to store pre-rigged flies, and there are other manufactured solutions to this, but nothing that I tried was quite right until these simple foam discs came out.

When switching from two nymphs to two streamers, I want to use the same leader butt section but have a different tippet section; I clip the leader at the sighter (at another tippet ring), roll the sighter and tippet onto the foam spool, and then jam both hooks into the foam to keep the line tight. The whole process is accomplished in less than a minute and no tippet material is wasted. I just slide these in a pocket, awaiting the next change.

Another way I used to  accomplish the same thing is with foam glued  into the back cavities of a Maxima spool. This is good, but the Loon Rigging Foam is better.

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Whatever method you choose, the bottom line is that being able to quickly swap rigs gives you a chance to meet the fish on their own terms by swiftly adapting to whatever situation you encounter. Changing efficiently will get you into more fish.

I hope this gives you ideas for your own system.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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11 Comments

  1. So, Domenick, it sounds like you use 3 tippet rings per setup. #1 for the 6″ Chameleon butt bottom section tied to whatever leader you are using. #2 is between the leader and the sighter, and #3 is for the sighter connection to the tippet. Have I got that right? That makes a lot of sense for the quick changes that I’ve always struggled with when those noses begin popping up that want some surface flies, or when I want to drop down and pull some streamers.

    Reply
    • You got it, Rob. That’s exactly right. Easy and quick changes with minimal material loss via a Davy Knot at those tippet rings.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks, Dom. Makes a lot of sense to cut down the friction of a loop to loop connection with the guides and on the leader.

        Reply
  2. I’m wondering whether a tiny swivel would work, in place of the top ring – to minimize line twist, especially with larger streamers. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Hi Maryellen,

      I guess I don’t have any trouble with line twists. When I do fish larger streamers, I use larger diameter tippet like 2X or 3X, so the line doesn’t twist.

      You could put a swivel in there if you like, but it will add extra weight, and I think you will notice it. Even the smallest swivel weighs far more than a tippet ring.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  3. Hello,
    Fantastic idea! How do you carry the pre rigged spools? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  4. Dom, do you ever use a strike indicator and a sighter section. If so is the si always below the sighter.

    Reply
  5. This site is a terrific resource for fly fishers. Once again, the Penn anglers prove to be the innovators in trout fishing.

    Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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