Tight Line Nymph Rig

by | Jan 13, 2016 | 82 comments

Almost eight years ago, I made some adaptations to my nymph rig that completely changed the game for me, tripling my catch rate and adding a new spark to my passion for fly fishing. Suddenly, a whole new set of techniques and achievements were possible on the water, and I was catching enough fish to feel like it wasn’t just luck anymore — I had some control over the outcome. My casts, my drifts, my fly selection, and (most importantly) my ability to focus and adapt became the reason that I caught fish or I didn’t. I soon realized that the old excuse of “the fish just weren’t on” was usually a cover-up.

I like to give credit where it’s due, so I’ll mention that it was the long talks with both Loren Williams and George Daniel that helped me come to understand these few simple principles. Their knowledge came from the competition fly fishing circuit, but since I’m not all that competitive when it comes to fishing, I borrowed the main elements and eventually eschewed a few of the restrictions like continuous leader taper, no split shot, and no suspenders (indicators) — I bend all of those rules whenever I believe doing so will catch more fish.

These three elements of my nymphing rig changed: I took fly line out of the mix, I allowed only one diameter of tippet under the water, and I added a sighter. Two of these elements are about eliminating drag — and when it comes to nymphing, getting true drag-free drifts while being in enough contact to detect strikes is where the real fun begins.

No Fly Line

For upstream, tight line nymphing, fly line is a real handicap; it adds weight and causes drag by sagging off the rod tip and pulling back on the nymphs. That subtle drag may seem slight, but the difference between a great drift and a lousy drift is in the fine details. By using a very long butt section in the leader, the nymphs can be presented relatively drag free. When casting without fly line, it’s the weight of the nymphs and the leader itself that are carrying the flies to their target. In essence, the weight of the flies (or split shot) pulls the leader to the target, while with a traditional setup, it’s the weight of the fly line that pushes the leader and the flies to their destination. After casting nymphs without fly line for a while, you realize that you never really needed it.

One Diameter Under the Surface

Another place where traditional nymphing rigs create drag is in the tippet section. Tapered leaders (whether hand tied or manufactured) most commonly start their taper a couple feet from the tippet end, so while fishing all but the skinniest of water, part of the taper is under the surface. That’s a problem.

I tied my old style of nymphing leaders in a way that resulted in the diameters of 4x, 3x, 2x, 1x, and sometimes even part of my butt section being submerged in some of the deepest pockets. To me, the big revelation was how the thicker diameters were being pushed by the currents more than the thin diameters. It’s one of those things that I never gave much thought to back then, but it makes perfect sense. The upper part of the taper in a leader is more than twice the diameter of 4x tippet.

Now consider two kites in a strong wind: a large kite that is double the size of a small kite will offer a lot more resistance — you can feel it as you hold the string. Likewise, the thicker diameters of a leader under the water offer more resistance in the current — and that equals drag. Is it really that much drag? Again, the difference between a great drift and a lousy drift is in the fine details. Add a few small details together and you get big results.

A tippet of any diameter will incur some drag. That can be managed, but the real problem with my old nymphing rig was in having multiple diameters under the water. My tippet section was being pushed around at different rates, creating various degrees of drag and slack while making it difficult to stay in touch with a tight line method. Having only one diameter of tippet under the water solves that problem.

Sighter

A third element to an effective tight line nymph rig is the sighter — a colored piece of material tied into your leader to help visually track your line. It not only aids in strike detection, but also helps judge the depth and location of your nymphs. There are many options for sighter material, and I carry a number of them. Sometimes, when fishing is tough, I find that simply changing the type of sighter that I’m using improves my catch rate. I carry sighters made from fly line backing, braided running line, furled monofilament, coiled monofilament, and straight monofilament. I carry the mono sighters in different colors, and it often helps to use a couple of contrasting colors built into one sighter. The point is to see the sighter, and if I can’t see it immediately after my cast, then I change the color or type.

Leader

Tight line nymphing rigs can be very basic in design. I’ve tried leaders with elaborate tapers built from a half dozen diameters of various materials (I’m a leader junkie), but I keep coming back to a very simple formula that works for me: a long butt section, a transitional piece, a sighter, and then the tippet.A Simple Mono Rig Formula

24 feet — 20 lb Maxima Chameleon
2 feet — 10lb Maxima Chameleon
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
12” — 12lb Red Amnesia
12” — 10lb Gold Stren
14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
36″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for upper fly —
20″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Point Fly–

 

 

I originally made these key changes only to my tight line nymphing leader, but a decade later I now find myself rarely taking this long leader off my spool. Instead, I use the long leader for almost everything — suspender fishing, streamer fishing, and most dry-dropper fishing. The only times I use a shorter, traditional leader are when I’m dry fly fishing at distance and sometimes for swinging wets at night.

The other day, a friend asked me what nymphing books he should own.

“Do you have Trout Tactics from Joe Humphreys?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you have Dynamic Nymphing from George Daniel?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s all you need.”

I really believe that. All my other fishing books gather dust after a thorough reading, but I refer to this pair constantly, learning something new every time I turn the pages. Together, they are a comprehensive resource, and everything else you need can probably be learned by fishing a lot and just thinking about it — think hard.

 

 

Buy Trout Tactics HERE

 

 

 

Buy Dynamic Nymphing HERE

 

For more details on long mono rigs and what you can do with them, read this Troutbitten article next:

READ: Troutbitten | The Mono Rig and Why Fly Line Sucks

 

** Find all Troutbitten articles about the Mono Rig here **

 

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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82 Comments

  1. Outstanding post and I truly appreciate the links to the resources. I’m a frustrated fly fisherman when the fish aren’t on.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Clark. I know what you mean. I get frustrated, especially on my home waters, when things are slow. Sometimes, when that happens, I try my best to slow down and cover less water instead of more, I get as close as possible to one good pocket, pick one good seam, and try to put about 8 casts into the identical drift. Then I pick out another seam in the same small pocket and repeat the process. It gives me something to work on while the action is slow, and many times the action really picks up because I’m focusing so much on getting good drifts.

      Reply
  2. A good read, especially for a fisherman who NEEDS to nymph fish or he’s never gonna catch fish he dreams about!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Don. Yeah, around here if we don’t nymph, we don’t catch many fish.

      Reply
  3. I use Rio euro nymph fly line instead of straight mono now. Line, sighter with a tippet ring on one end and a perfection loop on the other then fluorocarbon tippet. So simple and effective and I can switch to throwing dries in about two minutes. That being said, I tightline about 99% of the time now!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Pierre. I haven’t picked up a euro-nymph fly line yet, but I’m sure I will at some time. Even as thin as they are, they’re still thicker than my .017″ Chameleon butt section; add in the price of the line vs the Maxima, and I’m not overly anxious to start using one. Do you notice much line sag vs mono? Did you choose the Rio line because of competition restrictions? I don’t compete, so I just use whatever I think will put the most fish in the net.

      Reply
      • It was recommended to me by my local fly shop guy. It doesn’t sag or pull back through the guides like regular fly line, as for drag, the line itself is out of the water. Price is a negative though compared to a big spool of stren hi-vis! It may also be a touch less sensitive but not by much imo. If you get a chance to try it out I’d really like to hear what you think.

        Reply
  4. Well done; appreciate the leader formula too. Have studied both Humphries and Daniel’s books; Humphries was way ahead of his time with the flat mono approach and Daniels put it all together. Good stuff on your site, please keep it coming.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for your post! I am always trying to refine the nymphing craft! I have always thought about the principles you are describing. Good post!

    Reply
  6. Nice work Dom!!! Need to plan a trip up your way!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jeff! Miss you, buddy. Nobody has your on-stream wit — nobody.

      Be in touch.

      Reply
  7. Just what the good doctor ordered. Thank you Dom. Are you in agreement with George Daniel that a stiffer than average long rod improves the tight line game?

    Reply
    • Thanks Phil.

      I guess I’d say it’s personal preference more than anything. I use 4 and 5 weight rods for tight line nymphing. I also frequently attach a suspender if I find water that calls for it, and I like to switch back and forth to streamers multiple times in a day; I find the heavier weights more versatile. I like to cover a lot of water in a day, and I’m not about to carry two rods, so I carry one that will effectively fish everything.

      Reply
  8. Great post. I’m trying to think hard… It seems like the gains you get from less drag would be offset by the number of knots you’re tying and the extra drag that they incur. Is this not the case? Why not use a sighter like the Rio yellow/red two tone indicator and have no knots or just a single knot from your indicator to your tippet? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Ken. Good thoughts. Thanks for the comment.

      I almost always have my sighter above the water, so drag isn’t an issue.

      Also, in my opinion, any drag created by a blood knot that would end up under the water is very insignificant, especially compared to other variables.

      I have used the two tone indicator material from Rio and two other companies. They make great sighters too. There is no advantage of my Amnesia and Gold Stren sighter over a sighter constructed of the bicolor. I just provided my rig as an example. I’m gonna do a post soon on various types of sighters.

      Thanks for reading.

      Reply
      • Really good read, and something I’ve almost entirely realized myself- excluding only having one diameter of tippet under the water. Tonight- I cannot wait to build new leaders for the season using that method-

        For nymph fishing, I couldn’t agree more about those two books you mentioned. I actually wore out both through years of almost daily studying and had to buy them again.

        I look forward to reading more- and I’m going to add your site onto my blogroll.

        Reply
  9. Domenick,

    Out of curiosity, what depth range of water do you use this leader design? Is this rig geared towards medium to large river type environments? For example, i can see this being quite useful for consistent 3 feet or deeper water depth – with the sighter material being a benefit. I can also see this design being quite beneficial for larger rivers with deep pockets and runs. How do you address fishing upper column with emerger type of flies? For example, if I know that trout are targeting the upper 1 to 2 feet of the water column for emerging mayflies or caddis, does this rig impact the ability to provide a long dead drift with the intent of keeping the flies in the feeding zone?

    Reply
    • The tight line rig works for me anywhere that I want to fish less than than 30-35 feet away from me (sometimes further). Doesn’t matter what the depth is. You can just adjust the tippet section. If I was to target the upper part of the water column, I’d either run a tag dropper high up on the tippet section and still have a heavier point fly getting to the bottom, or I might throw an indicator on the tippet section and tie my flies at the desired depth underneath it. When I cast this rig with indicators I stay tight to the indicator after the cast — essentially tight lining the indicator.

      Email me, and we can get into more detail. domenick@troutbitten.com

      Reply
  10. Question for you Domenick, so I’ve rigged up one of these Tight Line Leaders using the formula you posted and I wanted to ask about how you detect when a fish strikes. It’s probably a dumb question, but when you have your line at a 90 degree angle in the water and the sighter stops moving, is this when you set the hook? I usually have my anchor fly connected directly to my tippet, and then the smaller dropper nymph tied onto the hook bend of the heavy fly. Any feedback would be great! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Evan. Thanks for the question. Yeah, I usually set the hook when the sighter pauses unexpectedly, or if I feel a bump. I would recommend setting on everything and anything — you may be surprised how often a fish is there. Tight line drifts are usually short, so you’ll be picking up and casting a lot anyway; just turn that hook set into your back cast and fire the nymphs into the water again.

      Also, the way you are attaching your nymphs is very common, but you could try attaching your smaller nymph on a dropper tag about 20 inches up from your point fly. I strongly prefer dropper tags and I use them whenever I can. The tag method allows you to be in direct contact with BOTH flies for better detection when a fish strikes.

      Good luck. Keep in touch.

      Reply
  11. Quick question on the rig. What knots do you use for the 2′ 12lbs Maxima section?

    Reply
  12. Quick question on the rig. What knots do you use for the 2′ 12lbs Maxima section?

    Reply
  13. Hello Domenick., I enjoyed reading your article. 1) You suggest for the final last section of the leader to be 4-6’ — 4X fluorocarbon tippet! This is correct but not a rule.
    The length of the 4X section is always relative to the depth of the pool or the stream we are fishing.

    When fishing in skimpy water, here in the Italian Alps, we often use the two nymphs but we vary the length of the tippet. When fishing the shallow depth, then have to shorten the distance from the sighter to intermediate to as little as 30 cm. From the mid-fly to point fly it can be 50 cm; that makes a total of 75 cm in tippet. What matters in Euronymphing is not to drag the nymph on rocks and get them stuck but help the point nymph to hop and bounce on the bottom and move with current.
    The position of the two nymphs must also vary depending on the type of current. We can fish the heavier nymph in the mid fly and the smallest as the lead fly in order to avoid getting the nymphs stock and reduce the drag.

    Last but not least, the tip of the rod move ahead of the nymphs in the current; letting the sighter forming an L on teh surface. This helps moving the nymphs right into the trout’s mouth and detect the slightest bite. Tight lines. Alex, Sud Tirol, Italy

    Reply
    • Thanks Alex.

      There certainly are many, many specifics that I’ve had to leave out to fit into one (relatively) short blog post, here.

      Much of what you mentioned above can be found in other posts here as well. I’ve cover a lot of it, and I’ll keep posting more. That’s the only way, really, on a blog. Small bits at a time.

      Thanks for the addition. I especially like your mention of allowing the sighter to lie on the water. I don’t do that very much, but I suspect we are fishing different water types. Also, I employ indicators at times for such a thing.

      Good stuff, Alex.

      Reply
  14. I’m kind of late to this thread, but I was wondering if you know how Joe Humphreys rigged his nymph leaders. Did he fish more than one nymph? If so, did he use droppers? I know that he used lead, but I’m not sure exactly where he placed the lead in relation to his flies.

    I ask because I just want to know, but also because I think that one of Humphrey’s main innovations was his insistence on the importance of the tuck cast. It would be interesting to evaluate nymph rigs on how well they allow you to execute a tuck cast.

    Reply
    • Alex, I like how you’re always thinking about this stuff. Me too.

      Yeah, I fished the Humphreys/Harvey system for a long, long time. You can find all the answers to your questions and more in his book Trout Tactics. It’s a real gem.

      Yes, he recommends fishing two nymphs, top one on a tag dropper. He recommends both weighted flies and split shot. The shot is usually placed in the middle of the two flies, but can be placed closer to the point nymph for a deeper ride.

      The tuck cast is another crucial element to a good nymphing system. I should do an article on it. The tuck cast allows us to shoot the nymphs into the water instead of laying them in the water. Entering at a vertical angle like that allows for some slack in the system, and that’s a good thing — the nymph can sink quicker and look natural.

      The leader I detailed above tucks casts well. Honestly, most leaders tuck cast very well. If you stop the rod tip hard and high — and keep it there — you get a pretty solid tuck cast. It’s about power. If you can develop the power from the rod and transfer that through the leader, the power eventually gets to the end of the line and forces the nymphs to kick down. I think there’s a misconception that tuck casts cause the nymphs to tuck back UNDER the line itself. In my experience, that rarely happens. In fact, it only happens (slightly) when you use a very short leader and fly line. In reality, the tuck cast with most leaders (with or without fly line) causes the nymphs to enter the water vertically.

      I use the tuck cast a lot.

      Reply
  15. Domenick,
    This was an interesting article. However, if I am reading things correctly, you are actually fishing with a mono leader that in it’s entirety, is approximately 50 feet long. A leader of that length will definitely be breaking PA fishing regulations, at least in Catch and Release fly-fishing waters:

    058 PA Code § 65.14. Catch and release fly-fishing only.
    (b) It is unlawful to fish in waters designated and posted as catch and release fly-fishing only except in compliance with the following requirements:
    (2) Fishing shall be done with tackle which is limited to fly rods, fly reels and fly line with a maximum of 18 feet in leader material or monofilament line attached.

    I would like to give this method a try, but will need to be mindful of the waters I am using it on here in PA.

    Tim

    Reply
    • Hi Tim,

      For clarity, the leader above is not 50 feet, but about 35 feet, and that’s the length I most often fish with.

      However, I take your point, and whether 35, 20 or 50 feet long, any leader over 18 feet is over the allowed length for PA Catch and Release, Fly Fishing Only waters.

      The miles of water with that regulation in PA is very small. I fish only one of them regularly. The state tends to move away from the tackle restrictions and more toward strict C&R All-Tackle (which I think is a good thing).

      Anyway, if you want to be legal in the C&R FF Only waters, it’s very simple to just cut the butt section back to meet the requirement. When you’re back to regular water, then swap out for a longer butt section again. This is not a lengthy process and you can do it in about a minute. No joke. I swap out leader and butt sections all the time. Here’s a Troutbitten article about the way to do it.

      https://troutbitten.com/2017/03/21/get-me-back-to-my-fly-connecting-and-disconnecting-the-mono-rig/

      Make sense?


      Dom

      Reply
    • Update on PA’s fishing regulation on leader length: They removed the length threshold and now you can use longer leaders over 18ft.

      Reply
      • That’s great. Will you please link me to that information, Daryll?

        Thank you.
        Dom

        Reply
  16. Hi Domenick,
    I really appreciate you sharing your mono rig formula. I have a goal to improve my nymph game this season after focusing too much on drys and swinging soft hackles. I have looked but I can’t find Amnesia in less than 15lb…even at TCO. It appears they don’t make it anymore. Do you have a recommendation for a substitute?

    Reply
    • Hi Dan,

      Yeah, TCO doesn’t have the smaller diameters right now. You can find it here though: this link always has it:

      https://www.ebay.com/usr/heartland_surplus?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

      However, yes, you can substitute any colored mono for the sighter. Whatever works for you. Whatever you see well. Any of the indicator / bi-color mono sold in fly shop is a good choice too.

      Le me know how it works out.


      Dom

      Reply
  17. Hi Domenick,
    I have the Daniels book and tried his techniques for the first time last summer. Quick question, do you remove the fly line completely from the reel? Thanks,
    Brian

    Reply
      • Thanks for the response!!! I’ve been reading through your website all day, while I should be working. Ha!! Fantastic information. I grew up here in Colorado and was taught to fly fish by my dad 30 years ago. He won’t even look at a nymph, so I’ve always considered myself a dry fly purist. Daniels book changed my tune last summer. I must admit I have a lot to learn, but your site is awesome. Bought a troutbitten sticker to put on my old Landcruiser.
        Brian

        Reply
  18. I enjoyed your article very much thanks! However the links at the end don’t work…
    Euro Nymphing 101: Part 1
    Euro Nymphing 101: Part 2
    Euro Nymphing 101: Part 3

    Reply
    • Thanks, Gregor.

      Well, the links from here work, but the page moved. I’ll talk to Devin about it. Thanks again.

      Reply
  19. Hi. Late to the discussion, but can you clarify exactly where all the tippet rings are in your mono rig? Thanks.

    Reply
  20. A few questions about backing barrels:

    1. With this rig, do you usually use two backing barrels with the mono rig- an orange one on the two tone 1X as a sighter, and a (black or orange?) one on the upper section of your tippet for a slideable dry-dropper setup?

    2. Since you are only using a single piece of 4x or 5x for the tippet, doesn’t the backing barrel holding the dry dropper slide down the tippet when you take a fish on the dry?

    3. Have you come to any conclusions about whether an orange barrel on the tippet spooks fish from taking the dry?

    Reply
    • Hi Ivar. Cool questions.

      1. Yes, two backing barrels, just as you described.

      2. I actually use two pieces of tippet. The top piece is about two feet. So I have a two foot range for sliding the indy or dry dropper.

      3. Yes. Sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn’t. When I really want them to take the dry, I use black backing, though.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Got it- thanks. You might want to consider updating all your instances of the Mono Rig formula on the blog, since they just describe a single piece of 4-6’, 4 or 5X tippet, instead of 2 pieces (and a barrel), which is what led to my confusion.

        Upper section of tippet is usually 3X, or same dia as lower?

        Do you find you use a 3rd nylon barrel above the fly to hold shot in place often enough to warrant leaving one on, or just add it whenever needed – I.e. shot is slipping down?

        Reply
        • Well, the formula above is the my standard formula. Everything is a spin off of that. There are plenty of times that I roll with exactly what is above — it’s the standard for me.

          What get’s confusing is trying to explain all of the variations and the reasons for each! HA! Because a lot of them are really kind of personal preference and are specific variations designed to accomplish something specific for my waters or my situation. I think everyone has things like that, once you’ve been doing it for a long time.

          Regarding the upper section — if I plan to add a sliding indy or a dry dropper a lot, then I often go 4x as the first 2 feet and 5x as the rest of the tippet.

          I do use the barrel, at time, to keep shot from sliding. But these days I prefer to use shot that doesn’t slide, or I often just use a figure 8 knot as a stopper.

          Gotta love how there’s a hundred different ways to do the same things.

          Reply
          • For sure! Endless options. Thanks a lot for all your responses.

  21. Great website! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I have a question about the leader formula. Why do you stop down from the 20# Maxima Chameleon to to a 12# Maxima Chameleon and then go back up again to 15# Red Amnesia? I’m used to leader formulas always tapering from higher to lower. Is this a typo?

    Reply
    • Hi Andrew. No, it’s not a typo. The 15lb Red Amnesia closely matches the diameter and flexibility of 12lb Chameleon. That’s what matters, really. The listed breaking strength is not important at that point in the leader.

      Make sense?

      Reply
      • That makes perfect sense. Thanks!

        Reply
  22. The “simple” mono rig seems to have many segments when it should probably be only 2-4 segments at most (including a sighter). Is it really necessary to have a 2′, 6″,8″, 10″, and 20″ segments? Why not a more simplified rig?

    Reply
    • Hi Daryll,

      Nope. It’s certainly not necessary to have the extra sections. Your leader may change through the years, as mine has above. I purposely have updated the formula in the above article as I’ve adapted it through the years.

      The extra sections in my rig are in the sighter. You could go straight to the 1x bi-color or thinner, but then you wouldn’t see it real well. You could just use 12 lb Amnesia for the sighter, but that’s pretty thick and stiff for a full time sighter.

      The rig above is not just for tight line nymphing. I use the Mono Rig for a whole bunch of things, (even though that’s not simple).

      I couldn’t explain all of that in the article above, so I did it through the years under a slew of articles about the Mono Rig.

      https://troutbitten.com/the-mono-rig/

      If you read through those articles, you’ll get an idea of why the sighter above is multiple sections like that. You’ll see that, at times, I take away the 1X bi-color because I want a stiffer tippet. There’s a good reason for it. You’ll see that, at times, I clip off everything from the sighter and down, and I replace it with another pre-rigged section with a different sighter and two streamers.

      Nope. None of that is simple. But I particularly enjoy the details in things. I like discovering and exploring options and then adapting my rigs to incorporate those newfound modifications and possibilities.

      If you want simple, then just go with one piece for a sighter in the above formula. It’ll work. It’s simple, and you might love it. I don’t know how you could put together a very usable 2 piece Mono Rig, as you suggest, but why not try it?

      Happy exploring.

      Dom

      Reply
  23. Just curious as to the types of knots that you are using for your leaders…blood?

    Reply
    • Hi Daryll. Yeah, blood knots are the cleanest. I use double surgeon’s and Orvis tippet knots in tippet sections. Blood knots for everything else.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  24. I tried out the mono rig for the first time this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, I was Euro nymphing and, while my strike detection was excellent, I wasn’t getting a good hook set and 3 out of 4 trout came unbuttoned pretty quickly. On Sunday afternoon, the same thing happened for my first two or three fish. I realized what was happening. Before, when I had fly line between the index and middle finger of my rod hand (with a little fly line hanging out the tip top before the connection to the leader), it was fairly easy to set the hook firmly just by raising the rod and squeezing the line between my fingers. With the 20 lb chameleon, however, the mono was sliding between my fingers when I struck and I wasn’t getting a good hook set. I solved this by keeping the mono between my fingers, but in addition I squeezed the mono between the heel of my palm and the cork grip.

    I brought the next five trout to hand for my best total of 2019. Not only was the strike detection much better with mono, but when fighting the fish I felt like I knew what they were going to do before the trout did and had a much easier time manipulating them. Thanks for this great tip and I look forward to trying the mono rig out on streamers.

    Reply
  25. So I finally had a chance to make your mono rig. I’ve noticed compared to other euronymph leaders it feels and casts much more like a dry fly leader. Was this on purpose?
    Also I’ve read your piece on tenkara and was wondering if you’ve ever tried just straight tenkara-quality fluorocarbon in 2.5 or 3.5 with a small sighter at the end. And what your thoughts were on it?

    Reply
    • Hi there.

      Yeah, somewhat on purpose. I like to get fly line style performance from the Mono Rig. I don’t like to lob. I like to cast, and I NEED the leader to accommodate many variations and styles. Here’s a couple other articles that explain some of the material choices:

      https://troutbitten.com/2018/01/24/ask-an-expert-for-euro-nymphing-or-the-mono-rig-what-leader-material-do-you-like-for-the-butt-section/

      https://troutbitten.com/2019/01/02/fly-fishing-the-mono-rig-thicker-leaders-cast-more-like-fly-line/

      Yes, I have tried Tenkara lines for the butt section. I didn’t like them, but I encourage you to give them a try. I felt that they sagged more, per diameter, and they sink a little too much for my liking. Although I prefer to have my leader off the water, there are times when it must touch.

      Make sense?

      Dom

      Reply
      • Why two tippets for the monorig?

        Reply
        • Hmmm. I don’t know what you mean, Gerardo. I list 4X or 5X. You could, of course use 6X as well.

          Reply
          • Dom< Have you ever tried using a leader of furled/twisted mono. Say 24' of 8 or 10 lb mono furled/twisted using 2 strands then progress down somewhat like your recommend formula.

          • Hi James,

            Thanks for the question.

            I’ve used furled mono as you describe as a sighter. You can find that here:

            https://troutbitten.com/2018/04/05/fly-fishing-strategies-sighters-seven-separate-tools/

            But I’ve never used it for a butts section. What are you thinking may be the advantages? Having worked with furled sections like that, I think it would be problematic — harder to pick up off the water, holding some water, poor shooting in the guides, and lower strength per diameter.

            Thoughts?

            Dom

          • Dom, I’m relative new at this but really enjoy reading your stuff. Always trying to invent the wheel aren’t we. ha.

          • Heh. I mean why two tippet rings?

  26. Hey,
    Super inspired by your articles. Ive been working on my tying for my tightline fishing and was wondering what flies you recommend? In SO VT and currently tying copper johns and princes.
    Regards!

    Reply
  27. Hi Dom & fellow anglers,
    For some reason, trying to find 20lb Maxima Chameleon is really tough around these parts where I live. One of the guys at the local fly shop told me that there’s only one supplier and they run out all the time. Anyway, the stores around me do have all the other sizes available. Question…Should I buy the next size up (25) or go one size down (15) for the long 24′ length on my mono rig? Thanks for the help. Barry

    Reply
  28. Another outstanding read Dominic! Your information is very valuable and taken to heart and very seriously. Being born and raised on Spring Creek as well as catching my first fish at the young age of 2, (fall fish, I kept for 4 days in a baggie in my room) I thought I new ALL of the tricks for those wary trout. Boy have I been schooled. Keep up this great page!

    Reply
  29. Hey Dom,
    What was your original formula post which involved the 15lb Amnesia? That one worked well for me but I need to build another.

    Reply
    • Hi Travis.

      Sub 122 lb Chameleon for the 10 lb Chameleon. And split the red piece into half 15 lb and half 12 lb. The main difference is in ease of turnover when fishing tight line dry dropper or Dorsey.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  30. Hio Domenick

    For the 24′ butt section, would using 20lb stren at (.018 diameter) be a good substitute for the 20lb chameleon, or is there a significant difference between them?

    Reply
  31. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful experience and knowledge, Domenick. Following your site has really taken my fishing to a new level.

    Question on mono rig longevity – how long do you use your rig before tying up a new one? I’ve noticed that the Maxima Chameleon has quite a lot of memory after being on the reel for a bit, and if I don’t remember to pull out all 26′ of it and give the mono a serious stretch before getting on the water, there is significant slack left between the guides that makes tight lining and strike detection difficult. So much so that I’ve dropped the 24′ section of 20 lb down to 15′ or so because that much kinked up mono can be a real pain to stretch out while trying to not create a rat’s nest, especially if you’re streamside.

    Do you have a general rule of thumb for length of time on the reel before replacing the rig with fresh mono?

    Thanks much!

    Reply
    • Hi Logan,

      Three things there:

      First, I ALWAYS stretch the butt section at the beginning of every trip. But don’t do it streamside. Do it while standing in moving water — then you won’t get any tangles. Once it’s stretched to the max (pulling on every three feet) Chameleon remains flat the whole day for me.

      https://troutbitten.com/2017/07/19/tight-line-tips-stop-mono-pull-fly-reel/

      Second, if you shorten your butt section, you will also limit the things you can do with the Mono Rig. That’s fine, just be aware that you are limiting your length for shotting streamers or tight line to the indy techniques at much distance.

      Third, my leaders last a very long time. I have no time line, really. It’s usually when I get some random knot in there from poor handling that causes me to scrap it. I don’t want ANY knots in the guides.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks man! Good tip on stretching the rig while standing in moving water, why the heck didn’t I think of that! Just gotta make sure to do that before the bugs get tied on, so you don’t curse the coils AND two snagged nymphs 30′ away. You’re right about the limits of the shorter butt section, if I can better handle the coils I’ll switch back to full length. Thanks for all your support and knowledge sharing to the fly fishing community.

        Reply
  32. HI Dom, I really enjoyed all your articles and fishing tips and appreciate all your time to post all the expert information for every one to have more fun while catching more fish. I have read your article about the Mono Rig and the formulas, and thanks for posting that so I don’t have to experiment. You mentioned to read Devin Olsens 3 part series on Euro Nymphing 101 Parts 1,2,and 3. Well I clicked on your links and it seems they are not available anymore. Could you repost or give a link to where I could read the articles first to better understand the concept which I feel I do now but would like to learn more. I am retired and would like to spend more time on the rivers and streams and would like to try the mono rig this spring or 2021 and beyond. Thanks again for all your articles they are great and very informational and easy to follow. Thank You

    Al

    Reply
  33. I’m just getting into TLN. I don’t understand why you recommend such a long tippet (i.e. 36 inches) for the tag fly on your standard rig. The Dynamic Nymphing book has a large number of suggested rigs and the longest recommended tippet for the tag fly is 10 inches (most are 4-6″). Doesn’t your recommended 36 inches just invite stupendous tangles? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Steve,

      Oh my, I think you read that wrong. That’s 36 inches to the first fly and another 20 to the point fly. Tag goes at the junction. Make sense?

      I like the tags about 5 inches, on average. And you’re right — a 36 inch tag would just be impossible!!

      More on tags and trailers here:

      https://troutbitten.com/2016/03/18/tags-and-trailers/

      Hope that helps.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      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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