Tips/Tactics

The Mono Rig and Why Fly Line Sucks (Updated)

on
February 3, 2016

For presenting nymphs and streamers to river trout, fly line sucks. There, I said it. Now I have to defend it.

Most underwater deliveries require weight, and using a very long, monofilament leader to cast that weight is more efficient than using fly line; it keeps you in better contact with the flies, and you’ll catch more fish. I’m talking about leaders with butt sections of 20 feet or more. For all but the most lengthy casts, the fly line never comes off the reel, and the thick monofilament butt section essentially substitutes for fly line while casting, drifting and retrieving — it just weighs a lot less.

— — — — — —

***UPDATE***

I wrote this article in the winter of 2016, and it immediately caught fire, provoking much conversation and even some intense controversy (which seems kinda silly). The interest showed me how hungry people are for this information, so I kicked off a series of articles detailing how and where I learned about the Mono Rig, what we use it for and how it developed into a full system. (Links to those articles are provided at the conclusion of this one.)

Among the hundreds of questions I’ve fielded about the Mono Rig, these two are the most frequently asked:

Isn’t this just like spin fishing?

No. Spin fishing for trout is most often performed with thin monofilament lines. Fly fishing is traditionally done with a relatively thick and heavy fly line, then a tapered leader. The #20 monofilament used for the Mono Rig functions somewhere in between those extremes. It has some properties and abilities of both spinning line and fly line. It’s still castable like a fly line because it has enough mass to carry itself and some lightweight flies to the water, but it’s light enough not to sag too much. In essence, the Mono Rig is a fly line substitute.

Is using the Mono Rig the same as Euro nymphing?

No. What my Troutbitten friends and I call the Mono Rig is a full system for both tight line and indicator nymphing styles (weighted flies and split shot), and for streamers and dry flies,  all while using #20 monofilament as a fly line substitute.

— — — — — —

In a previous article, I detailed the Tight Line Nymph Rig and why it works, and I strongly recommend reading through the tight line post before this one. So if you’re going as far as a tight line nymph rig, why not go further?

I’m qualifying my proposition here by saying the long Mono Rig is better for almost all underwater presentation — just to leave the door open a bit, and because taking away fly line is shocking to some and appalling to others.The same principles that make the Mono Rig so effective for tight line nymphing make it just as deadly for all other presentations of nymphs and streamers (for trout in rivers and streams), including nymphing under an indicator, and fishing large streamers at distance.

Some fly fishers will take a few steps back from this rig, drop their heads and shudder disapprovingly. That’s OK. Others will see this rig as too much bother — reluctant to change and adapt. If you’re the kind of angler who tries not to get too technical when you’re out there, and you just want to enjoy what happens, this isn’t for you. And that’s OK too.

Weight

The Mono Rig works, and why it works really isn’t complicated: it’s all about weight.

Fly line is heavy, so it sags off the rod tip, and it sags in the guides, causing drag by pulling back on the leader and the flies, resulting in a bad and unnatural drift. If you’re fishing fly line at distance, it lays in the water. Then you have to mend it, and then you’re no longer in touch, resulting in bad strike detection and lousy hook sets. By contrast, with a Mono Rig, long lengths of leader can be held off the water at some pretty remarkable distances; there is no need for mending, and you can stay in touch with the flies — that’s a fantastic thing in fly fishing.

Illustration by Dick Jones


Illustration by Dick Jones

All fishing casts happen because of weight. Spin fishing relies on the weight of a lure to pull line from a spool and carry it to a target. The original purpose of fly line was to push wet flies to the destination because the flies were too light to get there on their own. Dry flies are also a natural match for fly line (they need pushed toward the target), and lightly weighted nymphs and streamers can be presented exceptionally well with a fly line (especially if they are swung across and downstream).

But I would argue that the upstream, dead drift presentations of modern nymphing with weighted flies or split shot (and sometimes an indicator) is not the job for a fly line. The weight needed for the cast is already there — it’s in the weighted nymph, split shot, or the indicator itself — and using fly line for the cast just adds more weight. In essence, it creates a system that is fighting itself: the push of a fly line and the pull of the weighted nymphs are what create the clumsy, clunky cast that nymph fishermen eventually try to get used to. So why the hell are we fishing fly line?

A long Mono Rig solves the problem, and with a little time and practice, casting weighted rigs becomes much more elegant, accurate and efficient.

How to Do This

The more years you’ve spent casting fly line, the more awkward casting a Mono Rig might seem — but only for a short time. You can easily make the transition in a few outings by learning and implementing one key principle: take the wrist out of the cast. Loren Williams gave me that piece of the puzzle one wintry day on the banks of a good trout stream. He taught me to hold the rod with the index finger on top instead of the thumb on top (the finger points to the rod tip). Then, plant the butt end of the rod into the underside of the forearm, and cast the rod by bending the elbow, not the wrist. In fact, holding the rod like this completely disables the wrist; with very little effort, even lightly weighted flies will sail easily to the target.

In time, I’ve worked a little bit of the wrist back into my cast for certain situations, but the basic principle is still there; it’s far more important than any fancy rod will ever be (Mono Rigs are effectively cast on a wide variety of rod actions, weights and price tags). Just take the wrist out of the cast at first.

A common misconception about tight line nymphing rigs is that there’s no real casting involved — that it’s nothing more than lobbing and drifting, then lobbing and drifting again. That’s simply not true. The finesse of casting is still there (20# mono is a fly line substitute). I still make back casts, I can still tuck a cast tight under a tree limb, but with the Mono Rig I have the controlled precision to either drive my flies hard into the water (with a tuck cast), or land them with a subtle plop.

History

A decade ago, when I first saw this rig, I remember being absolutely amazed by the simple, obvious principles that make it work, and I’ve enjoyed sharing this revelation with friends ever since. Together, we’ve explored the possibilities and adapted it to other presentations.

We started to see fly line as a handicap. Burke often says that fly line is the biggest detriment to fly fishers, and it was Burke who took our tight line system and started fishing indicator rigs and streamers with it. He’ll tell you that it was out of pure laziness (that he just didn’t want to change leaders), but I give him the credit for discovering how effective it is. For years, I had fished indicators and dry-droppers fairly close on a tight line rig, and I routinely fished smaller streamers on the end of my line instead of nymphs, but Burke is the first person I saw using the long Mono Rig (on purpose) at longer distances with indicators and with larger streamers. It’s killer.

The long Mono Rig, however, is certainly not a Troutbitten creation. You can find it detailed in Joe Humphreys’ Trout Tactics, and I would assume that many others were using similar rigs through the years. (That’s fishing.) Humphreys used Cortland Cobra flat monofilament in place of fly line, eliminating drag and getting nymphs and streamers deep while maintaining contact and control. Eventually, he had Cortland manufacture what they marketed as the Deep Nymph Floating Line; a very thin running line of about .022” in diameter. I’ve used the line, but I prefer mono.

Fly Line Scale

This is a Scientific Anglers Air Cell fly line. The first ten feet of this four weight, double taper fly line weighs 2.9 grams. That’s great for  pushing dry flies , but it causes a lot of line sag while nymphing.

 

Chameleon Scale

By contrast, ten feet of #20 Maxima Chameleon weighs just .64 grams. It’s much thinner, lighter and stiffer than fly line. It would do a lousy job of pushing bushy dry flies through the air, but it’s an ideal choice for fishing weighted nymphs or streamers.

The specific material used for the butt section really doesn’t matter so much. If it’s significantly thinner than a regular fly line, then line sag and fly drag will be greatly reduced. I often experiment with different materials, but I keep coming back to Maxima Chameleon in #20 because it’s thin (.017″), yet it’s thick enough that it still handles well. With an easy pull, Maxima stretches out and the coils relax nicely, even in winter weather. With most thicker material, I’ve had more coiling problems than I want to deal with.

Some of my Troutbitten friends prefer Hends leaders or other brands of long, extruded leaders. The Hends leaders are nice; they feel a bit more like fly line. However, the butt diameters are a little too heavy for what I like. I’ve tried Stren, Berkley, Suffix, Amnesia (a flat monofilament), braided mono running line, Rio Slick Shooter, and a one-weight fly line. I keep coming back to Maxima Chameleon.

Chameleon at TCO

If you are hung up on the idea of using mono, then try one of the competition fly lines now available. They are much thinner and lighter than an average fly line and can come close to the performance of mono. Finding your own favorite material is part of the fun.

Rig

You can find tight line leader recipes from a variety of dependable sources (Dynamic Nymphing by George Daniel is one of the best). Some like to start with a standard 9’, manufactured, extruded leader and build from that, while others like to tie their own leaders from scratch. Whatever you choose, though, the long Mono Rigs I’m writing about here need to be long enough so the fly line rarely leaves the spool of your reel. I use a 24’, one-piece butt section in my leader so that the connection from leader to fly line rarely finds its way into my guides where it could hang up or slow down any shooting line during the cast. The 24’ butt section also assures that no fly line sag will occur in my rod guides while nymphing either. Remember, fly line sucks.

The rig I use for nymphing is listed below. If I add a suspender/indicator, I do so on the first few feet of the tippet section. If I want to fish larger streamers, I swap out everything from the sighter down (using Loon’s Rigging Foam) for another smaller but stronger sighter and a tippet section of 2X.

 

A Simple Mono Rig Formula

20-26 feet — 20lb Maxima Chameleon
2 feet — 12lb Maxima Chameleon
8” — 12lb Red Amnesia
8” — 10lb Gold Stren
8” — 10lb Green Amnesia
4-6’ — 4X or 5X fluorocarbon tippet

 

Amnesia in all diameters at TCO Fly Shop

This formula is basic because it doesn’t need to be complicated. Elaborate tapers with multiple sections aren’t necessary.

The Amnesia/Stren sections in this formula are the sighter. The specific materials you choose for the sighter portion of the leader is also unimportant. There are many good options, and these days companies make Bi-Color sighter material for this purpose.  I prefer to taper my sighter, but it’s not necessary. Just be sure to choose materials that you can see well.

Defense

I suspect I’ll take some flak about this long Mono Rig. “It’s not fly fishing!” is a pretty common response, and that’s fair. It’s certainly nontraditional, and even considering the current popularity of tight lining, euro-nymphing, and competition fishing styles, a long mono rig still raises eyebrows.

In my mind, fly fishing is defined in two parts: using flies, and retrieving by hand. What “flies” actually are is pretty blurry these days; beads, coneheads, molded heads and rubber fins on streamers are ubiquitous. Who cares? I say. Just fish what works. However, the line-retrieval aspect of fly fishing is more concrete. If you are cranking a reel handle after every cast to bring your offering back for the next cast, then you probably aren’t fly fishing.

Another common reaction to this rig is, “Why not just use a spinning rod?” That’s fair too. I’ve tried it, but it’s actually much less effective and a lot less fun. Retrieving by hand and using a long rod allows for more versatility and efficiency of presentation.

When I first saw the Mono Rig used for tight line nymphing, I was intrigued. When I first used it, I thought it was fun — and that’s where I’ve been ever since. I simply enjoy fishing the long Mono Rig because it presents me with more options for greater control over where my flies go and what they look like to the fish. And then I catch more trout.

Problems and More

Like anything else in fishing, there are untold numbers of intricacies, adaptation, and points to be made about this rig. I’ve addressed many of them on Troutbitten, and I’ll continue to add posts about the Mono Rig. There are specific challenges to be overcome: line coils must be handled, retrieves must be adapted, etc.

Tight line nymphing is the core tactic of the Mono Rig. But indicator fishing and streamer fishing are both dramatically improved by fishing with the long leader, and these two variations complete the set of techniques that I refer to as the Mono Rig. I’ve written about both, and you can find details at these links.

Tight Line Nymphing with an Indicator — A Mono Rig Variant

  • close range and at distance
  • suspender types
  • using the double haul
  • when to mend, how to mend
  • balance between weight of suspender and weight of flies
  • angles of drift, angles to nymphs
  • staying tight to the suspender

Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston go fly fishing — The Mono Rig for streamers … because fly line sucks

  • Big streamers and small streamers
  • Old-school vs modern streamer tactics
  • water haul and double haul
  • advantages over a floating line
  • advantages over sinking line
  • creating and using drag with the mono leader
  • cannonballs
  • shooting heads

If you’ve read to the end of this thesis, let me commend your persistence. You are my kind of fisherman, with a heart for exploration and a head full of questions.

One more thing: I don’t think I would start a new fly fisher off this way. There’s something very special about casting dries on a fly line that should not be missed.

 

** 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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62 Comments
  1. Reply

    Phil Sheffield

    February 3, 2016

    You nailed that one Dom….again! Can’t wait to adapt to this ‘same game’ but new approach to hooking more fish on a regular basis. I love casting a floating line but once it lands I am constantly fighting it. I have been doing this for so many years and all of this makes so much sense, I wonder why I didn’t try this myself out of desperation. Thank you!

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 3, 2016

      Sure thing, Phil. I hope it works out for you.

  2. Reply

    Don Norman

    February 3, 2016

    Well done….but you are probably going to get some flak on this. I began using a similar rig back in the 80s after Humphreys’s book came out. My first was 20-25# Cortland Cobra mono (flat) like Humphreys and a light, long tippet (think Humpreys used manufactured tapered leader on his) . You wouldn’t believe the criticism I got about it. I think most of it was due to fact I was catching more fish than my “Halfordized” fishing buddies. Anyway, a rig like yours or something close to what you have described works…..as far as I am concerned, the best rig to date for fishing nymphs in most waters, and I have tried a bunch of them. Not been long ago that an Amy’s Ant and many of the foam beetles popular today would have been illegal to use in many strictly regulated US trout streams. Ideas change, and the better ones usually prevail. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 4, 2016

      Thanks, Don. Did you ever fish streamers on your mono rig?

      • Reply

        Don Norman

        February 4, 2016

        No I didn’t, but you and John have me fired up to do just that. Looking forward to your future post describing your technique.

  3. Reply

    Jason Seaward

    February 4, 2016

    Hi Domenick,
    Great post! Thanks for going into more detail and expanding upon your previous posts. I can see how you might catch some flack from purist/traditionalists, but I appreciate how it does not deter from your willingness to address obvious fly fishing issues. The sport can only evolve with people willing to think outside the box and be willing to experiment. All commonly used aspect of fly fishing today started with someone catching flack (ie, streamers, terrestrials, Spey rods, strike indicators, loop to loop connectors).
    Thanks and looking forward to the future posts!
    Jason

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 4, 2016

      Thanks for the kind words, Jason.

  4. Reply

    Walter Fenning

    February 4, 2016

    Hi Domenick,
    I am transitioning to a nymphing technique similar to yours. I am intrigued with how far you have taken this, and this will give me a leap forward in my progression. I use streamers often, and now have the courage to try them on a long leader.
    Have you tried giving up on fly line altogether?
    Great blog,
    Walter

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 4, 2016

      Hi, Walter. I use the mono rig a lot. In fact, I use it for most everything except for dry flies. Even for a lot of hatches, I like to fish nymphs, so I often use a dry dropper set up on the mono rig, and if I have the balance right between weight of the nymph and wind resistance of the fly, I can fish the dry dropper pretty far off. There are certainly times, though, where I switch to a regular length leader and let the fly line do the work of pushing the dry out there to get the distance. I also use a fly line and shorter leader to swing wets at night ….. usually. Thanks for the question, and good luck with your experimenting.

  5. Reply

    rivertoprambles

    February 4, 2016

    I enjoyed this start to finish because, frankly, it’s new to my experience and employs some strategies that make you think (always a good thing, no matter what we’re studying or experimenting with). I’m interested enough to want to try the mono rig and, if it feels right to me and shows advantages over the traditional fly line approach, it could be killer. Thanks for a fine thesis.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 5, 2016

      It’s not for everyone, but it certainly has its benefits. I hope it works out for you, and I hope you enjoy the process. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Reply

    Phil Sheffield

    February 5, 2016

    There are a lot of positive comments popping up on Facebook in addition to what is showing up here. The ‘Like’ count is growing in multitudes! Many of our competition fishermen are adding positive vibes. I do not see any “flack’ anywhere. Here in CT there are anglers that have been fishing this method for a long time and the accompanying images of rather large fish are proof positive and astounding! Thanks again Dom. You started something good….and we like it. Looking forward to more.

  7. Reply

    Marc Fauvet

    February 5, 2016

    hi Domenick,
    first off i’d like to say that i thoroughly enjoy your posts and i’m super-glad i discovered your blog.
    as you say, the ‘mono’ fishing style for any subsurface fishing isn’t new, around here (France) its rather the norm where amateurs picked it up from the high-level comp scene 10-15 years ago. most haven’t figured out how effective this is with streamers but streamer fishing is typically shunned anyway… (their loss)
    anyhow, most of this info has either been hush-hush or only available through books and good on you for putting all this out to the general public.
    there is however a little something that i’d like to point out that doesn’t make sense. i hope you don’t mind ? (if you do just delete my comment, no sweat)
    it’s about casting in the ‘traditional’ sense and fly lines pushing flies towards the target.
    that’s simply not possible. makes for a good analogy. i hope that makes sense? when casting a fly line the line pulls the leader and flies. they trail behind the fly line until turnover and at that point its exactly the same as a mono rig turning over at the rod tip.
    in fact, as you wrote above, casting-wise there’s no real difference between casting a mono leader or a fly line because the physics are the same. we’re just doing slight variants of the same casting stroke.
    once again, i hope that’s ok.
    cheers,
    marc

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 5, 2016

      Hi Marc. Thanks for the comment. I follow the the limp cobra too. Great blog!

      I precisely understand your point, and it’s a good one. It would be hard to argue against the idea that the fly line is pulling and not pushing when you look at it that way. So, I don’t disagree, I simply look at it differently.

      I tend to think of where the cast starts, let’s say, at the rod tip. And the way I look at it, the rod tip starts the push of the fly line, and pushing continues at the apex of the loop in the line throughout the cast. Eventually, that fly line pushes the leader forward, but (most importantly) pushes a dry fly to the end. The reason I use the pushing vs pulling analogy in the first place is to make the distinction between dry flies (or very light, unweighted, or wind resistant flies) needing to be assisted (or pushed in my view) to the target, rather than the weight of a heavy nymph pulling some monofilament along behind it.

      That said, I can absolutely see why you think of fly line as pulling, and I like considering the distinction. Physics may be on your side, but I’m not even so sure about that. I’m also not so sure that “you can’t push on a string.” Fly line is no ordinary string. 🙂 And, in my view of the situation, the mass of line behind the tip of the taper is what is pushing it to accelerate (caused by the rod tip). Fun stuff, huh?

      • Reply

        Marc Fauvet

        February 5, 2016

        yup, fun indeed ! in regards to casting stuff its the whole thinking process brought on by all of us that later generates different thoughts on other aspects, how we percieve them, try them out and how we can later use them to be more efficient on the water that really does it for me. (i know, that sounded a little hippiesh but i can’t help it… 😆 ) in other words maybe, we all have a whole bunch to learn from each other and that’s one of the most fantasic aspects of the blogosphere.
        i understand your push/pull analogy but i can’t really see it that way but that’s more than ok 🙂
        thanks a bunch for the kind words regarding TLC, that means a lot.
        looking forward to more of your good stuff.
        take care,
        marc

  8. Reply

    Marc Fauvet

    February 5, 2016

    oops, -one can’t push a string- got deleted because i put it between brackets and i can’t edit. it should have gone after ‘that’s simply not possible’. sorry. 🙂

  9. Reply

    flyfishxprt

    February 8, 2016

    Around here in Utah anglers have used mono lines for fly fishing pretty much since monofilament became widely available after WWII. First it was used on bamboo flyrods with flies, bait and lures interchangably. By the early 50s many used spin tackle the same way. It was referred to as bounce fishing since weight was put on the very bottom and flies or other bait put on droppers above. The rig was cast up and across stream and allowed to bounce along the bottom with the current. If it stopped or wiggled funny, the hook was set. Many variations are used today.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 8, 2016

      Thanks for the input, flyfishxprt. Yup, the rig we use is similar to a bounce rig in some ways. I love that there’s always new things to learn and ways to improve.

  10. Reply

    Robert "Dreadkara" Dickerson

    February 10, 2016

    Why not just use a centerpin set up???

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 10, 2016

      Hi Robert. The short answer is that I like the versatility of the fly rod, and I enjoy using it.

      Have you ever fished a centerpin setup? I haven’t, so I can’t confidently speak to the advantages or disadvantages. However, I don’t think it would be a good rig for casting and retrieving streamers, and I’m certain that it would not work for dries.

      On many days, I alternate between dries, streamers, and nymphs, and I would not want to give up that versatility.

      Thanks for the question.

  11. Reply

    Robert "Dreadkara" Dickerson

    February 13, 2016

    Thanks for the reply. Wish you could go into detail about the versatility and a video would be great too. I’m interested in your take. Plus it would save me money from gettin the centerpin rig seeing as I already have the fly rods and switch rod rigs. 😉

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 13, 2016

      Robert, I don’t see a video in the near future, but there are a ton of great resources on the web for learning to nymph with a tight line method. Some of those resources are linked to in our recent articles.

      In the next few weeks I’ll probably write a little more about using the mono rig for indicators and streamers, but the best thing to do is just go out there and start casting. There’s nothing all that tricky about it.

      And with the fly rod, I can change to a standard leader in a few moments and be throwing dries with traditional fly line.

      • Reply

        Robert "Dreadkara" Dickerson

        February 13, 2016

        Thanks Domenick, great info.

  12. Reply

    Tworod

    February 21, 2016

    I fished in this manner over 30 years ago. Though extremely effective, I eventually gave it up for greater versatility. I found that the two best lines were Dai Riki shooting line and the running line portion of the old SA Mono Core fly line. The Dai Riki shooting line from Bailey’s was stiffer than the leader material and actually cast well but the running line was the best. Thicker than mono but handled very well and didn’t cut into your fingers as readily. It was a great line for fishing tight line with stonefly nymphs on the Big Hole and Madison.

  13. Reply

    Jerry

    March 26, 2016

    Can you give some details on how you use this setup for streamer fishing… I currently am using this setup for Nymphing but also like to streamer fish….

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      March 30, 2016

      Hi, Jerry. Yeah I’ll eventually put that post together. It’s on a long list of things to write about. Best piece of advice I can give you is to use a weighted streamer and go out there and start slinging it. You’ll see that the weight carries the leader to the target, just like spin casting. However, you get to enjoy the benefits of the fly rod, hand lining, and line pickup and recast without a full retrieval.

  14. Reply

    Steve

    April 4, 2016

    Mono is by far the best for nymphing! I have tried using about 20 feet before but I had problems with the mono get stuck under my fly line but when I’m nymphing I will add like 5 or 6 feet of tippet on to get down and reduce drag. I have a few friends that take the plunge and go staight mono which they do great with. In high fast deep water where the fish are on the bottom and the currents are conflicting this is really the only way to go. I don’t believe you can get the fly line down without drag even using the best sink tip. As far as the definition of fly fishing goes, I wouldn’t know because I’ve never used a real fly to fish with or have never fished for flys. I used to be crazy about trying to think of what real deal traditional fly fishing really is, now I just keep it simple and fish without bobbers!

  15. Reply

    E. Shannon

    April 11, 2016

    Domenick,

    I recently listened to the Orvis “Lord Of The Flies” podcast which covered tight line nymphing and Googled tight line nymphing afterward to better understand what a sighter was and looked like. You’ve done such a nice job of explaining and illustrating the method and I’m excited to give it a try. It makes a lot of sense and addresses some of the concerns I have had this season regarding traditional nymphing.

    One thought keeps coming up as I read through this post, and perhaps it is a topic worth addressing in another post: Would Tenkara style lend itself well to tight line nymphing? Consistent with this post, it seems it would, as “Fly line sucks” and Tenkara uses no fly line. In addition, the adjustable telescoping length of Tenkara seems like it would allow for greater flexibility in fishing across multiple currents with less drag and more depth control in varying levels of stream height.

    Thanks,
    Erhin

  16. Reply

    Ryan Calhoun

    April 20, 2016

    The mono rig really interests me, I feel like it would solve most of my issues when tightlining.

    I built a leader using your specs, and I have serious issues with coiling. How do you overcome this? I straightened the entire leader when I built it then reeled it up on my reel. When I get to the stream and peal out a few feet off the reel to fish its just a mess. After I get the small section straightened out, everytime I want to bring more line out I always have to restraighten it with a leader straightener. It becomes more of a pain then it helps.

    The only chameleon in the red color that I wanted was in #25, do you think the extra #5 really makes that much of a difference in coils?

    Any help or tips?

    Thanks a lot, I really enjoy reading this blog.

    -Ryan
    Altoona, PA

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      April 20, 2016

      Hi Ryan. There are a couple things to try. A large arbor reel helps. I’m not sure what you are using for the butt section. Please email me domenick@troutbitten.com

  17. Reply

    Chad Coontz

    May 7, 2016

    Just now ran across your blog and this post. As a nymph angler I’m intrigued. I’m an indicator guy (bobber). Very rarely do I fish at long distances. I’ve also switched over to 10′ rods for nymphing. Am I correct in saying that I can remove the 24″ of sighter out of the equation and find the right indicator for the job? Ultimately, it’s the 20′ of straight mono that’s the focus of this rig. Keep up the informative posts on this subject.
    Thanks, Chad!

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      May 7, 2016

      Hi, Chad. Thanks for the comment.

      Yeah, you could take the sighter out, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You will find it extremely beneficial to be able to see where your line is above the indicator. Generally, you want to keep it up off the water and stay tight to the indicator. The sighter helps with that.

      I’d also suggest giving tight lining a try if you’re feeling ambitious. A good tight line game really improves the indicator game. You learn things from each tactic that apply to the other.

      Cheers.

  18. Reply

    Bob

    July 14, 2016

    Where can I purchase the 12lb and 8lb amnesia
    For the sighted?

  19. Reply

    Michael G Vaughn

    August 28, 2016

    By God, I think this is for me! I already ordered all the stuff to knot this setup together and get busy. Many thanks for making me think again …… 250savage

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      August 28, 2016

      Nice. Let me know how it goes. It’s a little odd at first, but stick with it. Email me if you like.

  20. Reply

    Chuck

    November 14, 2016

    Will mono work with a smaller 7.5 foot rod? I like to fish small brushy SE Appalachian streams. I switched from spinning to fly fishing about 3 years ago but every technique I’ve tried for nymph fishing on the bottom basically sucks in my opinion. I remember going into the local Orvis shop and the guy described a bobber/beadhead/split shot rig and I thought are you kidding me? I should be using a spinning rod for this. My initial thought on using mono was as you mentioned, that a spinning rod would be better. But I was encouraged when you said you tried the spinning rod and like the fly rod better.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      November 16, 2016

      Well, they are two really different approaches. I like the fly rod because it’s so versatile. I want that on a trout stream, especially on a small stream where I know I’m going to want to throw dries at some point.

      About whether it’ll work on a small stream: I think you’ll struggle to get the mono rig working on a small and brushy stream, especially with a 7.5′ rod. You said small and brushy, so I’m thinking about my favorite brookie streams that are rarely wider than 15 feet and usually smaller — the kind of places where I’m crawling around a lot. In such a situation, I would fish dry or dry-dropper. I struggle too much with the mono rig when there’s not enough room to sling it around. You need some room for that.

      • Reply

        chuck

        November 28, 2016

        For me it’s the opposite. I feel my spinning rod is more versatile since I can fish so many completely different baits. But I like my fly rod better, it’s just that if I can’t catch them on a dry/dropper I don’t feel like there’s too many other options. By the way I’d say I’ve caught at least 90% of my trout on a dry/dropper.

  21. Reply

    Joe

    February 6, 2017

    Hi Dom,

    I have a couple of deep eddy lines that are productive during high water. Fish 6-8′ deep. Can’t get that close to it due to the depth.

    I’ve been fishing it with a bobber, but I’m wondering if it would work to tight line it. Does anything about these conditions make you think it wouldn’t work well?

    I’ve played with it but not successfully and I’m curious if someone more proficient would have more success.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      February 7, 2017

      Joe, you said you can’t get close to it, so I think you might have trouble tight lining it. If you CAN get close enough, then yeah I would tight line it. Might want to run a drop shot rig. I do that a lot when I figure I’m going to hang on the bottom and can’t retrieve the flies. The drop shot will save your flies, usually. You could just run a heavy point fly instead though.

      If you can’t reach it, then I would try tight lining the bobber. Maybe you are already doing this: I attach the bobber to the top of my tippet section, and I adjust it up or down there as conditions dictate. That way, only my tippet section is under water — no taper. I make the cast (with the mono rig and no fly line), and I do my best to keep the line OFF the water, staying tight to the bobber when possible. The bobber is tight to the flies, and you are tight to the bobber.

      Does that make sense, Joe?

  22. Reply

    Joe

    March 15, 2017

    It does make sense thanks. Sorry I missed your reply for a while.

    Another question you probably have answered somewhere but, why not run only mono or 60′ so you never see the end of it?

    Thanks
    Btw been watching Devin and Lance’s video, really well done and super informative. Thanks for the recommendation, you should get a commission!

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      March 16, 2017

      Hey Joe, I’m really happy to hear that it’s working out for you.

      To answer your question, I don’t spool up 60 feet of mono for one main reason … because I also like to switch to a standard leader and fish fly line. And when I switch out leaders, I don’t want to roll up 60 feet of mono. So I just use a butt section that’s long enough that I will rarely have fly line off the spool. For me, that’s about 24 feet of butt section, then the rest of my leader.

      Know what I mean?

      Part of the Mono Rig is the possible variations and the ability to quickly, efficiently adapt. I have things set up so I can swap out the long leader and go to my standard dry fly leader in about a minute. That’s extremely important to me, and it’s one of the main reasons I don’t use a comp line. Carrying extra spools or extra rods doesn’t work for me. It’s not a fast enough transition so I don’t do it. I know I’ll avoid adapting if things take to long, and that’s not good.

  23. Reply

    Mr Brown

    March 18, 2017

    Hi,
    Thank you for the article. I really liked this topic and it makes me consider how to fishing next season.

    I used to Czech nymph and still do it depending the spot. I just hate rigging the nymphs and that style with all the wading destroys my sore knees… When ever it is possible I dead drift large streamers for big trout in that kind of way. I seldom use indicators I like to do it by feel. Your mono rig pretty much matches French style. I never considered this kind of rig for casting&stripping streamers. Now I do.

    I would use 10′ or longer rod for this (11′ light&fast switch maybe?). When you don’t have the mass of the fly line to keep the feel and control it is mutch more possible to have that heavy streamer as an earing:) I think that 4/5wt 10′ would offer more swing feel than 6..8wt would. Fast 8wt, 8′ and double streamer rig could really make one hurt… What kind of rod are you using with streamers? Sage 5wt, 10′, fast?

    And yes this is nyt for everyone and nyt for every place. With no back cast room I still would choose a suitable line for spey&roll casts. And when longer casts are needed you can’t beat a real fly line. But then again you have to use heavier set up…

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      March 20, 2017

      Hi Mr. Brown,

      I think of the Mono Rig as not just a tight line nymphing setup, but a full system where I use the long leader for tight lining, for suspender (indicator) fishing and for streamers.

      So, because I spend lots of time with suspenders and streamers attached to the Mono Rig, I like a 4 or 5 weight rod instead of the euro-nymphing specific rods.

      Here’s an article that explains my reasons a little better.

      https://troutbitten.com/2016/10/14/for-tight-line-nymphing-and-the-mono-rig-whats-a-good-fly-rod/

      Cheers.

  24. Reply

    Joe

    March 19, 2017

    Solid, thanks. Seems like you might have given this some thought…

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      March 20, 2017

      Yes, just a bit!

  25. Reply

    Joe

    March 19, 2017

    Have you read Nymphing the New Way by White? I think it is an easier read than Dynamic Nymphing but not as technical. Good stuff and absolutely beautiful photos.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      March 20, 2017

      Hi Joe.

      Yes, I recently finished Nymphing the New Way. I’d agree that it’s not as technical as Dynamic Nymphing. However, that’s what I love about George’s book! It’s all in there.

      In Nymphing the New Way, I find the distinction between sight fishing and not sight fishing to be a little overdone.

      I also think the term “indicator” as it’s used in Nymphing the New Way is a little distracting.

      Both of those objections, thought are a consequence of the book being intended more for a European audience, I suppose, and I get that.

  26. Reply

    Tim

    May 5, 2017

    Dom, I have been using your recipe for the mono rig and I do like feel when nymphing. I recently tied on a size 10 weighted streamer on my 10′ 4wt and my casting suffered. It just seemed like too much weight and my casts were all over the place. I’m trying to figure out what to adjust.

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      May 5, 2017

      Hi Tim, good question.

      The size ten weighted streamer shouldn’t be too much weight at all. We routinely fish with #10 and #8 stoneflies and small streamers. And as you know, we throw big articulated streamers on the same rig. I’m sure that you can get it dialed in. Here are a few thoughts.

      If you’ve only fished smaller nymphs on the mono rig, try going to heavy nymphs. Try tying on a good, chunky #10-8 stonefly imitation or beadhead Bugger, and then get comfortable nymphing that at short distances. Stay close and fish some heavy nymphs for a long time to develop that skill. It may take many trips to the river to feel comfortable, but once you do, then start fishing at medium distances, maybe 20 feet away at the most. You’ll notice that the casting stroke is the same, but you just have to wait longer between motions.

      When casting weight I find it best to still keep the casting stroke crisp and forceful with hard stops. I don’t like to lob (especially at much distance) because I lose too much control. Wait until you feel the weight of the nymph or streamer behind you and then immediately start the forward cast.

      So my advice is to learn to nymph with heavier weight before trying to sling the Mono Rig around with streamers. Staying close and then gradually adding distance is the way to go. Allow yourself time to adjust to the new distance. I suspect that in a few months of fishing you’ll be able to cast that #10 weighted streamer at any angle you like, shooting it under branches and stripping it back.

      Make sense?

  27. Reply

    Tim

    May 6, 2017

    Dom, thanks for the advice. Something to think about next time out

  28. Reply

    Duane

    November 18, 2017

    Just found this site, and having a great time running through the articles. Thanks!

    Question: How about a “Fluoro Rig”, as opposed to mono/maxima for the long butt?

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      November 18, 2017

      Hi Duane,

      I’m glad you found the blog too.

      So both nylon and fluoro are monofilaments.
      https://troutbitten.com/2017/08/09/lets-talk-tippet-three-questions-end-line-fly-fishing-rig/

      But I get your point too. You are asking if using fluoro as a butt section will work. Yes, it works. Many Tenkara lines are fluoro, and what makes Tenkara work is really similar to what makes the Mono Rig work.
      https://troutbitten.com/2016/06/29/the-trouble-with-tenkara-and-why-you-dont-need-it/

      But . . . when I’ve used fluoro for long butt sections, I have never liked how it handles. It’s stiffer, and I like stiffness in the butt section, butt fluoro tends to coil for me when stored on the reel. It’s also heavier per diameter than nylon.

      All that said, I still encourage you to give it a try for yourself. I think butt sections and leaders are a individual decision based on preference and what you want to do with the leader.

      Make sense?


      Dom

  29. Reply

    dehavenphoto

    December 22, 2017

    Domenick, I switched to your system last year and love using it. Thanks for the insight. My only question is this: I was fishing in PA this spring and came upon a sign that said the leader can only be a maximum of 18′. This was in a fly fishing only section of a stream. What do you do in such a case?

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      December 22, 2017

      Good question. I just trim the butt section back to comply with that reg. Our “fly fishing only” waters are the only place you’ll encounter that reg. If it’s important to you to be in strict compliance, then just trim the butt section back. You can swap butt sections in and out in just a minute or so. Wrap them up on an old Maxima spool.

      Make sense?


      Dom

  30. Reply

    byrondemos

    January 7, 2018

    Domenick, thanks for the continued information through your articles. I plan on implementing your mono rig system this FY and was interested if you had experimented with braided mono where you suggest using the Maxima Chameleon. I have 20LB Hi-Vis mono by cortland http://tenkaratalk.com/2013/07/cortland-braided-mono-running-line-for-tenkara/ on hand that I wanted to put to use and was uncertain if this product would turn over flies like the Maxima product?

    Cheers

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      January 7, 2018

      Hi there. Yes, I used exactly that braided mono for a few outings. I still have the large spool of it. Don’t like it at all, really. I found no advantage to using it. I also didn’t like the way it felt in the line hand, and I didn’t like how it holds some water in the braid — that would be horrible for winter fishing especially.

      You asked, so I gave my opinion there, but I always encourage people to try whatever you want. You’re objectives and preferences may be different than my own. And it’s fun to experiment anyway.

      If you end up liking the braided mono, let me know. Cheers.

  31. Reply

    byrondemos

    January 7, 2018

    In addition how does the Maxima Ultragreen tippet compare with the Chameleon?

    Cheers

    • Reply

      Domenick Swentosky

      January 8, 2018

      The ultra green is softer and the chameleon is stiffer. I like stiffer butt sections because they perform more like fly line. I find that chameleon is the perfect blend of stiffness but low memory, once stretched.

      Cheers

What do you think?

Domenick Swentosky
BELLEFONTE, PA

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, writer, musician and fisherman. I fly 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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