Fly Fishing with Streamers on the Mono Rig — More Control and More Contact

by | Mar 1, 2017 | 46 comments

John looked befuddled as I took a step downstream and launched another cast bankside, with the long leader and a pair of streamers.

“How far out can you cast that,” my friend asked.

“About fifty feet,” I told him. “And I have full control of the streamers, all the way through.”

I made a series of strips with a low rod angle to finish the drift and cast again.

“What do you mean?” John asked. “I feel like I can put my streamers where I want them with a standard rig too.”

On the next cast, I kept the built-in sighter up and off the water. I jigged and pulsed the streamers, letting them fall near the bottom and even touch a couple times on the retrieve.

“Sure, you can put the fly where you want.” I told John. “But then it’s the fly line that dictates the path of the streamer next.” I jigged again and lifted the rod upstream for a Head Flip. “See that?” I asked my friend. “On a Mono Rig, it’s the rod tip that dictates the course of the fly, and not the fly line.” I cast again and kept the rod tip up for another series of jigs, pulses and flips. “On this rig, I’m directly controlling the fly, rather than manipulating fly line to take the fly where it goes next. See what I mean,” I asked john, glancing over at him.

He nodded.

“Sure. Yeah, that really works. So, how big can the streamers be?” John asked.

“Big,” I told him. “It’s up to you, really. It’ll cast any size of streamer. In fact, it’s easier to cast large streamers on this rig versus a fly line, because there’s no thick, heavy fly line in the mix.” I continued casting, stripping, jigging and flipping while John watched.

“Damn!” John shook his head and chuckled as he watched chunks of olive rabbit fur arc through the air and land inches from the tree stump. I paused for two seconds and then started stripping again. When a trout swirled and grabbed the Full Pint streamer, John howled with approval. “That’s excellent!”

Weight and Stuff

For the streamer game to work, we need weight in the system. Streamers are a subsurface tactic, so somewhere on the rig or in the fly, we add tungsten, brass or lead to get the fly through the surface and down to the fish.

In fact, all fishing casts are about weight. With conventional tackle, the weight of the lure, bait, bobber or split shot pulls line off the spool and sails to the target. But in fly fishing, the casting weight comes from the fly line itself. Understand, fly line was designed to cast light or wind resistant flies. And it weighs enough to push those light flies to a target.

Remember, with conventional tackle, the weight is in the lure. It’s build into the Rooster Tail, Rapala, bait or split shot. But with fly fishing tackle, the weight of the fly line does the work. Or at least that’s the way it used to be . . .

Original Sin

The original sin of fly fishing is additional weight. As soon as weight was added, in any form, that’s where things branched off. Weight is the original deviation from traditional fly fishing, and everything else has followed. So in my mind, drawing arbitrary lines about what is and what isn’t fly fishing anywhere else makes no sense. Added weight is what changed everything.

With enough added weight, you don’t need the help of fly line pushing flies out there. Instead, the weight of the flies or split shot will pull the leader to the target — just like conventional tackle. Enter: the Mono Rig.

The 20# monofilament in the Mono Rig serves as a fly line substitute, and when casting small, lightweight nymphs, the weight in the 20# monofilament actually helps to push nymphs out there (like a fly line). With any weight at the end of the line, there’s some pulling and pushing going on. And when we changing to streamers, there’s a lot of pulling. Even a small water-soaked streamer weighs enough to pull the Mono Rig behind it.

Bottom line — streamers are lures. Just sayin’.

So why not fish them that way?

Photo by Bill Dell

The Rig

Streamer on the Mono Rig Formula 

24 feet — 20 lb Maxima Chameleon
2 feet —12 lb Maxima HV
12” — 12lb Red Amnesia or 12 lb Sufix Neon Fire
12” — 10lb Gold Stren (Backing Barrel with tag, attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
36″ — 2X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for upper streamer
24″ — 2X Fluorocarbon Tippet

Notice that my Mono Rig for streamers has the same butt section, transition and sighter section as my standard rig that I use for nymphs. Part of the Mono Rig’s strength is its versatility. When I want to fish streamers, I simply clip and swap out everything from the sighter down and store it on a Loon Rigging Foam. I have two streamers rigged up on another Loon foam, with 2x fluoro and a stiffer sighter. Tie those on at the tippet ring, and I’m ready to go. The full process takes about a minute.

Here’s an important point: The junction from fly line to leader is what limits your casting range. No matter how clean the connection, the nail knot (or other) sticks a bit in the guides as it shoots. (Yes, even a needle knot.) This is the main reason my butt section is so long for the Mono Rig. I rarely nymph at long range, but when I switch over to streamers, I want to be able throw some distance before the junction ends up in the guides and slows me down.

READ: Troutbitten | The Full Mono Rig System — All the variations with formulas and adjustments

Two streamers on Loon Rigging Foam

And  two nymphs on the foam, ready to go

Do you need fly line to push streamers to a target?

Definitely not.

Whether we add a weighted streamer or use split shot on the tippet, there’s enough weight to easily cast it with the Mono Rig. I do not need the help of a fly line pushing the streamers to the target. The weight in my rig efficiently does the job of delivering the fly.

That said, the 20 lb Maxima Chameleon (.017″) butt section of the Troutbitten Mono Rig, has plenty of power to push flies to a target. It has turnover power built in. Try casting it with no flies attached to demonstrate this point. You’ll see, there’s enough mass in the leader to cast fly line style loops and push flies to a target. This is not a chuck-and-duck rig, and we aren’t simply slinging weights around. Instead, we use the leader to push while the weight also pulls. That’s where excellent accuracy and control begins.

READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing the Mono Rig — It’s Casting, Not Lobbing

Here’s another important point: If I use traditional fly line to cast streamers, then I need a rod that can handle not only the weight of my streamers but also the weight of the fly line (which is heavy). Such a payload taxes a light rod. But a pair of sizable streamers is easily cast on most four weight rods because there’s no fly line involved. I’ve even seen three weight, euro nymphing style rods adequately handle a pair of streamers.

READ: Troutbitten | For tight line nymphing and the mono rig, what’s a good fly rod?

Control | Contact

So why do we use a Mono Rig over fly line? What’s the advantage?

Just like a tight line nymph rig, we gain more control over the presentation of the flies, and we have better contact through the cast and the drift.

With fly line in the game, we must cast and manage the fly line itself. With the Mono Rig, we cast and manage the streamers more directly.

With the Mono Rig, we can stay tight to the streamer after the cast, we can dead drift it with precision for the first five feet, keeping all the leader off the water. Then we might activate the streamer with some jigs and pops for the next ten feet of the drift. And for the last twenty feet, as the streamer finishes out below and across from us, we may drop the leader to the water and employ long strips. All these options are open.

Here’s the real key: At any time throughout the drift we can lift the long leader and hold the streamer in position — maybe dead drift it for a few more feet. We can also sweep the rod tip upstream or down and immediately change the orientation of the streamer’s head — the Head Flip. All of this is possible because we are in control of the streamer directly, without managing any fly line in between.

That contact — that control — is the game changer.

READ: Troutbitten | Streamer Presentations — The Tight Line Dance


You can cast streamers on the Mono Rig with a very traditional ten-o-clock and two-o-clock casting stroke. It works, Be sure to to accelerate the cast. Be aggressive and build up some speed.

READ: Troutbitten | Put More Juice in the Cast

By now, I’ve taught enough anglers this tactic to realize where the struggles inevitably arise. And it helps to break away from the traditional stroke and do things a little differently.

Think about this: Instead of ten and two, keep the rod flexed all the way through the cast. Stay in touch — feel the weight of the flies throughout the cast, without pausing. Make arcs and loops instead of straight lines. Get the arm moving more. And by all means, get the line hand involved.

Start Short

Like everything else in fly fishing, staying close is the easiest way to learn the game. At short range, you can get the timing down. You learn to feel the tug of the streamers on the rod tip. You learn to keep the tip loaded and fire the flies to the target. Stay close. Get the streamer out there, get it down in the water, and then activate it.

Often, I like to fish what I call a crossover technique (a mix of nymphing and streamer fishing). I cast mostly upstream and dead drift the streamer for a few feet. Then I lead it faster or jig it slightly before letting it dead drift again. Sometimes I finish out the drift with a swing, but just as often I pick it up when the flies are across from me and cast them upstream to the next piece of structure.

It’s all part of the old school streamer thing. And on the next cast I might go directly across stream to a submerged log near the bank. I let the streamer fall and then strip it, leading the fly with my rod tip down and across. (At short range, if I’ve stripped in a few feet of line, I shoot it on the forward cast through my trigger finger.)

I do plenty of overhead casts at short and medium range too. The casting may still look traditional, with hard stops around 10:00 and 2:00. But I keep the loops and arcs more open.

So, use small arcs and rod loops in the casts for short distance too. At the end of the drift, pick up the fly and keep the rod tip flexed throughout the casting motion. A short arc upstream is all that is necessary.

Again, stay close to learn the technique. Stay in touch with fly. Cast with contact, and have fun with the unique advantages of streamers on the Mono Rig.

Go Long

Longer casts come naturally once you refine the basics at short range. And many anglers learn it in about fifteen minutes.

Send the rig forty or fifty feet up and across some pocket water, then work the flies back on a tight line through every nook and cranny in the current seams. The precise control over angles, depth and direction is what fly fishing dreams are made of.

I like long-distance streamers at all angles and with every retrieve style you can think of. It just depends on the conditions.

When you have the casting clearance, long casts are best with bigger and wider arm motions, with large loops and wide arcs. Accelerate the line. Let the weight of the flies do the work. Experiment, and you’ll find the way.

At the longest lengths, a double haul can work wonders. It’s easy to learn, and gives the rod a little more flex on the back and forward casts, helping to propel the flies forward.

Here’s a good look at the double haul from a nine year old kid.

Roll It?

When your back is against a woodsy bank, when you have no room for a backcast but you need to cast the line forty feet across stream, how do you roll cast a Mono Rig?

Simple. I call it a Pendulum Cast.

After stripping the line in, let the streamer dangle about five feet below the rod tip. Now hold the rod to the side. Rock the flies back and forth a little. Then flip the streamer to the target with the rod tip, letting the weight of the streamer pull the extra line through the rod guides and feeding it with your line hand. It can be done with an underhand or overhand motion. And variations of this can send the streamers fifty feet or more.

This technique is a lot like . . .

Pitchin’ and Flippin’ with Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston

If you’ve never chucked a fathead minnow with a Shimano rod, thrown a jointed Rapala, or flung a Rebel Craw — if you’ve only ever used flies and a fly rod — then you’ve started in the wrong place.

That goes double if you want to be a good streamer angler.

I don’t know all the bass fishing retrieves, but I have friends who do. And I was once pretty deadly with an ultralight and some live minnows on the local trout. I’ve also spent enough time with crank baits and spinners, and I learned a few things about what attracts trout when they give chase.

Streamers are lures. And using the Mono Rig to cast them like you’ve throw a Rapala on a gear rod can be super effective. That’s the essence of the Pendulum Cast. And while it’s not my primary casting technique, it’s a built-in method for efficient delivery in tight cover.

Why all this works

What about drag? Isn’t drag a good thing in the streamer game? Aren’t we trying to use drag to simulate baitfish movement?

Sure. But with the Mono Rig, I control the angle and the amount of drag in the line, or I can let the fly dead drift. I have greater control over the path and the motion of my streamer with a long leader. I’m not at the mercy of what the fly line wants to do in the currents.

In most cases, I have only one thin diameter of tippet under the water. That’s a big deal. It works for streamers in the same way it works for nymphs. (Drag on the line is uniform, so control and contact are better.)

Fly line sags because it weighs too much, so it lays on the water. And it’s tough to be in true direct contact with my fly. With the Mono Rig, I can stay tight to the streamer and have better sensitivity, control and strike detection.

Many streamer strategies use the belly of a fly line in the water as part of the technique. A downstream curve is formed in the fly line, pulling the leader and streamer along a curved path, hopefully imitating a baitfish. The same can be done with the Mono Rig. 20# monofilament does belly in the current if you let it. Nylon floats. But you have more control over the belly in a Mono Rig versus a fly line.

Every retrieve performed with a fly line can be done with the Mono Rig. And we have excellent control over the path of the streamer by simply adjusting rod angles.

Photo by Pat Burke

Mono Rig vs Sinking Line

What’s heavy, sags and drags in the water? A sinking line.

The Mono Rig allows for direct contact and more control over the path of the streamer. The thin diameter cuts through the water better, and the flies get deeper quicker.

The long leader is also easier to cast than a sinking line. There’s less false casting, less arm motion, and it’s easier to lift streamers out of the water to recast. Simply put, the Mono Rig is less work to use, and the streamer is in the water more often.

What about unweighted flies? Many anglers believe that unweighted streamers move more naturally in the currents. I agree. Sometimes light streamers are the answer. But I don’t need a sinking line to get them down. I just add weight to the line.

That’ll get you down.

Don’t like split shot? You should. It’s a timeless tool that gets the job done better than anything else sometimes. And once you have a good system for adding and removing shot, it’s easy to work with.

READ: Troutbitten | Stop the Split Shot Slide

Slow down, Hoss

I realize that, for some, we’re getting a little far out on a thin branch here.

There is no silver bullet in fly fishing. And there are times when a fly line with streamers is the way to go. Mostly, if I’m casting more than fifty feet, then I’d rather use a fly line. I do enjoy fishing sinking lines on big water, especially from the boat. And sometimes it’s just fun.

More often though, I stay with the Mono Rig. Because I get deeper quicker. And I have more control over the path of the fly with a more versatile technique.

Is it fly fishing?

Who cares?

If you’re fishing streamers, you’re already well past the original sin.

Sinking lines have “Fly Line” printed on the box, but when tungsten powder is baked in with the plastic coating, is it really any more of a fly line than 20# monofilament? Probably not.

And what does it matter where the weight comes from? Tungsten cone, lead wraps, split shot, T11 head, or sinking line? What’s the difference?

And, yes. Streamers on the Mono Rig is fly fishing. Because we’re using flies, because we are hand lining (not cranking line back onto a reel), and because we’re using fly line style casting with a butt section that takes the place of traditional fly line.

Photo by Chase Howard

Last Things

— Shooting the extra line on streamer casts is the main reason that I like the extra-long and knot-less butt section on the Mono Rig.

— Some anglers don’t like stripping 20# monofilament with their line hand, and they say it’s slippery. Man up! Just kidding. With every strip, I twist my hand a bit. That solves the problem. But you can also experiment with different butt sections.

READ: Troutbitten | Ask an Expert — For Euro Nymphing or the Mono Rig, what leader material do you like for the butt section?

— The sighter is an excellent tool for judging where the streamers are and guiding them through the water. Keep the sighter in the rig.

— The Mono Rig allows you to fish larger flies on a lighter rod. A  four weight rod can handle a five-inch streamer if it doesn’t also have to handle the weight of a fly line.

— Quickly switching over to small streamers is the main reason I use 4X or 5X for my tippet section. I fish small streamers on 4X or strong 5X. But when I want to fish medium or larger streamers, and I want to strip a lot, I swap out everything from the sighter down, for two streamers, ready to go on the Loon Rigging Foam, as described above.

Fishing streamers on the Mono Rig is a natural and intuitive method that brings more contact and control back to the streamer game. It just works.

Fish hard. Get after it.

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


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky



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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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  1. This is great stuff! I totally agree about finding something versatile that you can adapt to solving the puzzle of fishing a run well, and throwing strikes in front of the fish. I tried your mono rig for the first time yesterday and was astonished at how much water i could cover well. Question, I have been swinging flies for steelhead using a OPST commando head with their Lazar running line. I am wondering if the Lazar line alone might work well for the butt section for a nymphing setup. Thoughts? -Steve in Olympia, WA

    • @OLYSTEVE, thanks for the compliment.

      Yeah I’ve tried various running lines for the butt section. I would say give it a try, you might love it. Looks like the smallest diameter is about .020″. That’s a little thicker than #20 Maxima and a little thinner than the thinnest competition fly lines (to my knowledge).

      After trying other things I keep coming back to Maxima Chameleon because I like the stiffness, yet it doesn’t hold much coil once you stretch it.

      So the whole idea of ditching fly line comes back to sag. Sag = drag. The thicker a butt section is, the heavier it is, and the more it will sag. There’s no getting around it. Yeah, we could go to a thinner diameter, like #10 Maxima, but that makes it really tough to deliver light nymphs or dry/dropper rigs. So it’s all about finding the right balance. The #20 Maxima allows me to cast light nymphs and dry dropper rigs much like I would with a fly line — it makes a good fly line substitute — yet it’s still thin enough that it doesn’t sag much. I also swap out my butt section to thinner diameters at times too.

      Bottom line is to do what works for you. You’ll definitely figure out what you like pretty quickly.

      Make sense?

      • Thanks for the response. . You have me inspired and i have been tying nymphs and leaders like crazy. My first rig used Maxima 20# Ultragreen for the 20 lb. butt section. Today I used a 26 foot section of 20# Maxima Chameleon and definitely liked it better. You are right, stiffer, no coil issues. I’m sold.
        Question, when you swap out from your 2 nymph setup to streamers, it sounds like you just change at the tippet section, keeping everything else (butt, sighter) right? Your loon foam link looks like you change the whole setup at the tippet ring below the fly line, so just checking.

        Also, I picked up a 4wt 10ft Redington Hydrogen and like it a lot. Thanks for the suggestions about what to look for in a rod.

        -Best, Steve Cifka Olympia WA

  2. Pitchin’ or flippin’? Pitchin’ is probably what I do, but I just call it lobbin’. I just lob it out there and hope it goes where I want. Just be sure the weight doesn’t hit the rod. Snapped a tip off last year.

    • Right on, Harold. I’ve been lucky enough not to break a rod that way yet. I’m good at breaking rods in other ways though.

      Pitchin’ and flippin’ are just more fun to say than lobbing. 🙂

  3. I’m going to try this. Is 5x enough for tippet? I can see a 4lb trout slamming a streamer and breaking that tippet in seconds.

    • Hey buddy, you make a good point.

      If I’m going to fish streamers for a long while, if I’m going to fish big streamers, or if I’m going to to be stripping fast, then yes, I’d rather change out to a heavier tippet. I change out section of my leader like this:

      A lot of the time though, I just clip off the point nymph on my nymphing section, and I tie on a small or medium sized streamer. I usually prefer to fish my streamers up and across with a more “easily-available-food” approach anyway, so when a trout takes the streamer, it’s often with not much more force than when they take a nymph.

      Make sense?

  4. What is it like casting a dry fly on this rig if needed? Limitations? Thanks.

    • Depends on your casting stroke and how efficient you are with the rod used. With the Mono Rig you can cast flies without much wind resistance pretty easily. My best advice is to give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean. Let me know how it goes.

    • I am not a good dry fly caster, Kirk. So in my opinion, it’s difficult. It’s hard for me to get the tippet and fly to turn over nicely without the fly line. If you see fish rising within around 30 feet of you, it’s worth a try. I did it this year because these fish kept rising in my face, taunting me, begging to be caught. So I obliged them! However, beyond that distance I switch back to the fly line (which you can do easily if you keep the fly line on the reel just or these situations).

  5. I’ve learned so much from your website. Most of the postings I’ve read two or three times.

    I wonder if you could add a little bit of additional information about how you set up the cannonball. How big a piece of T 11 do you use? Does it go above the sighter? How do you tie it in to the mono rig?


    Charlie Ruff

    • I just want to reinforce Charlie’s request. I really like the idea of adding weight with a piece of weighted leader, but I need more instruction! In addition to Charlie’s good questions I wonder just how far above the streamer should we tie in the T 11? And what adjustments should made with varying distances & depths, and various weight streamers? Very intriguing idea.

      • Charlie and Maryellen,

        Thanks for the questions.

        Regarding the cannonball, it’s just what we call a sizable split shot. It need not be huge. These are different than my small fly fishing split shot. They are just Gremlin removable shot in size B and 3/0. I rarely need to go heavier than that, and if so, then I just double up on shot. I place the shot above the streamer, anywhere from 4 inches to 20 inches, depending on how deep I want the fly to ride.

        Split shot has its advantages and disadvantages over weighted flies. Often I use weighted streamers, but I might add a small amount of shot to fine tune the needed weight.

        Regarding the T11 tips. I mentioned them, because they are an option. But I honestly find them to be more bother than they’re worth. I like both the performance and the efficiency of split shot over the sink tips. I made my own set of T11 shooting heads many years ago, and I fished that way for a couple months, evaluating the performance for my own needs on my own rivers.

        I used T11 and made tips ranging from 6 inches in length to 30 inches. I swapped them out with loops. I placed them after the butt section in the Mono Rig, so no sighter. I then went straight 2x to the streamers, or I went with a short piece of 0X and then 2X.

        Again, I did not like the system much, but plenty of people do. It’s an adaption of a rig meant more for big rivers and spey style. But again, I believe split shot does a better job for trout rivers and the way I fish streamers.

        I will say, though, that I found them just as effective as a sinking fly line — more actually, because I had better, direct control.

        Email me if you want to talk more about it.

        Cheers, and thanks for reading.


  6. Hey Domenick,
    As others have stated, You offer such a fresh perspective on fly fishing and trout in general, I am learning so much just from reading your blog.
    Ive been wondering lately, Do you think that on certain streams, guys that use rapalas and spinners have an advantage as far as getting reaction from fish? There are a couple rivers around here (northern wisconsin/UP) that guys end up doing real well for big fish that are holed up in tight cover by using spin gear, while myself and other fly guys end up getting frustrated. Ive recently considered fishing these streams with conventional gear. I tie all my own flies and my own leaders ect, and i havent picked up a spinning rod in years since i got into fly fishing.. somehow i feel like it would be a sin.. I would love to target these fish with streamers but i just dont think anything out there has the same effect as a blue fox or a mepps or a rapala.
    any thoughts?

    • Hi Elliot,

      Yeah, I definitely have a few thoughts. Big surprise, right?

      I heard the same stories about guys using plugs and spinners cleaning up. Seems that everyone wanted to tell me that streamers were tougher to catch trout on than Rapalas (and similar). So I fished them for about 8 months. A couple years ago, from mid-spring into late fall, I fished Rapalas of all sizes and varieties. I also fished small spinners. I used a gear rod most of the time, but I also fished them with a stiff fly rod and put them in a rig exactly where I’d put a streamer. I fished them hard, and I expected to catch a lot more trout.

      Results? Meh …

      Some days I caught more than I’d expect with a good streamer presentation, sometimes less. When I had the fly rod in my hand, I often A/B tested, going back and forth all day between Rapalas and streamers.

      My conclusion, until I see it, I just don’t buy it. I know a few gear guys, and I’ve fished right beside them while I fished streamers. Results are usually very similar.

      I think you’ll run into some guys who clean up on Rapalas, but those guys are just really good fishermen who’ve taken the time to learn their craft.

      Generally, I’m saying that if there’s no streamer bite, then there’s no Rapala bite either.

      That’s my opinion, based mostly on what I mentioned above. It’s subject to change. I’d really encourage anyone who’s curious to try Rapalas and spinners yourself. You’ll definitely learn something about different retrieves that you can eventually adapt to a fly rod.

  7. Hi Domenick, do you have a list of streamers you prefer when fishing euro/mono-rig style?

    • Hey Ethan,

      I almost hate to tell you my fly selection, because it may not match your own stream conditions and needs. That’s what’s most important — match the streamer to what you are trying to achieve with it. Length, weight, shape: they all factor in to the streamers performance, and you can get the most out of each streamer type using the advantages of the Mono Rig.

      That said, my go to streamers are these:

      Bunny Bullet

      Strolis’Headbanger Sculpin

      Motto’s Minnow (variant) — I tie them with woodduck died mallard flank mixed with natural color mallard flank. And no hackle collar.

      I use black buggers a lot too.


      What are your favorites?


  8. Can you please stop linking your other articles within a post? It’s really hurting my work productivity. 😉 Great stuff, I’ve employed a lot of the tips you’ve written about with definite positive results. I always look forward to your latest posts, keep up the good work!

  9. Very impressed with your approach to improving sub-surface presentations. Innovative and inspirational ideas that sure seem to work. It is so good to read your fresh ideas and the rationale to go with it. You’re making me re-think my all too traditional presentations with dry flies and emergers. Its good to realize that there are some undiscovered tactics just waiting to be found. I have been a voracious reader of fishing books and articles and (now) blogs for fifty years, and I must say, you are playing 11 dimensional chess compared to the average writer who does little more than rehash the same old, same old stuff. Keep up the great work Dom.

    One question: Is there a reason that you don’t d-barb those big streamer hooks? I am finding more mangled trout jaws in my neck of the woods (Upper Delaware) than ever since the big streamer craze.

    • Hi Rick. Thank you so much for the kind words. I appreciate the support.

      In fact, I don’t debarb my own hooks. I do it at the vise. The cover picture up top is not of my own flies. I agree with you, streamers easily do the most damage to trout.

  10. Dom, with your description of flipping streamers instead of a roll cast, when you are dangling the streamers before flipping are they in contact with the water or hanging from the rod? (water borne load or just the weight of the flies?

    Thanks, this is great stuff.

    • Hey Stephen. Good question. They are just dangling in the air. I promise if you give this a shot on the water, you’ll see how easy it is. It’s just like casting a lure, except the line to cast is at your feet, in the water.

      I also understand that this can all be a little difficult to visualize, and I know it’s hard to put in writing. I know a video about such things helps, and I’ll be working on videos pretty soon.

      All in due time.

      Anyway, the water load works too, but that’s caveman stuff. You can cast these streamers on the mono rig with some finesse and art with just a little practice.


      • There you, go, that answers my question. Looking forward to giving it a try. Just ordered the Loon foam holders, that’s a key element to making this all work as well as tippet rings.

        • Sure is

  11. You can tell that fly line does in fact suck because of the limited varieties available today and that they’ve become so inexpensive.

  12. I’d like to see a video of you casting a double streamer rig with the mono rig, both the conventional cast and the flippin’ style. If possible, I guess. 🙂

    • It’s coming. Promise.

  13. Great stuff! Thank you! Ive been working on a sling cast that resembles a bass crank bait cast , but with a lot more line out. Something like low on the back cast- pendulum – high on the forcast. ( double hauling). Again thanks for a great article.

    • Cheers

  14. Sounds super dirty. Probably less so than the way I fish for deep water saltwater fish with a fly rod though (sometimes leaders to 35ft and as heavy as 1/4oz leads). I dig it!

  15. I am lazy and want only one mono rig without having to change out between a nymphing one and a streamer one. i know it only takes a couple of minutes, but it’s a small hassle. lately i have been using something similar to devin olsens modular rig he wrote about on his blog recently. i use a very long 30ft 20lb maxima chameleon butt with a sighter and then end in a short section of clear 2 or 3x tippet with ring. then add appropriate different end tippet section for nymphs or streamers. works for me.

    • That’s exactly what I do, Greg (except my leader is a Hends French leader, not Maxima). I like the setup. I have had problems with the flouro breaking off at the tippet ring (twice today, in fact). Have you had that as well? I’m considering ditching the tippet ring and attaching my tippet with a blood knot.

      • yes, especially with 3x mono tied to tippet ring and then using 3x or 4x fluoro tippet to the streamer, since fluoro is stronger than mono of the same diameter. to be honest, if i know i will not be fishing a dry dropper set up i just use a set up with 20lb chameleon, then 12 amnesia, then 1x sighter, then tippet ring then tippet to either nymphs or streamer. devin’s modular rig is nice b/c u can do all 3 (dry, nymph, streamer) without changing your leader.

        • Greg and Tomas,

          So for me, I much prefer to use a tool best designed for the job, rather than to try and make one tool work. I understand the desire for an all purpose leader — I’ve tried to be happy with different versions — but I cannot get around the inherent weaknesses for each method.

          The Mono Rig as I use it, is extremely versatile, but part of the Mono Rig, is the ability to adapt easily. It also takes that willingness to adapt. I feel like I waste more time and fish worse when I’m trying to make a leader do something that it doesn’t do well.

          Changing from nymphs to streamers above the sighter takes no more time than it takes to change out the tippet only. It’s a few more wraps on a Loon Rigging foam, that’s all. And then can have a more stout sighter.

          With the do-it-all leader you are talking about, that requires using 3x or 4x for streamers and nymphs. I feel like neither is great for both. I strongly prefer to fish streamers on 2x or 1x, and I like strong 5x for nymphs. But this is because I want to throw large streamers at times (and I’m almost always fishing two streamers — top one small). Throwing large streamers on 4x with a limp, 1X Bi-Color sighter isn’t fun for me. With that much limp material is makes the casts too much like lobbing and there’s too much slop in the system, for me.

          The do-it-all leader (or my own Mono Rig formula, for that matter) does handle small streamers well enough, and I often swap out my point nymph for a small streamer quickly. I just don’t fish it the way I fish big streamers, though.

          Whew . . . that was long.

          Last thing, though, I also don’t care for using the Mono Rig for dries. I like it for dry dropper work, but I love just switching leaders over to a Harvey Dry Leader (takes about a minute) and letting fly line do the job it does best. Attempts to fish most dry flies with a Mono Rig are another square peg in a round hole situation, for me.

          • I agree with your all points. I almost always fish small mountain freestones where the features of the stream change every 20 feet and a double digit inch fish is a trophy. To be honest, I am fishing nymphs 90% of the time with a dry or streamer (small, size 10) the other 10%. If I use a modular rig it ends in only a foot of 2x mono, which, when I nymph is held above the water (i.e. I still only have one diameter of tippet underwater). With tiny fish and tiny streamers 3 or 4x fluoro is plenty and casting is easy.

            Really I hate fishing dries with a mono rig. If I am going to fish dries at a distance it is with traditional fly line/leader. For short distance I have a dragonfly rod holder on my wading belt, the fly rod goes in that pointed behind me and out comes one of the 3 tenkara rods I carry with me (8’6″, 10′, or 12′ depending on stream confines, super light & minimal weight) pre rigged with a furled leader and a dry fly. I can store my fly rod and extend my tenkara rod in MUCH less time than it would take me to clip off the fluoro tippet, tie on mono tippet & tie on fly. Plus the drift and control you get with a tenkara rod can never be surpassed with even light mono IMHO.

          • I like it. You should send me a picture of the rod holder on your belt. I love that kind of stuff.

            I also admit that the drift of a single dry fly on a Tenkara rod is hard to beat.

          • Greg- I recently gave up on carrying 2 fly rods (1 for tight line/indicator nymphing and 1 for dry/dry dropper) with me while fishing. It’s just too much of a hassle to deal with. So on my next trip I plan to use the Troutbitten mono rig system for all my fishing, and do it on a single rod.

            That being said, your method of carrying 1 fly rod but multiple tenkara rods pre-rigged so everything is ready to go, is very interesting. I know very little about tenkara so I was wondering how/where the pre-rigged dry fly is stored on/with the tenkara rods? Where and how you carry the 3 tenkara rods while fishing (in a backpack?) And whether it would be possible to further reduce the 3 tenkara rods down to just 1? Thanks.

      • Tomas, I don’t think the tippet ring is the issue with breakage, unless you have a tippet ring with some abrasions where perhaps the ring is not round. If there’s nothing wrong with the ring, and the knot is good, it will hold with no problem. And I find a Davy Knot or clinch much quicker and more efficient than a blood knot — less wasted material too.


  16. How do you keep your fly line connection from hanging up in the guides when you get out past your 30 foot of leader on these long casts with streamers?

    • I love that question. I think that’s important, too. I attach leaders this way:

      But I also have been just using a three turn to a fly line loop. It’s pretty darn clean going through the guides.

      HOWEVER, the best thing is to use a longer butt section. On my boat rod and reel, I have a longer butt section, because I know I’ll be casting further than 30 feet. That’s all it takes. Longer butt section.

      Make sense?


      • Thanks for the reply and also the reply to my email about rod selection. Your website is a wealth of information and I truly appreciate it. You’re good people.

  17. Love the article and the concept, but I have an unrelated question about a photo above. It looks like the two nymphs wrapped on the Loon rigging foam have a tippet ring attached directly to the nymph hook. Am I seeing that correctly? If so, how and why did you rig it that way?

    Thanks again for all your hard work promoting the sport.

    Take care.


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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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