This is Part Two of my conversation with George Daniel, author and guide at Livin’ on the Fly. We had lunch to talk about his new book, Nymph Fishing. If you haven’t yet read Part One of this short series, back up and give it a read.
Drop shotting makes a lot of sense. Placing the weight on the bottom of the rig and tying in the flies above provides some significant advantages. Anyone who has tied a tag dropper somewhere above the point fly understands the effectiveness.
Trout whack a tag fly riding anywhere from slightly above the streambed to mid column (or even higher.) They do it a lot. No matter the conditions, my go to nymphing rig has a smaller, lighter fly on a tag. What varies is the distance from the end of the line and the type of nymph I use.
Drop shotting is an alternative way to present those tag flies. And in fact, by putting the weight at the end of the line, we can have two nymphs (or more) riding off the bottom and above the trout’s head. That’s a good thing, because trout look up for food an awful lot.
If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick primer on drop-shot nymphing from Kelly Galloup. Yes, he fishes more than streamers.
My job in this article is not to explain drop shot nymphing from the ground up. I promise to do that in another series at another time. I’ll bring in some drop-shot experts who take the method to another level. (It’s on my big to-do list.)
Instead, I’d like to share the two most interesting points that George Daniel made about drop-shot nymphing. We got around to the subject about midway through lunch at Happy Valley Brewing Company in State College, PA.
George is the deepest critical thinker I’ve met in the industry. I learned this fifteen years ago, while tirelessly picking his brain about tight line tactics. George was on the clock as manager of the State College TCO store at the time. And he was always ready to engage an angler who brought a boatload of questions. He still is.
Pause and Hang
So let’s talk about drop-shotting,” I said to George. “It seems to me that as soon as most guys rig up with drop shot, they immediately think they have to touch bottom more. They think the way to fish drop shot is to have the weight going tick-tick-pause, tick-tick . . . all the way through the drift. But I don’t do it that way so much, because the trout don’t respond as well,” I said.
“I guess what I do most,” I continued, “is to aim for the same type of drifts that I would with two weighted flies — to touch bottom once in a while, but not too much.”
George nodded. But then tilted his head sideways, signaling “Yeah, but . . .” And I knew something unusual was coming.
“Have you ever been nymphing with two flies, and the bottom one hangs up?” George asked.
“Sure.” I nodded.
“Then all of the sudden a trout takes the upper fly,” he said.
George’s hand turned into a trout’s jaws as he gestured against an invisible line over the table.
“I use drop-shot like THAT sometimes.” George said.
George explained that he likes to use the drop-shot method to create pauses in the drift — to hold the nymphs in position for a moment before resuming their downstream course. The shot at the bottom of the rig makes contact with the streambed, and it hangs up less than most nymphs. If the shot does snag to the point where it can’t easily be pulled free, we can choose to break off the shot and not lose the flies. Simply replace the shot in a few seconds and get back to nymphing.
“So, what about weighted flies in a drop shot rig?” I asked. “No one ever seems to mention weighted flies as an option. I understand keeping the bottom fly unweighted. I’ve tried weighted flies there, and they hang up too often — defeating the point of the drop shot rig, really. So I keep my lower flies unweighted in a drop shot rig. But I regularly use the same small and lightly weighted flies on my upper tag — the same nymphs I use in my go to nymphing rig.”
George had another interesting point.
“Some of my friends call it a bounce rig,” George said.
“Sure. I’ve heard it called that because the shot bounces on the bottom. Right?” I asked.
George shook his head a bit.
“Well . . . unweighted nymphs in a drop-shot system bounce and jiggle every time the shot touches bottom. Weighted nymphs don’t do that in the same way.”
“I love it.” I said.
George pointed out that nymphs in a drop-shot rig are connected to a tight line, with the shot on the bottom. When the shot touches, an unweighted nymph has the freedom to flutter — to bounce — with every touch. And weighted flies don’t react quite the same way.
This also happens best when the nymphs are rigged on a tag rather than inline.
Much more . . .
It’s the little things in fly fishing that add up to big success. Many small adjustments combine for a twenty-trout day instead of a two-trout day.
There are more gems like these in George’s new book, Nymph Fishing.
In Part Three, I share George Daniel’s thoughts on floating the sighter.
You can buy George Daniel’s trio of books here to support Troutbitten.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N