The Full Mono Rig System — All the variations, with formulas and adjustments

by | Oct 13, 2019 | 62 comments


 

** UPDATE ** In March of 2021, a section for Thin and Micro-Thin Mono Rigs was added to this article.  Also a change was made to the Streamer variation for the leader. Also, the following article is a perfect companion for this one. Together, these two articles are the keystone of the Mono Rig system.
READ: Troutbitten | Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig

For the last five years, I’ve written Troutbitten articles that describe a tight line fly fishing system called the Mono Rig. The details of the system and how it fishes are laid out across nearly fifty entries on Troutbitten. If read consecutively and in total, a full picture of the system emerges. But an overarching, comprehensive view of all the variations has been, to this point, missing.

This article should solve that trouble. And by showing the full Mono Rig system, with all the adaptations and possibilities, the reasons behind the choices in leader material, in leader length and in preferred casting technique should reveal themselves more completely.

What follows is a technical piece. I’ll leave it to the words and paragraphs in the supporting articles to explain the variety of techniques available. Likewise, I won’t explain here all of the principles that make the Mono Rig an amazing fly fishing system, because I’ve been through it before. The following article is really the companion piece for this one

READ: Troutbitten | Design and Function — The Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig

The Mono Rig is a tight line method for fishing every type of fly: nymphs (tight line and indy styles), streamers, wets, dry flies and dry dropper. It is a contact system, designed to provide the angler with exceptional control over the course of the flies. And with that control, the angler using the Mono Rig is fishing and not just hoping something will happen at the end of the line.

But having great control over the flies comes with responsibility. Do the right things with the extra contact, and you’ll fool tons of trout. Do the wrong things, and the system falls apart.

I promised a technical piece, so let’s get to it . . .

The Variations

I cycle through the above styles on a daily basis. Euro nymphing is tight lining with only weighted flies — nothing else attached to the line. When I add split shot, or choose unweighted flies, or attach anything else to the leader, I’m tight line nymphing. To the same rig, I may add a floating indicator. Or I may use a dry fly as the suspender and move to tight line dry dropper.

If my top fly is a nymph, and I change the bottom fly to a small or medium sized streamer, I move into a crossover technique. I often swap out everything from the sighter down and fish streamers (or wets) of all sizes with strips and swings and other motions. I also like to remove the regular sighter, add some suitable nylon tippet and fish the Mono Rig with dries. Sometimes, I remove the whole Standard Mono Rig and switch to a thin or micro-thin version.

These are all the variations available to a Mono Rig angler.

The Standard Mono Rig Parts

This is the leader I use far more than any other, because it is a full system of fly fishing and not a leader built for a small set of specialized techniques. It’s a leader built for versatility without sacrificing presentation.

The base of the Standard Mono Rig does not change. It remains constant across all variation, and its design is simple: butt section and transition.

Base

24 feet 20 lb Maxima Chameleon
2 feet 10 lb Maxima Chameleon
(Connect these pieces with a blood knot)

— Most often, I choose 20 lb Maxima Chameleon for my butt section. There are other good options. But the diameter and flexibility of the butt section must remain close to 20 lb Chameleon for all the variations of the Mono Rig to function properly.

— The butt section of the Mono Rig performs as a fly line substitute. It has enough mass to cast like a fly line, forming loops that unfold and turnover, sending flies to their target. Yet it is light enough to cause far less sag than a regular fly line.

— I keep fly line on the reel spool so I can swap out the Mono Rig with a regular style of leader. So my butt section is long enough to keep any fly line out of the guides. It is also long enough to keep blood knots out of the guides — with a long, smooth butt section. This is why the transition piece is only two feet long.

— Adjustments to the Mono Rig are made to accommodate the variations in style. All of those adjustments happen from the sighter, down. Many of the adjustment happen only in the tippet section.

— All of the modifications are easily made in a minute or less. I carry Loon Rigging Foams with a couple of pre-rigged sections that I swap between. But often, the adjustments require nothing more than a quick tweak of the tippet section.

READ: Troutbitten | Fly Fishing the Mono Rig — It’s casting, not lobbing

READ: Troutbitten | Get me back to my fly line — Connecting and disconnecting the Mono Rig

READ: Troutbitten | Efficiency: Leader and Tippet Changes

READ: Troutbitten | Thicker leaders cast more like fly line

Photo by Austin Dando

Tight Line Nymphing

Tight lining with nymphs is the core of the Mono Rig techniques. Learn to accurately cast and effectively drift a pair of nymphs, and the rest of the variations follow easily.

Tight Line Nymphing 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 (Backing Barrel with tag attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
36″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for upper nymph —
20″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Nymph —

— I build a taper into the sighter for greater accuracy and better feel on the turnover.

— My sighter is constructed with slightly stiffer materials than some anglers, because I often choose to add a dry fly or a small yarn indy on my tippet section. Long, limp sighters are great for tight lining exclusively, but not great for suspender work.

— My tippet section is a compromise. Ideally, just one diameter of tippet fishes under the water. However, by running 4X for most of the tippet and 5X for the last 20 inches, most break-offs happen at the flies and not back at the sighter. Therefore I save tippet material and don’t leave much fluorocarbon in the rivers and trees.

— I choose 5X fluoro as my standard terminal tippet, for three reasons: First, I want to land the largest trout of my life. Second, I like the way a thicker tippet turns over. And third, 5X is good for casting, while 7X is better for lobbing. (I like casting, and I use a tuck cast ninety percent of the time.) Lastly, I do not need the extremely thin diameter of 7X to help cut through the water and sink to the strike zone. Because I can simply add a small split shot, if I need extra weight.

— For lighter flies and weights, I often add the Rio bi-color section. And if I want to throw a single #16 beadhead, I extend the sighter  with a piece of 1X or 2X bi-color, and use all 6X to a longer tippet. This lengthens the sagless reach of the Standard Mono Rig by a few feet.

READ: Troutbitten | Tight Line Nymph Rig

READ: Troutbitten | Know Your Weights and Measures

READ: Troutbitten | What is Euro Nymphing and what is the Mono Rig?

READ: Troubitten | Sighters — Seven Separate Tools

READ: Troutbitten | Is a soft sighter best? Not always

Remember, tight line nymphing is at the core of everything on the Mono Rig. Now here come the variations . . .

Tight Line to the Indicator

I’ve heard it said that tight line nymphing with an indy is an oxymoron. No it’s not. All the elements that make tight line nymphing effective can be transferred over to an indy rig for a deadly variation of the Mono Rig. It reaches out and grabs fish in places that you cannot fish otherwise.

Tight Line to the Indicator 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 (Backing Barrel with tag attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
36″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet (Indy mounts and adjusts here)
— Tag for upper nymph —
20″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Nymph —

— The angler is tight to the indy. The indy is tight to the flies.

— Notice that nothing about the formula changes. Only a suspender is added.

— By mounting the indy on the 4X, we adhere to the principle of limiting diameters of line under the water.

— This is another reason for using 4X as the first section beyond the sighter. Many indy types work well on 4X. Most are very bad on 6X or 7X. I need an indy system that slides readily, with no damage to the line.

— The stiffer sighter material helps with turnover.

— In this formula, the indy has a full 3 feet of range to adjust for depth.

— Land the flies upstream of the indicator in exactly the same seam.

— Vary the amount of initial slack between indy and fly with a tuck cast.

— Watch the indy for contact with the flies, and then watch for the indy to signal the strike zone.

— Use the indy to lead the flies down one current seam when the rod tip cannot effectively do the same job.

— Use this tight line to the indicator variation for greater distance and longer drifts.

READ: Troutbitten | Tight Line Nymphing with an Indicator — A Mono Rig Variant

READ: Troutbitten | How to read a fly fishing indicator — What you might be missing

READ: Troutbitten | One Great Nymphing Trick

READ: Troutbitten | The Dorsey Yarn Indicator — Everything you need to know and a little more

READ: Troutbitten | Nymphing: Tight Line vs Indicator

READ: Troutbitten | Beyond Euro Nymphing

Tight Line Dry Dropper

This is perhaps my favorite way to fish. I thoroughly enjoy placing a dry, paired with a nymph, into one seam. The dry gets perfect drifts, with no slack on the water, and the nymph drifts down the same lane. Trout eat both offerings, and the effectiveness of this rig is remarkable.

Tight Line Dry Dropper 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 (Backing Barrel with tag attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
24″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for Dry Fly
24-40″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Nymph —

— Notice that the 4X section is now a foot shorter. This aids in turnover. But many anglers with good casting styles have no problem turning over the dry with the extra foot of tippet length. In that case, it’s even easier to simply clip off the tag nymph from the tight line nymphing formula and attach a dry fly.

— Again, 4X helps with the turnover.

— A little stiffer sighter material helps with turnover.

— Matching the air resistance of the dry to the weight of the nymph is critical. The dry holds back the cast, making it harder to turn over, while the nymph or split shot helps that turnover. Understanding this is key to finding a good match — dry and nymph.

READ: Troutbitten | Three styles of dry dropper: #3 — Tight Line Dry Dropper

READ: Troutbitten | Put more juice in the cast

Photo by Bill Dell

Crossover Technique

Part nymph, part streamer — that’s the crossover. By fishing a streamer a little like a nymph, hookup rates are improved dramatically. With the crossover, we take the streamer to the trout instead of asking the trout to go to the streamer.

Crossover Streamer 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 (Backing Barrel with tag attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
36″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for upper nymph
20″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
Small to medium streamer

— Notice, this is the same tight line nymphing rig but with a streamer at the point.

— If I plan to fish the crossover for extended lengths of time, I may switch to 3X. Stronger tippet helps when fishing around structure and snagging up.

— The crossover rig keeps showing a tag nymph to the trout. And they eat it a lot.

— The crossover allows for fishing at greater distances and covering more water with each cast. The weight of the streamer helps anchor the drift.

READ: Troutbitten | Streamer Presentations — The Crossover Technique

READ: Troutbitten | The Big Rig — The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

READ: Troutbitten | Streamers as an Easy Meal — The Old School Streamer Thing

Streamers on the Mono Rig

With this tactic, we make the first wholesale tippet change. Clip the nymphs and tippet below the Gold Stren of the sighter and store it on a Loon Rigging Foam. Now unroll a thicker tippet section from a second rigging foam. With one knot at the tippet ring at the bottom of the Gold Stren, we’re now fishing full-sized streamers. Quick and easy.

Optionally, I may change everything from the sighter down, if I want a sighter that is longer, shorter, stiffer, or less visible. This is why the tippet ring is at the top of the sighter — because I want the option to swap out sighters whenever I like.

Streamer on the 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 (Backing Barrel with tag attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
36″ — 2X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for upper streamer
24″ — 2X Fluorocarbon Tippet
Streamer 

— Notice, the Rio bi-color is gone from this formula. It is rolled up, with the nymphing tippet, on the rigging foam.

— The sighter is thicker and shorter to help with turnover — and for less color in the water while stripping.

— The tippet is 2X, for greater strength when trout slam the fly. It’s good for yanking the flies out of tree limbs too. 2X also turns over better, with more accuracy.

— Fishing streamers on the Mono Rig requires a slightly different casting stoke. (Here’s a VIDEO.) Open up the arm. Form loops and circles, and keep contact from rod tip to the weight all the way through the cast. Finish with a hard stop, and the streamers sail to the target.

— I use a smaller, visible streamer on a tag, because it gives me a visual aid when I can’t see the point fly. And trout eat it.

— This rig is designed for using all the standard streamer techniques while adding in the benefits of a tight line, Mono Rig system. Jerk-strip, swing, jig, strip fast or slow, head flip, the endless retrieve, etc. — everything is possible here.

READ: Troutbitten | Streamers on the Mono Rig — More control and more contact

READ: Troutbitten | VIDEO: Fly Fishing Streamers on the Mono Rig: Episode 1 — Overview

READ: Troutbitten | VIDEO: Fly Fishing Streamers on the Mono Rig: Episode 2 — Casting

READ: Troubitten | Category | Streamer Fishing

Dry Flies on the Mono Rig

The last variation in the Mono Rig system is one that should not be missed. Casting dries without a traditional fly line is easy, as long as the leader is designed for it and the casting stroke is solid. The benefits of drifting without the drag of fly line are evident as soon as your dry fly hits the water.

Dry Flies on the Mono Rig Formula 

24 feet — 20 lb Maxima Chameleon
2 feet — 10 lb Maxima Chameleon
—  Tippet Ring (2mm)
10 inches — 2X nylon tippet 
6 inches — 3X nylon tippet
20-30 inches — 4X, 5X, or 6x nylon tippet

— Notice, the sighter and fluorocarbon is removed, with nymphs intact, and rolled up on a Loon Rigging Foam. Nylon tippet is added because it is more supple, allowing the dry fly to land with s-curves in the leader.

— There are very good reasons for not adding an extended taper section here. It isn’t necessary, and it hurts the cast more than it helps.

— Here is another place where the right butt section is critical. Casting dries on a Mono Rig simply is not available with a thin or micro-thin butt section.

— If visibility of the leader on the surface is difficult, the sighter can remain in the leader, or a piece of 1X bi-color can be added to the tippet section.

— Sometimes, I do not make the switch to nylon. For a single rising trout, I may clip the nymphs from a standard tight line rig and tie on the dry. I try not to line the trout with my sighter, and I use a good stop and drop in the cast. Fish on.

Thin and Micro-Thin Mono Rigs

Without a doubt, there are moments on the river where a lighter leader is a good solution to the problems at hand. Sometimes it’s a better solution. While the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig is quickly adapted for any situation, thin and micro-thin options provide the unique advantage of less line sag or virtually no sag. This is especially important when choosing to fish across seams at distance, without adding an indy.  But there are other reasons too.

Find a full and in-depth discussion of the thin and micro-thin Mono Rig options in this article:

READ: Troutbitten | Thin and Micro-Thin Leaders for Euro Nymphing and the Mono Rig

Here are two more Mono Rig formula that I always have in my vest:

Thin 10# Mono Rig (.012″ Butt)

26 feet — 10lb Maxima Chameleon
12” — 10lb Gold Stren
12″ — 2x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material
48-64″ — 5X or 6X Fluorocarbon Tippet

Micro-Thin 5# Mono Rig (.008″ Butt)

26 feet — 5lb Maxima Chameleon
20″ — 3x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material
48-64″ — 5X or 6X Fluorocarbon Tippet

As you can see, I prefer short tapers. And much of the performance in my leaders comes from the butt sections. Keep in mind, the function of these leaders is drastically different from the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig.

Other Stuff

The supreme advantage of the Mono Rig is its versatility. It’s so much more than euro nymphing. And it’s more than fishing streamers or dries. Every fly type benefits from the contact and control gained with a Mono Rig.

As much as I enjoy fishing the system, I also use standard length leaders. When I must cast at greater distances than the Mono Rig permits, I use fly line to do the job of pushing my rig to the target. I also use a George Harvey leader to fish dry flies. I love using fly line in these ways, so I keep the fly line on my spool, ready to do the job.

I roll extra leaders onto old Maxima spools or a Sea Strike Leader Wheel for quick changes that take about a minute.

Versatility is at the heart of successful trout fishing. And by learning all the Mono Rig styles, we are prepared for whatever the river asks of us.

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Fish hard, friends.

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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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62 Comments

  1. Thank you, Dom, for bringing all the information about the mono rig together. This is really, really helpful.

    One question: for the tightline version of the mono rig, what do you mean by 4x and 5x? Do you use Seaguar Finesse 4 lbs. for 5x? If so, what do you use as 4x (since Finesse is, in reality, 4.5x?

    Again, many thanks for making so many complicated things relatively simple and intelligible.

    Alex

    Reply
    • Hi Alex. I’d just use whatever you would normally use for 4X and 5X fluoro. Yes, I do use a lot of Finesse. There is no 4 lb though. The .065″ diameter is 5.2 lb, and yes I think of that as my 5X, and I go up from there. I use it in the first four diameters they offer, which closely match 5X, 4X, 3X 2X.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  2. I’ll just echo Alex and say thanks for putting this all together. Hope you and your family are doing well, Dom. –Louis

    Reply
    • Thank you, Louis.

      Dom

      Reply
  3. What made you decide to move away from the 12 lb Maxima Chameleon and 15 lb Amnesia used in your previous formula for tight line nymphing?

    Reply
    • Hi Aaron. Good catch. Honestly, in part, I removed the 15 lb because of all the confusion it created with readers. Ha! So I started fishing without the 15 lb Amnesia in there. I also dropped my transition section down to .012 (10 lb Chameleon). The difference is noticeable, if you’re used to casting mono rigs. But it is slight. My casting style is crisp with a lot of speed between two points. I have no trouble turning it over or with accuracy, and it doesn’t take me away from casting and not lobbing — which is important to me. As I’ve said many times, though, my preferences may not match your or anyone else’s. The slightly thinner lines also sag less. These are all slight differences, but in the end they matter.

      Thanks for reading closely. Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Thanks for the response. I’m looking forward to the launch of the Troutbitten Shop.

        Reply
  4. Great article but you are giving away all our secrets…

    Reply
    • I think Dom should introduce Trout University , and then we all pay tuition by submitting a personal hand tied fly . What you think Dom? Don’t let this blow your mind!
      Elwood

      Reply
      • I can’t use anyone else’s flies. Cash preferred. Ha.

        Reply
    • Ha. That’s right, Beau.

      Reply
  5. Thank you very much Dom. A one-stop shop of reading pleasure. I’ll be taking notes from this one.

    Reply
    • Cheers, Jim.

      Reply
  6. Great article! This really is a good overview of the options.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Lowell.

      Reply
  7. When changing to dry flies, with the 12 lb Maxima, instead of the 10 lb Maxima, do you clip the 10 lb off and tie on the section of 12 lb and tippet ring, or go to a whole new Mono Rig?

    Reply
    • Lowell, good catch. And thank you. That was an error that I’ve now corrected. The base does not change. That transition section always remains 10 lb Chameleon. Thanks again.

      Dom

      Reply
  8. I noticed the PA fly fishing-only regulations require a maximum of 18’ monofilament in these waters. Seems to conflict with your recipe. Comments, Dom?

    (I intend to use the mono rig for my new euro nymphing rod because I haven’t decided on a nymphing line yet. Probably will go with Cortland.).

    Reply
  9. I am sure that somewhere in all your discussions of the mono rig you have discussed rods, but I haven’t found it yet. What type of rod is ideal for fishing the mono rig, or does it matter?

    Also, I haven’t been able to find 12# Amnesia. Will 10# or 15# work? The number 2X and 3X nylon tippet is hard to find also.

    Reply
  10. Hey Dom. Great stuff. My question is, when attaching your leader to the fly line are you using a loop to loop connection? I heard about the super glue method. Have you tried this? If my fly line has a welded loop would I cut that off and then preform the superglue method? Looking forward to your reply.Thanks in advance

    Reply
  11. Dom:
    I’ll add my sincere “thank you” to the chorus. I’ve been a convert to the mono rig for a while now but looking at how you tweak it for different situations is very interesting. As my base, I add 50’ of 20lb maxima when I build a new mono rig. This ensures that even when chucking weighted streamers at distance, I don’t end up into the fly line. Also, I find the first 4 or 5 feet of the 20lb maxima gets kinked/gnarly after using it a while. With a 50’ chunk of maxima, I can just cut off the nasty part and tie back to my sighter when needed as opposed to putting on a whole new 20lb section. I can do this several times until down to 25 feet or so. After that time to change it. Your tips and tactics are always spot on for me and I find myself adopting many of your ideas because they make sense to me and they work.

    Bill Ferguson

    Reply
    • Thanks for the support, Bill!

      I know other guys who do a similar thing with the butt length. My logic is to only put on the length that I need, because I like to change to a regular leader and use fly line often enough that I don’t want to roll 50+ feet of a leader up. That’s my own reason, and I love how everyone finds their own path.

      Great stuff.

      Dom

      Reply
  12. Thanks for a great article, Dom. Except for the terminal tippet sizes is the rest of the mono rig, from the base to the tippet, the same for a 2wt. outfit as for a 5 wt. outfit. Thanks, Vince

    Reply
    • That’s a good question, Vince.

      Yes. We use the same Mono Rig no matter the weight of the rod.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
  13. How many wraps are you using on your blood knots when building the sighter. What is the OD on the 1x Rio 2 to be tippet material. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Jim.

      Usually 4-5 turns in that diameter.

      1X is .010″.

      Make sense?

      Dom

      Reply
  14. I have had a break several times of the tippet at the tippet ring. What am I doing wrong? I have changed and currently use a very small swivel but that is heavier than a ring – but it is also better than breaking off.

    Reply
    • Hi there.

      It’s impossible for me to know what’s wrong without seeing your rig and your knots. All I can really do is assure you that a ton of us use tippet rings as described.

      I suspect that your tippet rings may not be real great. Many rings are not actually round on the outside, but sort of squared off, as if a metal tube was sliced into rings. Know what I mean? That will really hurt your knot strength.

      Good luck.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Duh! Thanks. I have some much better ones on the way. Pays to look! Was split ring and probably just cut tippet.

        Reply
  15. I can’t believe all of the great information on this web site! You should write a book

    Question – what are your thoughts on using 15lb mono for the butt section instead of 20 lb? I’ve heard some euro nymphers are switching to lighter and lighter mono.

    Reply
    • Thanks August,

      At 550 article and counting, Troutbitten really is about six very long books. I always say it reads more like a book than a blog. Approach it that way. It’s not linear. Instead, find the Mono Rig series, or the Big Trout Series, the Dry Dropper series or the Night Fishing Series. All of these contain many articles that are like chapters in a book. Yes, eventually I’ll collect and rewrite each of these series into books. But each of the series that I just mentioned have a lot more chapters to be written . . .

      Anyway, the information is here for you and everyone else. Just explore the links throughout the articles. (Anything in orange is linked.) Or use the Categories and Tags to navigate to your favorite topic. Also find the series in the top menu. I think you’ll enjoy looking around.

      Regarding your question:

      The thinner you go on the butt section, the less fly line style performance you get out of the butt section. I say this a lot — this is casting, and NOT lobbing. But if you get too thin on the butt section, the only thing you can do is lob. I do use thin diameter butt sections sometimes, but it takes very refined skills to still cast it. And thinner diamaters simply cannot push yarn indys and bigger dries to a target. Remember, the Mono Rig is a fly line substitute.

      More on all that in these two articles:

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

      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/

      I encourage you to explore and find the way you like to do things.

      Cheers.

      Dom

      Reply
      • Hi Dom,

        Is the 10lb Stren used in your tapered sighter because of its stiffness/flexibility or because of its visibility? Would 10lb amnesia be an acceptable substitute or is Stren a critical component without any good substitutes?

        Reply
        • Hi Matt.

          Thanks for the question.

          There are a number a reasons I like the Gold Stren in there.

          https://troutbitten.com/2019/04/09/is-a-soft-sighter-best-not-always/

          That will explain a lot. But also realize that on my sighter I always include a Backing Barrel with tag. That adds another dimension to any sighter, taking its sensitive to another level.

          https://troutbitten.com/2014/11/05/the-backing-barrel/

          Try those links, and let me know if it helps.

          Cheers. Dom

          Reply
        • I had the same question. I have 10lb Fl. Green Amnesia already, but wasn’t sure if it was more limp than the Stren. I can’t say the links answered that question.

          Dom, I may have missed something in links, but is 10lb Fl Green Amnesia an acceptable alternative for the 10lb Stren?

          Reply
          • Hi Chris,

            It’s really going to be something that you need to go out and try for yourself. Remember too, that diameter matters, but not as much as stiffness, if you care about turnover. If you are more concerned with line sag, then diameter matters more, but the difference would be almost nill in this case.

            I think you will find that 10 lb green amnesia is about the same flexibility as the 12 lb red amnesia. For some reason the green is stiffer.

            Hope that helps.

            Cheers.
            Dom

  16. Thank you for this. This is by far the best resource on the topic I’ve found on the internet. It has really upped my game. I have a lot of respect for your practical approach, and the fact you’re willing to experiment without fear of silly attacks for not following traditional rules. Also like that you handle the criticism with sharp wit, while having a laugh and keeping it classy. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  17. After second tippet ring and attaching the tag for nymph or streamer, do you attach to the 4x to tippet ring or to 5x second nymph? If attaching to 5x what would be the best knot?

    Reply
  18. Hey Dom, Thanks for the article and explanation. I have become a bit of a leader junkie over the last 2 years. I was pretty dedicated to Olson’s formula, but through time, I don’t like the smaller tippet and I couldn’t cast as far. I have turned over to the mono rig, but I did make one adjustment, instead of 24″ of the 10lb maxima, I swapped to 24″ of 15lb amnesia, honestly more for sight. (my sight is slipping), and having bright Green to Red, to Gold really helps. Today I rigged up the Barrel Backing, and that helped tremendously especially on this cloudy rainy day.
    I do have one question? Why the tippet ring between the transition and 12lb Amnesia? All of your formulas change out between the 12lb and 10lb (except the Dry). Just curious. Unless this is where you change out any pre rigs.
    Seriously, thank you so much for your site. It is beyond helpful, and I have learned a lot. I’m in Southern PA, so I relate much to your waters.

    Reply
    • Hi Greg. Good to hear from you.

      I’m glad you found an adjustment that works for you. Namely, the reason I like the transition piece more subtle is because that transition piece stays on when I swap out for streamers or dry flies. That sort of answers your question, really. I keep the tippet ring at the top of my sighter section because that is where I swap out for the other styles.

      Make sense?

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Roger that. Thanks again.

        Reply
      • Hey Dom
        I have a question for you. So, on thing I have always struggled with, and I know others have as well, is the knots going in and out of the guides. When the line is in full cast, or retrieving, it’s obviously never a problem. But when you are casting close or just reeled in tight to change a fly or whatever reason. that damn pesky blood knot gets caught in the top guide. I have used Loon Knot sense. I tried building a ramp with it on my line, etc. Is this just a life struggle we have to deal with, or do you have a genius fix? (seems like you have a lot of those) (Like braces rubber band on the rod to hold a tag fly. So simple and obvious, but why have I never even thought of it? HAHAHA).
        Your advise and knowledge is always appreciated. Cheers.

        Reply
        • Hi Greg,

          I also hate any knots in the guides. No matter how clean is the knot or if you coat it with something, etc., I don’t want any knots in the guides. I’ve always felt that way. And that is the main reason my Mono Rig leader is built this way. The butt section is long enough to keep the fly line transition out of the guides. And the transition piece and sighter with tippet is all short enough to keep knots out of the guides.

          I don’t have knots in the guides until I’m reeling up and read to move on. While fishing, fighting trout, etc., there are no knots in my guides with the formula above.

          Make sense?

          Dom

          Reply
  19. I’ve been a dedicated “lobber” for many years. Last week I came across a lot of fish aggressively feeding on top. I had done well fishing nymphs as I worked up to this spot, but these fish were keyed in to small flies on top. There was a light wind right in my face and I couldn’t get the flies quite far enough to reach the fish. I tried a dry/dropper, but I needed a small bead to match the small fly and I still couldn’t get the distance I needed.
    I’ve been reading your site for years, but that precise moment really helped the turnover problem really make sense. My 15lb Maxima Chameleon and limp bi-color indicator tippet was at the mercy of this not-so-strong wind. All of your article and my last few times on the water have really gotten the wheels turning and I really can’t thank you enough for sharing your knowledge. The formulas are great, but the theory is invaluable.

    I’m a visual learner, so I put together some diagrams of what you described above. In case anyone else wanted to see the formulas side by side for a greater understanding.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/18EekOqoIrwLSUTVRH58qAAIT1a4_0JCo/view?usp=sharing

    Reply
  20. Hi Dom,

    Is there an alternative to 10 lb golden stren?

    Thanks,

    Pascal

    Reply
  21. Getting to like the mono rig. Appreciate your giving us the info on it (and on so much more). On the spring creek today wanted to switch from the mono to the Harvey leader, but couldn’t see how to get the mono on a rigging foam without major hassle – the mono is so long that I’d have had a mess on the ground if I stripped it all off and then tried to wind it on the foam. Any tips on how to get that done easily?
    Thanks. Tom

    Reply
    • Hi Tom. Yes, don’t use rigging foams for full leaders. They are too small. Wind leaders on old Chameleon spools or similar. I actually ordered 900 from Germany, so I could offer them in the Troutbitten Shop. Ha. Soon.

      I promise, you can swap leaders in about a minute if you do it this way.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • What’s the procedure for winding a full leader on? Do you lay the rod on the ground, with no drag on the reel, and then pull the leader out the tip-top as you wind the leader onto the Chameleon spool? Or do you strip all the leader out onto the ground to begin with, and then load the Chameleon spool? Or do you hold the road under one arm, strip a little line out, then wind it on the spool, and repeat until the full leader is loaded on the spool? Just want to take the easiest route from the first time I do it. Thanks.

        Tom

        Reply
  22. I’m loving the all mono leader. I’ve actually started using a “micro” mono rig (8lb Chameleon and 4x indicator tippet) and have found it to be a revelation. It is a bit harder to cast dries but overall my ability to maintain a dead drift – particularly at distance – has been vastly improved. I also have not noticed an impact on my ability to cast accurately – which is what the articles from Lance Egan and Devin Olsen indicate. (I also have not ventured down to 5lb mono either ).

    I have noticed a problem – however – which is that the mono starts to stick to the rod after a few hours of fishing. This seems to happen more in cold weather for some reason. Have you ever experienced this? I’m assuming this is happening because the mono is waterlogged so to remedy I’m just going to carry an extra reel with me. Do you know if there is another solution to this?

    Reply
    • Hi August,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      That thin line sticking to the rod is just another downside of microthin butt sections. Experimenting with stuff is something I do and I recommend for everyone who really wants to understand their system. I have an 8 lb butt section in my vest. I use it once in a while, but not very often. Microthin butts are very specialized. I’m not sure that’s always communicated when people recommend them. They are not real versatile. And versatility is a Troubitten theme — I like to do what the trout want most. So I often fish indys, streamers and dry dropper on the Mono Rig. None of these are performed best with a super thin butt. I disagree that accuracy is improved with a thin butt section. I believe the .017″ and similar is more accurate for CASTING and not lobbing. I preach that a lot too, I suppose:

      https://troutbitten.com/2019/07/07/fly-fishing-the-mono-rig-its-casting-not-lobbing/

      When using a real thin butt, we must understand that we are now using the weight of the fly or shot to do the casting. 6 lb line can’t push things out there like a 20 lb butt can. Cast well, a .017″ butt performs like a fly line. So we have more casting options and more accuracy. 6 lb does not. And yeah, it also sticks to the rod sometimes.

      Lastly, if you are limited by rules that force you to use a comp line (euro fly line) and a leader no longer than twice the rod length then a skinny butt may well be the better choice. That’s another thing that isn’t always communicated. If I had to limit my leader to 20 feet, my leader formula would be different, because when that euro line is out of the guides, it sags more than .017″.

      Fun stuff to think about. I think anglers like us enjoy the options.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Thank you. I want to note – the common wisdom with the micro-thin approach is that it is harder to cast with accuracy (concurs with your experience). Best

        Reply
        • Right on. It also does not carry the turnover power necessary for many variations that I like to do on the Mono Rig.

          Cheers.
          Dom

          Reply
  23. Dom,

    When I found your site and started reading about the mono rig, I got the basic concept right away and rushed out to fish it. I didn’t have chameleon but I had 20 lb amnesia so I used that for the base section. It seemed ‘soft’ and hard to cast but I didn’t have anything to compare it to and … I caught fish! I wanted to continue.

    To see if the system would improve with chameleon, I bought 20 lb chameleon but the store didn’t have 10 lb so I substituted 10 lb maxima ultrageen. No amnesia (not 12 lb at least) or gold stren. Here’s my current leader formula:

    20lb chameleon – 30 ft (just to keep the fly line on the reel)
    10 lb ultrateen – 20-24″
    1x Rio Sighter – 12-14″
    –tippet ring–
    4x or 5x tippet – 36″ (depending on water depth, etc.)

    I’ve caught fish using an indicator rig and I find mending/line control is definitely easier, but casting seems difficult. Now, I’ve only been fly fishing for a year, but tangles with dropper tags seem more frequent and casting seems to take a lot more effort.

    Since my rod is a little short for nymphing, I’m mostly using an indicator/suspender so I can get out to 10-15 ft of distance…sometimes further.(Note: I only have a 9′ 5wt rod – medium action)

    Question:
    How important is that leader formula when it comes to preventing tangles and improving casting?

    How important is the rod length/action?

    OR.. is it me? Are my struggles with it the reality of the mono rig and I just need to continue so I get more comfortable with it?

    NOTE: Would OPST make casting easier?

    Thanks for any input you can provide. Love the site – you are doing awesome work!

    Reply
    • Hi Matt,

      I’m glad you are out there and catching fish. Thanks for the kind words, and for the questions.

      It’s always hard for me when people struggle, but they’ve substituted materials. What I mean is it’s hard for me to start telling you what to do differently, because I don’t precisely know the tools you’re working with. The materials you changed do make a difference. In general, your leader is a good bit softer and less powerful. And I especially would not go that way if you’re using an indy.

      I’d recommend just buying the materials online and tying up the formula as listed. See if that helps. Or, if you wait about a week, leaders will be in the shop for purchase.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for experimentation and for finding what works for you. But if it’s not working, then I would not yet deviate. Know what I mean?

      “How important is that leader formula when it comes to preventing tangles and improving casting?

      It’s important. But once you get the hang of things, you can make a lot of things work.

      “How important is the rod length/action?”

      Honestly, it’s less important than the leader. Cast it like a dry line. Use crisp stops between ten and two. Use more speed. Take the flies off, and learn to cast the leader like a fly line. Seriously. Do that.

      “Are my struggles with it the reality of the mono rig and I just need to continue so I get more comfortable with it?”

      Everyone is different. But it really isn’t very hard. Start short. Use flies that add up to at least 50 cg at first.

      “NOTE: Would OPST make casting easier?”

      No.

      Hey, feel free to email me if you continue to struggle, but I bet you’re real close.

      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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