Fly anglers like to fish with a couple flies once in a while. The standard method for attaching a second fly is run it in-line — as a trailer from the bend of the first fly. Instead, I prefer to create a tag dropper for that attachment. Tag droppers have big advantages that I’ve detailed in this popular Troutbitten article from a few years back . . .
But maybe just as important is how we create the tag for the dropper. And I have three favorite ways that I use for different reasons and specific applications.
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Joining two lines and leaving a long tag on one of them is what I call the splice, and it is arguably the most popular method for creating a tag dropper.
For joining these two lines, I choose the Orvis Tippet Knot, and there are a couple of good reasons. First, this knot saves material from the mainline, because we create the tag with the added-in length of line. Second, that line also creates a tag that points up and away from the mainline, instead of down. And this difference provides a real advantage for keeping lines tangle-free.
Blood knots are fine for the splice, but they can get a little tricky in skinny tippet diameters. And they provide no advantage over the Orvis Tippet Knot. Likewise, the Double Surgeon’s knot is a fair choice, and probably the most popular, but it requires the use of the down tag, which is created by the mainline, also shortening that by the inches required to create the tag. Using the added-in line with a Double Surgeon’s Knot, which creates an up-tag dropper, is a mistake, because it forces knot breakage on even medium-sized fish.
Use the Orvis Tippet Knot, and love your life.
What I call the layover is a close cousin to the splice, because the tag dropper is created by the exact same motions. Here, I choose the Orvis Tippet Knot again to create the tag. A Double Surgeon’s can also create the layover, but you must — once again — use the down tag.
The layover is a great method because it preserves the original length of the mainline. It also maintains the strength of the mainline, and I’d have a hard time arguing that it’s not stronger than the splice.
Lastly, by using the layover method for creating a tag dropper, I can add thin droppers on a thicker line. For example, think of using 4X to a tight line drop shot rig, then using 6X to create the tags for a pair of #20 Zebra Midges. You get the strength of 4X to the weight and the flexibility of 6X to the flies. It’s a neat trick.
The Add-On Line
This third method allows for the creation of a tag when a knot already exists on the mainline but no tag is present. With the add-on line we create a tag and slide it down to the knot.
To create the tag, simply tie a uni-knot around the mainline above the existing knot. Snug the uni-knot, but do not tighten yet. First, slide the knot into position, and then tighten it down.
The Uni-Knot here cannot be beat. Because there are five wraps around the mainline, it’s a much stronger knot than choosing a Clinch, a Davy or something similar. Those knots have only one wrap around the mainline, which can sustain damage and break easier. (Trust me. I learned the hard way.)
The Add-On line is a great choice for saving time and saving materials.
What About Loop Droppers?
I hate ‘em. 🙂
While loop droppers are the classic solution for creating tag droppers, they are also the worst. They are clunky, they slide, and they take more time and material to form. No thank you.
But if loop droppers work for you, don’t let me change your mind.
Take Your Pick
With three good solutions for creating tag droppers, there’s a method for every moment. And by getting each of these under your fingers, by practicing them and being comfortable, you’ll find uses for all of these methods as you work up a river.
Fish hard, friends.
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