Adjusting your rig

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Dan Fraiser

I’m standing on the bank watching the bottom fall out of the stream and a dark abyss form where there once was stream bottom.

The currents are right and the undercut bank is textbook. I know there are fish in there like I know putting my head under water would make breathing hard. It’s just obvious. I know that I don’t have enough weight on, that my dropper needs a tandem fly, that my hopper needs to go and be replaced with a strike indicator and that I need to dig the shot out of my pack. I know it, but that seems like so much work and the fish are right there. So I spend 10 minutes working the run without a strike. Casting and mending and trying to work the margins where I might be deep enough. Eventually, I give up and tear down my rig, put on all the right stuff and immediately start catching.

This unwillingness to change set-ups is a real problem for me. I’ll try to make do with what’s on, only to eventually cave and do it right. It feels like re-rigging would take up so much of my fishing time. Forget that mistake. I timed it tonight. To go from a bare tippet to a two fly rig, complete with shot and an indicator took me 2 minutes and 22 seconds… and I’m slow. I waste more time fishing a rig that isn’t right, just because it’s on, than it would cost me to just get it right and start catching. And who knows how many fish I spooked or made shy before I made the change.

Ignoring the time wasted fishing wrong, let’s just think about this. If you have to make a complete change 5 times in a fishing session it would cost you about 11 minutes of fishing. Now, If I told you could catch 10 more trout tonight, but you have to start fishing 11 minutes later, would you do it? Of COURSE you would. So slow down, make the rig changes and start catching more and bigger fish, even if it means having a modicum of patience before you start working a new spot.

Dan Frasier
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Adjusting your rig

  1. I have had some success looping on the biggest Unibobber known to man kind and pinching on several large shot, like a couple number 4s. I keep adding until the uni bobber barely floats. Gets the flies down deep in a hurry. I’ve even had takes on the sunken hopper from time to time. On my hopper/copper/dropper I usually run 8lb to the hopper; run a foot and a half of 8 or 6 off the hopper then switch to 4lb to the copper and 2 lb from the copper to the dropper. The heavy shot is added just above the transition from 8/6 – 4.

  2. Same, I’m trying to be better at this, and it gets tougher if I have a stretch of really great dry fly fishing especially. I need to change quicker and more often, but no matter how many articles I read about doing just that you can get caught up on the water and just keep fishing and moving on the same rig. Honestly, on many days, I just enjoy fishing more than catching fish

    I may give the rig holder foam rings a shot, so I can pre-tie some rigs, that way I don’t feel like I’m wasting time, or dealing with cumbersome s$&t on the H2o. Lastly, as a gift, because they are sort of stupid expensive. I got one of those rod holders and that has opened up a hand, and cut down on the laziness.

  3. my eyes have grown dim, and my hands have lost their cunning.. takes me about 10-15min to set up a two-fly rig. If it’s cold, even longer. I know I change flies and rigs a lot less often than would be optimal..

  4. It is hard sometimes to “bite the bullet” and change fly rigs but there are times when you just have to. Sometimes I just change flies, assuming there’s enough tippet left to tie another knot with. One other thing I do to save time is pre-tie some two-fly rigs and wrap them around a strip of foam that has slits on each end. My homemade “rig keepers” hold five rigs. With a tippet ring on the end of my leader, all I have to do is unwind one rig and tie it onto the ring, add a split shot, and … done.

    Yeah, no strike indicator for me. I a stream like the one in the photo, with undercut banks, Euro Nymphing is the way to go for me. It’s awesome.

  5. Yup. That’s me. Too lazy to change, all the while hoping that the “same ol’, same ol'” will produce once again… but it doesn’t. Gotta slow down… take my time… do it right… the first time!

  6. You made a good point that adaptability is one of the things to keep in mind when it comes to one’s gear for fly fishing. I’d like to go to a guided fly fishing trip soon because I’m interested in looking for ways to be a lot more active. I think more outdoor activities outside the city will make that easier to accomplish.

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