Keep a Backup Nymph Rig Ready

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Having a completely different pre-rigged tandem nymph rig ready helped me catch this beauty. Photo: Louis Cahill

Changing out flies on the water takes time but is often necessary to catch trout consistently all day.

Keeping a pre-rigged tandem nymph rig ready to go, will allow you to quickly change out your flies from one hole to the next and save you critical time when your fishing time is limited. They’re great to have when you find your hot fly has turned cold, when you break your rig off on a snag or find yourself with a nasty tangled mess. Let’s face it, we often find ourselves in question on the water, particularly in the first hour after we’ve wet our line. It can take some time to figure out what the trout want for the day, and by having a couple different pre-rigged tandem nymph rigs on hand, you’ll find it much more efficient to try multiple fly patterns and rigs out, and that should help you dial-in quicker and start catching trout.

Sometimes the tandem nymph rig you just caught trout with in the hole downstream, may fail to get the attention of the trout in the next hole you fish. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes for sure. In fact, this happened to me just the other day. My client had landed a fish out of the first three holes we fished in the morning with a woolly bugger lead fly and a micro san juan worm dropper. As my client worked the fourth hole of the day, the bites abruptly stopped, despite him making several great presentations and drifts. Knowing there were fish in the hole, I snipped off the rig and tied on one of my different pre-rigged nymph rigs. First cast, my client landed a trout, and he went on to catch another fish after that. If I would have stuck with the first rig, thinking the flies were fine because they worked in the previous holes, we probably wouldn’t have landed those two fish. There is no doubt there are times when trout will key in on a specific aquatic insect and become selective feeders. However, some days, when there isn’t a hatch or specific food source they are keying in on, I think trout often create their own specific food menu for the day. When this is the case, and you’re not having success, often all you need to do to get trout to bite, is show them something different. Humans are no different. If we eat the same thing for lunch a couple days in a row, we’re ready for a change.

So before my guide trips these days, I’ve got in the routine of tying up a few different tandem nymph rig combinations, and stow them in either my pack foam patch or organize them neatly in my Orvis Dropper Rig Fly Box. I’ll have one big fly and bright attractor nymph rig, one heavy medium-sized lead fly nymph with a soft-hackle rig and last, I’ll have a small tungsten nymph with a tiny baetis or midge dropper rig. Between these three rigs, I’ll usually find one that works for the water I’m fly fishing. Give this tip a try next time you’re out trout fishing.

Orvis Dropper Fly Box

Update: Orvis is Currently Selling the Dropper Fly Box. Click the link or photo above to visit the product page on the Orvis website.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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14 thoughts on “Keep a Backup Nymph Rig Ready

  1. Ha, irony is a funny thing! I was just thinking yesterday on a long drive home from work how nice it would be to have this exact type of box and was pondering on how I could make something of the sort, not knowing that it already exists. Of course that thought faded as work & life crept back in. So, I pull up G&G this morning along with a cup of coffee, & low & behold I should have known to check the web first! I clicked on the Orvis link to purchase, because it was a for sure sign, and unfortunately I was not fast enough. Spoke to an Orvis retailer who said they are sold out of this box and it has been discontinued. I did find the Cliff’s dropper rig box, but it doesn’t look to be as big or as organized as the Orvis. Just thought I would share this, and see if you know of any other dropper boxes available? Thx

    • Jeff,

      Man I didn’t even think to see if I could add it to the cart when I pulled it up on the Orvis website. I just assumed they were still carrying it full-time in stock. My bad on that one. Maybe if enough people call them, they’ll bring it back.

      You are correct that Cliff Outdoors make a dropper box called “The Deuce”. As far as I can tell, it’s going to be your next best option. I googled it and found a few places that are selling it for $20.

      When I was in Alaska, I cut off a foot long section of an old pool noodle/floatie and stored my pre-tandem rigs on it. That only works nice when you’re in a boat though. Anyway, that’s crazy you were just thinking of this idea the other day and then find it on G&G. That stuff happens to me all the time. I’ll think of a good fishing invention and a week later I see it in a magazine, TV or online. Apparently, you have to pull the trigger quick when you get an idea, because all fisherman think a like, Ha.

      Thanks for the comment and informing me of the discontinued issue.


  2. Kent,
    I just want to say how much I appreciate your blog. I look forward to new reads and great tips that make me a better fisherman. Maybe one day soon I can book a trip with you and show you how much I’ve learned from you informational blog. My wife thinks I’m looking at dirty web stuff but this blog is better. I have to thank Ronnie Hall for introducing me to your site. Those guy’s at the fish hawk are the best. keep up the good work.

    • Beau,

      The boys at The Fish Hawk are family to us. They’ve got everything fly fishing related you can think of and enough knowledge to go around to have you prepared to fish anywhere on the globe. I just wish we had more time to fish together. It only happens a couple times a year. I’m really happy you’ve been following Gink & Gasoline. Even happier you feel like you’re picking up some technique. Give me a shout anytime and we’ll figure out a day I can guide you.


  3. Kent

    Thanks for your constant flow of ideas. Super helpful.

    What knot do you like best to tie on these pre-rigged lines?



    • Scott,

      I usually use a uni-knot because I can loosen and retighten the knots with my fingernails. That allows me to swap out droppers super quick or take the dropper off lead fly if I get a tangle to make it easier to untangle. I also use the knot because it is really easy to tie even with fine tippet and the knot only requires a small amount of tippet to tie.


  4. There’s something called a Lindy that I picked up for $15 or so. Its a long foam tube that has dividers for doing the same thing. It’s a light weight and cheap option for stringing up around 10 rigs.

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