5 Easy Steps on How to Tie a Dropper when Fly Fishing

5 Easy Steps on How to Tie a Dropper when Fly Fishing

There are many different things to learn about when it comes to fly fishing, and one is how to tie a dropper. This is a small part of tippet tied to your leader, enabling you to fish several flies on the same cast or leader. With that being said, read on to discover everything you need to know about using a dropper.

There are many different things to learn about when it comes to fly fishing, and one is how to tie a dropper. This is a small part of tippet tied to your leader, enabling you to fish several flies on the same cast or leader. With that being said, read on to discover everything you need to know. 

How Do You Tie a Dropper When Fly Fishing?

When you are using setting up a trailing dropper, follow these simple steps:

  1. Attach your leader to your fly line. You want to ensure your fly line is a good distance behind your first fly. A nine-foot tapered leader is a good choice. There are plenty of good leaders for sale online today. At the leader's thicker end, attach the leader to the line, using a simple loop to loop connection or a blood knot.

    Blood Knot

  2. Attache your first fly to your leader. Now, you are ready to attach your first fly! A standard Improved Clinch Knot is a good idea for tying your first fly.

  3. Next, connect your second tippet section. You need to be mindful not to jack up the lead bug's appearance when you are doing this. Attach this part of the tippet to the first fly's hook bend using a standard Improved Clinch Knot. A fluorocarbon tippet is a good choice because it has a greater propensity to sink and is has the same light refraction rate as water so it is almost invisible in water.

    Dropper on Second Fly

  4. Attache your Dropper. The final piece of the puzzle is to attach your dropper. The second dropper can differ in size considerably depending on what you are aiming to achieve. However, all you need to do is use another Improved Clinch Knot or a Non-Slip Look Knot to attach this second fly to the second part of the tippet. You can trim it up, give a slight tug to the entire unit.

    Improved Clinch Knot

  5. We recommend having your larger or heavier fly as your first fly and trail your dropper with a smaller pattern or emerger.  The reason for this setup is the weight of the larger fly will come through first on your cast pulling the lighter fly through the cast.

If you are Euro Nymphing this is typically opposite where your heavier fly is at the point. In Euro Nymphing, leaders are typically 9 to 20 feet depending on the set-up so you don't have the fly line creating momentum in your cast.

Read on to Find out More About Using Droppers when Fly Fishing

    Now that you have a better understanding of how to tie a dropper when fly fishing, we have plenty of other helpful tips and pieces of information to help you! But first, let's cover the benefits that are associated with using a dropper in fly fishing:

    What are the Benefits of Using Droppers when Fly Fishing?

    Several different benefits are associated with this fly fishing technique, so let's take a look at them in further detail: 

    Draw fish to deceptive fly patterns

    This is one of the main benefits associated with fly fishing. Fishing an attractor pattern that is brightly colored will draw fish in for an upfront look. While the attractor may not fool them, they may be misled into believing that the droppers' imitative nymph patterns are the real thing.

    Lightning Bug weighted Nymph

    You will be able to cover various depths of water 

    Fishing, numerous flies on droppers, means that you will be able to fish at multiple water depths. As locating the feeding depth is vital to catching fish, covering several different water depths via droppers gives you the ability to figure out where the fish are faster.

     Fly Selection in the Water Column

    You can use various kinds of fly

    If you cannot decide what type of fly to use, you will be able to try different options by going down this route. By utilizing droppers, you have a full range of fly types to select from, meaning that finding the winning fly pattern for you will be much easier.

    Control your fly depth

    Should you wish to keep your point fly or droppers at a certain depth, you can fish a buoyant fly pattern, and this will ensure that your flies are within the feeding zone with accurate control. 

    Catch over one fish at a time 

    While this is not going to happen on a frequent occasion, there are a couple of other methods that can boost your probability of catching several fish at the same time. You may not end up landing both of them, as this can be very challenging. However, you will certainly get to enjoy one of the best fights you have ever had while fishing.

    For more professional tips on droppers, check out this article here>

      How many droppers should you use?

      Unfortunately, there is no magic number! It all depends on where you are fishing and how you are fishing. The majority of people will fish a single fly via the end of the leader, which is known as the point or the point fly, and then they will utilize one or two droppers further down the line.

      If you are fishing on a reservoir, you may notice that more experienced fly fishers fishing with as many as three droppers, yet, the majority of the fisheries out there today will limit you to either two or three flies. So we advise that you take a look at the rules first. You are more likely to experience a tangle if you add more flies to your line, so starting off with a single dropper is always the recommended approach.

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      What is the best length for your droppers?

      You may be wondering what length you should make your droppers. The optimal length for droppers tends to be between twelve and eighteen inches. However, there are a lot of people who prefer to fish them much shorter than this.

      Tippet Length

      Nevertheless, if you do decide to make your dropper a lot shorter than the measurements we have advised, the fly is not going to waft around in the water quite as naturally. On the flip side, if you go for a dropper that is a lot longer, you will end up with more tangles. That is why it is essential to get the sizing right to have the optimal fishing experience.

      Naturally, your droppers will begin being a bit longer, and then they will get smaller in size throughout your trip while you change the fly, which will make the line shorter every time. So, if you start with a dropper around the 12 to 18-inch mark, you will find that this should see you suitable for the majority of the day.

      Large Brown Trout

      For river nymphing with a standard fly line, a length of around 12 inches tends to best. If you are Czech and French nymph style of 'casting' your droppers will be shorter with a different connection setup that we will discuss in future articles.

      When should you use droppers?

      This is a question that a lot of people ask: when should I fish droppers? You can use droppers in virtually all fly fishing situations and pretty much on any fly line. You can use a group of dry flies, a selection of nymphs, a team of streamers, or any other combination that you feel will land that MONSTER Trout!

      Droppers are very common in the world of fly fishing, both on still water and rivers, and so a lot of people use them in many situations, meaning great flexibility is assured.

      Are there any negatives associated with using  droppers?

      There are a few drawbacks that you should be mindful of. The first disadvantage is that tangling can be a bit of a problem. This is especially the case if the weather is winder. You will benefit from adjusting your casting stroke so that the loop is opened up.

      If you don't do this, the droppers will likely get tangled up every few casts, and needless to say, this can be very frustrating.

      Another drawback to keep in mind when using droppers for trout fly fishing is that the odd snap-off can happen. This is because possible weak points can be added to the leader.

      So there you have it: everything you need to know about using droppers in fly fishing. We hope that this guide has helped you get a better understanding of how to use this technique and the benefits associated with it. This is undoubtedly a great way of attracting fish to imitative fly patterns and covering different water depths, which means that you can have a more exciting and enjoyable fly fishing experience.

      Matthew Bernhardt

      About the Author

      Matthew Bernhardt, a third-generation Coloradan, grew up at the forefront of the state’s fly-fishing revolution, enjoying time on the water, side by side with experienced guides and lifelong anglers.

      By combining his passion for fly-fishing with input from other experienced fly-fishers and guides and his fine arts degree from Colorado State University, Matthew spent five years carefully developing the Drifthook Fly Fishing System, built to help every angler catch more trout.

      When he’s not spending time with his wonderful family, you’ll find him out on the water catching MONSTER trout, and he anxiously looks forward to the day when his kids are old enough to join him there.

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