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Dropper Rig Combos

In this lesson, we will go into specific rig setups and fly combos that you can use when you’re on the water with your Dropper Rigs, Nymph Frenzy, and Emerger Swing Fly Box sets.

TRANSCRIPT


In this lesson, we will go into specific rig setups and fly combos that you can use when you’re on the water with your Dropper Rigs, Nymph Frenzy, and Emerger Swing Fly Box sets.

Don’t worry if you didn’t purchase the Dropper Rigs or the Emerger Swing Fly Box Set; you will still land MONSTER trout. But if you’re ready to take your fly fishing to the next level, go ahead and use your members’ discount in the shopping section of the Members Portal.

As we learned in lesson 10 of the beginner tutorial, the patterns in your Dropper Rig Fly Box Set represent adult patterns that have landed on the water. These include terrestrial patterns, such as ants and hoppers (grasshoppers), and stimulator patterns that mimic multiple species of adult flies.

What’s great about these flies is that they are extremely easy to see on the water. Most have bright colors for easy spotting, and they float high on the water. We will be fishing these patterns on top of the water with trailing flies behind them that are either floating or submerged to imitate a fly coming to the surface.

Unlike our nymphing rigs, these combos will be fished without an indicator or weights. This is commonly known as dry fly fishing. Why is it called that? Because, in theory, they stay dry on top of the surface. But before we dive into specific fly setups, let’s discuss how to set up a multiple rig with your Dropper Rig Fly Box Set.

Using the 9-foot 5x leader, attach an additional 2 feet of fluorocarbon tippet using the Triple Surgeon’s Knot. Then, tie a hopper or stimulator to the end using the Improved Clinch Knot. (All knots mentioned in this lesson were covered in lesson 6 of our beginner tutorials.)

Next, attach your 5x fluorocarbon tippet material to hook of your first fly with another Improved Clinch Knot. You should have no more than 8 to 12 inches of tippet before your next fly. The viewing window on the surface for a fish is narrower than when they are down low, so having the flies close together helps. Now, attach the second fly using the Non-Slip Loop Knot.

When we set up our rigs, we will have our largest fly on the top and then work our way down to our smallest fly. This will insure that the front of the rig pulls the rest of the flies through the loop of your cast with the lighter flies following behind it for a soft presentation.

Dry fly fishing is an equal mix of spotting and presentation—half spotting the best location for trout, and half presentation on how the flies get to that trout. In the advanced lessons, we will go into tracking down MONSTER trout, but for this lesson I want you to be comfortable picking the appropriate combinations for optimal success.

Remember, with the Drifthook Fly Fishing System, you have access to a seasonal chart in the download section of the Members Portal. It’s a good guide for selecting the most optimal flies to use during a particular time of the year. Because the majority of the flies in this box are season-specific, we will not go into combos for November, December, January, and February in this lesson. During those months, I recommend using your Nymph Frenzy Fly Box for success on the water.

One great trick to picking the perfect Hopper is to catch a live one as you are walking to the banks. Look at the underside of its belly. Is it golden? Are the legs dark? This will help you decide what coloring to use when choosing your Hopper setup.

MARCH and APRIL
Check your local area, but most Hoppers do not start moving around until late April, but the Mayflies will start coming off the water. During these months, I like to use a big Stimulator followed by a smaller Mayfly pattern, both riding high on the water. Or I will do a trailing Emerger that sits just below the film.

Top Fly
Parachute Adams Indicator
Adams
Royal Wolf
Humpy Royal

Back Fly Floating
Mayflies:
Parachute Adams, #14
Trico Dun, #18
E-Z Caddis—Olive, #16
Hot Wing Caddis — Olive, #16 or #18
Back Fly Submerged

Midges:
CDC Midge Pupa — Olive
Crystal Midge — Black
Crystal Midge — Olive

Mayflies:
Baetis Barr Emerger — Plain
Barr Emerger BWO Bead-head
RS2 Emerger — Olive
RS2 Emerger — Gray
Last Chance Cripple BWO
Baetis Dun

MAY, JUNE, and JULY — Hoppers

The runoff water should be receding by now, and your hatches will be more prevalent with the warmer weather. The Caddis should now be in full effect, along with Mayflies and Midges. Starting in June you will find Pale Morning Dun Mayfly hatches. PMDs typically hatch in late morning, so if you are on the water early, start with Midges and Caddis and work your way into the PMDs when you see them off the water.

This is also the time of year when we start seeing our terrestrial fishing increase. And let me tell you, it’s fun… . The great thing about fishing terrestrials is that you don’t have to have the same finesse and approach as you do with dry flies. A grasshopper, ant, or beetle typically ends up in the water by falling off a branch or being blown into the water by the wind, so having a big splash is not going to spook the fish.

Another nice thing about a large Hopper is that they are easier to huck long distances. So if you’re trying to reach an opposing bank in the wind, these heavy bugs can help make it happen.

I typically like to fish two Hoppers at once—a large one followed by a stimulator or smaller beetle or ant pattern. Try these killer combos and get ready for some fun.

Top Fly
Fat Albert — Purple
Chubby Chernobyl
Dave's Hopper — Green
Half Chernobyl — Tan/Yellow
Kaufmanns Stimulators — Olive

Bottom Fly
CDC Biot Black Ant
Parachute Humpy Ant
Beetle — Black
Adams
Royal Wolf
Humpy Royal

MAY, JUNE, and JULY — Stimulators
When I see action on the surface, I love to move over to these setups. They are easy to see and fun to cast. Your presentation has to be a little more delicate than with a hopper, but if you cast above your target and let it float into it, you can have great success. You also get action on the swing when you come to the end of your drift. So keep your eyes open because they could hit these at any time.

Top Fly
Parachute Adams Indicator
Adams
Royal Wolf
Humpy Royal

Bottom Fly (Floats on Top)
Parachute Adams    
E-Z- Caddis — Olive
Hot Wing Caddis — Olive
Elk Hair Caddis CDC — Olive
Graphic Caddis Pupa — Green
Spotlight Caddis Emerger — Olive

Bottom Fly, Submerged (Floats Just Below Film)
Midge Patterns:
CDC Midge Pupa — Olive
CDC Midge Pupa — Red
Crystal Midge — Black
Crystal Midge — Olive

Mayfly Patterns:
RS2 Emerger — Olive
PMD — Pale Yellow
PMD — Pale Yellow
Comparadun PMD
PMD Spinner — Olive
Barr Emerger PMD

If you are having success with one pattern, try doubling up on that pattern in different sizes. The trout love a double-decker with cheese!

AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, and OCTOBER — Hoppers
During these months, trout typically start chasing darker color patterns, so keep that in mind when picking your selection.

Top Fly Terrestrials:
Half Chernobyl — Brown/Orange
Fat Albert — Purple
Chubby Chernobyl
Dave's Hopper — Yellow
Kaufmanns Stimulators — Orange
Kaufmanns Stimulators — Red

Bottom Fly, Dry (Floats on Top)
Terrestrials:
CDC Biot Black Ant
Parachute Humpy Ant
Beetle — Black

Mayflies:
E-Z Caddis — Tan
Hot Wing Caddis — Tan
Elk Hair Caddis CDC — Tan
Graphic Caddis Pupa — Tan
CDC Caddis Emerger
Spotlight Caddis Emerger — Tan

Bottom Fly, Submerged (Floats Just Below Film)
Midges:
CDC Midge Pupa — Red
Crystal Midge — Black

Mayflies:
RS2 Emerger — Gray
PMD — Pale Yellow
Comparadun PMD
Barr Emerger PMD
Last Chance Cripple — BWO
Baetis Barr Emerger — Plain
Barr Emerger BWO — Bead-head
Baetis Dun

AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, and OCTOBER — Stimulators
Like in earlier months, your presentation has to be a little more delicate than with a hopper, but if you cast above your target and let it float into it, you can have great success. You also get action on the swing when you come to the end of your drift. So keep your eyes open because they could hit these at any time.
 

Top Fly
Royal Wolf
Humpy Royal
Adams
Parachute Adams Indicator

Bottom Fly, Dry (Floats on Top)
Mayflies:
E-Z- Caddis — Tan
Hot Wing Caddis — Tan
Elk Hair Caddis CDC — Tan
CDC Caddis Emerger
Spotlight Caddis Emerger — Tan

Bottom Fly, Submerged (Floats Just Below Film)
Midges:
CDC Midge Pupa — Red
Crystal Midge — Black

Mayflies:
RS2 Emerger — Gray
PMD — Pale Yellow
Comparadun PMD
Barr Emerger PMD
Last Chance Cripple BWO    
Baetis Barr Emerger — Plain
Barr Emerger BWO Bead-head
Baetis Dun

Again, that might seem like a lot to remember, but don’t worry, you don’t have to. Just download your seasonal guide, and follow the patterns in your labeled boxes. You can see that the bars on the graph represent the color of the fly. So if you don’t remember what a pattern is called, you can always just find the species that matches the month that you are in and look for a corresponding color.
Look around; if you find a hatch and you have no idea what it is called, compare it to the flies in your box and choose one that is the same size and color and you will have success.

Again, I can’t say this enough: Remember the “Green Yellow Red” stoplight approach regarding fly colors: Green in spring, Yellow in summer, and Red in fall and winter.

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