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Multiple Nymph Rigs

Setting up a multiple fly nymph rig involves attaching one fly to your leader using the Improved Clinch Knot. You can find this knot in lesson 6 of the beginner tutorials.  

TRANSCRIPT

In this lesson, we will go into specific rig setups and fly combos that you can use when you’re on the water. Remember, you can always check the seasonal charts in the download section of the Members Portal. In this lesson, we will go into month-by-month combos that can help you be successful.

But before we dive into specific fly setups, let’s discuss how to set up a multiple rig. Setting up a multiple fly nymph rig involves attaching one fly to your leader using the Improved Clinch Knot. You can find this knot in lesson 6 of the beginner tutorials.  

Then, attach tippet material to the eye or hook of your first fly with another Improved Clinch Knot. You should have anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of tippet before your next fly. By the way, I recommend 6x or 5x fluorocarbon tippet. Of all the new technology that has been developed for fly fishing in the last 20 years, the single greatest game changer has been fluorocarbon tippet. It is virtually invisible to fish.  

Next, attach another fly to this length of tippet using the Non-Slip Loop Knot. This knot can also be found in lesson 6 of the beginner tutorials. Now we will be adding split shot (or weight) from your top fly the same distance as you did to your bottom fly the opposite direction to your line. The depth of the water you are fishing in will determine how much weight you will add on.

I typically like to start with two size No 4 weights. If on my first few casts I find that my flies are catching on the bottom of the river or creek, then I can remove a weight. If I am fishing a deep run, then I will add a third or even a fourth fly, depending on how deep the water is.

Next, attach a bobber to the top of your leader about 6 to 7 inches below where the leader connects to your fly line. If you have trouble seeing a clear bobber, I recommend a cork bobber with a brightly painted top. These seem to be less obtrusive than fully fluorescent plastic bobbers. But if you do have good vision, nothing is better than clear bobbers. From below, they look bubbles on the surface.

Depending on the laws of your state you can continue this setup as needed, but I found that a two-fly setup is sufficient in catching MONSTER trout. So I will provide you with my favorite combos for any month of the year using these two-fly combos.

I have also noticed that when you start adding more than two flies, it is more likely that they’ll get hung up on debris or that the fish will get wrapped up in the flies he does not take. There is nothing worse than catching a beautiful trout but then spending 15 minutes trying to save your fly setup because he took the top fly and the other three or four are wrapped up around him.  

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 down fast and floats the others behind it in different levels of the feeding zones.  

There are numerous rig setups that you can try, but with our system, we will stick with this combo for optimal success at landing that MONSTER trout. In the near future, we will be providing lessons on other combos, but at Drifthook we want you to be successful right away and have fun on the water, so we’ll start with these.

Let’s break down the months and the combos that we recommend starting with to land MONSTER trout. As you become proficient with these combos, you can start experimenting with other mixes for success. Soon you will be a Drifthook Pro and we would love to have you as one!

DECEMBER and JANUARY

Winter months are tough months to fish, but you can still land MONSTER trout if the conditions are right. Depending on your location, you will typically have a nice two-to-three-hour window during the warmest part of the day.

Because Midges hatch year round, this is one of the few patterns that can be successful in the winter months.

Start with a larger fly as your first. I recommend a mayfly or Stonefly imitation (because you are about one month away from when this species starts), followed by a midge pattern.

Remember, fly colors in nature vary by season. In late fall, winter, and early spring, flies are typically darker in color. From mid-spring to mid-autumn, they tend to be lighter in color.
Remember the stoplight approach: Green, Yellow, Red. Green in spring, Yellow in summer, and Red in fall and winter.

Try these combos in December and January:

Fly 1 (Top Fly)
Copper John Bead-head — Copper, Red, or Black
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Zebra
Hot Wire Prince Bead-head — Red/Copper  
Hare’s Ear — Black

Fly 2 (Bottom Fly)
Mercury Midge — Black
Tungsten Bead-head Zebra Midge Curved — Black or Red
Juju Bee Midge
Rojo Midge
Pure Midge Larva — Florescent Red or Brown


FEBRUARY and MARCH
During the months of February and early March, we start to see Stoneflies active, and these patterns can start being utilized in our system along with Midges and Mayflies.

Start your rig with these combos:
Fly 1 (Top Fly)
Copper John Bead-head — Copper  
Copper John Bead-head — Red  
Copper John Bead-head — Black
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Red Gold
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Zebra
Kaufmann Stone — Black
Prince Nymph Bead-head
Hot Wire Prince Bead-head — Red/Copper

Fly 2 (Bottom Fly)
Mercury Midge — Black
Tungsten Bead-head Zebra Midge Curved — Black or Red
Juju Bee Midge
Rojo Midge
Pure Midge Larva — Florescent Red or Brown

If you took the opportunity to grab the Emerger Swing Fly Box, I also recommend using these flies from that box set as a second fly:
CDC Midge Pupa — Red
Crystal Midge — Black

MARCH and APRIL
The month of March is one of my favorite months to fly fish. The Rainbows are starting to spawn, so the aggressive Brown trout are chasing their eggs. We start to see the first signs of the mayfly, and the Stoneflies are still active. As we start moving into the warmer months and trout start to migrate, we get to utilize more of our system for greater chances at success. The next few combos will show you fly rigs for achieving that success.

Let’s start with the egg pattern combos. These can be a ton of fun when Browns are chasing spawning Rainbows.

Fly 1 (Top Fly)
Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) — Orange
Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) — Peach
Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) — Pink

Fly 2 (Bottom Fly)
For the bottom fly, we recommend a small midge or a small mayfly.

Midges:
Mercury Midge — Black
Tungsten Bead-head Zebra Midge Curved — Black or Red
Juju Bee Midge
Rojo Midge
Pure Midge Larva — Florescent Red or Brown

Mayflies:
RS2 — Gray
Lighting Bug — Red
Flashback Pheasant Tail Bead-head — Gold
Hare’s Ear — Black
Barbless Flashback Hare’s Ear

And for those who have the Emerger Swing Fly Box, I also recommend using these combos as your second fly.

Midges:
CDC Midge Pupa — Red
Crystal Midge — Black
 
or

Mayflies:
Barr Emerger PMD
Baetis Barr Emerger — Plain

Now that we have discussed using the egg pattern as your top fly, you can try the same type of combos, but instead of using the egg pattern on top, swap the top fly out for one of these and use the egg pattern on the bottom:

Copper John Bead-head — Copper  
Copper John Bead-head — Red  
Copper John-Bead-head — Black
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Red/Gold
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Zebra
Kaufmann Stone — Black
Prince Nymph Bead-head
Hot Wire Prince Bead-head — Red/Copper

MAY, JUNE, JULY, AUGUST

May, June, July, and August… the months that make everyone excited. The runoff is coming to an end on the rivers, the days are getting warmer, and everyone wants to be outside. In my opinion, these months can actually be the hardest months to fly fish. The rivers get pounded by everyone and the lake trout start moving to deeper waters. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. These months can also be the most memorable; you have more consistent hatches throughout the day and you start to see rising trout, which helps in spotting their locations.

Keep in mind during this section that we are going to start our rig with a heavier or larger fly to get the fly down into the feeding zone and then work our way to smaller patterns to act as emerging flies coming up to the surface to shed their casing and fly.

If you did not get a chance to purchase the Emerger Swing Fly Box set and you would like to double your chances at success during these months, you can still get the members’ discount in the shopping section of our Drifthook Members Portal.

For your top fly (the fly tied off to your leader), use one of the following depending on your water scenario. Take note that a lot of these patterns mimic multiple species so if you don’t know what pattern to start with, I recommend the second set that mimics both Caddis and Mayfly patterns.

Caddis Patterns:
Caddis Larva Bead-head — Green
Caddis Larva Bead-head — Tan
Holy Grail Tungsten Hare’s Ear
Hot Wire Caddis Bead-head — Olive

Caddis/Mayfly Patterns:
Prince Nymph Bead-head
Hot Wire Prince Bead-head — Green/Yellow
Hot Wire Prince Bead-head — Red/Copper
Copper John Bead-head — Copper
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head —Red/Gold

Stonefly Patterns:
Kaufmann Stone — Golden #6

For your second fly, stick with Midges and Mayfly patterns because they are most prevalent in any given water.

Midge Patterns:
Mercury Midge — Black
Tungsten Bead-head Zebra Midge Curved — Black
Juju Bee Midge
Rainbow Warrior
Disco Midge — Pearl
Pure Midge Larva — Fluorescent Brown

Mayfly Patterns:
RS2 — Gray #20
RS2 — Olive
Lighting Bug — Pearl
Flashback Pheasant Tail Bead-head — Gold
Flashback Pheasant Tail Bead-head — Green
Hare’s Ear — Natural
Barbless Flashback Hare’s Ear
Flashback Hare’s Ear Bead-head — Natural

If you find that you are catching the majority of your trout throughout the day on the bottom fly, this would be a good time to swap out the top fly to increase your success. But instead of swapping out to the larger patterns, go with a smaller one from the second set.

Example:
Start your top fly with a bead-headed pattern to keep the weight on the top fly and use a non-beaded fly on the bottom. This will give you the same effect as the previous set but will have you landing twice as many fish.

If you have the Emerger Swing Fly Set, these flies are also amazing during this time. Use them as your second fly and look for your hit at the end of your drift when your line is starting to get tight. As your line gets tight it pulls the flies off the bottom and brings them to the surface, so you’ll want to replicate an emerging fly with these patterns:

Midge Patterns:
CDC Midge Pupa — Olive

Mayfly Emerger Patterns:
Crystal Midge — Olive
Baetis Barr Emerger — Plain
Barr Emerger BWO Bead-head
Barr Emerger PMD
RS2 Emerger — Olive
RS2 Emerger — Gray

Caddis Emerger Patterns:
Graphic Caddis Pupa — Green
Graphic Caddis Pupa — Tan
CDC Caddis Emerger
Spotlight Caddis Emerger — Olive
Spotlight Caddis Emerger — Tan

My go-to fly during this time of year has always been the RS2 pattern. I have been more successful with this pattern over the years than any other flies combined.

These months are also great times to dry fly fish, and we will go into additional patterns that are successful in the next lesson. We will also go into Hopper Dropper combos that are also extremely fun to fish; check the Hopper Dropper tutorials in the Drifthook Members Portal.

SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, and NOVEMBER

And to close off the year, we have my three favorite months to fly fish. The weather is cooling, the leaves are changing, people are getting excited to go skiing or hunting… and the trout are going nuts!

When Browns spawn in the fall, Rainbows will hunt down the spawning eggs of the Browns. This happens in October and goes through mid-November. This makes fly fishing extremely productive and exciting! Like in the spring months, we will start our rigs with egg pattern combos.

Fly 1 (Top Fly)
Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) — Orange
Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) — Peach
Glo Bug Red Dot (Egg) — Pink

Fly 2 (Bottom Fly)
For the bottom fly we recommend a small Midge or a small Mayfly, but because we are moving into the later part of the year, start using darker reds and black patterns for optimal success.

Midges:
Mercury Midge — Black
Tungsten Bead-head Zebra Midge Curved — Black or Red
Juju Bee Midge
Rojo Midge
Pure Midge Larva — Fluorescent Red or Brown

Mayflies:
RS2 — Gray
Lighting Bug — Red
Flashback Pheasant Tail Bead-head — Gold
Hare’s Ear — Black
Barbless Flashback Hare’s Ear
Flashback Hare’s Ear Bead-head — Natural

And for those who have the Emerger Swing Fly Box, I also recommend using these combos as your second fly:

Midges:
CDC Midge Pupa — Red
Crystal Midge — Black
 
or

Mayflies:
Barr Emerger PMD
Baetis Barr Emerger — Plain

If the egg patterns are not getting you any action, swap them out for a Mayfly/Caddis pattern. Caddis are still active into the end of October or beginning of November, and Mayfly patterns can be used all the way through November.

Start your top fly with one of these flies:
Copper John Bead-head — Copper  
Copper John Bead-head — Red  
Copper John Bead-head — Black
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Red/Gold
Copper John Hot Wire Bead-head — Zebra  
Holy Grail Tungsten
Prince Nymph Bead-head
Hot Wire Prince Bead-head — Red/Copper

So 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.

Once more, don’t forget 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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