How to tie a dropper fly

Written by zach lazzari
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How to tie a dropper fly
The dropper fly increases the chances of catching fish. (Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)

The dropper fly is a common fly-fishing rig that allows several flies to be fished in tandem. Dropper flies are often used with double-nymph rigs, but a dry dropper or double streamer is also effective. Attaching the dropper is accomplished using several different techniques, but a clinch knot to the bend in the first hook is the most common. Attaching the dropper fly requires basic knot tying skills and a short section of tippet.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Leader
  • Tippet
  • 2 No. 3 flies

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Instructions

    Clinch Knot

  1. 1

    Connect the end of the leader to the initial fly by tying a clinch knot to the eye of the hook. Feed the tag end of the leader through the eye of the hook. Wrap the tag end of the tippet around the main stem seven times. Feed the tag end through the loop at the base of the wraps, and pull on the main leader to tighten the knot. Clip the excess tag end.

  2. 2

    Cut a 1-to-2 foot section of tippet from a spool. Create a loop in one end of the tippet, and hook it on the bend in the hook of the first fly. Continue holding the fly to maintain tension. Tie a clinch knot to the bend in the hook. Clip away the excess tag end.

  3. 3

    Grasp the tag end of the tippet, and feed it through the eye of the second fly. Tie a clinch knot to connect the fly, and clip away the excess tag end. Repeat the process for a three-fly tandem rig.

    Surgeon's Knot

  1. 1

    Cut a 2-foot section of leader from a spool. Place the tag end of the leader against the tag end of the tippet, with several inches of overlap. Bend the two sections of line to create a loop. Feed the tag ends of each line through the loop two times to create a surgeon's knot. Clip away two of the tag ends, and leave the leader-tag end intact.

  2. 2

    Tie the lighter fly to the leader tag with a clinch knot. Clip away the small tag from the knot. The distance between the fly and the leader must be less than 3 inches to prevent tangling.

  3. 3

    Grasp the end of the tippet and feed it through the eye of the heavier fly. Secure the tippet to the hook with a clinch knot, and clip away the tag end.

Tips and warnings

  • Attach the clinch knot to the bend in the hook for a fast and easy set-up. The process uses the same knot several times.
  • Lubricate the line before tightening the knots. Add a small amount of water or saliva to prevent friction from weakening the knots.

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