The Fisherman

Of Dropper Rigs, Sparse Flies, Slot Bass, and Short Casts

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Whenever the topic of dropper rigs comes up, like here...

...I sigh at how many anglers dismiss dropper rigs as too problematic. I get it. But if you're not fishing dropper rigs for stripers, you're missing out. You don't need to fish them all the time (I certainly don't). Right now in the northeast is a great time for dropper rigs since there's so much bait, and different kinds of bait. Droppers remain the fastest way to find out what the fish want. And on Monday night, a dropper rig paid off for me with a slot fish that went a good 15 pounds.

 

AugustSlotBass.jpeg.6399f43021fcd2efe947b48233d41cc4.jpeg

 

I was fishing a three-fly team consisting of a silverside bucktail on top dropper, a JV menhaden in the middle, and a Gurgler on point. This kind of suspension rig is perfect for skinny water, or presenting the flies near the surface in a static or near-static manner. She clobbered the fly while the rig was on the dangle in the current below me.

 

LilBunky.jpeg.d669ef2c826707fc8286d6fa306336ed.jpeg

Sparse, impressionistic, and only 2 1/2 inches long. Sometimes what you leave out of a fly is more important than what you put in.

 

I can't emphasize this enough: if you want to catch more stripers, and bigger stripers, casting distance is the last thing you should be focusing on. I caught this bass on a cast that was maybe 15 feet. Add in drift and the take came less than 30 feet away. Learn bait behavior patterns, bass feeding patterns, and above all presentation -- and the fish will come.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.

 

Steve Culton

 

 

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One thing I been messing with this year is clips for flies. Rio does some and tactical anglers. They allow for much faster fly changes than tying knots and no tippet loss. 

 

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Posted (edited)

I can see using clips with flies that you are not trying to swing with a greased line mend (basically a cast and strip), if you need to go deep, or if you are dealing with a vicious current. Indeed I tied some e-z body spreader bunker flies using Ferrar Blend that I deliberately weight and keel for these situations.  But the use of a clip in the scenario that Steve is presenting will prevent a gurgler, foam slider, foam popper,  crease fly or flatwing from doing what it is intended to do - suspend or float on the surface.  Even if you use a clip that is so light as to prevent the fly from sinking, it will still change its attitude from level to nose down, which will impede its intended action. the only possible exception would be a heavily spun deer hair fly, coated with flotant.

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Edited by FlatWing

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... I've never "Fly" fished, but ever since joining SOL and spotting some of the masterpieces this group produces, I've been lurking, scoping ..

Now, while not trying to ruffle any feathers...

4 hours ago, FlatWing said:

But the use of a clip in the scenario that Steve is presenting will prevent a (lure) from doing what it is intended to do -

Sure, it's not suspending, floating on the surface.. But like using a hammer to crack walnuts, .. he's catching, and isn't that the true intention of a lure?

 

Keep up the great posts, all y'all. 

..........signed
....................... (predominantly) Silent Student

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 If fish are not responding to a single form presented I will give them choices.  Tandem presentations will also tend to trigger curiousity and it is also another way to get your presentation your stand out.

 

For those of you who fear the hassle of double hookups I have experimented with what I call rusty hook.  I find this can be effective when bass are on small baits and when a small and 4x larger form is paired. I will use a dull or pointless hook on the smallest form.  I will get hits and short rides on the dull hook which will animate and draw more attention to the larger presented form. If there are any large bass around they will often take the larger offering.   There are bites that all fish will only take the small form. Easy to identify and one can either put on a small fly with a point or remove the tandem and just fish the small alone.

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12 hours ago, TopStriperAngler said:

One thing I been messing with this year is clips for flies. Rio does some and tactical anglers. They allow for much faster fly changes than tying knots and no tippet loss. 

 

Someone educate me on the use of clips please. I experimented with some traditional coast-lock (?) snaps in 25#  on short wire traces to facilitate fly changes.

 

The fish ripped them open like they were rubber bands.

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17 hours ago, The Fisherman said:

Whenever the topic of dropper rigs comes up, like here...

...I sigh at how many anglers dismiss dropper rigs as too problematic. I get it. But if you're not fishing dropper rigs for stripers, you're missing out. You don't need to fish them all the time (I certainly don't). Right now in the northeast is a great time for dropper rigs since there's so much bait, and different kinds of bait. Droppers remain the fastest way to find out what the fish want. And on Monday night, a dropper rig paid off for me with a slot fish that went a good 15 pounds.

 

AugustSlotBass.jpeg.6399f43021fcd2efe947b48233d41cc4.jpeg

 

I was fishing a three-fly team consisting of a silverside bucktail on top dropper, a JV menhaden in the middle, and a Gurgler on point. This kind of suspension rig is perfect for skinny water, or presenting the flies near the surface in a static or near-static manner. She clobbered the fly while the rig was on the dangle in the current below me.

 

LilBunky.jpeg.d669ef2c826707fc8286d6fa306336ed.jpeg

Sparse, impressionistic, and only 2 1/2 inches long. Sometimes what you leave out of a fly is more important than what you put in.

 

I can't emphasize this enough: if you want to catch more stripers, and bigger stripers, casting distance is the last thing you should be focusing on. I caught this bass on a cast that was maybe 15 feet. Add in drift and the take came less than 30 feet away. Learn bait behavior patterns, bass feeding patterns, and above all presentation -- and the fish will come.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.

 

Steve Culton

 

 

Love this one. Is it the peanut? (I'm thinking profile...)

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Rio has a couple different size clips. One of the clips is a spiral clip you twist it on. The other is like a c shape. Spiral clip seems easier to use once u get used to it. I am still messing with them. I think they are fine for everything except a foam fly that you need to sit flat like some corsair minows. The clip can make them sit nose down.  

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I have been using the rio clips. The problem is when using larger hooks they are just too small and you can not twist the hook eye to get it in the clip. Sometimes I use pliers but it damages and bends the clip.  Aside from that they do work on smaller flies and I have had no issue with bass and blues. They are plenty strong. 

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I have to admit, I'm guilty of having stopped using droppers, years ago, for most of my fishing. Having two fish to deal with simultaneously was a bit much, especially when you're trying to use pliers and a lipper which are both on lanyards. Made quite a mess. 

   One day I took my now wife out striper fishing for the first time. I was catching steadily on a blue/pink/white Deceiver while she was getting skunked on a Yo-Zuri Crystal minnow (she doesn't fly fish) that I was sure the bass would take. Finally, I took a Deceiver that was identical to the one I was catching on and she started hooking up with doubles from the first cast.  They were consistently taking both the fly and the lure. Funny how that happened. 

    I think, though, that this thread has my curiosity piqued enough to try droppers again. I've seen Steve's (Culton) articles often mentioning it, and Kenny Abrames' books telling the same. And Puppet's observations added to them. I've got some ideas. 

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Would one prefer the point fly be the heavier of the two?   I'd imagine fishing dropper rigs  do a nice job at covering the water column similar to a stillwater trout presentation.

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This seems like a good point to jump in.

 

For those new to dropper rigs, the point is not to try to get multiple hookups. I use droppers to: quickly find out what the fish want; present more targets in the water, especially when there's a lot of bait; target a specific area  in the water column where I want to present my flies. When I fish a team for stripers, it is most often a three-fly team.

 

One of the things I teach is to use a system and method that works for you. So I don't use clips. I rarely change flies on my dropper rigs (and then it's usually the point fly) so leader material loss is a non-factor. I can't say whether or not clips affect sink rate or action. They're just not for me. If you like them, carry on!

 

Yes, the fish took the fly pictured and it is the Lil' Bunky, albeit no jungle cock eyes. I don't usually bother with eyes on that pattern.

 

Regardless of target species with a three-fly team, I almost always put the largest or heaviest fly on point. It's not just a function of casting ease; it's also answering the question, "What do you want the flies to do?" Want to present in the film or near the surface? Floating fly on point. Want to quickly sink the rig? Weighted fly or shot on the leader at point.

 

You can find out more if you search the article "How to tie and fish dropper rigs for stripers."

 

Hope this helps. Vive le dropper rig renaissance! :-)

 

Steve Culton

 

 

 

 

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On 9/2/2022 at 5:17 AM, Mallard1100 said:

I have been using the rio clips. The problem is when using larger hooks they are just too small and you can not twist the hook eye to get it in the clip. Sometimes I use pliers but it damages and bends the clip.  Aside from that they do work on smaller flies and I have had no issue with bass and blues. They are plenty strong. 

 

I was wonering about that I only have thinner wire hooks so didn't run into sizing issue yet. 

 

 

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