There is a big fish holding in the pocket under that grass. How do you get a dry/dropper in there?
Summer terrestrial fishing in the Driftless is in full swing right now with hoppers, beetles, crickets, and ants being the main course on the surface for our fish. This time of year is perfect for fishing a larger terrestrial or attractor pattern with a bead head dropper tied below it. Not only will fish aggressively eat the surface fly, but it also acts as an indicator for the subsurface pattern. Essentially a bobber that the fish can, and will, eat!
Two problems inevitably come up when fishing dry dropper. The first being that the larger, wind resistant flies tend to helicopter, especially when fishing a lighter tippet material, and cause a huge twist and snarl that can be a nightmare to untangle. The second is that the dry/dropper rig tend to be very difficult to fish with accuracy.
Here in the Driftless, we are fishing very narrow spring creeks with quite a bit of bankside vegetation and overhanging grass. It can be a game of inches where the flies need to be placed just right in order to get a fish to eat. Casting a larger fly followed by 3-4 feet of tippet material with a heavy bead head accurately is not an easy thing to do at all! The dry may land perfectly, but the dropper ends up snagged on the bank, or everything looks great until the dropper kicks to one side or the other at the end of the cast blowing the perfect drift.
Using a bit of imagination and tinkering a bit we came up with the Driftless Dropper rig! Here is how it works.
Short, stout leader (Rio Big Nasty 10lb, or any 7.5 2x)
3 feet of 4x tippet with your terrestrial threaded on (not knotted, it needs to be free moving)
4 inches of 5x tippet
Bead Head nymph
With this system, the dry fly is pushed up against the lower tippet ring while casting. When your flies land, they land together. The short 4 inches of tippet prevents the flies from tangling during the cast.
As the bead head sinks, your tippet material slides through the free threaded dry fly the entire 3 feet. The dry fly is stopped at the upper tippet ring giving you a tight connection with the subsurface fly like a normal dry/dropper.
The added bonus is that the free moving dry fly will not helicopter and twist your tippet.
Rigging this way makes fishing a dry/dropper close to the bank far easier, and much less frustrating! Give it a try next time you are out on the creek!