Have you noticed lately that a bunch of the posts on our blog have been tagged ‘Kyle Shea‘?
That’s because Kyle has been writing a bunch of posts lately! Kyle cut his teeth fishing and guiding for trout and salmon in his home waters of Maine. He now spends his summers guiding on the Kanektok at Alaska West and his winters writing and taking photos for our blog.
Knowing that Kyle is a great angler and guide, and seeing the quality of the stuff he’s written, we asked Kyle to write up some of his rigs for our Expert Rig series. Here’s the first – thanks Kyle!
Kyle Shea’s Nymphing Rig
When not at Alaska West targeting carnivorous trout with mice, sculpins, and flesh patterns, I spend many of my trout days chucking nymph rigs into pocket water in the Northeast. While we all love the visual aspect of fishing dry flies, a huge percentage of a trout’s diet in the Lower 48 comes from insects in the nymph or larval stage. Insects in this stage are available all year round during all times of day. Therefore, it is important to imitate this constant food source to consistently hook trout.
- Sage 590-4 Z-Axis
- Ross Vexsis 3
- Rio Gold WF6F
- Knotted Tapered Leader
- 175 yards of 20 lb. Dacron backing wrapped five times on spool and tied on with an arbor knot.
- Rio Gold WF6F (yes, a 6 weight on a 5 weight rod) attached to backing with an albright knot and coated with Loon’s U.V. Knot Sense.
- Hand tied tapered leader, tapered down to 4x Rio Fluoroflex Plus Tippet.
“Now a vintage model, the Sage 590-4 Z-Axis is my all time favorite rod for targeting trout in the lower 48. However, when nymphing I prefer to over-line it with a 6 weight fly line. Over lining allows the rod to load in tighter areas as well as turn over heavy nymph rigs better. Setting up the perfect drift is the main concern here, so the less delicate presentation of a heavier line is not an issue. If I’m fishing in tight quarters, I also like the option of using single-handed spey casts, and a heavier line helps load the road here as well.”
“When chucking nymphs, I prefer to use a knotted tapered leader as I feel it offers several advantages over knotless leaders. By tying knotted leaders, I have the versatility of being able to add stiffer leader materials in order to turn over heavy rigs. This is important when trying to cast a rig made up of a couple of flies, split shot, and an indicator. The largest advantage I find with knotted leaders is the positioning of the blood knots along the leader. By knowing the distance between each, I am always aware of the depth at which my flies, split shot, or indicator is set. Also the blood knots act as great stopper knots for errant split shot and indicators. I always make sure however that the tippet section of my leader is tied with fluorocarbon material. Fluorocarbon is a far superior material to nylon mono when nymphing due to its transparency and higher abrasion resistance. ”
“I always fish two flies when nymphing (if regulations allow). When rigging two flies, I find the simplest method is best. I tie my first fly on using a non-slip mono loop and attach an 18 inch section of tippet to the bend of the hook using an improved clinch knot. I then add my trailing fly to the tippet using an improved clinch knot. Obviously, the fly selection is dependent on the day but typically I prefer my lead fly to be larger, heavier, and usually some sort of attractor pattern. On the other hand, my trailing fly is smaller, lighter, and more imitative of the natural insects that might be found in that particular river. This allows the larger fly to bounce along bottom, while the trailing fly rides just above, imitating an insect that has been knocked loose.”
“When fishing with split shot, I like to use several smaller sizes of shot that add up to the weight I need, rather than using one really heavy shot. This allows for easier changing of depths throughout the day by adding or removing shot. I usually set my shot around 12 inches from my first fly.”
“If fishing close to the bank, I choose to fish without an indicator. If I am close enough to my flies to ‘high-stick’ over them, I prefer to do this ‘Czech’ style. However, if trying to hit a pocket or seam further out in the river to where I can no longer control my drift by high sticking, I have no hang up against throwing on a Thingamabobber and waiting for that subtle twitch. If this is the case, I set my indicator 1 1/2 to 2 times the depth that I will be fishing at, but this is entirely dependent on current speed.”
Looks like an Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor to me…
Brian Hammer says
Nice, I use close to the same thing (Leader down at least). A lot of times I put an egg pattern in the middle as an attractor
Derrick Wilkerson says
Could you describe the break down of your Nymph leader formula? What is each section in legth, X, and pound. What do you make you whole leader out of? is it all Fluorocarbon?
Great question! This can be a bit of a loaded question, but I’ll try to keep it brief. To be honest, I am always trying different formulas, especially when chucking clunky nymph rigs as I am always adjusting weight and depths. However, the formula below is similar to where I would start fresh. As far as materials go, for most trout situations (other than in Alaska), I stick with Rio’s Powerflex Monofilament to keep it simple all the way down to the last section of tippet where I prefer Rio’s Fluoroflex Plus. You could certainly use Fluoro all the way down, but I only use it at the tippet section simply because it is cheaper that way! In my opinion when tying leaders, the change of diameter (not the breaking strength) of each section should be consistent all the way down (in this case, each step decreases by .002”).
Here’s the formula:
32” 40 lb. (.021”) Rio Powerflex
21” 35 lb. (.019”) Rio Powerflex
11” 30 lb. (.017”) Rio Powerflex
8” 25 lb. (.015”) Rio Powerflex
8” 20 lb. (.013”) Rio Powerflex
8” 0x (15 lb., .011”) Rio Powerflex
5” 2X (10 1b., .009”) Rio Powerflex
18” 4X (6.4 lb., .007) Rio FluoroFlex Plus to first fly
12-18” 4X or 5X Rio FluoroFlex Plus Tied to bend of first fly and ending with second fly
If you are interested in playing with different leader formulas there is a great free resource online called leadercalc (http://globalflyfisher.com/fishbetter/leadercalc/download.php). For the most part, the formula above was based from this calculator and tweaked a bit for certain situations. Try it out!