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Best dropper knot

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piffilus
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Best dropper knot

#1

Post by piffilus » Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:16 am

I have read Arthur Coves book "My way with trout" and I think it is time to try out fishing teams. But I wonder which knot is the best for droppers. The J-knot seems to be very strong but having the tag going straight down, wouldn't that make the fly twist around the tippet(s) easier than for example the surgeons knot. Wouldn't a double blood knot be better in that regard? I'm going down to the lake in a few hours time...

Another thing. How do you manage three flies dangling around on an 18 feet leader in the forest without catching a lot of trees? I might go with a shorter leader and just one dropper but I sure will try to cast this long beast among the trees that are literally everywhere.

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Re: Best dropper knot

#2

Post by Viking Lars » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:08 pm

Oooh, this is a bit of a bee's nest, I think, but here's what I do. For traditional dropper fishing, I use a two turn Surgeon's Knot, and leave the tag from the line end long and tie my dropper on that. You can leave the tag end from the tippet long, and use that. That tag points towards the line end, and that should, some say, lead to less tangles. Personally I've never really noticed a difference and tying onto the tipper end, you risk a fish breaking off the entire tipper portion, and potentially three flies. You always risk that to some extent, but using the tag end from the line-end of the leader reduces the risk.

I have found that the best way to avoid tangles is to limit your casting to a range where you have complete loop control. You'll read a lot of advice that open loops are preferred, but I think what really matters are parallel loops.

Claus Eriksen, well-known Danish sea trout guru, has devised a new detachable dropper-system that I've only tried once, but seems to work *very* well, but maybe not so much for trout.

But perhaps the best advice is to begin with two flies rather than four and get comfortable casting them.

Lars

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Re: Best dropper knot

#3

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:24 pm

Cove always used three turn surgeons with the tag end pointing upwards to the flyline as dropper. Nowadays you can absolutely forget this. Pre-stretched copolymer just doesn’t like this at all. So you need to use the tag end pointing downwards.

Two turn water knot is stronger than three in my knot-offs with the material I use. I actually prefer the J-knot now. James wrote an excellent series of FPs on knot tests and this knot came out best with his material.

I find it very important that the distance between point fly and middle dropper is at least 1.5 times the distance between middle and bob. Otherwise loads of tangles!! The only exception to this is when fishing a small trailing fly 18” from the end.

The dropper knot always seems to be the weak link unfortunately. :(

Avoiding trees - just don’t cast at them :) If you are shortening from 18’ then maybe just fish two flies. A three fly Stillwater leader for me is around 22’. A three fly NZ Backcountry Leader is around 18’. I might occasionally drop to 1.5 x the rod length for a single fly.

Longish leaders are only a problem if you are not used to them. Open your loops slightly. And always check the shoot. Most problems are either the point is too close to the middle, or the flies are not tapered in size/resistance/weight. Three flies the same size and weight, the same distance apart, for me at least has always caused problems.

After decades of fishing three flies on stillwaters it took me a very long time to fish less with confidence!!

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Best dropper knot

#4

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:28 pm

Incidentally Cove’s book was without doubt the most influential Stillwater book I read. It helped give me structure to approaching stillwaters. That and Steve Parton’s book, which despite being full of Northampton Rudder Fishing, really gave me a method of problem solving that is how I regard Stillwater fishing.

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Re: Best dropper knot

#5

Post by piffilus » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:21 pm

Thanks Lars and Paul. I think I will start out with two flies then, the dropper from the tippet ring. I have an idea of making a perfection loop or lefty loop and larkshead it into the ring, that might make it stand out more from the tippet. Then I can see what kind of loop control I have.

Last time I tried a dropper I had it all backwards, a largish hopper as dropper and a shipman on point. I did catch a rainbow on the shipman and it seemed to try to take the hopper as well. What I ended up with was a tangle from hell though I landed the fish :) Cove made me see my mistake on that part. I have tied up some Coves PTN and something that should resemble Black Spiders. And I have got my 50:th birthday present, the Sexyloops box with the flies from you Paul ;)

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Re: Best dropper knot

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:34 pm

I would actually tie the flies in that order, the hopper being more air resistant and the shipmans being less. Make sure that you check the shoot, ie stop the loop from unrolling with the line hand to force a deliberate turnover. A lot of problems with multiple flies come from people not doing this. You need excess loop energy, halt the shooting and force the loop to turn over with the line hand. If it still looks like it’s going to fail to turn over give it a little haul.

You will get tangles when fighting fish. This is unavoidable. Try landing them as quickly as possible and given the choice try to hook them on the point fly. Fishing very thin mono is also another problem. Which diameter are you using, Piffen?

I’ve never fished droppers from sheepgirl rings. 🐑 Also it sounds like quite a bit of extra stuff there - knots etc - when you start using loops. An interesting experiment however and I look forward to hearing how it goes! If I have a SG ring, then I usually have a couple of feet to my first dropper. I’m guessing you have a tapered leader in there, which one is it?

There are a few leaders here http://www.sexyloops.com/stillwater/tackleleaders.shtml

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Best dropper knot

#7

Post by piffilus » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:41 pm

I use a Rio trout leader, 2X, I believe SG ring knotted with Eugene bend. 15 cm Dropper 4x and 4-5 feet tippet 3x. A couple of point flies are now residing on the bottom and one in a tree so far.

It's a little bit windy, restricting the directions for casts because of the trees. No takes, no rises, no nothing really. Beginning to think this lake sucks big time :( Or that my fishing sucks :sick:

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Re: Best dropper knot

#8

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:56 pm

Your lake sounds tough. It's always hard with no rises and no action. An approach I sometimes use is either a weighted damsel nymph (you probably have one in the box!) or a unweighted white bunny (not too big! - I always have a few Bunny Cats handy) and try to cover as much water as possible. You might not catch fish on the bunny but hopefully get some takes or follows. At least then you'll know there are some fish around. Either slowly on a floating line, or mixed up with an Intermediate line. From what I remember you can probably fish right around your lake in half a day. Try to methodically cover every bit of water that you can reach.

If you take a fish home make sure that you check to see what it's been eating. This information is invaluable to you.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Best dropper knot

#9

Post by piffilus » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:24 pm

Thanks Paul! I'll keep that in mind. Yes they are in the box in addition to the ones I have tied. I need to get some white zonker strips, I do have fluorescent orange ones already if that's any good. Would size 10-8 be useful? Good tip about the sequence of hopper and shipman. I understand that it's not only weight but also the aerodynamics of the flies that matters for where to put them.

I will check what they eat when I have caught any to keep. I know my son wants to try a smoked one so I have said that I'll fix that. I just have to catch one first.

I guess I need to move more. I do have a tendency to stay quite a while at the easy casting parts of the lake.

Cheers Piffen

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Re: Best dropper knot

#10

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:57 pm

That’s a very common fault. Either you have to wait for the fish to come to you, or you need to go to the fish. Much better to cover all the water. Sometimes you might only be able to cast a couple of rod lengths from the bank but often that’s all you need. If there are no currents to bring the fish to you then move move move. Lots of lakes I make one cast, make two steps, one cast, make two steps. Every cast is fishing new water. And with rainbows that you have there, often finding one fish means finding more.

Orange can get a reaction but it wouldn’t be my search fly. Maybe if they are hard on the bottom, in bright sunshine and doggo. If they are on surface daphnia - sure then orange is goto. Black zonker is another good search fly, particularly if it’s overcast or dark.

Whatever it is, it needs to be a fly that works when pulled, but can be fished static or dead slow, doesn’t sink like a brick, is big enough that fish can see it but not so big that it puts them off.

The Intermediate line and a slow sinking fly allows you to fish through all the water columns on the lake while bank fishing. Maybe one cast fished near the top. Next cast count down 10 seconds. Next cast count down 20 seconds unless you hit bottom of course. Then take two steps and repeat, all the way around the lake.

I can’t imagine that not working. Sometimes they are hard on the bottom and doggo. There are ways to catch them but it’s June, you’re in the best month, if they are not active now then they don’t eat.

Remember since you are only putting one cast into each fishing zone to make each cast count. As Bernd will tell you first cast is the best cast. And quite frankly the second is usually time wasting.

The other thing to remember is you might find fish close in. From those photos you showed me of the lake, you are very likely to find fish only one or two or lengths out. You need to carefully fish for those fish before you throw a longer line. And you need to be quiet with your footsteps otherwise they’ll spook to deeper water. I’ve seen fish spook from 50’ by footsteps. Move slowly and quietly - but stay on the move would be my advice!

Cheers, Paul
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