The Dry Dropper Method has many names, the Duo, Trio, Klink and Dink, and it can even be called the indicator technique when fished with heavier flies and a bigger ‘dry’… But they all have one thing in common which is the ability to suspend a nymph(s) below a dry fly. Fishing the dry-dropper technique is a great way of presenting a nymph and a dry fly delicately at any range, and is especially effective in slower water where a nymphing rig can be too heavy.
3 Ways to Set-up a Dry-Dropper
New Zealand Style; One option to set up the dry-dropper is by attaching it NZ Style. This consists of tying your dry fly to your main line, usually a section of 5 or 6X fluorocarbon tippet, and then attaching another piece of tippet off the hook bend of the dry fly – using a 5 turn blood knot – with a nymph attached to the end. The dry fly is then designed to be used as a strike indicator and has become an accepted technique across the world, better known as New Zealand style nymphing. However, it is nothing new. In the book, ‘Teach yourself Fly Fishing’, Maurice Wiggin outlines the method in the chapter ‘neither wet nor dry, only the method of attaching the tippet differs. Using a dry fly instead of a strike indicator appeals to many, (myself included) as the bung can seem more than a little crude, to say the least. But then again, it is all down to the anglers individual tastes.
Put A Ring On It; This is another great way of using the dry-dropper technique. Simon Robinson, one of Englands most decorated and top anglers designed this pattern some time ago specifically for this style of fishing. The one thing with tying the leader directly to the hook bend is that the tippet can sometimes hinder how the fish is hooked, and sometimes will even push the fly away from the mouth of the fish! Being a great ‘thinking’ river angler, Simon devised this special type of Klinkhammer featuring a tippet ring tied to the hook bend, this is where you tie your end tippet which has the nymph. Not only is it easier to tie your tippet on as it acts just like the eye of a fly, but it keeps your hook bend free from tippet so hooking fish is better. This is by far my preferred way of using the dry-dropper method.
Off The Dropper; Of course, as in ‘standard’ fly fishing, you can tie the dry fly to a dropper, and use a short piece of tippet below to suspend the nymph. A simple 3 turn water knot with a dropper length of around 3 inches is perfect, the tippet below the dry fly shouldn’t be too long, as the shorter the length, the more control and contact you have when it comes to the strike.
I find fishing the Dry Dropper rig is best when using a good tapered leader. The Fulling Mill Masterclass Tapered Leaders have been perfect for fishing this type of method, I simply use a loop to loop connection to my fly line, and add in a piece of FM Masterclass Fluoro in 6x to the end. This tapers perfectly and makes casting extremely easily.
When to use the Dry Dropper?
The golden opportunity to fish a dry dropper setup is during a hatch when insects are actively emerging. If you want, you can use a dry dropper rig to match all stages of the hatch at once, a dry fly on the surface followed by an emerger pattern and/or a nymph imitation below that. I just come back from a fishing trip in France (Auvergne) where I fished with some of the French top river competition anglers and a dry dropper setup is by far, at the moment, a very successful method as it is a much easier way of nymph fishing with the chance to catch a fish on the dry fly dropper!
If the river you are fishing is low or slow, lightly weighted nymphs are a MUST when fishing the dry dropper technique. The lighter nymph will ‘fall’ through the water for longer, giving you more chance of it intercepting a fish. A heavy fly will both plummet to the bottom quicker, hooking weed or rocks, or simply pull the dry fly down.
Fishing with heavy weighted nymphs can be done as long as you choose a very buoyant dry fly, such as the Parachute Adams, Sedge Goddard Natural or a Sedgehammer Balloon and dress it with Fulling Mill Dry Sauce Flotant as needed. If you fish these styles of fly, you’ll be able to suspend one or two reasonably heavy nymphs without the splash and clash of a big plastic strike indicator. If you are ready to fish, present your cast and treat it just like you would a dry fly. The fish can hit either fly, so keep a close eye on your dry for surface takes, or if it twitches, pauses, stops, or disappears completely, set the hook!
Recommended Dry Dropper Fly Combinations
As you experiment with dry dropper rigs, you’ll soon realize how effective and versatile this tactic really is. Eventually, you’ll have a whole host of go-to fly combinations for your local streams, but to help get you started, here are two tried-and-tested klink and dink combos to try out.
- Balloon Caddis Tan & Peeping Caddis; If you turn over a few rocks and see caddis husks stuck to the rocks or adult caddis on stream-side vegetation, tie on this potent setup and cash in on any surface or subsurface action.
- SR Klinkhammer Special & Pheasant Tail Nymph; This set up will roughly match the hatched insects and suspend the ever-buggy Pheasant Tail Nymph for any trout seeking easy meals. Although, any nymph can be fished below the dropper fly.