Rigging Droppers

I always find when I do the uni-knot as a loop (davy loop), just the act of casting and retrieving tends to tighten the knot, but I've never tried to loosen it. I've been practicing the mono-loop recently instead.

I do like the uni-knot for attaching to the hook bend. I haven't done it enough to have any come off yet, but I usually do a minimum of 3 turns. Usually I do one less than the tippet size i.e. 6x gets 5 turns.
Question about methods 2 and 3: Why tie on an extra piece of tippet to the tag end? Why not just make the tag end long enough for the dropper and avoid having another spot for potential knot failure?

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I do something like all the pictures. After I tie on the first fly I tie my dropper to the leader of the first fly. I use a piece if lighter tippet for the bottom fly. About 18" in length. It seems to work for me. I also add a bb shot about a foot above the top fly. Need to get er down.


If you are using a system where the dropper tippet is added to the main line leader, you'll want to make sure that tippet is fairly short and use stiff material, like Maxima, to keep the fly from tangling with the main leader.

The fish don't seem to mind how short the dropper tippet is from the main leader. I've continued to catch fish with just 6 inches of tippet material remaining for the dropper pattern.

Of course if you're using a dry fly with an emerger pattern then tangling isn't a concern and using the hook bend of the front pattern for attaching the rear fly is also fairly tangle free. However, the downside is if the fish hit the front fly the tippet material to the rear pattern can act as a fish guard and hinder the hook from stabbing the fish.

If I continue to get hits but no hook ups, I'll switch fly positions so the upper fly becomes the lower fly.


Active Member
Geez, the junction box system will not work with a size 18 fly. I'm talking about larger dry flies... and it is just an option.

I also will use one tag end of the leader or tippet material at a connecting knot to tie in a secondary pattern.

Like this :

I most commonly use the system the system you illustrated above, with very few tangles. Two points though:
1. While this system works quite well when the connection point of the leader and tippet (to the end fly) is a Blood knot - not so well when its a double or triple surgeons.
2. Just like you allude to below when talking about attaching the leader for the upper fly to to the main leader (as opposed to just using a tag end), its a good idea to use stiffer material for the tippet to the upper fly to avoid tangling with the main leader. I just always utilize the tag end from the upper segment - which is slightly thicker and stiffer than the tippet to the end fly.
I usually use a uni knot tied to the bend of the hook of the upper fly. The good part of this system is that you can loosen up the uni knot, slip off the dropper and leave it rigged for next time. By the end of a fishing day i'll usually have half a dozen droppers rigged with uni knots ready to go for next time.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Everybody does it different. What works for one doesn't work for another. I try to tie up what is easiest for me. To many steps and with my shakes tends to piss me off. Not everybody has steady hands. Some of us old farts shake like the wind is blowing.


Author, Writer, Photographer
Question about methods 2 and 3: Why tie on an extra piece of tippet to the tag end? Why not just make the tag end long enough for the dropper and avoid having another spot for potential knot failure?
You can do that of course. I'm only making suggestions. There's a couple reasons I don't just leave the tag end long.

1) I find tying an 18" tag end unruly.
2) I'm almost always using a different size and often stiffness of tippet for the dropper. If I've got say 3X going to a #6 hopper pattern and my dropper is a #20 Baetis emerger, that 3X isn't going to work.

I suggest you take the suggestions Gene and I have laid out and think about what works with what you know and your style. Experiment until you find what works for you.

I use the method in the third illustration with the addition of a non-slip mono loop on the lower fly as well as the upper. I fish stillwaters 90+% of the time and only fish two flies when I'm hanging them vertically under an indicator. My hookups on the top fly have increased greatly since I quit tying my dropper to the hook bend of the upper fly. I also put the larger/heavier bug on the bottom. A big tungsten bead is tangle-bait when rigged as the upper fly.


Active Member
My biggest challenge with this type of rig is the casting. I have to pay extra close attention to the timing of my cast or else I end up with a nasty tangle.

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