Taper Your Dry/Dropper Leader

tapered dropper leader with flies


Often, I hear guests express concern about the challenges associated with fishing a dry/dropper. Some even tell me they’d rather not even go through the trouble since it will get tangled every cast. It’s true that casting a dry fly with a dropper, especially a nymph, takes a bit of adjustment. Most difficulties and tangles occur because the lighter tippet used for the dropper allows the second fly to travel willy nilly during the casting stroke, thereby getting tangled.

By tapering the leader between the dry fly and the dropper, you will immediately decrease tangles and the difficulties. Tapering the dry/dropper leader is easy, straight forward, and employs the same principle as a normal tapered leader.

Simply use a short piece of a larger diameter tippet to start the dropper line. Then drop down at least two sizes for the longer, main piece of the dropper leader. Keep in mind the tippet diameter is also married to the size of the flies you are fishing. That part never changes.

For instance, let’s say your fishing a size 10 purple chubby and you want to fish a size 14 bead head pheasant tail as a dropper. Start by tying a three- inch piece of 3x tippet to the bend of the chubby dry fly. Then, depending on how long a dropper you want, tie a piece of 5x tippet to the 3x. Finish by attaching the beadhead to tag end of the dropper.

Tapering the dropper tippet when fishing a dry and dropper rig will help the flies turn over more effectively and you’ll spend less time untangling and more time catching fish.

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