BEFORE minimum flow was introduced in 2013 you wouldn’t find many fly fishers heading to the tailwaters without a spool or two of 6x.
The evolving flows, driven by high rainfall years as well as minimum flows, have seen an evolution in tactics in the decade since Dally’s opened. Scuds and sowbugs have faded in popularity, while midges and Eurojigs have come to the fore. Small beadless buggers are no longer a mainstay, having given way to heavier and larger buggers and conehead streamers.
Leaders are heavier as more brown trout are being targeted and caught and released. So what size is a good choice for our waters? Here is our guide to tippet choices, for various tactics on our rivers.
LOW FLOW NYMPHING: Whether you are wade fishing or floating 5x fluorocarbon is a standard for small midges, or as the connection between smaller droppers. 4x fluoro has become a mainstay size particularly for connecting to the heavier flies, when targetting brown trout. We are seeing positive signs with the new RIO 4.5x too which is thinner than 4x but stronger than 5x.
DRY FLY: Early in the caddis and sulphur hatches you can often get away with 4x mono, with good presentation. The heavier tippet gives a little more leeway when targeting rising browns. But in brighter conditions and as the fishing pressure increases try dropping down to 5x, particularly in the face of refusals.
HIGH FLOWS: High water leaders make compromises between leader strength and the skinny diameter to reduce water drag and sink faster. Long tippet sections of 3x flouro has been the mainstay for fishing high flows on the Norfork or White for many years. Its a solid choice for girdle bugs, san juans, mops and other high water junk. A Neva Quit Butt section is a good foundation for these leaders
HOPPERS: A good hopper leader need a thicker butt section and heavier tippet than a regular dry fly leader. 4x and 5x tippet on bigger foam hoppers will result in a bunch of twist in the leader. Smaller hoppers might be best on 3x with bigger cicadas taking 2x.
STREAMERS: High flow big streamers will most often be cast on a 20 lb butt section to 15lb tippet, to minimise line spin and for abrasion resistance in and around the woody banks. On smaller patterns try dropping down to 12lb tippet or even 3x for lower flows. Don’t forget the loop knots.