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Eric Robbin’s Nymphing Rig

Posted on May 06 2016

Nymphing rig for rainbow trout.
Eric and trout, probably caught sub-surface. Photo: Ben West.

Last week, we presented you a clever way to rig up when digging deep for western Alaska rainbows shown to us by Alaska West guide Eric Robbins (in case you missed it, check it out here!). In fact, we liked it so much that we asked him to give us all the nitty gritty details of his nymphing rig as part of our ‘expert-rig’ series of posts.

Aside from guiding on the Kanektok, Eric has been guiding the Gunnison River in Colorado for over eight years.. Needless to say, he knows trout, and here’s his rig of choice.

The Summary

  • Scott Radian R956/4 – (9′ 6″ 6 Weight Rod).
  • Nautilus FWX 5/6 Reel.
  • Airflo Super-DRI Streamer Float Fly Line – 6 Weight.

The Detail

  • 150 Yards of 20 lb. Dacron backing attached to the spool with an arbor knot.
  • Airflo Streamer Float fly line attached to backing with a nail knot.
  • Leader attached to fly line via a loop to loop connection with the welded loop on the fly line and a perfection loop in the leader.
  • 9 foot leader made from 7.5 feet of 12-15 lb. Maxima Ultragreen attached to 18 inches of 10 lb. Maxima Ultragreen using a blood knot.
  • Double Palsa Pinch-on foam strike indicators attached to leader approximately 12 inches apart (More on this below).
  • Appropriate split shot crimped onto leader above the blood knot.
  • Big, gnarly, flesh fly attached to leader using a non-slip mono loop knot.

The Commentary

“I like the Radian mostly because it’s a fast rod, with a quick recovery speed, and a lot of back bone to boost line and fight fish with. However, it’s got a lot of feel in the tip, so it’s also awesome at detecting subtle strikes, instead of being a broomstick. It’s also a super light, incredibly smooth casting rod.. Plus the orange and black color scheme just looks badass.”

“I chose the Radian R956/4 (the 9′ 6″ model) because I just like having the extra reach. Mostly I got it for high sticking on the Gunny and really liked it. But, I do think it’s a little easier to mend and control more line with the extra 6″ too.”

“When nymphing, I prefer two Palsa Pinch-on foam indicators over the common bobber-style indicators most often used today. To rig them, I’ll pinch the first one (closest to the fly) about 5- 6 feet above the fly then the second one about 12 inches higher up the leader. This way, you’re not limited to a fixed depth like a traditional indicator. If you drift into a deep bucket, the weight of the split shot will allow them to continue to sink, BUT you can still see the strike even if the the indicators are submerged (that’s the idea behind using two). Plus, I think you see more subtle strikes with these due to the fact that it takes very little pull from the fish to move the indy. With super buoyant bobbers, I think you miss a lot of strikes, or you may be floating the fly above the fish all together.”

“Fishing this way with two Palsa indicators, you can usually see the bottom indicator. But, if you’re fishing really deep you can still see the top one. Plus, I like to keep the bottom indicator slightly upstream of the top one throughout the drift – That way, you are in contact with your fly at all times and will see the strike immediately!”

More on Nymphing for Trout

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