First of all, I want to give a big thanks to Tom Tkacs for giving us a very interesting program. It was information that challenged us and gave us much to mull over.
The info came from Jake Darling, a Unicoi Outfitters guide, and it involved a “new” way to nymph fish, the drop shot. I think this technique came from our “Bass Pro” spin fishermen. If I completely understood Jake, he takes straight 35 lb. mono and uses it as a leader. He ties a slim beauty knot smaller mono down to the first nymph. He ties the first nymph in and then ties a smaller mono to the first nymph eye (important). He then ties the lower nymph into that mono. He then ties a pretty small mono to the eye of the lower nymph and puts a split shot on that.
He uses a yarn Dave Whitlock strike indicator that has a small piece of old fly line nail knotted to either side of the indicator, and he slides that up or down to adjust to the depth. The shot is tied to the end of the rig with no knot below it (so that if the shot gets hung, it will fall off without loosing the rest of the rig.)
The positives of this system are fewer flies lost since the shot is the lowest item on the rig (Jake said his clients only lost 4 flies last year). He also said you can get the flies lower in the water column and a better drift. Interesting.
There seems to me to be some short-comings to this rig. First if you are in an area where all you do is nymph, it would be perfect. Or if you were in a drift boat where two fly rods are easy to carry, you could have one for nymphing and one for dry fly action. But if you are a wade fisherman or can only carry one rod, you run into a problem. Say you are nymphing, and the dries start to go crazy, the only way to easily switch is to cut off the whole rig (35 lb. mono does not make a good dry fly leader), then put on a dry fly leader and re-rig. Also, there are a lot of knots in the Darling nymph rig and for those of you who are knot impaired (like Copperhead), it could be a challenge.
I have modified his rig and found that it seems to work pretty good. I went to Buford Dam, used a regular 8′ 4x leader and tied the nymphs and split shot just like Jake instructed and the thing worked pretty good. I used 6 lb. fluoro to the lower nymph and 7x to the split shot. Pretty easy casting and no tangles. On thing I did change was to use an insta-set strike indicator. It allowed me to put the strike indicator where I wanted on my leader (and I tie my own leaders, which means knots) and not kink my leader. You can also set it to indicate your drift and when to mend and it can be set up for 90 degree nymphing. Insta-set indicator info is on-line. Now, if you want to change the rig out for dries, just cut the flies off, add some 5x tippet and there you are.
I enjoyed the modified drop shot method and will use it in the future. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this fishing technique.