How To Do Fly Fishing With A Dropper [Beginner’s Guide]


fly fishing with a dropperFly fishing is a type of fishing method where you use a rod and an artificial fly as the bait. There are many ways to perform fly fishing. One effective way to do fly fishing is to use a dropper that allows you to catch a variety of fish; both surface and subsurface feeders. Fishing with a dropper is actually very easy and effective. With that being said, now the question arises, How can we perform Fly fishing with a dropper.

We’ll answer that later but first, let us see what a dropper actually is.


What Is Fishing With Droppers

What is a Dropper?

A dropper is basically a way of increasing the chances of enticing a fish to bite. This is achieved by the addition of an extra tippet material’s strand just below the fly attached to the end of your main leader. This method has become really popular over the years and has been used to catch fishes like trout throughout the world. If you have more than one fly on your leader, it makes good sense. The temptation of the fish to eat the fly attached to your leader increases and hence, you can catch more fishes.

What is the advantage of fishing with a dropper?

When you fly fish with a single fine at the end of your tippet, it does reward you in some way. If your cast works right, your techniques are good and the fishes are responding, then you don’t have to change a thing. But, not all days are perfect. Sometimes are odds are just not on your favor. In such conditions, you can boost your luck by using a dropper, it doubles your chance of catching a fish. You can always explore multiple possibilities as far as the technique is concerned.

What are the disadvantages of fishing with a dropper?

There are a couple of disadvantages of fishing with a dropper. The first one is tangling. Ever seen an earphone get tangled in your pocket? Well, this is worse than that. If you’re fishing in a windy weather, chances are you will face this problem. The next disadvantage is that the droppers add weak points to the leader, this can result in an odd snap-off which can be very frustrating.

When should you use a Fly Fishing Dropper?

There are selective places where you can effectively use a fly fishing dropper. It is extremely effective to use such droopers in small streams and creeks. Although they can also be used in larger rivers that can create ‘pocket water’. As far as seasons are concerned, Summer and fall are the best seasons to go fly fishing using a dropper. A fly dropper can catch you a lot of fish if the fishes become sensitive to the traditional dropper setup. You can also multiple combinations of lures like wet flies, nymphs etc. You can be as creative as you can. Droppers are also used for many kinds of fishes and some people use it all the time.

What length should I make my droppers?

The best length for a dropper is around 8 to 10 inches. You need a bit shorter on the river. Most of the people fish with the shorter variant while others prefer the longer ones. There are pros and cons to both. If your dropper’s size is much shorter than 8 inches, the fly won’t fully drift in the water. Also, a longer dropper will result in the tangling of the dropper.

How many droppers should I use?

The number of droppers largely depends on your fishing location and your fishing methodology. Most go with a single fly setup and then use one or a maximum of two droppers up the line. Competent professional fishers might up the antic and go with three or four droppers. Although, most fishing spots only allow a maximum of 2-3 droppers. Another thing to keep in mind is that the more flies you attach to your line, the more likely that the line will tangle. So, you should first start with a single dropper until you properly learn to control it and only then increase the dropper number. This way, you’ll learn as well as be comfortable with your fishing.

What are the spacings for droppers?

This question is really two-fold and has no concrete answer. It depends on many things like weather, the condition of the water and you casting skills of course. Dropper spacings are vary depending on the fly line you’re using. An average fly fisher would be comfortable with a 12 to 16-inch leader. Most of the people space them in an equal distance which can be really great.

What to do if the water is clear?

When the water is clear, there’s a lot of fishing going on and your flies kind of have color so, the best thing to do is increase the spacings between time. If the fishes a lot of flies in a small space and they seem colored then, they won’t come to bite your lure. Hence, you need to trick the fishes.

How to stop my droppers from tangling?

Oh boy! Tangling can be quite a problem. The best way to stop the droppers from tangling is using the appropriate line. While finer diameter lines will give your flies more of a natural vibe, they’ll tangle more. Go with a thick one and the chances of tangling reduce.

How do you cast droppers?

Casting the droppers can be quite a challenge for they tangle a lot. To cast a dropper properly, the first thing that you’re going to need to do is to open up your casting loop. If you use a tight loop, it means that you know how to control a rod. But a tighter loop will result in a lot of tangling. So, the choice is yours, either you can cast smooth and get tangles or you can not get tangles but have the patience to cast slow.

different types of fishing rods explained


Fly Fishing With A Dropper

There are a lot of ways to fly fishing using a dropper. One of those methods is given below as a list:

  • First of all, you should tie your nymph on the bend of the hook. The length is determined by how much deep the nymph will go fishing.
  • Knot methods can be varied. People like to use Duncan or Uni-Knot. It allows you to tie the knot first and then slip it over the bend. This doesn’t require you to keep the tension to hold an improved clinch from slipping ff the dry fly hook.
  • You can use 12 to 20-inch tipper for your dropper nymph, this again depends on the depth of your fishing water. It also depends at what depth in the subsurface is the fishes feeding.
  • You can try using a No-Slip Mono to terminate to your nymph in order to increase the action of the rod.
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Fly Fishing With A Dry & Dropper

One of the biggest additions in the fly fishing world has been the dry-dropper rig. It is basically a dry fly fished on the surface and has a nymph pattern under it. It can also be used for other lures like worms, egg patterns etc. In addition, even a big woolly bugger fly can be kept under it.

The dry dropper contrasts with the traditional swing as it allows you to dead drift the lower fly with your water body’s current. Avoid drag on the rig and it will give a realistic motion on the lower fly which is a great advantage as it helps to attract more fishes. This set up also has the advantage as it provides you with an exploration of all parts of the water column so, you can see where the fish are feeding.

When there is no surface action, the attractor may prove too tempting a morsel for the fish, drawing them to the top. But if that’s not working, we still have the dropper bumping them in the nose down below.

The dry-dropper rig can be effective in pocket water conditions. It can be difficult to use it in a water body having more current.

In order to fish the dry dropper rig, use the following steps:

  1. Cast the flies upstream.
  2. Let the flies float down the river’s current where you can see or suspect the fish are/will be.
  3. Try as hard as you can to get a long drift so the nymph has time to drop into the feeding lane i.e, the place where the fishes are sitting.
  4. If the hooked dry fly stops or dips under the water, be prepared to set the hook.



Fly fishing has advanced a lot. There are a lot of ways to go about it and fly fishing with a dropper is one of the most popular ones. When you’re using a dropper there are many things you should consider. You must know about its pros and cons. The length that you need and whether you need it at all. There are only certain environments where you really need a dropper. Also, you must learn how to cast it and how to fish with it.

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