Fly Fishing Setup For Trout

Let’s face it fly fishing is one of the finest forms of sport fishing. It will lead you to some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. When fishing for trout there are a number of different techniques that all have their strengths and weaknesses.

In this post, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about the three primary ways in which you can set up your fly rod to catch trout as efficiently as possible.

Dry Fly Fishing for Trout

Without question, dry fly fishing is the most exciting way to catch trout. You walk along the bank until you spy a rising fish, cast 3-6ft in front of the fish, making sure that you don’t spook it by landing the fly line too close, then wait with your heart in your throat till the fish takes the fly.

Single fly, dry fly fishing is extremely simple to set up. You’re going to need a tapered leader (or created a tapered leader by tying (20lb to 12lb to 8lb to 6lb monofilament nylon together) to help transfer the power from the rod, through the fly line all the way to the fly. At the end of the final piece of leader, you can attach a piece of monofilament tippet around 2ft in length. There you’ll tie your fly to “match the hatch”.

The thickness of the tippet nylon is going to depend on the water you’re fishing. If it’s very low and clear, and you’re fishing small dry flies then keep it to 3-4lb tippet or less. If you’re in the backcountry and the water is fast and high, and you’re fishing large dry flies then you can get up around 5-6lb plus. You’re going to need to make that decision and keep multiple weights of tippet material with you.

That said, if the fish aren’t rising then you’re going to need to try another method.

Nymphing for Trout

Nymph fishing is probably the most common type of fishing that I do. You can generally do it all day, and get great results. That said you need to make sure you are flexible in your setup and adapt to the river. 

When nymphing I’ll generally run with two rods to cover all the water:

Deep Nymphing Rig

A deep nymphing rig is pretty much as you’d expect it. I will have an indicator around 3ft after my fly line ends, then run around 8-10ft of leader below this. You can vary the depth of the rig by sliding the indicator up and down. 

To the end of the leader, I’ll attach 2 flies. The first of which is the weighted fly that I’ll use to get the flies down to the bottom. Something beaded and reasonably close to the largest flies I find when I flip the rocks over on the side of the river. 

To that I’ll attach my fine tippet, 4lb to 6lb depending on the type of water I am fishing. Then I’ll run the money fly, something that resembles the most common size and colour of fly that’s under the rocks on the side of the riverbank.

Dry Dropper Rig

The dry dropper rig is a fairly new addition to the world of fly fishing. I much prefer this type of fly fishing as you’re not casting anything that can’t catch fish into the water. Here you’ll tie a large (stimulator) fly pattern at the end of the leader. 

Perhaps straight onto the 6-8lb line at the end of your leader. Then below that, you can trail your tippet 2-3ft of fluorocarbon tippet. There you can attach your money fly that you’re most likely to catch fish on. You can even go one further and attach a second fly below that!

I use the dry dropper when fishing the majority of the faster water, then alternate to the deep rig when the water slows or there’s a deep pool ahead. With both methods, you need to check how long it’s going to take to get your money fly down to the depth that the fish are feeding at. You can then cast upstream of the fish and ensure a drag-free drift back down.

Wet Fly Fishing for Trout

Finally and also a contender for the most simple way to catch fish is wet fly fishing. I personally liken this to spin fishing, although that will probably upset some people. That said it’s an extremely productive way to catch trout.

You can still use your floating line for wet fly fishing, however, you’re going to want to add a sinking leader to the end in order to effectively get your fly down there. There are other methods, like using a sinking line, however, this way you can remove your standard tapered leader and replace it with this one.

Just like all the rigs above you can tie your wet fly to a 2-3ft length of tippet at the end of your leader. Make sure to choose the weight of the tippet based on water color and speed.

Cast your wet line rig directly across the river then let it swing downstream of you. From here you can slowly retrieve the line in a steady manner while “fishing” your fly past any spots you suspect a trout to lie.

Generally, I’ll nymph fish up the river, then get a wet fly rig set up and fish the pools on the way back downstream to the car.

Wrap Up

With the right gear, sheer luck, a little bit of patience and amazing presentation, you are bound to have a field day while out trout fishing. Just make sure to practice all the different methods you can, as often as you can, because the faster you can adapt to the river and change your set up and method, the more fish you’re gonna land.

Take care and tight lines.

Ben Kepka - Fly Fisher Pro