The Bunny and Beadhead
One of our favorite and most successful tactics for catching big trout is to add a dropper nymph off the back of your streamer. The “Bunny and a Beadhead” or “Dragging Junk” rig (as it’s affectionately known around the rivers of southwest Montana) is an easy way to entice strikes from trout that will engage and chase a streamer, but don’t eat it. Essentially, the streamer brings the trout to the party and the nymph trailing behind triggers the strike.
Adding the Dropper
Adding the dropper is as easy as tying a section of tippet between 10″ and 20″ off the bend of the hook behind the streamer. I like to use a No-Slip Mono Loop to attach all of my dropper nymph’s as well as the streamer. Check out Tying The No-slip Mono Loop to learn how to tie the No-Slip Mono Loop.
How To Fish a Streamer and Dropper Nymph
Here are 3 different ways you can go about presenting this rig to trout in your stream.
1. Floating line under an indicator
The dead drift method is the easiest to to execute as it most resembles dead drift nymphing. Tie on your streamer of choice to end of your leader using at least 3X (I like to use 2X) and attach an indicator approximately five feet up the leader. Take a 15″ to 20″ length of tippet and tie on your nymph. Your total leader length should be from 7 to 8 feet.
From a wading position, cast upstream and across the suspected lie. Mend your line upstream to reduce the drag on the flies allowing them to sink and drift naturally, while you take up the slack as the drift comes down stream. Feed line into the drift as you mend to increase the length of your drift. From a drift boat, cast perpendicular to the gunwale and mend up or down as needed. Use an upstream mend in deeper, faster water, and a down stream mend in shallower water or when you think the drift is about to hang up or stall out. Don’t forget to let it swing!
2. Floating line no indicator
The “Tight Line” method is another favorite of ours that works well from a drift boat and is productive when the indicator method is not. Simply tie up your leader a foot or two longer than you normally would (about 9 feet total with your dropper nymph). You may want to add some weight to the leader above the streamer if it isn’t weighted heavily enough. Pinch a BB or two (if necessary) above the tippet knot approximately 12″ to 15″ from the streamer. The tippet will keep the weight from slipping off the leader from the centrifugal force. From a wading position cast up and across the current, mend down stream and take up the slack as the fly drifts through the suspected lie allowing for enough slack to keep the fly down and swimming fairly slow. Follow the instructions for mending as described in the previous paragraph. An occasional strip/twitch is an effective addition to this technique. Again, let it swing.
From a drift boat, quarter your cast behind the typical perpendicular angle. Mend down stream (or don’t mend at all) and slowly take up the slack as the fly swims along behind the boat. The key to success for this method is “less is more.” This approach is tougher than it sounds, as we all like to strip our streamers with some speed and erratic action.
3. Sink tip
The last method is to use a sinking tip line of the appropriate sink rate according to the water you intend to fish. I like a fairly fast sink rate, at 6 to 7 inches per second, when fishing this rig with a sink tip. I also cut back the sinking portion of the line to about six or seven feet which allows for easier recasting and keeps the line from frequently hanging up on the bottom.
Using the No-Slip Mono Loop with a total length of 3 to 5 feet, tie your streamer to the end of your tippet and your nymph to the dropper tippet. From a wading position, cast across and make a large up stream mend, allowing the flies to sink to the desired depth. As the flies start to swing through the lie, continue to mend up stream as necessary to slow the flies down and keep them in the strike zone as long as possible. From a drift boat, cast across or slightly behind the boat. Mend down stream to allow the tip to sink and take up the slack as the boat drifts. You’ll want to keep stripping slow as you drift fish with a sink tip as it will want to hang up if you don’t. Keep your tip down and set hard when you feel a tug.
Read more about the rivers we fish where this is such a great tactic! The Madison, Jefferson and Big Hole Rivers.