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Fly Fishing Rigs for Leader & Tippet Tags


The proverb “Waste not, want not” rings true in many areas of fly fishing. We continue to add dry fly floatant in the attempt to resurrect a soggy-bottomed grasshopper pattern, “seasoned anglers” (aka. OLD anglers) will invariably get on their knees to comb through the gravel of a parking lot to search for a dropped midge larva, and everyone who has fished for any period of time has climbed at least one tree to retrieve a rig that the “wind must have caught” on their back cast! However, there is one almost universally wasted opportunity missed by most anglers, and that is the chance to fish some ultra-productive, next level rigs using the tag ends (long remnants) of leader and tippet left after joining line together or tying on a streamer.

Here are two of our favorite fishing rigs that utilize tag ends and are guaranteed to save you time on the water and help you net more fish!

Blood Knot Nymphing Rigs
There are a number of different knots that can be used to join sections of leader and tippet together, but my fingers inevitably start twisting as if they have little minds of their own is the Blood Knot. Whether you are joining a leader to a section of tippet or two sections of tippet, this junction is the perfect opportunity to create a Euro-style, mid-line nymphing rig!
Steps for tying a Blood Knot Nymphing Rig:
  1. Start by overlapping the ends of the lines to be joined with one piece being approximately 5” longer than the other. Twist one around the other 5 times before bringing the tag end back between the two lines.
  2. Next, you will repeat step one with the other end, wrapping the second line 5 times in the opposite direction before bringing the tag end back between the two lines.
  3. Wet the line before slowly pulling the long ends of the lines in opposite directions. The turns of line will wrap and stack as the knot is pulled tight. Clip the shorter tag end off while using the longer tag to tie on your chosen nymph, larva, or wet fly.
This simple rig is an easy connection point to add a free-floating nymph or emerger pattern to your line and generate solid, deep hooksets that are nearly impossible for a trout to spit!

Non-Slip Loop Carolina Rigs for Streamers
If you aren’t currently using a Non-Slip Loop when tying on your streamers, that needs to change today! Unlike a traditional Clinch Knot that cinches tightly down to the eye of the hook, the Non-Slip Loop allows the head of the streamer to freely swivel and turn on the line vastly increasing the life and realism of your fly. The unique twist that we’ve added to this tried-and-true knot (first introduced to us by longtime Roaring Fork Valley Guide and Guru, Jeff Sirbu) is using the long tag end left at the completion of the knot to create a fly fishing Carolina Rig!
Steps for tying a Non-Slip Loop Knot & Carolina Rig:
  1. Start by making an overhand knot in your leader/tippet approximately 10” from the end. Pass the tag end through the hook eye and back through the loop of the overhand knot.
  2. Wrap the tag end around the length of the line 4 or 5 times before bringing the tag end back through overhand knot, entering from same side it exited from before.
  3. Wet the knot before slowly pulling the tag end to loosely stack the wraps of the knot together. Then pull the loop and the standing line in opposite directions to firmly seat the knot.
  4. Make an overhand knot in the tag end 3” to 5” below the loop knot and then trim away any excess line beneath the overhand knot.
  5. Pinch 1 or 2 split shot to the line above the overhand knot. (*The size and quantity of split shot can be adjusted based on the depth you would like to fish your streamer.)
The combination of the hinged union created by the Non-Slip Loop Knot with the jerky, quick-diving motion caused by the pendulum-like split shot will cause your streamer to move like a wounded baitfish while allowing you to fish sections of the river rarely touched with a floating line!

We hope that you “Tag Along” with the Ascent Fly Fishing crew and try out these rigs the next time you are on the water!
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