Catch More Trout This Summer!

It’s mid-July. Our miserable snowfall last winter means our rivers right now are August and September low. And they will continue to drop, even the dam-fed Taylor as water retention in the reservoir is an important concern for water managers.

Our rivers are still loaded with trout. But fishing low water brings with it a set of challenges because it’s so easy to spook the fish in shallow holds. Trout will spook with a splash of fly line or with an ill-placed strike indicator.

sneaking up on some small stream fish

With low water you have to be a little sneaky

Using a mono rig or the European nymphing rig is the magic answer to fishing low water and being really richly rewarded in your efforts.

What is the mono rig? It’s a 28’ leader followed by a tippet ring followed by 4’-6’ of 4X or 5X fluoro tippet material. Forget casting fly line. The fly line just sits on the reel until we hook a big trout that takes line out. Otherwise, it just sits there on our reel.

The mono rig is easy to tie. Using the nail knot, tie this leader:

  • 20’-25’ of Red Amnesia 20# test
  • 2’ Green Amnesia 12# test
  • 8” Red Amnesia 12# test
  • 8” Green Amnesia 10# test
  • 8” Red Amnesia 10# test
  • Tippet Ring
  • 4’-6’ of 4X or 5X good quality fluorocarbon tippet material

The advantages of fishing this rig will become immediately clear, especially in low water situations.

  • We get better drifts on both dry flies and nymph rigs because the wind and water aren’t wreaking havoc on our fly line
  • We are not spooking wary trout on our presentation, or at least not often
  • Because we can get closer to trout, our hook rate on hits increases
  • The alternating red and green Amnesia makes visible soft takes in slower water

When I started fishing the mono rig it felt weird not to load up my rod during the cast. It still does, a little. But I’ve found on the East, Taylor, Gunnison and Cement Creek that there are no lies I want to get to that I can’t reach with a little careful wading and while keeping almost all my fly line on my reel.

brook trout on dry fly

It makes catching brookies even easier. Guaranteed!

My wife is a good fisherwoman. Last Sunday we fished the same stretch of the Wild Trout water on the East. We were both using a Prince nymph with a small Pheasant Tail trailer. She was using a bobber strike indicator and I was using the mono rig with a tight line.

In our three hours on the water I landed 15 fish and she landed two. We all have good and bad days on the water but the differential here is too great to be explained away by a stretch of bad luck. The difference can only be explained by the effectiveness of the mono rig.

east river rainbow trout

Here’s a terrible picture of a 19” rainbow that I had to play too long in faster water. So I didn’t want to pose it too beautifully for the camera.

Want to catch more fish this summer? Try the mono rig. You may never buy another fly line.

There are plenty of videos on Euro nymphing. Here’s one:

Author: Bryan Boyle

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