Just like any hobby, fly fishing can become stagnant if you aren’t willing to test your skills and learn something new. Many people avoid trying something different out of fear of failing. For me, I avoided using a multi-fly rig because I didn’t think I was skilled enough to use it. I wasn’t sure how to tie the knots, what types of flies to use or how to fish it. After some research and speaking with some more advanced anglers, I learned it wasn’t overly complicated and I mainly needed to focus on the point fly.
A point fly is the leading fly in a multi-fly rig. This is the fly you attach to your leader or tippet. It is the guiding fly in your setup. It’s important to be confident with whatever fly you choose as the point fly.
When to Use a Multi-fly Setup
Multi-fly setups can be useful in a variety of conditions. It’s a fairly easy concept. The more flies you have in the water, the more opportunity you have to land fish. However, there are a few specific instances when you should be sure to use a multi-fly rig.
If you’re spending time in new water, it’s smart to go ahead and use a multi-fly rig. These can act as searching flies and allow you more of an opportunity to cover water. If you aren’t sure the depth the fishing are feeding at, go ahead and use a multi-fly setup. Attach your fly to your leader or tippet and then make a decision of how much lower you want your other flies.
It’s not a bad idea to do some research on the water you’re fishing before you go. If you can tell the water is deep and you’re using a dry-dropper rig, you may have to use quite a bit of extra tippet. The dry will act as your indicator and your dropper may need quite a bit of room to drop in the water column.
If you’re fishing a body of water with fish that are quite picky, don’t hesitate to use a multi-fly rig. Sometimes you need to give the fish a couple options to choose to eat. Select a few flies that you know work in that particular body of water and attach them. This will give you more control of your fishing.
Anglers almost always feel like they have no control when they’re fly fishing. There are so many moving parts that it’s almost impossible to control any aspect of the sport. However, a multi-fly rig does allow for anglers to force their hand on the fish. It’s not always fun to let the fish keep winning. While this doesn’t guarantee you’ll catch more fish, it gives you a better chance.
There are random days throughout the year where the conditions are set up perfectly to sight fish. Multi-fly rigs have proven to be extremely successful on these days. You may only have one shot at these fish so by throwing a couple flies in the direction of the fish, you may tempt them into striking.
Multi-fly rigs are really only going to work well on waters where the current isn’t too complicated. If you’re in water with multiple currents you’ll likely find yourself tangled or not in the part of the water that you were wanting to fish. It’s not impossible to fish multi-fly rigs in bodies of water with multiple currents, but it’s important that you’re confident in your skills before you try!
When to Use a Heavy or Light Point Fly
Choosing the proper weight of your point fly can be quite confusing. The answer to the question truly is “it depends.”
When to Use Heavy Point Fly
If you’re fishing fast and rough water, you don’t have as much time to accomplish a natural looking drift. As a result, you need to reach your drift point at a much faster rate. This requires a heavy point fly. Using a multi-fly rig in pocket water can be tough, but a heavier tungsten fly is going to get deeper faster.
In these cases, your casts are usually a bit shorter as well. You don’t have as much room to work with so be sure you realize this when you’re choosing the point fly. Be careful that you do your best to make smooth casts. If you’re forcing your multi-fly rig into an area, you’ll likely end up with tangles and fail to land any fish.
Overall, however, a heavier point fly is going to lead to less tangles than a light point fly.
When to Use a Lighter Point Fly
More often than not, your point fly is going to be light. If you’re in a calm spot trying to accomplish a natural drift, use a lighter point fly. Cast upstream and let the current pull the point fly where you would like it in the water column.
Be careful with a lighter point fly. You are more vulnerable when you’re using something light to guide your rig. This is going to require some extra finesse on your part to make sure you’re letting your casts fully unfurl before you make your next moves.
Benefits of Jig Head Hooks as a Point Fly
Jig Head hooks work wonderfully as the point fly. A non-jig hook is going to lay more horizontal in the water. Therefore, the drift position isn’t going to look as natural. A jig-head hook has the eye of the hook more on the side of the bead.
The jig head fly is going to sit almost perfectly vertical in the water column and make it easy to attach the other flies. Often, the point fly becomes unproductive because it’s sitting at a poor angle. If you’re using a multi-fly rig, the whole point is to have several flies in the water to tempt the fish.
While jig head nymphs aren’t always easy to find, either start to tie them or purchase them specifically to be your point flies. Some anglers believe they really don’t make much of a difference, but they’re definitely worth a try on your next fishing excursion.
Problems with Multi-fly Setups and Solutions
The more flies you have in the water, the higher of a chance you have to find yourself in some trouble. If you’re new to the multi-fly world, below is a list of common areas you’ll find yourself in trouble! Don’t fret. These happen to the best of us!
Tangles While Casting
You have a few options to help yourself if you get your flies tangled while you’re casting. One option is to use a bit heavier line. If you’re using extremely light tippet, your flies have the freedom to move almost anywhere. Bite the bullet and use a bit heavier line to ensure a cleaner process.
It’s also important to watch your casts when fishing a multi-fly rig. You need to be more conscientious of having a more open loop. To accomplish this, you need to drop your rod a bit lower on both your front and back false casts. This will keep your flies separated and make your life much easier!
One other solution is to pay close attention to what fly you use as your point. If it’s very buggy, the hooks from your dropper flies can easily get tangled. There’s nothing more frustrating than fishing a seam several times only to pull your rig out of the water and realize they’re all tangled together. These tangles are borderline impossible to remove! Pay close attention.
One final solution is to use an extra knot when you’re attaching on your dropper. This will put your dropper at more of an angle instead of straight down. I sometimes use this option if I’m finding myself more tangled than usual. The extra tangles can happen if the casting lanes are narrow or it’s a windier day!
Multi-fly rigs can also lead to more snags. Sadly, this is the reality of using multi-fly rigs. You’re covering more water so you have a higher chance of catching a snag somewhere in the water column. One trick to learn more about the water before you use a multi-fly rig is to tie on a streamer and float it through the water and see what sort of trouble you find.
This heavier fly is going to help you identify the troubles you might find when drifting through a certain pool or seam. If you do run into a snag, your first instinct should never be to pull. Chances are you’re using light tippet and one quick yank can easily snap your rig. You could be out quite a bit of money before you even blink an eye!
Always do your best to get above your snag. Walk upstream and you can start pulling in the slack and see what happens. This method can easily pop the stuck fly loose if you’re a bit patient. The next option is to wade in the water towards your snag. The closer you get, the better chance you have at loosening it.
Weight can be another issue you run into when using a multi-fly rig. If not balanced properly, you can find yourself with two or three flies dragging along the bottom of the river or stream. When this happens, you’re likely going to find yourself snagged and tangled.
Some anglers want to bounce directly on the bottom and are okay with the struggles that come with it! If this is the case, it’s important to have as little slack in your line as you possibly can. The less slack, the more you can control your rig. It’s important to have full control when fishing with multiple flies.
An easy way to not run into weight issues is to use an extremely buoyant top fly. These flies are going to hold up whatever you put under it. The most important thing to know is where you would like to be in the water column. Once you know, you can adjust your flies to have the proper weight.
3 Favorite Point flies for nymphing
- Rainbow Warrior (16)- The Rainbow Warrior is a great mix between a nymph and an emerger. It can play both roles if needed. It does have a tungsten beadhead so it’s going to sit a bit lower in the water column!
- Pat’s Rubber Legs (14)- A Pat’s Rubber Legs is a great option for the point fly on a rig. It acts as that extra weight you might need. If you need the extra weight, you might as well have a fly do it!
- Wooly Bugger (10)- A smaller bugger is a great option to use as your point fly. This will sit lower in the water column and your dropper fly can float a little higher above it. This tandem works extremely well.
Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How 2 Fly Fish