I have been using the Mini Rig off and on, on guided trips for the last month. As we begin to see August around the corner, it will be my go to rig while chasing trout with clients.
The Mini Rig is a way to attack fish from the top down. It’s simply a short nymph rig without the classic indicator, so to speak. Your indicator is a large dry fly, something like a Chubby Chernobyl, Amy’s Ant or Fuzzy Wuzzy. Look for something that can represent a hopper, stone fly, or Cicada (depending on location), is big enough to float a wet wading boot, and is easy to see. I have picked up several fish already this year on a size 10 Chubby Chernobyl and the stone flies aren’t even prevalent. Just wait til the Golden Stones on the Eagle and Colorado get cranking!
The Mini Rig is great for getting to fish in the middle columns that are feeding on Caddis pupa, PMD emergers, or drowned Yellow Sallies. You’re simply putting your flies at fish feeding levels. It’s also great for fishing to highly pressured fish that see indicators all day. The big bug won’t spook them, heck, they may even come up and eat it. If they eat the droppers, the big dry acts as an indicator and you set on any subtle movement. As a word of caution, when setting on the Mini Rig, tone down the set, it’s not a true nymph rig and there’s not much resistance between you and the fish. Treat it more like a dry fly set. Be quick, firm, and gentle.
As for the rig itself, I run 4x tippet to the big fly (indicator bug). From there, I drop off the bend of the hook about 30” of 4x fluorocarbon to my next fly which is usually a Soft Hackled Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear. Tie off from the eye of that hook about 12 more inches of 4x to your bottom fly or “bug of choice”. Put a size 6 split shot directly between the last two flies. Apply floatant to your big dry, and go fish.
You’ll be surprised what this rig can do. With subtle casting angle adjustments you can fish slow to fast, and shallow to deep water. If you want to see a diagram of the rig, and get a bit more information, you can pick up a copy of The Fly Fishers Playbook, Second Edition at most outlets.
Fear No Water!
Pictured are a couple fish that fell to the Mini Rig just last week.