Tying Dropper Loop Rigs

Tying Dropper Loop Rigs

Knots and rigs make up a huge part of what fishing is all about. Part of being a successful angler is creating the right rig for the fishing situation you are in suggests Adam Clancey.

Not all of these rigs are complicated pieces of knot work, but when it comes to using rigs that involve loops or branches off the main trace, there are lots of ways to enhance and perfect the rig so it offers maximum strength and fish catching options.

One of the most popular loop rigs is the dropper loop, which in its basic form is a length of line that has two loop branches coming off it and a loop with a weight at the bottom. This rig is commonly used for fishing for blue cod, tarakihi, snapper and other bottom species in deeper water as it is less likely to tangle with twisting fish or spinning baits.

Loop sinkers, circle hooks and swivels are the key ingredients for a dropper rig.

Loop sinkers, circle hooks and swivels are the key ingredients for a dropper rig.

When used for basic bottom bouncing, the dropper rig is formed with 15-25kg trace and features hooks in the 4/0 to 10/0 range. Remember, a heavy hook will cause the branches to droop where they might tangle. The dropper rig is ideal for use with circle hooks as it is generally fished in deeper water with the reel in gear, so the fish will hook themselves.

There are some do’s and don’ts that can make a dropper rig perform a lot better. The first trick is the size of the loop. It is important to keep the loop at a length where it is less likely to wrap around the main line. This will vary with different breaking strains of trace. The next key point is to keep the loops far enough apart from each other, so they won’t cross over.

The dropper knot, used to create a loop in the trace line to create the likes of a ledger rig, is simple to do.

The dropper knot, used to create a loop in the trace line to create the likes of a ledger rig, is simple to do.

The knot that is used to form the loop will also affect how the branches stand away from the main line, as well as the strength of the rig. One common knot is the double overhand loop which is very quick to tie but one of the weaker options. It’s okay if you are using trace that is a lot stronger than your mainline. The longline knot or dropper loop knot is most common. It ties well and helps the branches sit at right angles to the mainline. Twisting your line before forming your dropper loop will give the branch even more of the desired stiffness to hold hooks and baits away from the mainline. The tee knot, which involves tying a double over hand and then a dropper loop, creates a stiff knot that holds the branches well away from the mainline, with the only drawback being that it does reduce the strength of your trace. Another way you can stiffen up your droppers is by adding some lumo tube on the branch before adding the hook. This also adds a bit more attraction in the deeper water.

The double over hand knot is quick but not reliable. It is useful for sinker loops.

The double over hand knot is quick but not reliable. It is useful for sinker loops.

The way you attach hooks can also be key for a successful hook-up on a dropper rig. If you loop a straight-eyed hook on a dropper, it may angle away from the strike. The same applies to turned up and down hooks. You want the loop to come in so it completes the circle more, rather than angle away. Droppers are also used in very heavy rigs for deep water species. In this situation, I would rather crimp and use heavy-duty three-way swivels because it will give you maximum strength and reduce twist.

Quality three-way swivels are great for making droppers using heavy trace material.

Quality three-way swivels are great for making droppers using heavy trace material.

The other area of fishing where fixed loop knots are useful is when attaching lures and hooks to trace. The main reason you would use a fixed loop is to allow the hook or lure freedom to swing, giving lures and baits a more natural action.

The classic case for this is when using light soft-bait jig heads with stiff leader. A fixed loop will allow the head to move naturally. There are many fixed loop knots, and all have their pros and cons. The best idea is to find one that you can tie well and stick to it. The Lefty’s Loop, named after fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh, seems to be the most popular.

The Lefty's Loop, also known as the Rapala knot, is one of the preferred fixed loops for soft-baiting.

The Lefty's Loop, also known as the Rapala knot, is one of the preferred fixed loops for soft-baiting.

The main consideration when tying a fixed loop knot is the size of the loop. Loops need to be big enough to allow lures and hooks to move freely but avoid making the loop so big that it will slide over the top of the jig head or lure, tangling it up. When moving to heavier duty tackle, I prefer to form fixed loops with a small alloy crimp as they are more streamlined (knots on heavier trace can become bulky). Crimping is very strong when done properly. I do this, for example, when tying on diving lures or heavy poppers and stickbaits.

The internet is the best library if you want to see how to tie various loop knots and it is worth taking time to practice any knot or rig that you are going to use – we all know that practice makes perfect! 


April 2021 - Adam Clancey
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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