5280 ANGLER GUIDE HACKS – Ron’s Rigs Part II: ‘The Middle Fly Syndrome’

Colorado Fly Fishing Tips

THE MIDDLE FLY SYNDROME: How to Maximize the Middle Bug in a Three Fly Nymph Rig

by Ron Pecore, Professional Fly Fishing Guide

In my last GUIDE HACK POST I covered a simple 2 knot, custom nymph leader using only 2 knots: A basic clinch knot, and a perfection loop.

For years, I’ve used a 3 fly nymph rig and usually do well in most conditions. However, I was always bothered that the second (middle) fly did not produce at similar rates to the first and the third fly. So, I set out to solve what we’ll call “the middle fly syndrome.”

Let’s talk about the 2nd, or middle fly.

A few years ago, I started to tie my third tippet to the eye of the hook on the middle fly. Using this method, I noticed my clients were picking up more fish on the middle fly. As to why, I believe this knot structure allows the fly to move a little more freely. Additionally, the hook of the fly is more exposed, possibly maximizing the strikes.

Though I appreciated the increased productivity, I continued to experiment. I still wanted to maximize the efficiency of the second fly.

After much tinkering with rigs, I arrived upon a little trick that really does allow the middle fly to reach it’s full potential.

Here’s the advanced setup for fly  #2:

  1. tie  a 18″ piece of 4x Flourocarbon to the bend of the hook on the top (1st) fly.
  2. Onto the end of the 4x, I tie a small perfection loop.
  3. Onto the loop, I add 14″ of 5x with a clinch knot to the loop and then tie on my bottom fly.

At this point, you’ve got fly – loop – fly…but where is the middle fly, you ask!


  1. Go back to the perfection loop above the 3rd fly.
  2. Tie 5 inches of a 4x tag to the loop with a clinch knot. Make sure it extends out at a right angle to the tippet.
  3. Tie the middle fly onto this tippet tag!

This tag-tippet section, only 5 to 6 inches long, allows this fly to move freely in the current. Starting with the right angle, and keeping it short will prevent tangles and wraps!

There’s a side benefit to this system: It is easy to replace the tag, allowing you to change flies to keep pace with the hatch throughout the day. In fact, this system, in many ways, allows the once forgotten middle fly to become a superstar!

I’ve always wanted a way to make my middle fly more productive. I’ve tried some things that haven’t worked. However, the simple method described in my first post, as well as this more advanced technique, have proven effective in my own fly fishing as well as when I am guiding others. Fly fishing is an ongoing series of experiments on the water. Try these tips and see how they impact your game. Tag your success! #5280angler

Always tinkering to make the most out of each day and each drift, Ron Pecore is driven to succeed on the water. Check out Ron’s BIO.

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