Almost all fly rods are rigged about the same...

Almost all fly rods are rigged about the same…

Rigging fly tackle can take many forms, none of which are the perfect solution for all situations. The simplest configurations are not the strongest, but get the job done. The most complex rigs produce the highest strength, but are time-consuming and can be difficult to tie, especially on the water.

In our previous post: “Getting Started – Get Connected!“, we shared some thoughts on rigging in general. In this post, we provide an example of the simplest “bare bones” rigging you need to get started, and also provide some links to examples of setups that some of our local guides and the BTB Staff use:

Get Connected! Capt. Bill Matthews

Get Connected! Capt. Vaughn Podmore

Get Connected ! Capt. Conway Bowman

Get Connected! Capt. Scott Leon

Get Connected! BTB Staff

In the last post in this series: “Get Connected! Some Extras” we cover some additional info we know you’ll find interesting.

And remember, if you are overwhelmed by all of this, consult your local fly shop. They’ll be happy to help you out.


Bare Bones

This is probably the simplest setup possible:

Knot / Other Prep
Backing to arbor (A)
1-2 wraps of electrical tape on the spool, then use a Uni-knot to tie the backing to the spool. The electrical tape keeps the backing from slipping around the arbor (very important for Spectra backing).
Backing to fly line / shooting Line (B)
Make sure you buy a fly line with welded loops on both ends. Use a Uni-knot to tie the backing to the back loop
Shooting line / shooting head (C)
(C) does not apply here. It only applies if you are using a traditional Shooting Head
Fly line to leader butt (D)
Use the factory loop on the fly line, and use a factory-made leader with a loop pre-tied into the leader butt. Connect the two using a Loop-to-loop Square knot.
Typical leader (E)
Factory-made Rio or Scientific Anglers tapered leader, which has a pre-tied loop on the butt end. Connect the leader loop to the fly line loop using a Loop-to-Loop Square Knot
Leader tippet to mono or fluoro shock tippet (if used) (F)
Use a Surgeon’s knot
Leader tippet to wire shock tippet (if used) (G)
Use knottable wire in a dark color. Add to leader using a Surgeon’s knot
Tippet to fly (direct) (H)
Tippet to fly (loop) (I)
Kreh Loop
A loop-to-loop square knot is a standard rigging technique

Loop-to-loop square knot. Click for larger image


  • In this setup you need to know just 4 knots: the Uni-knot, the Loop-to-loop square knot, the Surgeon’s knot, and the Kreh Loop.
  • The Loop-to-loop square knot connection is used primarily because it makes it easy to swap out the pre-made leader. Simply push/pull the two sections apart, and disengage the loops.
  • The Surgeon’s knot can also be used to add extra tippet material to extend the leader, or to replace the tippet material cut off during the day
  • If you want to use a fly line that does not have factory loops on both ends, you will need to learn a fifth knot, the Nail Knot, in order to create a small loop (see illustration below).


  • This is about the least complicated rigging possible for a fly fishing outfit.
  • All of the knots are pretty easy to learn


  • You are limited to buying fly lines with pre-made loops on both ends, unless you learn the Nail knot.
  • If you are trying for world-record fish, you will be able to eke out 5 – 15 percent more strength by going to a more complicated setup, similar to one of the rigs described below. However, in day-to-day fishing, you probably won’t notice the difference.
  • If you want to change fly lines, you have to cut and re-tie the backing-to-fly line knot