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90 Degree Nymph Rigs – How To Setup A Fixed Length Nymph Rig

90 Degree Nymph Rigs – How To Setup A Fixed Length Nymph Rig

90 degree nymph rigs offer many benefits. With these rigs, your indicator is tied to a butt section with a loop knot. Off of this, you’ll add a straight tippet section with a clinch knot. Then, you can add your flies and a split shot.

90 degree nymph rigs sink your flies quickly, so you’ll get in the zone faster. They are also more sensitive to strikes, because they slice through the water column. The indicator moves more freely on a loop knot, which means less drag. However, it is harder to adjust your depth with these rigs. In order to go deeper or shallower, you must add or subtract tippet. This takes some effort to make adjustments.

Fishing a 90 degree nymph rig can be really beneficial. This article will cover how to set one up from scratch. 

1. Start With A Short Butt Section

This can come from a pre made leader that you cut, or you can just use a 25 lb piece of monofilament. Attach this to your fly line with a loop to loop connection, which may mean that you have to add a perfection loop to the butt section. 

This section should be only 2-3 feet long. You want it thick enough that it will turn over when you cast. Although I use a 25 lb butt section, you can go even heavier. This is the solid foundation of your 90 degree nymph system.

2. Add Your Indicator With A Non Slip Loop Knot

Using a non slip loop knot, attach your thingamabobber to the butt section. Keep the loop on the smaller side, because you don’t want your indicator to have too much play. If the loop is too big, the indicator won’t detect strikes as well. 

The video below by Tim Flagler shows how to properly tie the non slip loop knot. It does take a bit of practice, but it isn’t too hard.

3. Add Your Tippet With A Clinch Knot Or Swivel

Simply attach your tippet to the loop knot with your preferred knot. I like to use a clinch knot for this, but there are tons of knots that will work. 

Some folks use a swivel on their loop knot. If you want to use this method, simply tie your tippet to the other end of the swivel. However, I find that swivels aren’t really necessary.

This tippet section should be thick tippet. You don’t want it to snap, so I like to use 1x tippet most of the time. 

This section will determine the depth of your nymph rig, so pull off as much tippet as you need. However, I don’t like to go deeper than 5 feet. Any longer than this, and the system will have too much play in it. This means that it won’t detect strikes as well. 

4. Use A Tippet Ring Or Blood Knot To Attach Thinner Tippet 

Now we have added our thick tippet section.  From here, you’ll need to attach your terminal tippet. This is the tippet that you’ll tie onto your fly. Here in Colorado, this is usually 5x fluorocarbon. Depending on the river you’re fishing, you may want heavier or even lighter tippet. 

Since 5x is so much thinner than 1x, I like to use a tippet ring to attach these dissimilar sizes. This is a stronger connection than if you just blood knotted them together. Attaching different tippet sizes can make a weak knot, so a tippet ring is preferred. 

5. Tie On Your Flies 

Now, you’ll add your flies just like on a normal nymph rig. You can fish a 2 or a 3 fly rig, depending on your local regulations. 

You can tie your flies “eye to eye” with 2 clinch knots – And you can also tie them “off the bend” which is my preferred method. 

For fly spacing, I like to go about a foot between flies. However, some folks prefer longer spacing like 18 inches. 

6. Add A Split Shot Or Two 

The great thing about the tippet ring we added earlier, is that you can put a split shot right above it. The tippet ring will ensure that the split shot won’t slide down.

Play around with your weight, and add more weight for deeper holes. 


There is no doubt that 90 degree nymph rigs are very effective. I certainly recommend giving them a try. 

However, they aren’t great for deep water due to the play in the tippet section. They are also harder to adjust than a regular nymph rig.