What is the Provo River Bounce Rig?

Each year when the snow begins to fly in the Rockies, I park the drift boat, pack up the car, and head to Salt Lake City, Utah for the winter ski season. No matter how good the skiing is or how much snow we get, I usually find myself on the banks of either the middle or lower Provo River every week on my days off. This western tailwater offers fantastic fishing throughout the winter much like our Colorado tailwaters such as the Frying Pan, Yampa River or South Platte.

The middle and lower sections of the Provo River are known for their difficult obstacles, long, grassy weed beds, and deep pockets. In many places it is relatively easy to find fish, but it is a lot harder to get to them. For this reason specifically, the guides in Park City have come up with a unique nymph rig that gets their sinking flies deeper earlier, and drifting cleaner with less drag.

After using the “Provo River Bounce Rig” a few times I saw right away that this approach could really be useful here in the Vail Valley as well. A new method and approach to fly fishing is always a valuable weapon for anglers to keep in their quiver of fish catching tactics. In this article I will tell you why it works and how to use it.

Although rigging and detangling this setup can be a little frustrating at first, the tactical problems that it overcomes are significant. The entire length of tippet under water is fluorocarbon, so it is less visible to wary trout. The flies are tied away from the main leader section, so they drift more naturally. Finally, the position of the weights allow the flies to sink much faster and deeper than a traditional nymph rig.

How to set up the Provo Bounce Rig

·    Step one is to abandon the tapered leader idea. A tapered leader has a lot of drag while moving through the water, and does not allow the rig to sink as quickly or drift as freely as one thin length of fluorocarbon tippet.

·    Choose either just the butt section of an old tapered leader that was on its way to the trash or a two foot section of 30 Lb monofilament to attach to the loop of your fly line. This is where the strike indicator goes.

·    I tie a perfection loop to the other end of this so I can use a loop to loop connection for my thin fluorocarbon dropper section. The distance between the lead fly and the strike indicator should be about twice the depth of the water you are fishing, so be ready to use a long piece of either 3X or 4X tippet at first. 6 or 7 feet is a good start.

·    This is where things get a little tricky. I use a blood knot for all my tippet connections, and I think it is a little stronger than the alternative, but a double surgeon’s knot will also work.

·    If you ran a 6 foot section of 4X fluorocarbon down from your butt section you will want to add about a foot long section of 5X to the end of it. Leave your 5X tag end long enough to tie your lead fly to. 2 to 4 inches is good here. Notice your bugs will not be a part of the main leader and will be free to drift a little more naturally with the micro currents they are in.

·    Repeat this step with some 6X tippet a little lower down for your second fly. There should be about a foot of tippet dangling below your last knot and fly. This is where the split shot goes. An overhand knot in the end of this section will keep your weights from sliding off while casting. I like to use a lot of little weights here instead of one big one because I think they snag on the bottom less.

·    Your first cast with this new setup will feel strange. Remember that the weights are all at the bottom of the rig and that your leader is not tapered, so even one false cast can be a horrible mistake. Just don’t do it. Use the fast water to get a tight line and load your rod, pause at the top, and fire away with one motion straight down to the water.

This method works great for dead drifting nymphs through prime feeding lanes . It also ensures your flies are directly below your strike indicator. If you do get snagged, many times all you will lose are the weights off the end of your set up, leaving your flies intact. The Provo River Bounce Rig has proven effective here on the Eagle River and worked wonders for tricky, large trout on the Frying Pan River. Stop by Vail Valley Anglers for a lesson on how to set this rig up yourself.

Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer