I’ve noticed a number of my guide friends using three-fly nymph rigs. Some call it “the rake.” I wonder if it’s overkill (bordering on a fly fishing version of a trot line), or if it’s even fair. But then again, what’s the big difference between two and three flies?


The rake uses a large attention-getter fly, a bead-head for ballast and a morsel for a trailer. The theory is that three weighted flies will drop faster and ride evenly in the water. Three flies also equals three targets and three opportunities to get bit. But if that’s the case, why not five, six or more?

I’ve tried the rake myself and I don’t think it was any more effective than a two-fly rig (or one fly swung through the right spot). I did, however, find it to be a good way to lose five bucks or more in flies with one broken tippet.

I also think more moving parts lead to more tangles. I’d rather spend my time fishing with one, maybe two flies, than untying knotted tippets and leaders connecting three flies. No matter how many flies you use at one time, the one constant is that they can’t catch fish when they aren’t in the water.

And then there’s the snag factor. I’d imagine three-fly rigs would foul hook more fish… but that’s just a hunch.

If there are any big fans of three-fly rigs out there who want to set me straight, fire away. But I think I’ll stick to raking leaves, and fly fishing with singles and doubles.