How Far Should Split Shot Be From The Fly?

Weights for fly fishing are a good way to catch big trout like this.
This large 25-inch brown trout was caught using a size 18 fly with one weight positioned 4 inches from the fly.

Good guides will use the correct weight and strategically put them in the leader in a spot that works best based on the conditions.

Depending on the situation and the method you are using to fly fish, I will put my weights between four and 20 Inches above my fly.

Weights for fly fishing are useless if they are too far up the line since the whole purpose of the weight is to get the flies down to the fish and to keep the fly in the strike zone.

Although many anglers believe that putting the weights 4 inches from the fly will be seen by the fish and will prevent the fish from biting the fly, I have proven this theory wrong on very large trout many times over.

How Far Should Split Shot Be From The Fly?

How far the Split Shots are from the fly depends on multiple factors.

Clear Water: If the water is very clear and I use a fly that will sink a bit on its own, I will put my weights 14 to 20 inches up the line from the fly.

Fast Water: If the current is very fast, I will put my fly between 4 and 12 inches up the leader from the fly. In faster water, the fish is less likely going to see your weight.

Dirty Water: In dirty water, I will also put my fly 4 to 12 inches up from the fly.

I tend to put the weights closer than most anglers.

There are advantages to adding the right weights very close to the fly. I say “right weights” because I would never add a shiny silver split shot four inches from my fly because silver and shiny split shots are the wrong weights to use.

I use specific weights for fly fishing. I only use single use split shots that are not shiny, and use specific sizes. I also really like Tungsten Sink putty at certain times of the year. See all that in my article Best Weights For Fly Fishing: Everything You Need To Know.

One reason I will put a weight four inches away from the fly is that the weight will bring the fly deeper.

Another reason is that I don’t have any issues with putting the weight 4 inches from the fly because there is usually lots of debris coming down the river past the trout over and over and over again so a little dark weight on your line is just another piece of debris to the fish and shouldn’t bother them.

The other reason I will put my weights as close as four inches from the fly is that a weight this close to the fly prevents slack in the line between the fly and the weight. Slack line is a bad thing because it could prevent the detection of a fish biting your fly. This could be enough time for a fish to grab your fly and spit it out.

Most anglers that use weights for fly fishing put the weights about 12 to 16 inches up the line.

If you believe the split shots might spook the fish and give you more confidence to keep the weight that far away from the fish, then place the weights 12 to 18 inches up the line and go fish.

Tight Lines


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