What is the klink and dink method?
The klink and dink is a method of fishing a buoyant emerger or dry fly pattern, such as a Klinkhammer, with a small beaded nymph suspended beneath. The emerger or dry fly is used both to suspend the nymph and serve as a strike indicator. Klink and dink is a classic method for fishing for trout and grayling on rivers in the UK and the rest of the world.
It's based on the same idea as the methods known as the Duo or New Zealand style and is very similar to what the Americans refer to as the dry dropper approach. All of these use a very buoyant dry fly to hold up a nymph, though the attachment of the nymph is sometimes slightly different between the methods. While the attachment of the dry fly is slightly different, the technique is much the same.
Why use this method?
There are many reasons why this is quite an effective way of fishing. For a start, you can fish at two different depths and with two completely different flies representing separate food items. If the fish are taking emerging insects from the top, they'll also be feeding upon their nymphs beneath the surface, so fishing klink and dink gives you the opportunity to hedge your bets and catch fish targeting either prey item. It also gives quite a delicate presentation, so is great for when the fish are easily spooked.
What fly patterns do you use?
As the name suggests, a Klinkhammer is generally used when fishing klink and dink, but you can also use other buoyant fly patterns. CDC patterns and deer or elk hair sedge patterns can also be really effective, so don't feel that you can only use a Klinkhammer. As long as the pattern is big enough to hold up your chosen nymph and can still be used as an indicator then it's fine to use, but it does make sense to use something that will also be taken for the natural fly life too.
However, some people do tie up flies specifically for use as the buoyant fly which is often larger, oversized and sometimes more colorful to help it stand out against the waves and ripple. My personal favourite for this is a sedge or caddis pattern with a wing tied from elk or deer hair with a very generous portion of CDC beneath. It floats like a cork and can hold up a 2mm beaded nymph for ages. As the CDC is concealed, it's a good way to use any leftover cut off bits of CDC you have leftover from tying other patterns.
In what sort of situations does the method work?
Klink and dink is the ideal method to use when trout or grayling are feeding upon emergers in moderately fast flowing water. You can sometimes identify this feeding behaviour from their rise patterns, as you may see the fishes' back or tail break the surface, rather than the mouth. However, it equally works well at bringing fish up from deeper water for a floating fly as well.
How do you attach the nymph?
The nymph is usually tied to a long length of tippet which is then tied to the bend of the klink. Providing the klink isn't made from really soft wire, the hook bend should still hold if a fish takes the nymph, even on a barbless hook. However, for total peace of mind, you can buy or tie special klink and dink flies which have a tiny 2mm tippet ring attached to the base onto which you can attach your dropper. Fulling Mill makes a range of flies specifically for use as klinks with the pre-attached tippet ring in place.
While tying the line to the bend works OK, it probably reduces hooking ability a bit and I prefer to use flies with a tippet ring attached or use a dry dropper instead. The true duo or New Zealand style rig is very quick and easy to tie though and fairly resistant to tangling too.
What's a dry dropper?
Rather than tying the two flies inline, with the Klinkhammer up the line and the nymph on the point, you tie on an 8-10" dropper. The dry will sit better in the surface film in this way and hooking ability as is good as it gets.
How deep should the nymph be set?
The length of the nymph dropper depends on the depth of the water you're fishing. As a guide, I'd generally go with up to twice the water depth - if you're fishing in 50cm of water, make the nymph's dropper about 75cm-1m. Depending on the water conditions, lengths of 45cm to 1m are the norm. Too long and you'll find it tricky to turn over, too short and the nymph will just be dragged below the surface.
What leader should I use?
There are no hard and fast rules and you can use whatever you like. I rather like Stroft GTM for river fishing. It's very thin for its breaking strain, knots well and is very strong and reliable. Their tapered leaders are also very good and can be easily extended with spools of Stroft GTM to make the rig just the way you need it. If you use a tapered leader above the dry fly you'll also improve turnover. Don't forget to de-grease it with Fuller's earth - the Fulling Mill stuff is great and takes the shine off the line to help make it sink and be less visible to the fish.
Where should I cast if I see a fish rise?
The klink and dink method is fished upstream. Carefully and quietly wade out towards your rising fish and try to present your flies a couple of metres upstream of them. It helps if you're at an angle to the fish so your line isn't going directly over the fish, otherwise, you may spook them. If you can't see any fish rising, then just fan cast and cover the water and keep moving until you locate the fish.
How can I make the klink more visible?
You can tie (or buy) klinkhammers with different coloured posts, or tie them with a larger foam post, which can make them a bit easier to spot. However, perhaps the easiest way is to use a special kind of fly specifically aimed at being used as an indicator fly.
How can I prevent my nymph pulling the klink under?
You need to be careful not to use a nymph with a bead so heavy that it pulls your klink under, but you also need to select one that has sufficient weight to get it down to the feeding depth. If you find your fly is being dragged under you can apply more floatant - powdered floatants are excellent, as is Gink - or you can scale up the dry fly, use one with a foam post or simply use a lighter beaded nymph.
How can I improve my drift?
You're aiming to get a drag-free or dead drift so that your flies drift downstream as the same speed as the food items present in the water. If the line starts to drag, the flies will move in an unnatural path and the fish will reject them. To get that drag-free dead drift you'll need to mend the line by throwing slack into it and keep pulling in the line as it drifts downstream towards you. It's a very active method, but great fun and a nice little challenge to master.