The sport of fly fishing provides many opportunities to experience frustration. These include the requirement for fly line to tangle with everything on your vest, the affinity of flies for bushes and trees and the fact that split shot never stays where you put it. As hard it is for a new fly angler to achieve the perfect cast to the right position and manage the movement of the fly through the sweet spot with a drag free drift, nothing will make you want to scream at the sky more than seeing that all the shot slipped down the tippet to nestle up against your fly and ruined the entire presentation.
Speaking from experience, there is no guarantee crimping the split shot onto the tippet will hold it in place given the velocity and terminal shock of the backcast. There has to be a better way! Here are three different solutions; pick the easiest one.
Solution 1: Although not applicable for a tiny shot, the fastest and easiest solution for the larger sizes (No 1, BB and up) is to double the tippet through the slot before crimping. The traditional way to attach shot is to put the tippet in the slot and pinch it shut. Instead, take another wrap around the shot and then crimp.
Solution 2: If during your spin fishing days, you ever used a slip bobber, you know what a bobber stop is. For those who don’t, bobber stops are pre-tied loose knots on top of a small hollow tube that, along with a bead, blocks the slip bobber from moving farther up the line to control the depth of the terminal tackle. For the split shot, we want to manage movement in the opposite direction to keep shot from moving down to the fly. To use a stop, slide the tippet through the hole in the tube, position the stop where you want it, slide the threaded knot off the end of the tube and pull both ends to tighten. This creates a small knot that blocks the split shot from moving closer to the fly. Since it is movable, it provides plenty of flexibility for positioning the shot.
Solution 3: Basically, the same idea as solution 2 but without relying on a commercial product. Instead of using the bobber stop, tie a uni knot onto the tippet. I prefer using a small piece of regular braided line, but any line will work fine; even a section of tippet. The tiny knot remains movable and, if you tightened it down well, will hold the shot in place. The picture below shows a uni knot in progress and the finished result on the right.
Solution 4: Go commercial again and leverage the concept of the Carolina rig from spin fishing. There is a product called a “Carolina keeper” whose purpose is to prevent the movement of a massive, hollow weight towards the hook. If you cannot get the other solutions to work for you, this is the nuclear option since a Carolina keeper will not move. The keepers come in red or clear colors and are quick and easy to use. Crimp the keeper with needle nose pliers or the back of the forceps to open a slot, thread the tippet through and release. The Carolina keeper now has a death grip on the tippet, and you can move it wherever you need it. The only drawback to using it is a trout might hit the colorful keeper instead of your fly.