Although it might seem like it is more trouble than it's worth, fishing two flies in tandem can have a tremendous upside. Most fly fisherman have heard of fishing dry and dopper rigs (dry and nymph fly combos) but dual streamer combos can be just as productive. Whether it be mimicking schooling baitfish or setting up chase scenarios with minnow/prey patterns, fishing tandem streamers is a technique that fly anglers need to know how and when to use this special setup
Generally there are two basic setups for fishing tandem streamers. The first is schooling baitfish or pooling aquatic insects, and the second is a chase scenario.
With the schooling or pooling example, the angler would use two of the same pattern separated by approximately 24 inches of leader line. With this idea, the fly angler is trying to imitate minnows, leeches or large nymphs that have become exposed and are fleeing for safety.
In the case of the chase scenario two different flies are used (minnow/leech or leech/nymph) trying to imitate an aggressive minnow or leech chasing its prey. The flies for these setups are pretty simple. Any streamer style minnow pattern will work (Muddler, Bucktail or Featherwing) and Wooly Bugger or Rabbit Strip patterns work great for the leech imitation. Any large nymph pattern like damselfly nymphs or stoneflies will suffice for the nymph.
- Schooling Baitfish — 2 minnow patterns (same size) tied in tandem 24 inches apart
- Pooling Insects — 2 leech patterns (same size) tied in tandem 24 inches apart
- Chase Scenario 1 — 1 large minnow pattern tied 24 inches below a small minnow pattern
- Chase Scenario 2 — 1 large minnow pattern tied 24 inches below a leech pattern
- Chase scenario 3 — 1 large leech pattern tied 24 inches below a nymph pattern
Fishing the Flies
Fishing tandem flies is no different from swinging or stripping single streamer patterns. Cast these patterns into deep pools, near overgrown banks or submerged structure and work them back to you. As you work these patterns through the water column it does not hurt to take several short pauses between strips to let the flies sink back into the strike zone. Trout, in most cases, will rise up quickly, attracted to the first fly but end up grabbing the second fly as they swim past your presentation. It is best to use the tandem fly approach when the water is higher than normal after a good rain but still relatively clear. In these high water conditions, trout will be on the prowl for food items that got swept up in the current and will take advantage of the opportunity to feed on smaller fish on the hunt as well.
Take the time to try a few of these tandem streamer rigs and you won't be disappointed. Take the opportunity to try different combinations in high clear water conditions, and the fish are sure to follow.