How to Attach the Second Fly in a Tandem Rig


Tying the dropper to the hook bend of the top fly is the most common method for creating a tandem rig.
Photo by Phil Monahan

A few months ago, we introduced a new weekly “Ask the Experts” Column and asked you to pose some questions for our panel of experts. Our latest question for them to chew on is: “How do you attach the second fly in a tandem rig: to the hook bend of the top fly, to the hook eye of the top fly, or to the tag end of a knot in the leader?”

Their answers are below. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask our panel, write it in the comments section below.

Alvin Dedeaux, All Water Guides (Austin, Texas):
I use a regular old clinch knot tied to the bend of the first hook. Fast and easy, and when I want to change droppers or change the length of the tippet, it only takes a couple of minutes.

Joe Demalderis, Cross Current Guide Service (Milford, Pennsylvania):
Most often, I tie the second fly to the hook bend of the first. It’s fast, easy, and it works. The first fly is usually a heavier and larger bug, with the second being smaller Soft Hackle or emerger pattern. Other times, like when employing a contact-nymphing method, I’ll tie to the tag end of a leader knot to either fish separate parts of the water column or to have both flies down on the bottom, depending on weight of the flies. It all works, if you keep your flies in the right place.

Capt. Chuck Hawkins, Hawkins Outfitters (Traverse City, Michigan):
Due to the number of logs left in our streams from the logging era, we do very little nymphing or hopper-dropper fishing. The only time I use double rigs is when streamer fishing. When I use two flies, I attach the second fly to the bend of the first hook.That gives me the correct presentation.

Rob Woodruff, Woodruff Guide Service (Quitman, Texas):
I prefer to tie to the hook bend of the top fly, using an improved clinch knot. I believe this gives fewer tangles than other methods. I always attach the second fly with a tippet that is one size smaller than what is tied to the upper fly. Since the lower fly is the most likely to snag on the stream bottom or on overhead limb, this insures that I lose just one fly if I have to break it off.

Written By: Phil Monahan

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