October 14, 2010

Tandem Rig

My favorite way to fish with my tenkara gear is using a tandem fly rig. Usually my flies of choice are a size #16 or #18 beadhead prince nymph or copper john beneath a #12 or #14 CDC & Elk Hair Caddis.
Image Courtesy Midcurrent.com/Bill Tipton

This combo works especially good on the creeks I fish, as the beadheads are perfect for attracting subsurface feeding in the riffles & eddies. In this scenario the CDC caddis simply serves as an indicator fly. If it moves unnaturally, fish on!

Should I see trout rising to feed, the dry still maintains an adequate enough drift to attract strikes despite the second fly in tow. It's very convenient that you don't necessarily need to re-rig.

The "hatches" aren't that spectacular on the creeks I frequent, so my ratio is probably 80/20 nymph to dry, but the dries do catch fish and in my opinion are worth adding to the line.

There's a very good article in Midcurrent expanding on dropper flies and tandem rigs HERE. It's a nice primer if you don't fish this style right now.

On a non-fishing note, Lilly & I enjoyed our own form of tandem rig last night. All I heard was "Go faster Daddy, go faster!" Great fun for a 15 minute cruise around the neighborhood.


  1. I'm not a fly fisherman...strictly spinning/baitcasting gear, but this rig looks similar to a "float 'n fly". We use it mainly in cold water for lethargic bass.

  2. To add to Brian's comment there ia also a plug & streamer combo for surf fishing. The streamer is tied to a leader above the plug to simulate a baitfish chasing food of it's own.

    Cool fly rig...may have to book you for lessons...it's a method of fishing that I'd like to learn next season.

    Love the vid!! 5 stars (thumbs up)

  3. The "down and dirty" rig, no dry fly. During the warm summer months we use the three fly and go by the motto if you aren't catching bottom, you aren't catching fish.

  4. Good stuff, Mike.

    I happen to use a caddis or Stimulater as my dries in tandem rigs, too. I think the flat deer-hair wings keep the dry fly floating higher and more naturally than a standard Catskill style mayfly does - an Adams or Cahill, for instance.

    Lillys request for "more speed" took me back to a day we still laugh about at home. When we lived in Syracuse and my son was about 3 or 4, we went out back and pulled him around in the sled during one of the 10 months of winter. He kept yelling "Faster Dadda, fasteer" until I finally slipped on something under the snow and twisted my knee. As I lay in the snow, writhing in agony, he was still saying "Faster Dadda, faster" Good memory

  5. I fish this way a lot. My choice is a EHC, CDC&Elk any hopper type fly with a CJ. I also tie another 16" of tippet to the CJ and tie on a RS2 (plain or mercury). Most of my fish take the RS2...

  6. Wow. Some real quality feedback here. Just think, I only wrote the fishing portion as filler and and excuse to post a video of Lilly on her new "bike".

    @BJK - Very similar to float and fly. I'm fond of spinning gear myself.

    @Brk - Thank you.

    @Dennis - You teach me how to surf fish (never done it), I'll teach you tenkara.

    @S&D - Just something appealing about the "down & dirty" to me. I know why the fish like it.

    @Wolfy - Great sledding story. Kids are awesome. BTW - I totally agree with you on the caddis in regard to their buoyancy. The CDC in the Elk Hair caddis I use makes the darn things unsinkable.

    @GFF - Will have to try the RS2. You're not the first person I've read about having success with it.

  7. I really like the concept of the nymph and a lighter fly as the dropper, say something like a wet fly. I have used the other set-up and it works to perfection with the dry and a second fly off the dry. I am going to try the lighter fly off the nymph. Thanks for sharing great post. Bill

  8. Hi, i was curious how you're rigging the tadems: inline, hook eye or dropper loop?


  9. @Quang
    I'm doing it inline. Not as any particular preference, that's just the way I was taught.

  10. Thank you. I'm going to give this a try next time I tenkara.