River and Fishing Information
Fishing a Tandem Rig
Fishing a tandem rig involves fishing two flies
at once. This is sometimes also referred to as a dropper rig. A
tandem rig can consist of any two flies in any combination, such
as nymphs, dry flies, emergers, streamers, etc. Fishing two nymphs
is a very standard approach here in the Gunnison Valley, and it is
an extremely successful technique. The following steps include
basic instructions for setting up a standard tandem nymph rig:
1. Attach a tapered leader to your fly line
(such as a 9' 4X or 5X leader).
2. Attach about 20 inches of tippet (4X to 6X)
to the leader with a double surgeon's knot or other knot of your
3. Attach the first fly to this tippet end so
that is about 12 to 16 inches from the knot. An improved clinch
knot can be used for this.
4. Tie another 20-inch section of tippet (4X to
6X) to the bend or eye of the first fly hook. You can use an
improved clinch knot for this, or another special dropper knot.
5. Attach the second fly to the end of this
tippet end so that the flies are 12 to 16 inches apart.
6. Attach any weight needed above the knot tied
above the top fly. The knot will keep the split-shot in place.
7. Pinch down the barbs on both flies. (Fishing
barbless flies is recommended.)
8. Attach the strike indicator at a distance of
about 1.5 to 2 times the depth of the water you will be fishing.
This is the distance from the strike indicator to the split-shot.
9. Adjust the strike indicator and split-shot
as needed based on water depth and current speed. The distance
between flies can also be adjusted based on experience and
Tandem Rig Examples
standard tandem nymph rig includes fishing two flies sub surface.
This can be two mayfly nymphs, a stonefly nymph with a small
mayfly nymph or midge trailing behind, or an egg pattern with a
nymph under it. Typical examples include an egg pattern with a
Barr Emerger under it, a stonefly nymph with a small Pheasant Tail
under it, or a Copper John with a midge trailing behind it.
dry-dropper rig includes fishing a dry fly on the surface and
dropping an emerger or a nymph below it to fish in the film or
deeper below the surface. Typical examples include fishing an
adult mayfly or stonefly pattern, or hopper (hopper-dropper),
while dropping a small nymph (which could be weighted) below it.
The distance from the dry fly to the nymph depends on how deep you
want to fish (typically one to three feet). You can also fish two
dry flies in tandem. You might fish a larger dry fly up front with
a small dry fly behind it.
Fishing two streamers can be a challenge due to the combined
weight of the rig, but it can be very effective. You can also add
split-shot above the first streamer to get the flies down deeper
(and faster). No indicator is required with this rig. Vary the
size and color of the streamers for the best results. A typical
example of this rig would be fishing a large streamer pattern like
a Muddy Buddy with a wet Western Coachman trailing behind it. This
rig can be very effective in spring and fall.
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