How To Tie A Double Nymph Rig – Your Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

double nymph rig

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Fly fishing is an art, and like any art, it has its techniques. One of the most effective ones you’ll encounter is nymphing with a single nymph. However, as you get more comfortable and start observing other anglers, you might notice them using two flies. This method is known as a tandem rig.

What is a tandem rig?

When anglers fish with two flies, they usually use a two-fly rig consisting of two nymphs, two dry flies, o r a combination known as a hopper dropper fly – a dry fly and a nymph. It’s rare, but possible, to see two streamers used together.

A tandem rig connects the two flies with one piece of tippet, unlike a dropper rig, which gives each fly its own piece of tippet.

what is a tandem rig

While fishing with multiple flies using tandem rigs can increase your chances of catching more fish, it does come with its challenges. Managing a two-fly rig makes casting more difficult and increases the likelihood of tangles.

But don’t let that deter you. If you’re ready to enhance your fly fishing skills with a two-fly rig, here’s a comprehensive guide on tying and fishing a double nymph rig.

How To Tie A Double Nymphing Rig

Before we dive in, let’s set the scene. The steps we’ll follow are based on tying tandem multi-fly rigs with two nymphs. We’ll assume you’re using a 9ft 5wt fly rod fitted with a reel and a fly line with a welded loop at the end.

Step 1 – Tying your leader to your fly line

The first step involves selecting and attaching your leader. Opt for a material that can sink, like a fluoro, as mono tends to float. The length of your leader should be around 7-9ft, with a size of 3-4x depending on water clarity.

how to tie a double nymph rig

For those using a pre-made knotless leader with a loop at the butt end, the process is straightforward. Just make a loop-to-loop connection, and you’re good to go. If your leader doesn’t have a pre-made loop, create one at the butt end with a perfection loop knot or surgeons loop knot and then connect the leader and the fly line.

Step 2 – Attach a section of tippet to your leader

Next, it’s time to add a tippet section to your leader. This piece of tippet should be smaller in diameter than the leader and around 1-2 ft in length. Fluoro tippet material is recommended as it sinks and is less noticeable to fish compared to mono tippet material.

Attach a section of tippet to your leader

Connect a section of tippet to your leader using a blood knot or a double uni knot. Regardless of your choice, always trim the tag ends to prevent them from catching on your casting stroke and causing a tangle.

Step 3 – Selecting and tying on your point fly

Your point fly is the first fly, or top fly you add to tandem rigs.

This fly should always be the heavier, larger fly you’re going to use. This aligns with your tapered leader, making casting easier. Plus, if it’s heavier, it’ll pull both flies deeper into the water column, closer to where the fish are feeding.

Use an improved clinch knot to attach your point fly, like a size 14 Gold Head Hares Ear, to your tippet. Trim the tag end very small so it doesn’t interfere with your casting.

Step 4 – Attaching the second fly

Before you can tie on your second fly (also known as a dropper fly), you’ll need to add some more tippet to form the two-fly tandem rig.

attaching the second fly

Use the same size and type of tippet as in step 2 and the same length. To do this, tie your tippet to the hook bend of the point fly using an improved clinch knot. This can be tricky since there’s no eye to thread the line through – you can use your finger and then slide it onto the hook bend to tighten the knot. Trim the tag for easier casting and secure the knot against the bend.

To finish the setup, tie your dropper fly to the end of the tippet with another improved clinch knot and trim the tag end for smoother casting.

Step 5 – Adding weight (if needed)

In order to effectively catch fish with a double nymph rig setup, your flies need to reach the depth where the trout are feeding. If you’re using weighted flies with a tungsten head or bead head, you might already have sufficient weight.

However, the need to add weight to your double nymph rig depends on the river you’re fishing. If the water is high and fast, adding some weight in the form of split shot or putty above the leader to tippet knot could be beneficial.

Step 6 – Adding a strike indicator

Many anglers add a strike indicator to their double nymph rig setup. This tool makes it much easier to notice when a trout bites your fly, increasing your chances of setting the hook at the right time.

The rule of thumb when adding a strike indicator to your two-fly setup is to place it about two-thirds of the way up the leader. This should allow enough room for your flies to reach the trout feeding zone near the bottom. Make your strike indicator movable so you can adjust for depth as you change spots on the river.

Add a strike indicator

Tips for Success

  • Opt for flies that are weighted enough to avoid using split shot as it will make the rig easier to cast.
  • Ensure to trim the tags so they don’t snag each other on your cast.
  • Test all your knots to make sure they’re sturdy and reliable.
  • Here is a helpful video showing you how to tie the two-fly setup mentioned above.

Fly Fishing With A Two-Fly Nymph Rig

Fishing with a double nymph rig may lead to tangles and more frequent hooking of the bottom and weeds. However, don’t be discouraged.

Fish a double nymph rig the same way you’d fish with a single nymph, but pay extra attention to your cast. Maintain a high rod angle and keep your rod and line separate to avoid hooking them together on your forward and back cast.

Once your flies are in the water, let them drift naturally and keep an eye on your strike indicator for any signs of a trout bite. Ensure the nymphs are at the right depth. If you’re hooking the bottom too often or not catching fish, adjust your strike indicator.

How Can You Rig A Double Dry Fly?

Rigging a double dry fly follows the same process outlined above, but you can stop at Step 4. There’s no need for additional weight when fishing your dry flies. Use a floatant such as Gink to keep your flies on the surface. You can also apply some to your tippet to prevent it from dragging the flies underwater.

What About Tying a Double Dropper Rig?

Tying a double dropper rig is similar to the steps above. However, in Step 3, tie a Surgeon’s knot and leave the tag end long enough to attach the first point fly. This gives the first fly its own dropper of tippet, rather than being in tandem with the second fly. Some people prefer this setup as the first fly appears more natural without tippet tied to the hook.

How Can You Prevent Droppers From Tangling?

To avoid droppers from tangling, ensure the flies cannot reach others in the rig. This will prevent them from hooking each other. However, it’s important to note that tangles are inevitable with two flies.

If the current is causing issues or if it’s windy, your flies might tangle. But don’t let that discourage you. With practice, you’ll learn how to manage and reduce these minor setbacks.

How do you stop droppers from tangling

Time to Go Fishing!

Now that you’ve mastered the art of tying a double nymph rig, it’s time to head to the river and put your skills to the test. Remember, the key to successful fly fishing is patience, practice, and persistence. So, get out there, enjoy the experience, and most importantly, have fun!

If you found this guide helpful and would like more fly fishing tips and tricks, download our series of fly fishing books below.

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