Throwing tandem streamer rigs can be a great way to cover water efficiently while throwing streamers. Much like using a double or triple nymph rig, tandem streamers provide a fish with more options to eat, ultimately providing you with more opportunities to catch fish. Utilizing a tandem streamer rig is also more likely to trigger a trout's predatory instincts. Maybe the trout keys in on your large lead fly moving through the slot, but can't resist the smaller trailing fly coming right behind it. Whatever the reason, if you haven't fished a tandem streamer rig, you might want to give it a shot.
As a general rule of thumb, we run our flies 24" apart with the larger streamer in the front and the smaller streamer trailing from the bend of the first fly's hook. As we mentioned in our hypothetical scenario earlier, the first, larger fly often acts as an attractor of sort, sometimes leading to the smaller fly being eaten in the end. Now, that is certainly not to say that our way is the only way. There are lots of different approaches to throwing tandem streamer rigs, but that's our go-to approach. If you want a more in-depth breakdown of fishing tandem streamers, check out Kelly Galloup's Q & A on fishing a double streamer rig here.
With that said, we're going to cover our top 6 flies that we like to use when throwing tandem streamer rigs, starting with the 3 bigger, lead flies and ending with the 3 smaller, trailing flies.
The Double Dirty Hippy can be fished through all types of water, making it a great choice as a lead fly in a tandem streamer rig. The marabou performs best if fished slower, so keep that in mind when you're presenting your fly in various circumstances on the water. As a lead fly, the Double Dirty Hippy would be best paired with a trailing fly that is light and has less action, as to not impede the action of the Double Dirty Hippy. A bugger of some variation would make a great trailing fly.
The Double Gonga! What's not to love? One of the greatest streamers of all time, the Double Gonga sinks like a rock with its lead eyes, yet is still a breeze to cast for an articulated streamer. The Double Gonga's combination of carefully-chosen materials creates and incredible profile as it moves through the water.
The Circus Peanut is one of our go-to lead streamers in a tandem rig. The broad head slows down the movement of the first half of the fly, allowing the back half to articulate more freely. Perhaps one of the best features of the Circus Peanut is the rubber legs tied throughout the body of the fly. Pair the Circus Peanut with almost any smaller, trailing fly and you've got a deadly rig on your hands.
The Slump Buster is a relatively heavy, smaller fly. With its muted, natural colors, the slump buster sinks quickly, so be prepared to strip fast if you're hucking your rig against the bank. The slump buster works great as a trailing fly, but it is also incredibly successful when fished in tandem with another Slump Buster.
The Gold Bead Crystal Bugger, need more be said? The Wooly Bugger is one of the most reliable flies ever invented. This version of the bugger is a more dressed-up model, you could say. A bugger is incredibly versatile, and can be fished in tandem as a trailing fly with nearly any lead streamer.
The Li'l Kim is known for its incredible, life-like action. For a small fly, the Li'l Kim packs a big punch. Not too heavy, not too light, it provides a solid option to be fished as a trailing fly in a tandem streamer rig. Loaded with crystal flash, it's hard for fish to resist this fly.
If you have any questions about the flies highlighted in this blog, or any others, feel free to reach out to us. As always, at Trouts Fly Fishing, we're here to help. So drop on by our Denver or Frisco location, or give us a ring so we can get you out on the water with your tandem streamer rig.