A well respected sea trout fisherman in Denmark, Claus Eriksen (the man behind Pattegrisen/the Piglet, a controversial, but very, very effective “shrimp imitation”, herein the controversy) very often fishes two flies on the leader, but has also used the technique to see if sea trout react more to flies with fluorescent materials in them. Which they do - 80% of the time. Of course this doesn’t mean that a non-fluorescent single fly will be refused, but with both on the leader (regardless of position), the fluorescent one wins. That’s one way of using a two-fly setup, learning about what fish prefer.
Most often, I fish a team to present the fish with a more significant choice between to flies. Large or small, two different imitations and so on. Sometimes I use one fly to pull a lighter fly down as well - there are many possibilities fishing teams of flies. The NZ Hopper-Dropper setup, where you tie a nymph in the hook bend under a floating fly, usually a grasshopper imitation unites dry fly and subsurface fly presentations. But enough about the various options in fly choice.
The week before last I talked a little about the different ways of tying a two+ fly leader but I forgot to mention a few important things.
When fishing rivers and streams, I often fish the heavier fly on the point, which I never do on still water. Here I fish the heavier fly on the dropper (and rarely very heavily weighted). I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s my experience that I get less tangles this way. If the flies aren’t weighted, I always fish the larger/most wind resistant fly on the dropper - this also gives less tangles and I’m still not sure why.
Another important factor is the distance between point fly and dropper(s). Too short a distance also gives significantly more tangles. I aim for at the very least 1 meter (3 feet) and preferable a little more. I also find that using too long a dropper tag gives more tangles, so I never use more than 30cm (1 foot). That of course limits the number of fly changes, but if you are good at tying knots with little waste, that obviously helps a lot. I always go with the thickest leader I have confidence in, which one of course always should do.
And finally - maybe the most important factor of them all, those more experienced in two-fly-setups than me will know better, perhaps - the cast and particularly the loops. A certain level of loop control is important. I try not to cast too narrow loops and I try and limit my casting distance (which is not too hard these days as my distance game isn’t what it used to be), because loop morph is hard to avoid. Loop size is important, but trying hard to cast loops with fly- and rod leg that remains parallel for as long as possible is perhaps the most important factor.
And of course - finally-finally - ensure a proper turnover. A team of flies landing is a heap is a nightmare. Tuck the cast, let the line slip through your fingers to provide a little more resistance - which ever method you prefer.
In his highly sought after, 1st dition print of “A Beginner’s Guide To Stillwater Trout Angling”, Paul gives a recipe for a three fly leader on p. 34. For those unlucky enough not to have then book, there’s luckily enough an online version. The leader recipe is found here.
Have a great weekend!