Success with tandem top water patterns

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Roger Stephens, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. When fishing for resident coho in the early 1990's, I used a two fly setup with a Ferguson green/silver pattern as the front fly and a pearl flashabou krill pattern as the back fly. Sometimes I would hook up fish simultaneously on each fly which was exciting.

    For several years I have wanted to use tandem top water patterns. This Sept. I finally got around to do it and have been pleasantly surprised how well it has worked. I am using a 6 ft. furled leader plus 3 ft. of 8 lb. ultragreen Maxima leader to the front fly and 2 1/2 ft. of 8 lb. leader to the back fly. The leader to the back pattern is tied to the bend of the front hook. I started using 18" length of leader between front and back pattern but might try going as long as 3 to 3 1/2 ft. So far there rarely have been leader tangles which have only taken a few seconds to remedy. I have been using a tube Sand Lance Skater pattern(3 1/2") for the front fly and Delia Squid Slider for the back fly.

    The sea-run cutthroat fishing for the last month has been pretty good using the tandem top water setup with 3 to 8 fish(12 to 16") landed each outing. A couple of time several fish have chased after the front and back flies in unison which was exciting. I have not gotten any double hookups yet. Hopefully it will happen when the sea-run cutthroat start staging in larger groups in estuaries in Oct./Nov. or next spring. The fish have usually been hooked on the back pattern with only about 10 % on the front pattern.

    I am going to try different combinations of top water patterns(ex. sand lance, squid, pile worm, sculpin, and shrimp) to determine what patterns are best for front or back flies.

  2. Cool, sounds like a blast! You should swap your front and back patterns and see if you still catch more on the back fly or if they start hitting the front fly. That should tell you if they're currently hitting the rear fly because it's the rear fly or if it's because they like the Delia Squid Slider better.
  3. Good report Roger, glad another one of your ideas has paid off. I'm surprised you haven't run into any big fish yet. Soon. Jim Koolick loves to tell the story of fishing Lelands popper with his fly, the Nothing with an Attitude as the dropper, but haven't heard of two sliders. Your hands are gonna be full when you hook two big cutts is some of that wicked tidal current down your way!
  4. In the future I am going to be swapping front and back patterns like to said to see if it makes any difference. I just have been too lazy to have done it yet. Steve k. and Steve R. know how lazy I am about changing patterns:D . My gut feeling is that the back pattern is always going to get more attention than the front pattern. Also, I am going to increase the distance between the front and back patterns to see if the fish will then be more attracted to the front pattern. But who knows since so much of the saltwater sea-run cutthroat fisheries is still unknown/unpredictable.

  5. I can attest to the effectiveness of the Nothing With An Attitude as a dropper off of Leland's Popper. I posted about my success about 8 years ago and my friend Les Johnson ripped me for using one of the best topwater patterns in history as a "strike indicator." I felt so bad that I never fished the combo again.

    Look forward to some tandem topwater action with you later this month buddy.
  6. I can understand that! I've never been much of a fly swapper myself. In fact, I fished the same fly from the end of August to the end of September without ever changing it. :)

    What do you think the reason is that they key in on the rear pattern?
  7. Always fun to experiment. Used to fish two flies quite abit for bull trout (surface and subsurface). Found them to be very effective however found that when the fish were refusing the first fly I often foul hooked them on the following fly. Usually that was on the hook set after a surface "boil" or tentative take. Even though it was pretty exciting to have doubles I discontinued the double fly use due to the foul hook up rate.

  8. Perhaps my most effective SRC rig is a floating sandlance or popper (tied as a tube fly) with a tiny black or olive bucktail fly hanging about 18" off the back. The surface pattern gets their attention but they readily strike the dropper...kind of like a dodger and hoochie.
    mtskibum16 likes this.
  9. Thanks, Roger. It's interesting to me that 90% of the sea-runs hit the rear fly. Growing up on the East Coast, I would fish a small teaser fly for striped bass, and the bass almost always hit the front fly. I figured that it sparked some sort of competitive instinct. Often, that teaser fly would draw strikes when single flies were slow.
  10. I have no idea and it is a mystery to me. Maybe Curt K. or someone else has some thoughts. SciGuy probably has it right!


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