Letters, Letters, Letters—Part 2

The book Patterns, Hatches, Tactics and Trout came on the market in August 1995. I personally feel it’s one of my better books. In that book I recommend some productive patterns and suggest that anglers should try fishing the tandem. I’ve used the tandem rig for more than a decade. I was first introduced to it on the Bighorn in Montana. It worked well in the West, but I had never had seen it used on Eastern or Midwestern trout waters. When I came home from the Bighorn I tested the setup on Eastern waters and found that it tripled the number of trout I caught.

What is the tandem? I usually use a size 12 dry fly, the Patriot, as a strike indicator. I attach a two to three foot section of 4X, 5X or 6X tippet to the dry fly. I make an improved clinch knot and attach the one end to the bend of the hook of the dry fly. To the other end I most often attach a wet fly like the Green Weenie, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Glo Bug or Zebra Midge. While the dry fly floats on the top the wet fly drifts a couple feet under the surface. Any time a trout hits the wet fly the dry fly sinks (just like a bobber) and tells you that you have a strike on the wet fly.

Shortly after the book came out I received a letter from an expert fly fisher, Pete Ryan. Pete read the book and wanted to test the tandem. Here’s his letter:

I’m writing to share with you a couple fishing experiences I had this past week! I received your new book (Patterns, Hatches, Tactics, and Trout) a week ago Thursday and read most of it that afternoon and evening. I was of course interested in the tandem—Patriot and Green Weenie—and even dug an article out of my collection of Pennsylvania Angler articles I have kept for "future reference." (My wife says I save too much junk—but one never knows!) Anyway, while watching football games on Sunday, I tied a dozen Patriots and weighted Weenies. I intended to fish Labor Day morning on the "no-kill" stretch of the Genesee River east of Wellsville, New York, just 30 minutes over the mountain from my house. The Genesee holds more water than the other watersheds around here, and after the drought conditions we’ve had, I hoped to find enough water in which to fish. I left my house determined to try the tandem and took only those flies plus a box of Tricos and Midges—just in case.

I arrived in the parking area at 9:30 only to meet Bryan Kehoe, one of my fishing buddies, leaving the stream. He was disgusted—having fished for 3 hours and no trout. I explained to him what I intended to do and showed him the two flies. He laughed and tried to talk me into going, to the Oswego, but I was determined to give the tandem a chance. So as Bryan watched from his car, I caught two nice browns on my first five casts in the first run! He yelled an obscenity at me and drove away! I quit fishing at 12:30 after an additional 12 trout—all on the Green Weenie. Not bad, 14 trout in 3 hours on a heavily fished, no-kill stream with no surface activity, no hatches, and drought conditions. I never changed my original tandem set up and even got home in time to mow my lawn with a smile on face!

Last Wednesday night, Stew Dickerson, with whom you fished the Oswayo a few years back, gave me a call and said he had done really well fishing tricos and ants on the Genesee in Scio, New York, about 6 miles downstream from Wellsville. Stew knows I love fishing small flies on fine tippets to rising fish, so of course I jumped at the chance. The next morning the water, as expected, was extremely low, but there were five deep runs in a half-mile stretch that Stew promised held fish. Tricos were dancing in the air when we hit the stream at 8 AM. Stew caught two trout on an ant, and I could only manage a few smallmouth bass fishing a midge in the first run. We worked our way upstream fishing ants, beetles, midges, and trico spinners, and by 10 o’clock I had managed to catch two trout and Stew also had a few more.

Stew started to apologize for our lack of success after his glowing promise of great fishing. I told Stew to relax—I was about to give the tandem another try! Three casts into a run that I had pounded for 25 minutes produced two trout. In 5 minutes I had five trout. Stew begged a Patriot and a Green Weenie off me and we proceeded to work our way back downstream to our car. Between us, we caught 31 trout in the next 2 hours, all on the Green Weenie, except for one 17-1/2-inch brown that blasted my Patriot as it danced in a riffle at the head of a deep run.

I have also fished a tandem on the Bighorn, but had never given thought to trying it here at home. Just want to thank you for sharing your expertise with those of us who aren’t as fortunate to fish as often as you are able! My only concern is that the tandem may take the excitement and pleasure out of fooling fish—but I doubt it.

Now that’s a testimonial on a book. If you’d like to read more about the tandem and patterns you can order Patterns, Hatches, Tactics and Trout from Vivid Publishing at 1-570-368-2000. It’s well worth the $24.95.

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