Using a Moveable Dropper in the Tandem Setup

If youíre as old as me then maybe you remember fishing in the mid-1940ís. Those were the good old days. The days with fewer anglers to contend with and a much smaller number of fly fishers. If I encountered even one other fly caster in an entire day of fishing it would be an unusual event.

And those were the days when I relied on snelled wet flies to catch trout. Wet flies were sold with a heavy leader (cat gut) already attached to the fly with a six-inch leader and a loop at the other end of that. Many anglers at that time, including me, attached that loop to a dropper loop on the leader. Many of us fished two, three or even four of those snelled wet flies at one time. I often cast the brace of wet flies across or three-quarters downstream and twitched them as they made their turn. It worked! Why shouldnít it? Thatís the way a lot of insects emerged. That proved to be a deadly way to fish.

That was the old way of using the tandem. More recently anglers have changed the way they fish it. Most anglers now connect a dry fly and a wet fly or two or three wet flies attached to the leader in one of at least six ways. The dry fly in the two fly system is an excellent, easy to follow strike indicator. When a trout strikes the wet fly the dry fly sinks. Itís as easy as that! But, that strike indicator is also a second fly that catches trout. The connections on the tandem are different from the dropper loop system and so are the ways to fish it. First, rather than the swing downstream and twitching two or three wet flies modern tandem users often fish the two patterns-- a dry fly and a wet fly--floating in synchrony with the current. Second, modern day anglers use finer leaders.

The moveable dropper system is just one of the ways you can attach your flies to the leader in a tandem setup. Itís a lot like the old snelled fly used in the dropper loop. But the moveable dropper is much easier to tie on the stream. Take a six inch piece (or whatever length you want) of 3X, 4X, 5X, or 6X fluorocarbon, take one end of that piece through the eye of the lead fly and secure it with a Duncan Loop. Take the other end of that piece of leader and make another Duncan Loop on it. Donít pull this second knot tight. Leave the loop wide open. You can prepare some of these ahead of time. Decide how deep you want the wet fly to go, take the open Duncan Loop and slide it over the point or wet fly, up the leader and place it just above a knot on the leader. Now pull the Duncan Loop tight. The dropper should not move down the leader. You can still use this system if you are using a knotless leader. Just add a piece to the knotless leader and form a knot to connect the two pieces.

You can do several things to make the wet fly go deeper with the moveable dropper. First, add piece of leader just above the point (wet) fly make a knot and place the dropper just above that knot. You can also use a larger or more heavily weighted wet fly. I often add as many as 15 wraps of .010 lead to some of my larger patterns. Both workóboth make the wet fly go deeper. Third, you can move the dropper up the leader (toward the reel), and form a loop in your leader where you want the dry fly. Add a short piece of a toothpick for a temporary knot.

I call this tandem system the moveable dropper because the dropper moves up and down the leader. If you want to get the wet fly deeper just slide the dropper up to the next knot on your leader. After a cast or two the moveable dropper will slip back (towards the point fly and away from the reel).

Try the moveable dropper method. Itís a simple uncomplicated way to connect the dry fly to the tandem.

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