The two fly Setup

27th of October 2022

Fishing with two flies increases your chances of catching fish by letting you cover different parts of the water column with a single cast and present two different offerings at once. Two-fly rigs are considerably more tangle-prone than single-fly setups, but, in some angling scenarios, the improved presentation more than justifies the extra rigging steps and potential tangles.

Let’s get started with a look at a few time-tested two-fly presentations that can double your fun on the water!

Popular two-fly presentation

A goal when rigging two flies is to avoid redundancy. The flies should be different in size, appearance, and, most importantly, they should drift in different parts of the water column. All three of the rigs described below allow anglers to address those factors and maximize the effectiveness of a two-fly presentation.

Discussing multi-fly rigs, the term point fly applies to the main fly tied to your tippet; the second fly is often called a dropper. When setting up any two-fly rig, the simplest attachment method is to attach your point fly as normal, then tie a separate piece of tippet to the bend of the hook, attaching your second fly at the other end. There are alternative attachment methods that are very popular, which we’ll cover later in this article.

With those basics covered, let’s begin with a look at the dry-dropper, one of the most popular two-fly set-ups.


A dry-dropper rig involves fishing with a dry fly as your point fly and a nymph as the second fly. Anglers hope to get a strike on the dry fly but are just as happy if the dry fly serves as a strike indicator, alerting them when a fish grabs the nymph.

A common dry-dropper implementation is the hopper-dropper in which a large, buoyant grasshopper pattern is used as the point fly, with a nymph as the second fly. Using an oversize, high-floating pattern like a grasshopper maximizes the dry fly’s effectiveness as a strike indicator, which is one of the reasons the hopper-dropper rig is so popular.

Double Nymphs

Using two subsurface flies is an extremely effective way to cover more of the water column. There are numerous variations of the two-nymph rig. A common approach is to use a large, heavy fly as the point fly and add a second nymph that’s smaller and lighter, so it drifts higher in the water column. In still water, it’s common to use a wooly bugger as your point fly with a smaller, more subtle pattern trailing behind.

When rigging double nymphs, the “big fly first” rule is not set in stone. In fact, many anglers reverse that set up when conditions dictate. For example, in deep runs and swift current, the best presentation can often be to have your dropper bouncing on the bottom and your point fly dancing 8 to 12” above.

Double Dries

When presenting two dry flies, anglers can show fish two floating patterns and, even though both flies ride on the surface, there’s still a way to target different parts of the water column.

It’s common to choose a high-floating fly as your point fly and select a low-riding dry fly or an emerger as the second offering. For example, in current, fishing with an Adams as your main fly will earn strikes from fish targeting more buoyant live insects. If the dropper is a low-riding dry fly like a Klinkhammer or an emerger pattern like an RS2, you’ll attract attention from fish that are targeting insects trapped in the film.

In still water angling situations, choosing two dry flies is mostly about differentiating the size and appearance. Using a large colorful popper as the main fly can help attract attention while a more subtle second fly may be the one that triggers more strikes.

Two-Fly Attachment Options

There are several ways you can attach your second fly. The types of flies, the water conditions, and your desired presentation all factor into the attachment method you choose.

Before we get into common attachment methods, there’s a rule about tippet size that applies to most methods—if you attach your dropper with a tippet strength that’s less than that used for your point fly, the dropper is the only fly you’ll lose if you break off.

Now, let’s look at four popular ways to attach a second fly. 

Attach to Bend of the Hook

The most common method of attaching a second fly involves rigging your point fly as normal, tying a piece of tippet to the bend of the hook using a cinch knot, and then attaching the second fly to the other end. This method has several benefits. It’s simple to rig and it positions the two flies in a straight line, which can help you create the desired presentation.

But there are also drawbacks to this attachment method. For example, when used with a dry-dropper rig, attaching to the bend can negatively impact the effectiveness of the point fly, both in presentation and hook-up potential. Also, if you fish with barbed hooks or mash the barb down 90%, attaching to the bend of the hook is a viable method, but if you fish with barbless hooks, you’ll have to use one of the other options.

Attach to the Eye of the Hook

Another popular attachment method is to simply tie a separate piece of tippet to the eye of the point fly. You’ll need to use a relatively large point fly since it can be hard to fit two pieces of tippet in the eye of a fly that’s size 18 or smaller.

This attachment method may not be the best choice for dry dropper rigs if your point fly requires a delicate presentation since the extra knot and drag on the front of the fly can inhibit an optimal drift.

Attach to the Tag End

A third common attachment method involves rigging your point fly as normal but leaving a long tag end, to which you attach the second fly. This is the most economical attachment method and involves the fewest knots. It’s a good option for dry dropper rigs as it allows the point fly to float properly while allowing free movement of the second fly.

Attach to a Tippet Ring

Many anglers use a tippet ring on the end of their leader to avoid shortening the leader every time they attach fresh tippet material. Another reason to install a tippet ring is that you’ll have a perfect attachment point for two flies. Tie your tippet to the tippet ring and attach your point fly to the other end, then repeat the process to attach your second fly. 

Catch more fish with a two-fly set-up!

Rigging two flies lets you target different parts of the water column and offer fish two different enticements in a single cast. It’s not the right approach in every angling scenario, but frequently, a double offering will yield more strikes than fishing with just one fly.

We hope the presentation options and attachment methods covered in this article will help you when conditions call for a two-fly setup.

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