I sometimes wonder what the earliest fly-fishers, hundreds or even thousands of years ago, would have thought about the practice, so common today, of fishing with just one fly.
After all, back in the day, using two or three flies at a time was standard, and some anglers used way more than that. David Webster, author of the 1885 book “The Angler and the Loop Rod,” usually fished nine flies at once.
Of course, lots of modern anglers fish various kinds of tandem rigs, such as two nymphs, hopper-and-dropper, etc. I do too — when I have the ambition.
But as I complained in a recent column, building a multi-fly rig can be a bit of a pain in the neck. Even the easiest method isn’t all that easy — tying a fly on the end of your tippet, then tying 18 inches of tippet to the bend of the hook, and tying another fly on the end of that.
It’s not the worst ordeal in the world, but it’s just troublesome enough that I often decide the heck with it and just fish one fly.
Now, however, my friend Christopher Stewart of New York, aka the Tenkara Bum, has come up with a way to make attaching multiple flies easier, and even kind of fun.
On a hot orange, soft-hackle wet fly designed to be a strike indicator as much as a lure, Stewart added a short loop of monofilament sticking off the back of the hook. To add another fly, the angler simply makes a loop at the end of the 18 inches of tippet, attaches it loop-to-loop style to the fly, and adds the next fly to the end.
This saves you the rather awkward task of tying a clinch knot on the bend of a hook.
I haven’t fished a fly like this yet, but I’ve fooled around with it a little and found that for the best “handshake” loop-to-loop, you insert the loop on the fly into the loop on the tippet, then pull the other end of the tippet through the loop on the fly. It works great. Chris’s fly had no tail, but I see no problem in making a fly with both a loop and a tail. Nor do I see a tail being a problem on the water — it’s simple enough to hold the tail out of the way when making the loop-to-loop.
I also see no problem adding a loop like this to a dry fly, for the hopper-dropper rig. In fact, as Stewart points out, the loop may support the tail and thus help the dry fly stay afloat.You can use whatever tippet seems appropriate for the built-in loop. I had a spool of 3X on my bench, so that’s what I used.
Adding the loop while making the fly is easy. You lash the mono to the shank, with the end hanging over the eye, wrapping forward from the bend. Then you bend the mono back so it extends past the tail end of the hook, and wrap another layer of thread back to the bend.
Make your loop — a quarter-inch to a half-inch or so, whatever looks right to you — and lash on the other leg of the loop from back to front, with the excess extending past the eye. Again, bend it back, wrap over it from eye to bend and cut off the waste. A coat of superglue is probably a good idea.
Build the rest of your fly the way you want to.
Stewart thought of this modification himself, but then did some online research and found a blogger who had suggested the same thing a couple of years ago. The idea didn’t seem to catch on at the time, and I don’t know whether it will now, either, but I know I’m going to try it. I probably won’t add eight more flies to the first, as David Webster might have, but adding one will be a piece of cake.
Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.