Currentseams Q&A: Multi-fly striper rigs

Q: Just wondering how you rig to balance strength on the dropper and still allow movement in the fly?  Blood knot with a long tag?  Or surgeons knot with a long tag towards the tippet end? What do you think your hook-up ratio is for the front fly versus the trailing dropper?

A: I think you’re referring to a tandem rig; when I fish multiple flies for stripers, it’s usually a team of three. I build all my multi-fly teams with 20, 25, or 30# Worldwide Sportsman camo mono. The mono size depends on where I’m fishing and what flies I’m using. For example, crystal clear water or small flies would have me leaning toward 20. If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll use a triple surgeon’s knot to form the droppers. If I suspect larger fish may be in the mix, I’ll use a double uni knot. I had a “bad” experience many years ago with a school of high 30s bass — if I hooked two, the bottom fish would pull the triple surgeon’s knot right out from the top dropper. Now, if I’m targeting larger stripers, I go with a single fly.

If I am fishing multiple baits ( i.e. grass shrimp, peanut bunker, silverside) the fly that gets eaten most is usually the one that most closely matches the naturals the fish are feeding on, regardless of position. One night a small peanut bunker fly saved my bacon. It happened to be the middle dropper. It still worked when I re-rigged with a single fly.

If I know what bait is present, I’ll hedge my bets. This June I fished two small grass shrimp droppers with a small clam worm on point. The water was infested with grass shrimp. 3/4s of the bass I caught came on the shrimp patterns.

My three-fly team from early June 2014, top to bottom: Grease Liner variant, pink Crazy Charlie, Orange Ruthless. The bass liked all three flies. These tags are about 5-6″ long.

Striper ShrimpDropper Rig

In early July, small sand eels were on the menu. I rigged a dropper system of two sparse sand eels suspended between a corkie and a Gurgler. This setup was fished in barely any current at a dead drift. Even though the bass were keyed on the sand eels, I still took one on the Gurgler (the point fly) while it was just sitting there.

This Golden Knight is tied on a small freshwater hook, but on an Atlantic salmon hook, it’s the kind of fly that I like to have when I’m fishing multiple sand eel patterns.

Sparse Golden Knight

2 comments on “Currentseams Q&A: Multi-fly striper rigs

  1. Patricia Fomenko says:

    When you  show a pic of a fly if it’s not to much trouble could you add the hook size and material used to tie it for us amateurs.



  2. Steve Culton says:

    Hi John,

    Tell you what…I’ll meet you halfway. The Crazy Charlie is very well-known bonefish pattern. Ditto the Grease Liner for steelhead. An internet search will give you lots of information of tying those patterns. Do a search for “Orange Ruthless Clamworm” and you’ll find my recipe for that, too.

    I think the Grease Liner I tied is on a 3x long, 2x strong trout hook, size 8 or 10. The Charlie is on a size 6. Ditto the Ruthless. I think I tied those last two on TMC 811s. Here’s the recipe for the Golden Knight sand eel:

    Hook: Atlantic Salmon 6-8-10 (TMC 7999)
    Thread: Black
    Body: Gold braid
    Wing: 10 fine hairs white, 10 fine hairs yellow, 10 fine hairs orange (all taken from the tip) bucktail, mixed, under two strands blue flash, under 3-4 stands black Krystal Flash. All flash is longer than the bucktail.
    Eyes: Jungle Cock (optional)

    Fair enough? 🙂


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