Last December, I had the chance to chase large dolphin off Piñas Bay, Panama, at Tropic Star Lodge (www.tropicstarlodge.com). We’d been using some larger, single-hook streamers with little success. The dolphin would grab the flies, hold on, swim away and spit the hook. It turned out that the fish were short-striking the fly – grabbing the back of the fly behind the hook.
Rummaging through my fly bag, I came across a couple of large Deceivers tied on double-hook rigs. That resolved the short-striking scenario and, on my next cast, I caught a 40-pound bull.
In preparing for an upcoming trip to Australia to chase dogtooth tuna, wahoo and a number of other toothy critters, I started trying to figure out ways to create some stiff-rigged, double-hook rigs that would allow us to a) hook up, even on short strikes; and b) prevent cut-offs on the trailing hooks.
In doing so, I came up with two solutions, one using single-strand hard wire and the other using braided cable. By varying the size of your hooks and wire, you can apply these rigs to everything from bluefish, stripers and seatrout to king mackerel, wahoo and billfish.
When making double-hook rigs for use with tube flies or traditional streamers, you must take several things into consideration.
If rigging to IGFA rules, there may be no more than 4 inches between the eye of the leading and trailing hook. The trailing hook must also be concealed by wing material on the fly. To make sure that all of my rigs meet those standards, I pre-measure and cut the wire to consistently achieve maximum regulation lengths.
When selecting hooks, I try to go with a trailing hook that is one or two sizes smaller than the lead hook. This helps make the fly a little more aerodynamic when casting. It also relegates the trailing hook to a supporting role; that is, it will be the secondary point of contact for the fish, rather than the primary.
The type of hook you choose is determined by two factors: personal preference and target species. For most of my fishing, I prefer a straight shank hook for the lead and either a straight shank or upturned eye for the trailing hook. If there is a particular hook that you prefer for a specific species, by all means, use it.
Hard Wire versus Braided Cable
Single-strand, hard wire rigs usually work better for dedicated, double-hooked flies. They aren’t as flexible as braided cable, however, and can be more time-consuming and difficult to rig.
Plastic-coated braided cable, on the other hand, is supple and easy to work with and allows anglers the option of switching or removing hooks altogether by simply unlooping the wire through the hook eye.
On my hard-wire rigs, I like to use a short length of hard plastic tubing to cover the wire in between the hooks and on the lead shank. This accomplishes two things: First, it makes the rig a little more durable, especially when fishing for toothy species like king mackerel, barracuda and sharks. Secondly, it leaves a nice, finished, uniform base on the hook shank if you are tying a standard-style streamer on it.
The key to success with these rigs is using a combination of gelspun fly-tying thread (Roman Moser’s Power Silk is one of my favorites) and Five Minute Epoxy. By building a nearly solid base of high-tensile-breaking-strength thread, whip finishing it, then coating it with durable epoxy, you create a solid piece that will not come apart.
If you experiment with double-hook rigs on your flies, you’ll find that you hook – and land – more fish, especially when bites are far and few between. Give ’em a try, and good luck!
The Double Hook Rig
|__ Step 1: Cut a 12-inch length of hard wire. Fold in half, bending the end at a 90-degree angle that will allow the hook to ride straight. Attach trailing hook.|
| _Step 2: Place a 4-inch length of plastic tubing over the wire trace. With the trailing hook facing up, bend the exposed wire down in the opposite direction. This wire will go through the hook eye, securing the trailing hook to the lead.| |
| Step 3: Place exposed wire through the eye of the lead hook, then pinch down parallel to the hook shank. Using gelspun fly-tying thread, lash the exposed wire and plastic tubing to the hook shank as tightly as possible. Be sure to cover the entire hook shank with solid thread, building a secure base. Whip finish.| |
| Step 4: Coat the thread base on the lead hook with Enrico’s Five Minute Epoxy or similar two-part epoxy. Rotate until set. Once completed, the hook is ready to be used in a tube fly or may be used as the basis for a fixed-hook pattern.|