Double Your Fun
Our last article dealt with our favorite lure for beach or kayak fishing the inshore waters around Englewood. Jigs, whether the buck tail type or the more popular plastic tails, have been responsible for a lot of the quality fish we catch. The variety of colors, weights and designs available could fill a tackle bag quickly. We tend to stay with the colors that mimic the baitfish or shrimp found in nature but many of the wildest colors will produce strikes too.
The idea of using multiple lures or hooks has been around forever. Commercial fishermen have used trotlines and long lines to harvest fish in both salt and fresh waters. Even the purist fly anglers will often use a “hopper and dropper” combination in the clear, cold waters of the Rockies. Another rig that has been popular for freshwater trout is a tandem nymph combination for winter fishing these same cold-water spots.
Here in Florida, the tandem rig has been popular for years when targeting speckled perch (black crappie). The original shad dart rig was developed with a tiny spoon attractor behind a small feather jig. On the St. Johns River, we used to troll this combination in pursuit of shad that migrated up the river to spawn. One of my favorite jigs to run ahead of the small spoon was a small “no alibi” skirted jig.
Trout on the beach or on the flats will often strike tandem jigs after refusing a single jig presentation. Flounder are susceptible to a properly presented tandem combo right along the bottom in either the surf or on the flats. We always use a larger, heavier jig or spoon on the terminal end and a smaller, lighter plastic tail on the front dropper hook.
While there are many pre-rigged tandem lures available, it’s simple to tie one up yourself. Start with about 3 feet of leader. We usually opt for 20 lb. fluorocarbon but will go heavier if the target species has a lot of sharp teeth. Even when fishing among mackerel and bluefish, we try to avoid wire and take our chances with 40 lb. fluorocarbon because it doesn’t discourage strikes. If you do need to use wire, just limit it to a short piece ahead of the jig. Tie on the larger lure on the end of the leader opposite the end tied to your main line. Then, in the middle of this leader create a dropper loop. There are many ways to tie this knot so find one that works for you on-line or from a friend. One of the easier ways is to form a loop and twist the area you are holding a few times then take the belly of the loop through the center of the twisted area and pull tight from three directions at once.
Some folks will rig a top water lure with a dropper to present a smaller target for fish reluctant to strike the larger plug. We’ve found that the trebles on any plug will tangle with the dropper line on nearly every cast. If you want to try this, remove the treble hooks except for the rear hook to prevent most of these tangles. Some folks attach the tandem rig to their running line with a swivel, but we usually just use a double uni-knot to avoid the swivel that might attract strikes from toothy fish. If you stick with just two single hook jigs there is no need for a swivel since spinning and tangles rarely occur.
There are a lot of theories about why tandem rigs work so well. Of course, two jigs will double the visual attraction that predators notice. If fished on the bottom, the disturbance of the sand or grasses when lifting the jigs will be seen easily. Another theory that we subscribe to is that our tandem rig looks like a smaller, injured baitfish being chased by a totally distracted larger baitfish which creates the opportunity for two easy snacks for a gamefish. Maybe the fish that respond to tandem rigs are trying to double their fun too. It all comes down to this decision; is the caloric reward greater than the energy expended to chase down a meal.
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of Angler’s Guide to Shore and KAYAK Fishing Southwest Florida, contribute this excerpts from both Waterproof books to promote the excellent fishing available in the Englewood area. These books are available locally at Old Florida Gallery on West Dearborn and www.anglerpocketguides.com and www.amazon.com as a download or hard copy.