by Guide Blog


Dry Dropper, New Zealand Style, Klink & Dink….there are many phrases used throughout the world for this ‘style of fishing. We’ll call it, The Duo.

It’s a simple enough technique. We use a buoyant dry fly to suspend a nymph in the water column, which hopefully increases our chances of catching, doubling up if you like, letting us target fish looking up and those less inclined to rise for a dry. 

It is a staple for many of us and one that anglers look to when tackling certain types of a river or, indeed, river conditions. For me, throughout the warmer, later months of the year is when it scores highly. From June through to the end of the trout season, it’s probably the method that most anglers turn to as it sets you up nicely for all conditions. It’s also allowing you to fish far quicker and cover more water than conventional river fishing styles.

The Duo is a kind of ‘hedge your bets’ style of fishing, covering all bases to make the most of the situation we can face. It’ll see you well on all river types too, from chalk streams to freestone, small brooks to the larger, more challenging rivers that you’ll find in Scotland and Wales. It is indeed a method that has been truly embraced, and we only embrace things if they prove to be successful.. enough said!

Another great advantage of this style is that it is very easy to pick up for anglers of all abilities. It’s not as complex or as challenging as other fishing styles, and even more importantly, it’s a great way of getting those less experienced – when it comes to river fishing – off and running. 

The benefits of this style are many:

  • It’s an easy to pick up method for a beginner
  • You can cover more water
  • The dry fly acts as an indicator (it’s visual)
  • You have two flies that can be utilised (sometimes more)
  • Multiple depths can be covered

The Hard Goods, Tackle

The tackle that’s needed for this style of fishing is pretty much the same as most dry fly setups; there’s no need to get bogged down with tackle here, fishing The Duo is straightforward.

Rods, I prefer ones with a fastish action as there’ll be times when you need to be super-fast on the strike. The more responsive the rod blank is, the more of a chance you’ll have of connecting with those slashing dry fly takes! I like the feel of a 9ft #5 rod like the Vision Hero for The Duo, but I’ll choose a longer rod on larger rivers for no other reason than to have that little bit of extra reach. A ten-footer will allow you to add some additional mends that may be required in more complex currents. It can also be perfect for close-quarters fishing (believe it or not, this is the most common way to utilise this method nowadays) as it lets you hold the line off the water so that the flies behave more naturally.

The same reel you’d use for dry fly will be ideal, just make sure that it has a decent drag, lots of Duo fishing is done in pocket water, and a trout hooked in these areas can use the current to their advantage, taking off downstream before you know what’s happening. Usually, the river is hard to wade in this situation, so the drag on the reel needs to keep up, not you! A floating fly line is all that’s required, a weight forward one, as this will aid turnover with your flies; it’ll load the rod better too, so no need for false casting.

Leaders, The Method Of Delivery

The leader that you choose is paramount. This is an area of my setup that I always pay attention to, as I feel that by getting this right, the crucial link between fly line and fly can pay dividends.

I swear by the benefits of using tapered leaders, they help your fishing and presentation no end. I still see some anglers using a leader of a single diameter, this isn’t great at the best of times, but a big bulky dry fly with a nymph tethered below is just asking for trouble. A good tapered leader combined with a short section of tippet continues that energy transfer from the floating line down to the flies. 

The 9ft tapered leader is what you’ll use for most of The Duo fishing that you’ll do. Occasionally, I will use a 12ft one as this works well when you’re scaling down and targeting easily spooked trout or grayling in clear, slow-moving water. It just keeps the fly line well away from the fish that you’re targeting.

As a rule, the faster the water, the less drift time you will have, so shorten your leader. I’ll go down to a leader length of 7ft, including flies in fast pocket water. On slower stretches, where fish have time to inspect your offerings, longer leaders are a better bet.

The tippet should be a diameter that suits the conditions well; too many people make do, which is a mistake. The correct tippet will help you put more fish in the net. It needs to be thin enough for your offerings to behave naturally. At the same time, it has to be strong enough to handle the abuse of repeated casting and be able to tame a good fish – should one come along – without you worrying about putting too much pressure on that you may snap off.

I’m very happy using a tippet ring for connecting my tippet to the tapered leader. They are fast and efficient and allow for quick changes in most situations.

Tippet, Length V’s Depth

The length of tippet you use between dry and nymph is crucial if you want to achieve a good presentation, too short, and the nymph will move awkwardly and be placed too high up in the water. Too long, and you’ll be hooking the bottom all the time. Many people advise using a length of tippet that is double the depth you’re fishing (water that’s two-foot deep, you should use 4ft of tippet from your dry to nymph). This is true when you target faster flows or expect a shorter drift time, so it’s a pretty good maxim to go by. But there are occasions when you need to modify as you go to best suit the conditions. So, pay close attention and adapt to be effective.

Dry Fly Positioning

This is crucial, and it depends on what’s happening on the river and how you are progressing, let me explain. It will be very noticeable what the fish prefer on the day. On most occasions, it will be the nymph. I would say nine times out of 10, the nymph is the fish taker. As this is often the case, then this is my setup…

The same tapered leader that I mentioned, a tippet ring and then two-foot of tippet to my dry fly. The tippet from my tippet ring to the dry will be a little thicker in diameter than the tippet I choose to attach to the nymph.

From the bend of the dry fly, I will attach the tippet for my nymph. To be clear here, that’s the tippet connected straight to the bend of the hook, Blood Knot, or New Zealand Dropper Knot.

Now the reason for this is that my dry fly, as it’s not getting taken, is pretty much an indicator, that’s all it is there for, keeping the nymph where I want it. I’m not expecting the dry to bring fish up, it’s a vehicle to deliver my nymph to where I want it to go.

There will be days or points throughout the day when you are getting some interest on the dry fly; this can become more obvious as the day goes on, things heat up and then we start to get flies hatching, then you need to change things about so that you can again capitalise.

With your nymph tied on direct to the dry fly, the trout will miss the fly quite a lot as the connection with the nymph hinders them, the tippet gets in the way. We must swap, get the dry fly tied onto a short dropper and off the main line. This way, the trout can get their mouths around the dry fly without any hindrance. The dry fly will also move far more freely on a dropper allowing you more positive hookups!
If the fish become preoccupied with the dry, just use a dry fly; you should take off the nymph. It’s all very, very simple.

Premiere Patterns

Although dry flies are many and varied for The Duo, you will only need to use two generic styles.

The 1st and most commonly utilised throughout the world would be the good old Klinkhammer. It’s big, it’s bushy, and it’s buoyant; it’s as if it was built for this particular style of fishing. Even though we all know it wasn’t, its key characteristics and unique design lend heavily as the dry fly of choice for most of us that fish The Duo.

The parachute hackle holds the fly perfectly in the surface film, the bend, and the body of the hook sitting sweetly just under the water surface. Add to this our bright post, which can be any one of a myriad of colours, and it’s easy to see why so many of us choose this style of dry.

The other fly would be a sedge; it’s an excellent choice for faster flows with its roof wing profile. My favourite would be CDC and elk; to make it more visible, put the small amount of bright floss tide in at the head. This additional colour ensures that you can track the flight in fast-flowing water.

Nymphs should be simple affairs, PTN’s and Hare’s Ears are ideal, check this out.

Hot Spots

The Duo will work throughout the river system, but I prefer to fish it in specific conditions. The ideal type of water for this fast and often mechanical way of fishing has to be pocket water. There are large areas of the river where the water is quickened as it descends or is forced through a smaller space producing a good, powerful flow over the top of large boulders. This fast-moving well-oxygenated water is where most trout are to be found during the vast majority of the trout season. The dry fly and nymph combination allows for a high-speed, blanket coverage of the water. Cast and move, cast and move, with short controlled drifts pitching your flies into any likely pocket – soft water behind boulders – eddies, or edge of the riffle, this is the key to success in this kind of situation.

Of course, it can be employed in other parts of the river, but sport elsewhere will be at a more leisurely pace. If it’s numbers that you’re after, then pocket water is where it’s at!

 Ultimate Searching Method

The technique has come about from float fishing, using a floating device to suspend your bait above the riverbed. However, with some judicious and creative fly tying, we can now construct super buoyant flies that let us suspend heavier weights or multiple flies for far more extended periods. This allows us to cover a greater area of water than we used to in the past.

It’s The Duo’s simplicity that makes it so popular with many fly anglers the world over. Try it and get your friends to try it; it’s not only an easy way into river fishing, at the same time, but it’s also got to be the most effective when it comes to catching!


Steve Cullen

Steve Cullen Fly Fishing

Steve Cullen YouTube Channel

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