top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Drift Team

Rigging Flies- Single Flies & Multiple Fly Rigs

Using multiple flies can be an incredibly effective and enjoyable way to fish! The practice offers a number of benefits, but also has some downsides as well. We hope this post shines some light on why, when, and how to use a multiple fly rig.

But, before you do use more than one fly, make sure that you are legally able to use multiple a multiple fly rig where you are fishing. Consult the regulations of your area, and particular water body, before you even consider wetting a line - save yourself from getting a fine, and those regulations are there for a reason to protect out natural resources. Also, do yourself a favour and read them yourself, if you choose to consult a friend instead they may not have the most correct advice and you may end up in hot water.

When is it appropriate to use a single fly vs. multiple flies?

Use can use multiple flies while fishing for trout, bass, walleye, nearly all species! The best water to fish multiple fly rigs is water that has mostly uniform currents. If the water you are fishing has multiple varying currents close proximity to each other, the flies in a multi fly rig may act negatively on each other and reduce their effectiveness. The drag from one fly pulling on another can change it’s drift making it look very unnatural to the fish. Very often, in fast flowing pocket water, or any situation where there are multiple currents it is best to use only a single fly. Multiple flies can also very easily get tangled into each other with non-uniform currents due to the unpredictable movement of the currents and flows underwater.

What are the downsides to using multiple flies ?

Tangles… tangling only one fly can be tough to get undone. Tangling two flies can be twice, or more, the trouble. Untangling three flies… well, we hope you have a lot of patience. It adds up, quickly… breaking off multiple flies at once can deplete your boxes quickly, and hit your pocket book hard. This is great for fly shops, but not great for you. Foul hooking… having two flies connected to your line can tangle around, or foul hook into, a fish. Drag on other flies… one fly pulling on another due to opposing currents can cause a fly to look very unnatural thus getting refused by fish.

Why use multiple flies?

Using multiple flies allows you to present different fly options at the same time to an area which may hold fish, or to a fish that you have spotted. This can aid in finding out what the fish are more responsive to, what food source they are looking for, and what they are willing to take. Get rid of that bobber! Use a dry-dropper rig to suspend a nymph or wet fly underneath a dry fly. Your “indicator fly” can catch fish! Get Deep Use an ‘anchor’ fly to pull down/sink a lighter or unweighted fly to present to a fish in deeper water instead of using split shot or other additional weight. Splitshot can’t hook a fish, but your heavier fly can. Ditch Lead Why use lead when you don’t have to? Get Their Attention You can use one fly in a multi-fly rig as an attractor. If the fish investigates the attractor and refuses it, they may opt to take the more natural fly around it. Pick-Up Those Stragglers! Use a second fly to pick up the second fish following the one that is hooked and fighting. This is a highly effective technique for bass!

Is it legal to use multiple flies?

This depends on where you fish! Check the regulations of the area, and specific waterbody, you fish to make sure that using multiple flies are allowed. For most of Ontario, in 2020, you may use up to 4 hooks while fishing, with exceptions for protected water. Consult your local regulations for every water body you fish to find if there are exceptions to the standard rules.

What flies can I use for multiple fly rigs?

You can use nearly any fly, or combination of flies, in a multiple-fly rig. When choosing their order, the goal is to not have the flies interfere with each other and cause unwanted drag and unnatural motion. If you are using a dry fly to suspend wet flies or nymphs, keep in mind that your dry fly has to be large enough, and buoyant enough, otherwise it will be drown.

In what Series Do I Set Up My flies?

Here is a list of general fly rigging orders.
The fly on the furthest left is the one closest to your fly line. The one in the middle, if there is a middle, is for the middle fly. The fly on the very right is referred to as your ‘point’ fly. Your point fly is the last fly in the series and furthest from your fly line. Two Fly Rig


Three Fly Rig




How far apart do I keep my flies?

This is a tough question. The closer your flies are together, the more they will act upon each other and cause an unnatural drift. Also, when flies are in close proximity to each other, they tend to foul hook fish as it fights. In competitive fly fishing, the minimum distance between flies is 50 cm (to keep from harming fish). You will have to make the judgment call on the water to best suit your circumstance.

How Big Of A Fly Do I Need to Suspend Nymph?

That is a very often asked questions! The real answer is and it varies between situations and there is no magic formula. A good general rule is that the larger and higher floating the dry fly, the heavier the nymph, or other fly, it can suspend. If you’re in faster, more turbulent water, you’re going to need a more buoyant fly as well as tumbling water tends to want to pull flies under. This is something that you’re going to have to get a feel for on the water and and learn through trial and error. Play around and figure it out - this is what makes fly fishing fun, and an incredible learning experience.

Can I use multiple flies on lakes, and ponds? With Streamers?

YES! Please try this technique on lakes and ponds, it is extremely effective and very commonly used. If you end up with two fish on the line, it will happen, shoot us a note - we love hearing about your successes!

What Tippet Do I use?

To attach your flies in a series you can use the same breaking strength tippet, or lighter. Using lighter tippet between flies than you have tied from your leader to your first fly increases the chance of breaking off only one, or two flies, if the point or middle fly are hung-up. When using multiple dry flies, use nylon tippet material.
When attaching flies that you want to sink use fluorocarbon tippet, especially if the flies are unweighted.

Can I just tie a knot off the bend of my hook then attach a fly to that?

Sure! It works, but we find that when flies are attached in this way they act negatively on each other far quicker as they are fixed together without any "wiggle room".

What knot do I use?

When tying a tag end (dropper) to tie a fly to, use a double or triple surgeons knot.

The tag end that is heading away from your fly line is the tag you want to tie your fly on.

The tag end that is heading up towards your fly line is the one you want to cut off and discard, do not use this knot to attach fly. If you do, the tension that the fish puts onto your line and knot will cause it to spread apart and weaken.

Here are our recommendations for tying your flies onto your droppers or leader.

Knots for Dry Flies

Clinch Knot Davy Knot

Knots for Nymphs

Non-Slip Mono Loop Clinch Knot Davy Knot

Knots for Streamers and Wet Flies

Non-Slip Mono Loop Clinch Knot

With this information you are ready to start using multiple fly rigs! Any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask!

This is what we are here for.

bottom of page