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The duo dynamic

Does the duo offer not only a nymph, but a different dry fly presentation style

A warm evening, bluebells, and grannom
A warm evening, bluebells, and grannom

I have to admit I’m not much of a fan of the duo. Tethering a nymph to a dry fly goes against all my principles of eliminating micro-drag. I mean, if micro-drag can be so important in presentation, why attach an anchor, in the form of a weighted nymph, on a short piece of nylon to your dry fly?

I can see why it’s a good option for covering rough and roily water at both surface and sub-surface levels, but it's just that, as a rule, I’m still very much a single dry fly man on rivers.

Last night, I continued my siege on grannom feeders. It was a lovely warm evening and the bluebells in the wood were in full bloom. The river is low, slow and clear, and the fish have been particularly challenging. However, I’ve found that in the evenings I can get them to pick off with one of Ollie Edwards’  tiny, hackled, dark deer-hair winged Adult Grannom patterns. Occasionally. But last night they rose with no consistency of rise-form or fixed position, they were wary in the extreme, and they were highly uncooperative. I went through a patch of different dries, I went to a 14-foot leader, tapering down to 3lb BS point. Tentatively, I have to admit - some of these are lunkers.

I had to keep getting out of the river, hiding against the bank, waiting for a fish to rise again. Creep back in again. Cover the rise. Nothing. I’d wait. Dead…

Then a fish would rise 40 yards away. I’d ignore it. Then after ten minutes or so, I’d give in to temptation, and creep off the deal with that one. Same result. I tried spinners, Midges, parachutes, Olives - all the usual suspects, plus an Emerging Grannom. Blank.

I was baffled. An hour-and-a-half, and not one fish had risen to my carefully placed dry. Why were they rising so inconsistently? Were they nymphing? Perhaps, time for a duo? Well, I couldn’t do any worse. Reluctantly, I tied an 18” length of 3lb BS to the bend of the dry and put a slightly weighted Grannom Pupa on the point. I cast out into a likely crease, upstream of where I’d just seen a delicate rise. Bang! In a flash the dry was slurped down and as I lifted, my line parted at the dry. I can’t think of ever being broken on my three-weight, but this fish had taken both flies with it. Not a great feeling.

OK, that fish definitely took the dry. Probably just chance, even though it was first cast with the duo. I’ll beef up the leader point and just fish a single Adult again. For a while, I was confident, but that soon began to ebb away as my single dry was ignored steadfastly. I then began to wonder: “What if…?”

So I opted for a duo set-up once again, tied the last tiny Grannom Pupa in my box to the point and cast out. In a hectic half hour, three more fish took the dry confidently.

Now, it could have been that the fish changed their feeding habits as the evening wore on, but of one thing I’m certain: all four takes I had last night came to a dry fly with a weighted Nymph anchored to the bend. Not one fish took the dry fished singly, and no fish took the Nymph, but was it causing the dry fly to be pulled down into the surface film a smidge more, thus making it more attractive to the trout? I’m not sure… but my rod is tackled up ready to go tonight, a tiny weighted Nymph tied duo-style to my small Adult dry. My confidence in the duo just went up another notch. Will it last? Watch this space.

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