White River

Double Hookups

Posted by John Berry on September 5th, 2013
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Double hookups are when both of the anglers in a boat have a trout on at the same time. Doubles don’t happen all that often and are exciting whenever they occur because the anglers share fishing success at the same time. It is usually a sign that the bite is on. They present a guide’s dilemma. How do you land both fish without losing one or more? I position myself in the boat between the two anglers and carefully monitor both trout. When one is ready to come in, I quickly net and release it and then move on to the other fish. By the way, I once was fishing with three anglers in the boat and had a triple hook up (I was able to net all three).

There is a usually undesirable variation on the double that I call an Arkansas double. This generally occurs when one angler has a fish on that is very active and swims into the other angler’s line and becomes entangled. As a result, both anglers are connected to the same trout. Landing a trout in this situation can be very tricky because it can go in any direction and both anglers must act in unison to bring the trout in. In addition, both lines are hopelessly tangled. It generally takes several minutes to get both anglers line back in action.

A couple of weeks ago I had a variation of doubles that was totally new to me. We had a double where both trout became entangled in each other’s lines. I was fishing a nice couple, Thomas and his wife Jennifer. It was Jennifer’s first fly fishing trip and Thomas was relatively new to the sport. We began the day with a casting lesson and then I quickly rigged up a couple of rods to best handle the water conditions. It was a cool morning and they were running around 6,500 cubic feet per second or the approximate equivalent of two full generators.

I rigged both rods with a cerise San Juan worm and a nymph under a strike indicator and a split shot. On one rod, the nymph was a red zebra midge and the other rod had a Y2K. We began fishing and it was quickly apparent that the Y2K was to be the hot fly, after we landed three trout on it. I always say that one fish is a fluke, two is a coincidence and three is a trend. I switched the zebra midge out for another Y2K and we were soon into a bunch of trout. We had our first double a short time later. After some well deserved high fives, we were back on the drift.

Mid way through the morning Jennifer hooked a good one. I grabbed my boat net and was positioning myself to net her fish when Thomas hooked up. I moved past her and got between the two anglers. I was carefully monitoring the two trout when I saw Jennifer’s fish swim toward Thomas’s. Before I knew it, they were tangled. This was a challenge. I had two inexperienced anglers, two active trout and two tangled lines. I resolved to land both fish.

Thomas’s trout was ready first. I stretched out my long handled boat net and deftly scooped it up. I noticed that the two lines were not that tangled. I carefully removed the fly from the trout and held the fly hook point up. I did this in case Jennifer’s trout took a sudden run. I did not want to be impaled with the hook nor have the two lines get tangled worse. Though all flies were barbless, I did not want to bleed over this situation. I lifted the fly up and carefully reached out with my net to land the other trout. It came in easily and I rested the net against my knee and the side of the boat. With both hands free I was able to untangle the lines and then unhook and the release the trout. It was over in no time.

We returned to fishing and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had somehow landed both trout and was able to prevent a major tangle. Life is good!

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