As in everything in life and in fishing there are pros and cons.
Yes you present 2 flies to the fish at different depths, it is common to put the big(not Heavy Big) fly on the top. The theory being that the fish see it are drawn up but may take the lower one anyway. You can fish 2 different patterns or sizes to see which the fish want.
On the otherhand you get more tangles when casting unless you throw very wide loops. Disasters can occur when playing a fish that the other fly gets hooked up either on the bottom or another fish causing breakages.
Willie pretty much nailed it. Here on the Rogue, two fly rigs are quite common. Although the big ugly (also heavily weighted) fly is the top fly with the trailer tied directly to the eye of the hook. THe big ugly is, more or less, the attractor fly. The steelhead taking a nymph on a trailer. THe trailer being at least 30 inches long in order to prevent the accidental foul hooking by big ugly while (whilst) playing the fish.
I prefer to limit the practice of multiple flies to lake fishing. Primarilly trolling from a float tube.
I gotta' give my $0.02 here. I've done quite a bit of this in nymphing, soft hackles, and swinging Speys and streamers. It does produce action from the fish; however, there is a downside as well. I minimize tangles by attaching the 2nd fly's tippet directly to the eye of the "upside" fly. The big pain for me is that most often having a hook-up will result in the fish getting the free fly( I'm guessing here) hooked on something while it's running and "POW" goes the whole rig of flies and tippets. Always wonder about whether the fish has survived?? I use a 2 fly rig in cases like soft hackles fished on the standard down and across wet fly swing when I have minimal chances for hang ups in woody debris. It is a choice for everyone to make. I more and more am shying away from 2 fly rigs...FWIW. Maybe others have a different take on it?? Best , Stiver
The fastest way for you to find out if the 2 fly rig is for you is to try it. You will not spend much time deciding if it is a way you want to fish.
While I believe it is effective I personally don't steelhead fish that way but can tell you on my river 2 soft hackles in the surface film is a killer method for trout. The doubles can be exciting.
Pretty common on the Grand Ronde when I was up there to have a small trailer attached to bend of point fly. I have also used it pretty effectively on the Klamath. Do not have much tangle problems but it occurs on occasion. In all cases we are swinging and not nymphing
Here is what it says about the Clearwater in regards to Steelhead.
"Steelhead may be taken only with barbless hooks in
the Salmon, Snake and Clearwater river drainages.
Bending the barb down to the shank of a single,
double, or treble hook will meet this requirement."
i use double salmon hooks almost exclusively and will take a `comet' i tie that i will use to help `get down';i pinch the leader,slip thru the eye,then over the body,with the `tail' of the fly facing downriver,equal to tying to the hook eye,of course this depends on river right,left,the knots in my handbuilt leader hold it in place and for our mostly smallish summer runs it never slips past the knot,,,i've taken steelies on both flies `different patterns' in the same riffle,proving nothing but; they ARE biters!,of course looongrods=long leaders,plenty of room to tie on bugs we're allowed three,guess that's one more thing to shoot for in 05',a 3 bug leader!:hihi:
Using tube flies is a good way to fish two flies, or at least make the top fly a tube. Run both leaders through the top tube. You can fix the top tube in place with a tooth pick. There is still the problem of soething breaking if the second fly catches on something while the fight is on, but this is C&R mostly anyway?!!!
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